This post is to give hope to those of you who believe that you are stuck with nasty and debilitating allergies for life. With the right intervention, you can minimise or recover from your allergies.
The World Health Organisation estimates that by 2020, fifty per cent of people in western populations will suffer from one form of allergy or other. Asthma and eczema are becoming increasingly common, with Australia inexplicably having one of the highest rates of eczema in the world.
Allergic rhinitis, (hayfever), asthma and eczema and the sneezing, hives, swelling, redness, itching and wheezing that comes with them, is due to inflammation caused by the immune system releasing histamine. (Hence anti-histamine treatments.)
To find out exactly what you are allergic to, skin prick testing for airborne allergies or blood tests for food allergies will identify your allergens so that you can at least avoid them to begin with.
In an effort to manage allergies, it’s easy to run up huge bills from trying to reduce dust, mould, removing carpet, changing bedding and investing in high-tech vacuum cleaners. Some people go to the drastic measures of renovating their homes, or moving house.
Sufferers often think that they are stuck with their allergies for life, but this does not need to be the case. Another option is to increase your resilience to allergens. If you’re tired of beating a path to the pharmacist for antihistamines, nasal sprays and cortisone, these simple measures can really help:
- Apply a barrier gel inside your nose to prevent allergens creating the histamine reaction. This measure alone can reduce sneezing enormously.
- To kill dust mites, wash bedding and clothing in detergent with eucalyptus oil added.
- Avoid moulds by spring-cleaning at the start of Spring and the end of Summer.
- To avoid outdoor moulds, go through the back yard and throw out everything which isn’t needed; especially in damp or wet areas.
- If you are interested in revamping your garden, see a list of low allergen plants at http://www.asthma.org.au/Default.aspx?tabid=210
- Wash your face several times a day.
- Do regular saline nasal flushes with a neti pot. Nasal flushing reduces symptoms by washing out offending allergens. A nasal rinse with a neti-pot is twice daily for several weeks can clear up their chronic rhinitis – I have seen this in my clinic many times. Removing old debris from your nose is a great Spring clean for you.
Reduce the load on your immune system:
- Chemicals aggravate allergies – avoid any perfumed product that makes you sneeze.
- Eat organic fruit and vegetables where possible.
- Reduce household chemicals. Vinegar kills mould spores better than bleach and avoids nasal irritation from bleach. Baking soda and vinegar used together, is a pretty good non-toxic household cleaner.
- Minimise perfumed products, like washing powders, body care products, soaps, toilet paper, tissues – this list is long. Even people who don’t have allergies sneeze when walking down the laundry and cleaning products aisle in supermarkets.
- Avoid pesticides like fly spray and garden insecticides.
- Avoid antibiotics where possible – they weaken resistance against allergies due to their effect on gut flora, which affects most of our immune responses.
- Take probiotics.
- Have your vitamin D level taken via a blood test from your doctor and supplement if necessary. There is a strong link between allergies and low vitamin D levels. Adequate vitamins A, C, D and zinc can all reduce allergic reactions.
- Histamine reactions are more severe in an acidic environment. Fresh fruit and veg help to keep your body alkaline, along with vitamin C and a little soda bicarbonate (baking soda) for acute reactions.
- Freshly squeezed juices, or lemon juice in water several times a day (rinse your mouth afterwards to protect tooth enamel) will keep your body more alkaline.
- If you have a allergies to only one or two substances, medical desensitisation – a series of injections over an extended time is one option. This ‘immunotherapy’ is ideal for severe and life-threatening allergies.
- In a similar way, homeopathic medicines also offer relief. If you know what affects you, you can have a homeopathic medicine made from a particular subtance, to take when you are exposed to the allergen.
- For multiple food and environmental allergies, herbal and homeopathic medicines can be very effective.
- Other therapies such as kinesiology and NAET (Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Technique) are also effective treatments. Practitioners trained in both homeopathy and NAET are available in most countries. These techniques are unconventional, but there is evidence that they work. The NAET organisation conducts its own trials (in the same way that pharmaceutical companies trial medications that they manufacture) and there is a substantial amount of evidence that homeopathy is helpful in treating allergies. See Meta-Analysis of the Homeopathic Treatment of Pollinosis with Galphimia glauca. You can see other trial results at Extraordinary Medicine.
There is a story in my book Good News for People With Bad News of a middle-aged woman who suffered from debilitating allergies for her whole life, recovering after using a combination of dietary, homeopathic and NAET treatment.
So don’t despair. Try some of these strategies.