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How Your Body Talks When You Have Hay Fever or Allergies

allergy-1738191__340Spring is in the air, with lovely flowers and trees blossoming around us. For some of us, the spring fragrances are invigorating and refreshing. But for others, springtime triggers an unwanted cascade of stuffy noses, scratchy throats, infected sinuses and miserable headaches. And then there are some of us who experience these unpleasant symptoms year round, as we are exposed to pet dander, dust, mold, or other allergens.

Why do some people get hay fever and others do not? It’s frustrating to be suffering from allergies when others around you are energized and feel fine, even though the exposure to pollens, animal dander, dust and mold is the same in all people.

What is the trigger that tells the body to mount an allergic response in some people but not others? Although we may not know exactly why that happens, fortunately we now can understand much about the immune system and how it talks in the body. With that information, maybe we can ameliorate some of the unpleasant symptoms that make springtime (and other times) miserable for some of us.

Normal Immune Response

 When a microscopic foreign body enters your body, your white cells identify it as foreign (or the enemy). Foreign bodies may be infectious agents, or food that has not adequately broken down, or chemicals, mold spores or even pollens, animal dander or dust. Your white cells send out signals immediately to get the enemy under control.

 One message goes to the macrophages. Macrophages are like little garbage trucks, but instead of coming once or twice a week they are constantly available on demand. As soon as they get the SOS signal from the white cells, they come quickly and digest the foreign body, thereby rendering it harmless.

 The white cells send another signal to the basophils. These little guys release substances that cause inflammation, including pain or itching, and swelling. We might refer to the basophils as an early warning system: something is not right, or “you just ate (inhaled, swallowed, touched) something that is not good for you.”

If your body recognizes the allergen as a trigger it has experienced before, it will notify the bigger immune system, which we might compare to a spy detection system. Your larger immune system is activated to attract previously formed antibodies (it remembers the previous exposure) and other cells to get rid of the offending ‘foreign body.’ If your body has not seen this particular foreign body before, it may form new antibodies to help fight and get rid of the offending (enemy) agent. (Yay for 007!)

 Allergic Immune Response

 If you have allergies like hay fever or allergic asthma, your body has formed immunoglobulin (which are also called antibodies). The allergy antibody we are most familiar with is called immunoglobulin E (IgE). Each IgE is specific to one trigger, like dog dander or certain tree pollens. You probably have many IgE immunoglobulin, each reacting to a different substance.

Immunoglobulin remembers your previous exposure to the pollen, or animal dander, or even dust and mold in the house. When the IgE receptor is stimulated with the foreign exposure, the mast cells release chemicals that cause an immediate inflammatory reaction, and start to make more of these inflammatory chemicals. The chemical most commonly associated with allergies is histamine, which is the major culprit in hay fever.

 Itchy is a good word to describe the effects of histamine. Histamine causes the eyes to have tears and swell and become itchy. The nose becomes congested, itchy and has a clear liquid discharge. The throat becomes itchy. The bronchioles (small connecting pipes to the lung where air exchange takes place) become smaller and produce mucus. We call this asthma or wheezing.

 Treatment for Allergies

 So what do we do to become allergy free? Or is there such a thing? We have found some things that can help tremendously:

  1. Be healthy
  • good diet
  • basic supplements
  • exercise
  1. Instead of taking anti-histaminics (with their lengthy list of side effects), try
  • Quercetin and
  • Stinging nettle,

both of which reduce the amount of histamine released from the mast cell.

  1. Avoid offending substances, if you can.
  2. Allergy desensitization, through any number of ways:
  • NAET (Nambudripad Allergy Elimination Technique). This technique that I have used successfully for years in my practice involves exposure of offending substances in homeopathic vials while stimulating the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems, along with tapping of certain acupuncture points
  • LDA (Low Dose Allergen)–low dose exposure of the offending allergens by injection or under the tongue
  • Homeopathic drops that address predetermined allergens by season; otherwise placed under the tongue
  1.  Signaling molecules help the body’s natural immune system to more appropriately respond to allergens: now available as a supplement. Contact my office for details.

Dr. Gardner works out of his Riverton office, Keys to Healing Medical Center. He can be reached at (801) 302-5397 for appointments.

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Bug Bites

I am beyond severely allergic to insect bites, been in ER more than once, but can’t take benadryl, etc. Friends swear by Garlic cloves/ capsules to ward off mosquitos; what is the appropriate dosage in mg, etc.? I’ve started 440mg x2/day, and also take Quercetin 250mg x2/day (less = migraines, more=rebound).
PS you recommended the Quercetin, and my son can now eat dairy w/o rash!

Garlic does not seem to help with healing general insect bites, but it is usually extremely effective at keeping mosquitos from biting you. I start with a dose of at least 1000 mg per day, so your dose of 880 is close to that level. If you are still getting bitten, increase the dose up to 2000 mg per day. Try aloe vera on the bites to see if it will reduce the itchiness. I have another treatment option has been extremely effective in reducing allergic reactions generally, but you will need to contact my office for specific information (801) 302-5397.  This is especially helpful if you do not like the smell associated with garlic in some people. Stay on the Quercetin as it reduces the histamine release at the time of an allergic reaction.

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Honey for Allergies!

allergies. you didn’t mention raw local honey. it does amazing things for people with outdoor allergies. a tablespoon a day.

Thank you for adding this trick to the local community regarding another reason to use raw honey for their sweetener.  In order for the raw honey to help with allergies, it needs to be local raw honey.  It will have the pollen from the local community, and not honey bees pollinating in a different allergy region.

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Natural Remedies for Allergies

My adult son suffers from environmental allergies causing fatigue, sneezing, runny itchy nose, and itchy watery eyes. He has been taking the generic of Zyrtec for several years which has helped considerably. He is now completing his application to the Army Air program to become a pilot and has discovered that Zyrtec is a medication that will keep him from qualifying. What natural remedies can we try to keep his allergies under control?

I have found that many of my patients can come off their anti-histaminics with a product called D-Hist.  It has quercetin and stinging nettle in it that help with the triggers that cause the symptoms of allergy.  His best treatment is to find a practitioner that does NAET so he can be desensitized to the environmental allergies.

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Chronic Sinusitis

My daughter has chronic sinus problems and bronchitis. She has had these kind of problems since she was little. As a teenager we gave up on regular doctors and antibiotics and I treated her with more natural things. She calls me daily for advice on what to do. I am out of ideas. Any suggestions?

Chronic sinus problems and bronchitis usually have an allergic basis. In my office I do a form of allergy treatment that is highly effective called “AllDeSen” (allergy desensitization).  My treatment method uses a number of techniques that I have studied or developed over the years.  It is partly based on a technique called “NAET.”

Find an NAET practitioner near you to muscle test for dust, mold, danders, carpet, foods, chemicals, anything she can think of. Quercetin and stinging nettle act as anti-histaminics, and are safe herbs. There are immune builders–andrographis, resveratrol, beta-glucan, maitake and sheitake mushrooms, cat’s claw.

She should be taking plenty of vitamin C and NO SUGAR, as it depresses the immune system. Energy work like acupuncture, Jin Shin Jyutsu, craniosacral may also prove useful. The Neti pot with saline solution can soothe the nasal and sinus passages also.