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Natural Alternatives to Antihistamines

Show Your Liver Some Love

Q:  Every spring I suffer from allergy symptoms and would like to avoid over the counter Antihistamines. What are natural alternatives to cope with allergy season?

A: We welcome the green of spring after the drab winter melts away…until we start experiencing itchy eyes, a watery nose, congestion and sometimes headaches. Here comes allergy season!!

An allergenic response is a hypersensitive reaction of the body’s immune system to a substance that is normally harmless (the allergen). The body’s first exposure to an allergen initiates the production of immune molecules called IgE antibodies, which then attach to and “sensitize” specific cells of our immune system called mast cells and basophils. The body is now primed for an immediate immune response should it come in contact with the allergen again.  On subsequent exposure, the allergen interacts with these “sensitized” cells and unlocks the release of histamine and inflammatory chemicals, creating the all too familiar allergy symptoms of asthma, hay fever, sinusitis, throat swelling, hives, eczema, migraines, itchiness, red watery eyes, and digestive upset.

Fortunately, there are ways to naturally prime your body for allergy season and manage acute symptoms. Prepare for allergy season with some liver love. The liver plays a vital role in our health, performing up to 500 functions. It is responsible for processing everything we come in contact with and filters out toxic substances. Why is this relevant to allergies? If the amount of a substance in the bloodstream is too great for the liver to process efficiently, the immune system will intervene and may recognize the molecule as an “allergen” and create antibodies against it. The liver is also responsible for breaking down histamine. If it is overburdened, histamine breakdown may be inhibited, leaving it in the bloodstream longer and the body symptomatic. To support healthy liver function look for botanicals like Milk Thistle, Dandelion Root, Globe Artichoke, Oregon Grape and Culver’s Root.

Homeopathic remedies are a great alternative to antihistamines for acute relief because they are gentle, non-toxic, safe for children and won’t interfere with other medications or supplements. Homeopathy is a system of medicine where the individual is given a substance that has been greatly diluted in an attempt to stimulate the body’s own natural defenses. There are a wide variety of remedies that can help with allergies depending on your symptom picture such as Allium Cepa, Sabadilla, Gelsemium, Alumen Chromicum and Acidum Formicicum.

Combinations of such remedies prove to be very effective in alleviating the symptoms of an allergy attack. The combination of Alumen Chromicum, Acidum Formicicum and Gelsemium has proven to be dependable, and in one observational study, there was a reported 89.5% improvement in individual symptoms for participants.

Dr. Michelle Pobega, HBSc, ND runs a naturopathic practice east of downtown Toronto, and is a consultant at The Big Carrot Wholistic Dispensary. Connect at @MPobegaND or on Facebook.