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Many people suffer from allergies during the changing of the seasons.  Symptoms range from mild irritation of the eyes to nasal congestion and severe sinus pressure headaches.  Since each case is individual, allergy medications are inadequate or come with the consequence of side affects.  This is where Holistic Medicine often outperforms Allopathic Medicine.  It has proven successful in controlling seasonal allergy reactions without any negative affects.

Allergies stem from an over-reaction of the immune system.  The body mistakenly identifies a non-toxic substance as an intruder.  The body attempts to ward off the perceived invasion by sending an overabundance of white blood cells into the bloodstream.  Since there is no true toxin present, this action causes more harm than the triggering substance itself.  Ove 22 million people in the United States suffer from seasonal allergies, also referred to as Hay Fever.  The most likely irritants are pollen, dust, and mold spores.  In late spring and early summer there is a distinct increase in the number of people affected by respiratory allergies.  This is due to an influx of grass, tree, and flower pollen into the air combined with more time spent outdoors.

A common approach to relieving allergies is to suppress the symptoms with over-the-counter or prescription-strength drugs.  Unfortunately, these often have negtive affects such as drowsiness, hyperactivity, and dry mouth.  In some cases, these medications simply do not provide relief.  For individuals who fall into these scenarios, or simply wish not to rely on drugs, a natural solution to a nature-related problem does exist.

Holistic medicine works best when treatment is tailored to the person; therefore, individuals with moderate to severe symptoms should consult with a healthcare professional experienced in herbal or natural medicine.  In any case, prevention is always of utmost importance.  Nutrition is always the first step in both prevention and healing.  Consuming nutrient-rich foods enable the body to function optimally.  It is no secret that vegetable, fruit, and water consumption is vital to good health.  Limiting intake of dairy, starches, sugar and instant foods is another important factor.  Supplementing with a good-quality multi vitamin, Coenzyme Q10, and yogurt (the only exception to the no-dairy rule) will encourage proper immune function.  To ease allergy symptoms one can take stinging nettle leaf, horehound, wild cherry bark, or mullein leaf; all of which are available in most health food stores.  To fully address the whole system, a well-balanced herbal formula is best.  Although herb-drug reactions are rare, it is important to be informed about medications and supplements one is taking.  Acupuncture is another option for relieving sinus pressure and discharge.  In addition, it aids in restoring proper function to the body's natural defense mechanisms.

Even for the most severe seasonal allergies, there is hope for individuals who wish to find alternatives to drugs.  As with most medical issues, it is important to contact a qualified health care provider for the best possible individual solution.

S. Swearenge, DOM, AP  

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