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Alternative Allergy Treatments that Can Work
A recent ABC News report took 10 common “myths and old wives' tales” to allergists to get feedback on what works and what doesn’t. Included in their list were the following. For the remaining, please see the original article. In the following sections, I’ll address a number of other drug-free alternatives:
Eating locally-produced honey:
According to ABC News, the feedback was mostly negative on this strategy. But they do acknowledge the positive results gleaned in a 2011 study, which found that patients diagnosed with birch pollen allergy found significant relief when they consumed birch pollen honey daily from November to March. During birch pollen season, compared to the control group, the patients using honey experienced a 60 percent reduction in symptoms; twice as many asymptomatic days; 70 percent fewer days with severe symptoms, and 50 percent decrease in usage of antihistamines.
While I believe there's truth to the anecdotal claims that local honey can help reduce symptoms of asthma, it's important to be aware that honey itself can also trigger in some cases severe allergic reactions, including anaphylactic shock. So clearly you should not attempt to use honey if you've ever experienced an adverse reaction to honey in the past. Also be careful and use it sparingly in the beginning until you've confirmed that you can tolerate it. Another important point to remember is that honey is high in fructose, which, in excessive amounts, can exacerbate pre-existing insulin resistance and wreak havoc on your body.
Flushing your nasal cavity with a neti pot:
This strategy is widely recommended, even by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Irrigating your sinuses will help flush out pollen and other irritants, helping you breathe a little easier.
Perhaps surprisingly to a lot of people, acupuncture has been shown to offer effective relief from allergy symptoms. A study published earlier this year found that those who went for weekly acupuncture treatments had significantly fewer breathing problems compared to those who did not receive acupuncture. However, the effect only lasted as long as they maintained their treatments. Still, this could be a viable option for seasonal allergy sufferers willing to get needled once a week while pollen counts are at their worst.
Here, the allergists claimed the findings were inconclusive, but I think there’s a lot of wiggle-room when you ask conventionally trained doctors and researchers to define what the “right” diet is. Most are simply clueless about using nutrition for optimal health. For example, genetically engineered (GE) foods, which are pervasive in the American diet, have been shown to cause food allergies. Ditto for various food additives. Recent research has also found that junk food increases a child’s risk of asthma and allergies, so certainly, avoiding such foods can, at the very least, reduce your risk.
To me, addressing your diet if you have allergies is a no-brainer.
An estimated 80 percent of your immune system is located in your gut, so supporting your digestive health is essential to also supporting your immune system, which is your primary defense system against ALL disease. Processed food, GE ingredients and synthetic additives all decimate the beneficial bacteria in your gut, thereby having a negative effect on your immune system. Ideally, you’ll want to avoid processed foods, focusing on organic, locally-grown foods instead (both to optimize your nutrition and avoid pesticides), and include fermented foods in your diet to optimize your gut flora, or use a high-quality probiotics supplement.
Additionally, as it pertains to your diet:
about one-third of seasonal allergy sufferers have something called "oral allergy syndrome,"4 in which your immune system is triggered by proteins in some foods that are molecularly similar to pollen. Your immune system looks at the protein molecule and says, "Close enough!" and attacks it. If you are allergic to ragweed, for example, you may have cross-sensitivity to melons, bananas, tomatoes, zucchini, sunflower seeds, dandelions, chamomile, and Echinacea. If you have a grass allergy, you may also react to peaches, celery, tomatoes, melons and oranges. If this applies to you, you’ll want to avoid such foods.
The MOST Important Allergy 'Treatment' You Need to Pay Attention to:
While I believe you certainly need to address your diet and could try any of the alternative strategies listed above, if you have asthma, optimizing your vitamin D levels is absolutely crucial. In fact, research suggests that vitamin D deficiency may be a primary underlying cause of asthma. This means that many are needlessly suffering with a potentially life threatening ailment, since vitamin D deficiency is easily remedied.
Ideally, you'll want to get your vitamin D from safe sun exposure. Beware that using sunscreen when outdoors effectively shields your skin from making any vitamin D. Another alternative is using a safe tanning bed, or if neither of those options are available, an oral vitamin D3 supplement. If you opt for a vitamin D supplement you also need to boost your vitamin K2. For more information on this, please see this previous article.
Whichever way you go, make sure to check your vitamin D levels to make sure you’re within the therapeutic levels of 50-70 ng/ml. If you get your levels to about 60 ng/ml there's a strong likelihood -- especially if you combine it with exercise and balancing out your omega-3 and omega-6 fats as described below -- that you will not experience asthma anymore.
Provocation Neutralization Allergy Treatment.
Addressing allergies takes a multi-faceted approach that involves optimizing your diet, intestinal health, vitamin D levels, and avoiding potential triggers. Typically, allergy sufferers tend to arm themselves with a variety of antihistamine pills, nose sprays and eye drops in anticipation of allergy season. But these drug treatments come with their own set of side effects, and relief is short lived. And it's been my experience that conventional allergy testing, whether done through the blood or skin, works for only 20 to 30 percent of patients. It is also quite inconvenient, as you need to go to the doctor's office every week for months or perhaps years, and it can take several years to be effective.
Provocation neutralization (PN) allergy testing and treatment offers many allergy sufferers permanent relief without adverse side effects. The success rate for this approach is about 80 to 90 percent, and you can receive the treatment at home. I offered this effective treatment for many years in my office.
The provocation refers to "provoking a change" and neutralization refers to "neutralizing the reaction caused by provocation." During provocation-neutralization, a small amount of allergen is injected under your skin to produce a small bump called a "wheal" on the top layers of your skin, and then it is monitored for a reaction. If you have a positive reaction, such as fatigue, headache, or a growth in the size of the wheal, then the allergen is neutralized with diluted injections or with drops that go in your mouth of the same allergen. If you are interested in pursuing PN, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine5 (AAEM) has a list of physicians and offices that are trained in this highly effective and recommended technique.
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