"Allergies" or "allergic reactions"--some of which are referred to as "hypersensitivity reactions" in the scientific community--are at epidemic (if not pandemic) levels right now. Different theories are being proposed as to why this is so but the most convincing one (according to some experts) is that ubiquitous toxic chemicals and biological agents in our food, water and air are to blame.
Since these potentially pathological chemicals and biological agents were not as prevalent (if they could be found at all where we find them today) in the past as they are today, this view seems to make excellent sense. Also, some of these substances didn't even exist back then--even as recently as 100 mere years ago!
Consequently, in the past 75 years or so our bodies have had to adapt to toxic substances we were never meant to have to tolerate near us, much less absorb or imbibe against our will, without our knowledge or in spite of no long-term safety studies conducted to make sure these things were safe for human contact, use or consumption.
Regardless of what is causing the allergy epidemic, it's in your best interest to protect yourself. Some healthcare providers will tell you, among other things, to avoid natural surroundings--to, in essence, stay out of the woods and avoid exposure to such supposedly harmful things as "pollen." In some cases, this may be practical advice.
But avoiding Mother Nature may not be the best idea in the world, especially if by doing so you deprive yourself of such essential nutrients as Vitamin D. It turns out that Vitamin D (which we now recognize as an essential hormone regulator--not just a nutrient) may be even more important than previously thought.
Not only may Vitamin D help you avoid getting cancer (if you receive adequate amounts of it), prevent premature aging, and help your bones and teeth stay healthy, but it appears to also be able to regulate a number of essential hormones and natural chemicals in your body.
There is also the fact that staying away from nature will deprive you of getting fresh, clean air (depending on where you live). In other words, being told to stay out of the woods may subject you to lost benefits that may surpass the inconvenience and discomfort of your allergies--unless, of course, your allergies are of a more serious, potentially life-threatening "nature."
Besides, what if your allergies have more to do with all these ubiquitous toxic chemicals all around you? Air fresheners and sprays, household cleaners, embedded chemicals in clothing and plastic bags, preservatives in foods, chemicals that have seeped into your drinking/bathing water, volatile caustic chemicals in the air that you breathe--all of these things may be subjecting your body to conditions that may be triggering your allergies.
Your body may simply be telling you that it doesn't like what the environment is throwing at you (even if you can't see, smell or sense the toxicity). Pollen, in other words, may be the least of your problems--even if it's indeed adding to the hypersensitivity reactions.
While the experts duke it out, as we scramble to better understand what is actually causing these allergies, it's in your best interest to do whatever you can to protect yourself. With that in mind, here are some ideas that may help you better deal with, protect yourself from, and even, possibly, overcome your allergies:
(Important Notice: Please note that, for the sake of simplifying things, the words "allergy" or "allergic reactions" are being used in the broadest sense possible in this article; as such, all potential disease/symptom-inflicting reactions brought about by a foreign substance (whether biological or chemical) in the human body (either involving the immune system or not) qualify, including autoimmunity, toxic reactions, sensitivity/intolerance, side-effects, anaphylactic response, and all sub-categories of hypersensitivity reactions.)
1. Filter the air that is coming in. Most air conditioners filter the air coming in but your best bet is an air conditioning or filtration system that uses HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters.
2. Consider taking natural supplements thought to fight off or help prevent allergic reactions. Of course, talk to your doctor before taking any of these. Possibilities may include:
- Butterbur (leaf extract ZE-339), a natural antihistamine
- Plant-based phleum pratense (timothy grass)
- Pycnogenol (derived from the bark of the tree Pinus pinaster)
- Organic oregano oil (it may help reduce histamines in the blood, thus countering allergic reactions and the swelling that may accompany such)
- Honey (some people theorize that it may help inoculate people against the effects of pollen; honey may also provide other health benefits that can help your body fight off the effects of allergies)
- Organic flax seed & hemp seed oils (provide essential fatty acids your body needs to fight off infections)
- Peppermint tea (the menthol in it is a natural decongestant and expectorant)
- Green tea (the methylated epigallocatechin gallate it contains is an antioxidant capable of inhibiting allergic reactions)
- Spirulina (this & the following 2 herbs/supplements help reduce inflammation, reduce swelling, and can improve breathing)
- Bromelain (a natural enzyme in pineapples)
- Eucalyptus oil (a menthol-like anti-inflammatory, decongestant, antiviral & antibacterial agent, it can be used for steam inhalation--yet, don't apply on skin or swallow such since it's toxic; also use only according to special instructions; consult a physician before use)
Things to avoid include:
a. Chamomile tea (not recommended for people with ragweed allergies)
b. Dairy products & processed wheat (these can be congestion-promoting substances)
3. Get rid of allergens you keep bringing into your home. Wash hands regularly (especially every time you leave the house; take a bath or a shower after coming back into the house; change clothes and shoes you wore outside; etc).
4. Wear a mask (e.g., one rated as N95 or higher), especially when mowing the lawn, cleaning the gutters, vacuuming, gardening, sweeping, etc.
5. Eat a healthy diet. The nuts, fruits, herbs and vegetables (preferably organic) you consume should provide the nutrients your body needs so that your immune system works at peak capacity. Not eating right may be leave your body too weak to deal properly with allergens. This nutrients can also help for reactions not involving the immune system.
6. Avoid processed/packaged, canned and fast food. These foods contain a wide array of potentially toxic chemicals and biological agents that may trigger allergic or intolerance/sensitivity reactions in your body. Your best bet is to eat natural foods and to cook from scratch.
7. Consider growing your own fruits, herbs and vegetables. This may be the only way to avoid the many pesticides, herbicides, insecticides and the thousands of other nasty "ides" (i.e., glyphosate) poisoning us and being overused/misused by the industrial farming system now in place.
8. Use nasal rinses (especially after being outdoors, being exposed to dusty conditions, etc.). These can help get rid of accumulated dust mites & pathogens (including bacteria) in the nasal passages, decrease post nasal drip, and thin out mucus. Using a neti pot or bulb syringe, mix distilled/sterile water (never using tap water, which may be contaminated), salt and baking soda; pour this mixture into one nostril, letting it drip out of the other nostril.
9. Drink warm fluids--i.e., tea, soup, etc. Breathe in the steam as you slowly and cautiously sip the hot brew.
10. Take hot showers or baths as needed each day, in filtered water. Since the water coming into your house is probably contaminated with several toxic chemicals (which may, among other things, be triggering allergic reactions), do filter not just your drinking water but your bathing water, if possible. A whole-house water filtration system may be in order, if you can afford one.
11. Learn to clean your house more safely and adequately. For instance, avoid most cleaning chemicals since they may be making your allergies worse (if not triggering them to begin with). Instead, choose natural cleaning substances such as vinegar and baking soda, both of which can kill germs without also harming you. Also, use only HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaners. Unfiltered vacuum cleaners often only help spread the allergens and germs that may be worsening, if not triggering, your allergies.
12. Avoid known allergy triggers. By now, you may already have a rough idea what may be triggering your allergies. Some common possibilities include cigarette smoke (avoid places that still allow this nasty practice), most air fresheners (which often contain toxic & carcinogenic chemicals), aerosol sprays, wood-burning smoke, leaf-burning smoke, etc.
13. Try acupuncture. Some people claim that it may help with allergies. Unless you are familiar with or have used this type of treatment before, consult a doctor before trying this option.
14. Get allergen skin tests. Rather than guessing what may be triggering your allergies, let a dermatologist run a series of tests to see what you are allergic to. Recognize, though, that there is no way to test for every possible allergen that may apply. There are simply too many chemicals and natural allergens out there.
15. Use eye drops. Preferably under the guidance of an ophthalmologist, consider getting antihistamine drops with ketotifen.
16. Use decongestants, preferably by first consulting a doctor. These can help shrink nasal tissue. Be especially cautious about decongestants if you suffer from HBP, glaucoma and thyroid disease.
17. Use nasal sprays with steroids or, what's safer, saline solutions. The latter may be specially helpful when dealing with excessive dryness.
18. Preferably with the assistance of a healthcare provider, consider taking antihistamines. These are especially useful if your symptoms include sneezing, a runny nose, watery/itchy eyes, etc. In response to some allergen attacking you, your body produces histamines. These medicines help block their effect. Some antihistamines, though, can make you drowsy. Some choices that generally don't include fexofenadine, desloratidine, cetirizine, and loratadine (Claritin).
19. For allergic reactions that may seriously affect breathing (especially for those suffering from asthma), bronchodilators may help; these are generally dispensed/recommended, as needed, by a physician. These devices help relieve asthmatic attacks and bronchospasms.
20. Preferably obtained with medical guidance, have on hand injectable epinephrine. The most dangerous aspect of any allergic reaction is that it may lead to anaphylaxis (the worst aspect of which is an inability to breathe in enough oxygen to keep your heart and brain going). This device may be the best DIY tool (without the aid of an emergency room trauma team) for countering such an extreme life-threatening allergic reaction.
21. For allergic reactions involving skin rashes, redness or other forms of irritation, skin moisturizers and hydrocortisone may be of great help.
22. In order to let other people (especially medical personnel) know that you have specific allergies, consider wearing a medical ID bracelet and other such devices.
23. Consider purchasing and using dust-proof pillow cases and bed and/or mattresses covers. These are resistant to the buildup of dust mites and other potential allergens.
24. Utilize a high-quality dehumidifier to get rid of air-borne mold and other allergens that thrive in humid conditions.
25. Take a bath before going to bed. This will make you feel fresher and may help wash off allergens you have accumulated from that day. If you do this routinely, this may help keep allergens from accumulating on your bedding material.
26. Check into NRG Laser technology. This system is said to help identify/manage allergies.
27. Spend more time near bodies of water. Such places (especially near the sea) have lower pollen content. Also, because more breezes may be felt in such surroundings, the air may be cleaner and more comfortable.
28. If your allergies have to do with botanical substances, strive to avoid the woods and the great outdoors or indoor-grown gardens/plants. Actually, don't avoid Mother Nature altogether or all the time. The benefits (such as absorbing more Vitamin D) of being in natural surroundings will often exceed or surpass the discomfort that accompanies allergies--except maybe in extreme cases. Consult a doctor before implementing any long-term strategies.
29. Some people say that keeping salt lamps nearby at home and at work helps in managing allergy symptoms. You may have to try this idea on your own to see if they actually help.
30. Consider switching to organic and biodegradable cleaning products, cosmetics and personal hygiene products--in other words, products that don't use synthetic and potentially harmful/harsh chemicals.
28. Be smart about when you do outdoor work or play. Remember, for example, that the pollen count is highest/worse between the hours of 5am and 10am. Also, avoid the sun when it is hottest and outdoor exposure when the ozone levels are too high.
29. Consider permanently getting rid of (or moving to an apartment, if you rent, that doesn't include) rugs and carpets. These things only collect and efficiently trap dust, pollen, and a rich variety of germs & other allergens. Linoleum, tiles and wood floors are a much better trade-off for people who have allergies or who want to avoid developing/worsening them.
30. Consider vacating your house or work space of dust-collecting clutter. Also, do make sure that your cleaning routine includes dusting off surfaces on a regular basis, preferably using dusting tools that trap rather then wildly spread dust and other allergens.
31. Utilize portable air cleaners, possibly putting one in each room. The only way to beat this is by installing a whole-house air filtering system (preferably using HEPA filters); usually this comes in the form of a heating, ventilation & air conditioning system or HVAC.
32. Periodically use a vaporizer. The steam these machines emit can be very therapeutic; using them too often, though, may create unhealthy levels of humidity, especially if overused. Be sure to use distilled or sterile water. Keep the device clean (otherwise you may be spreading germs and potential allergens) and be careful what you put in these devices.
Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid allergies or allergic reactions completely or permanently. In fact, allergic reactions can be indications that your immune system is working (even if in this case "over-reacting"). In most cases, allergic reactions aren't particularly serious. They can be an indication, however, that you have been exposed to something that just didn't agree with your body.
As a general rule, you should avoid those things that seem to be triggering these allergies and allergic reactions, if you can find out what these things are. Because there are so many potential allergens these days (much more so than in the past), though, the best that you may be able to do is simply take steps to decrease the chances of experiencing allergies.
You can start by following the steps/suggestions listed above, after consulting with a physician/healer of your choice that specializes in allergies and allergy-like reactions. Hopefully, by practicing some basic precautions (such as by avoiding products that may contain allergy-inducing chemicals and biological agents), you can greatly diminish the chances of succumbing to allergies and allergic reactions.
When you do experience them, you can also be better prepared than other people who didn't bother to adopt similar precautions.
Copyright, 2016. Fred Fletcher. All rights reserved.
References and Resources
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