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The Best Natural Over-the-Counter Sinus Remedies: Effective Solutions for Your Sinus Problems
April 30, 2022 11:04 AM
Author: Darrell Miller
Subject: The Best Natural Over-the-Counter Sinus Remedies: Effective Solutions for Your Sinus Problems
Sinus problems are a common occurrence during the winter months. Cold weather, dry air, and allergens can all contribute to sinus congestion and inflammation. If you are looking for an over-the-counter sinus remedy that will provide relief from your symptoms, you have come to the right place! In this blog post, we will discuss some of the most effective over-the-counter sinus remedies on the market. We will also provide tips on how to choose the right one for you. So don't suffer any longer - read on for information on the best over-the-counter sinus remedies available today!
What are the most common symptoms of sinus problems?
Sinus problems are very common, and the symptoms can vary depending on the severity of the issue. One of the most common symptoms is a feeling of congestion or fullness in the sinuses. This can be accompanied by pain and pressure in the forehead, cheeks, or around the eyes. Other common symptoms include a runny nose, cough, sore throat, and fatigue. In some cases,sinus problems can also lead to fever and difficulty breathing. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor so that you can get proper treatment.
What are the causes of sinus problems?
Sinus problems are a common and often frustrating issue, with a wide range of underlying causes. From environmental irritants like pollen and dust to infectious agents like bacteria and viruses, there are an almost limitless number of possible culprits behind sinus troubles. Additionally, certain foods, medications, or other habits can also affect the delicate balance of mucus in the sinuses. Ultimately, understanding the various factors that influence a person's susceptibility to sinus problems is the key to effectively managing these conditions. By identifying any triggers or risk factors one can minimize the impact of sinus issues on everyday life.
What are the best natural over-the-counter sinus remedies available today?
Sinusitis is a condition that affects the sinuses, the small, air-filled cavities located around the nose and eyes. It occurs when these cavities become inflamed, often due to a viral infection. Sinusitis can be extremely painful, causing congestion, headaches, and facial pain. While there are many over-the-counter medications available to treat sinusitis, some people prefer to use natural remedies. One popular natural remedy is steam inhalation. This involves inhaling steam from a pot of boiling water or from a humidifier. The steam can help to loosen mucus and reduce inflammation. Another popular option is saltwater irrigation, which involves using a neti pot or nasal sprayer to rinse the sinuses with warm saltwater. This can help to flush out irritants and ease congestion. Natural remedies are often safe and effective, making them a good option for treating sinusitis.
Luckily, there are a number of effective natural over-the-counter remedies that can help to alleviate symptoms like congestion and inflammation. For example, nettle leaf is a popular herb with a long history of use in naturopathic medicine. Rich in minerals and anti-inflammatory compounds, it can help to clear out toxins from the sinuses while also soothing swelling and reducing pain. Other possible remedies include quercetin, an antioxidant found in many fruits and vegetables that has been shown to have antihistamine effects, and anti-histamine formulas containing herbs or plant oils that naturally regulate histamine levels. Ultimately, the best remedy for your individual sinus issues will depend on your specific symptoms and preferences.
Nettle leaf to relieve sinus allergy symptoms.
As we have said, allergies are a common problem, affecting millions of people worldwide. They can cause a range of symptoms, from mild sniffling and sneezing to severe congestion and difficulty breathing. Many people rely on over-the-counter medications to alleviate their allergy symptoms, but these drugs can have undesirable side effects. Fortunately, there are natural alternatives that can be just as effective in relieving allergy symptoms. One such remedy is nettle leaf. Nettle leaf has been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments, including allergies. It works by inhibiting the release of histamine, which is one of the main compounds that triggers allergy symptoms. In addition, nettle leaf has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce congestion and swelling. If you're looking for a natural way to relieve your allergy symptoms, nettle leaf may be worth trying.
Quercetin and allergies
Quercetin is a potent antioxidant that has been found to be effective in preventing and treating a variety of health conditions, including allergies. Many people are familiar with quercetin as an antihistamine, an effect that is due to its ability to inhibit the production of "histamines" in the body. Histamines are the chemicals responsible for triggering allergic reactions such as watery eyes, runny nose, itching, and sneezing. By blocking their production, quercetin can effectively reduce or even eliminate these symptoms. Furthermore, quercetin has also been found to strengthen lung function by reducing inflammation in the Airways and protecting against oxidative damage. Overall, quercetin may be an ideal natural remedy for alleviating allergy symptoms.
Cayenne and Allergies
Cayenne is a popular spice that is prized for its pungent, spicy flavor. In addition to being used in cooking, however, cayenne has also been shown to be an effective remedy for certain allergies. Studies have found that the active ingredient in cayenne, capsaicin, can help to block inflammatory responses in the body and neutralize histamine, the chemical that triggers allergic reactions such as sneezing and watery eyes. As a result, regular consumption of cayenne may help to reduce allergic symptoms and improve overall quality of life for those affected by allergies. Whether through fresh peppers or cayenne powder or supplements, incorporating this powerful spice into your diet may be a great way to treat your seasonal allergies naturally.
Is there a supplement that combines them all? Yes, Solaray Sinus Source?
Yes, there is a supplement that combines all the key ingredients typically found in nature-based sinus cleansers and decongestants. This supplement is called Solaray Sinus Source, and it contains a combination of three active ingredients: nettle leaf, quercetin, and cayenne pepper. Each of these ingredients has been shown to provide natural relief from sinus problems, helping to reduce inflammation, congestion, and other unwanted symptoms. By combining these powerful botanicals into one convenient formula, Solaray Sinus Source provides a safe and effective way to support healthy sinuses. So if you're looking for a natural solution to your sinus woes, look no further than this powerful blend!
Study confirms the healing potential of black cumin for asthmaticpatients
February 27, 2019 09:57 AM
Author: Darrell Miller
Subject: Study confirms the healing potential of black cumin for asthmaticpatients
A recent Annals of Saudi Medicine article suggests that black cumin can have significant benefits for the respiratory health of people with asthma. Researchers from Saudi Arabia’s Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University conducted a clinical trial involving 76 asthma patients. They supplemented the patients’ maintenance inhaler regimens with either one gram or two grams of black cumin, or else a placebo. Subsequent evaluation found that those who had received any amount of black cumin supplementation saw better improvement in lung function relative to those who did not receive any.
- A study published in the “Annals of Saudi Medicine” suggests that taking black cumin along with regular maintenance inhaler therapy is effective for people with asthma.
- Asthma, which is caused by chronic inflammation in the lungs, is incurable and causes recurring periods of wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing.
- The researchers who used about seventy-six participants for the study examined how black cumin has an effect on inflammation of the airways and airflow restriction in asthmatic patients.
"Research suggests that black cumin, also known as Nigella sativa, can help people with asthma."
Read more: https://www.naturalnews.com/2019-01-20-healing-potential-of-black-cumin-for-asthmatic-patients.html
This "Golden Honey" Mixture is The Strongest Known Natural Antibiotic
September 05, 2017 12:14 PM
Author: Darrell Miller
Subject: This "Golden Honey" Mixture is The Strongest Known Natural Antibiotic
There is a golden honey mixture that is the strongest known natural antibiotic. Honey is very rich in antioxidants as well as essential vitamins. It has regenerative properties and it fights against the negative effects of free radicals. It strengthens the tissue and increases the number of antibodies. It helps to reduce mucus in the airways as well. Turmeric is a great antibiotic as well. It is a natural painkiller. It balances inflammation in our tissue.
- Normally, each new generation of pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory medication, put out by companies is stronger than the previous, meaning their side effects are also stronger and more long-lasting.
- To promote the body's own immunological response, that will help alleviate inflammation, a mixture of honey and turmeric is useful.
- Honey, which is rich in antioxidants and vitamins, reduces mucus, while waging war against cell-attacking free radicals, fortifying the tissues and upping antibody production.
"Anti-inflammatory medication is used in order to eliminate excessive inflammation in the body, caused by our immune system as it defends itself from harmful pathogens."
Read more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ol_kw9FNceI
Can Celadrin Help Joint Pain?
March 05, 2014 08:08 AM
Author: Darrell Miller
Subject: Can Celadrin Help Joint Pain?
In clinical studies, Celadrin cream application has been demonstrated to lessen joint torment in less than 30 minutes. This quite viable, all-common mitigating medication holds a protected mix of specific greasy acids and some menthol's to help reduce torment in the joints, advertise joint flexibility and grease and to help smooth sore muscles.
How can it function?
A long time involving usage in addition to strenuous action can certainly reduce the mobility of your joint parts in addition to deterioration your water that ones your joint parts via pain, ultimately producing osteoarthritis. Celadrin gives remedy in addition to rejuvenation of those joint parts. The item functions by lubricating your mobile walls, so improving your extra padding power involving joint parts in addition to bones. Fat have also been proven to avoid your routine involving redness, making an effort to relieve pain within the joint parts in addition to muscular tissues. When you suffer from muscle mass in addition to joint, Celadrin ointment affords the relief you have to make it through your worktime. Analyzed from prime educational facilities in addition to major medical stores, Celadrin ointment gives relief in order to aching muscular tissues in addition to joint parts.
It provides lubrication in addition to works just like a "cushion" among joint parts in addition to cartilage. Rigid joint parts in addition to pain are generally as a result of bad lubrication. Celadrin Product gives remedy in order to fatigued, aching muscular tissues in addition to joint parts. The majority of people think outcomes inside a half-hour.
Scientifically Efficient Joint pain Pain relief
The results involving human being specialized medical trial offers assist the effectiveness of Celadrin ointment. In a double-blind placebo-controlled trial run released within the Journal involving Rheumatology, forty five participants along with uncomfortable knee joint parts - ingested both Celadrin Mutual Proper care Pain relief or even a placebo ointment to put on topically double every day intended for 1 month. Members have been evaluated on several orthopedic procedures involving development. At the conclusion in the examine, your analysts known that the Celadrin had been a simple yet effective therapy intended for enhancing knee mobility, chance to ascend/descend stAirways, chance to surge via seated, go in addition to have a seat, in addition to unilateral sense of balance. No changes have been welcomed in your placebo class. Another examine involving 28 people who have arthritis in the knee additionally revealed major improvements throughout knee function, range of motion in addition to pain decrease in a matter of a single week involving utilizing Celadrin ointment.
The Benefits of Forskolin
December 24, 2012 07:58 AM
Author: Darrell Miller
Subject: The Benefits of Forskolin
Forskolin is the chemical substance extracted from the root of a plant called coleus forskolin also known as Indian coleus plant. This plant originated in India and its part of mint family. This herb is used to treat various health conditions.
One of the benefits of this herb is its great effectiveness in losing weight. For those people who love looking good, then this product can be of great help. This herb can greatly help wit the reduction of excess fat; this helps in speeding up the process of losing weight.
Forskolin can work in two days.
It works first through stimulating lipolysis and then breaking down the lipids containing fats. This is takes much less time compared to other traditional methods since it raises the cAMP production levels in patients. CAMP regulates glycogen, sugar and lipid. Scientists have proven that this herb can be very beneficial to obese patients.
Stimulates Thyroid function
Secondly, Forskolin helps in losing weight through is ability to increase the production of thyroid hormone levels. When thyroid production is increased, our metabolism rate increases which leads to weight loss. Typical dosage is 25 to 60mg of forskolin herb per day. This is divided into 2 or 3 doses. Weight loss can be experienced within a few weeks of regular use of this herb. This herb also helps in lowering blood pressure, therefore preventing blood clots.
An improved blood flow helps maintain a healthy heart. This herb also helps in maintaining healthy lungs. Forskolin is also used in treatment of eczema and psoriasis. It's also beneficial to asthma patients by aiding in relaxing the Airways, this helps in respiration process. This product has no known side effects, it can also be taken along with other caffeine's; this provides a boost in the stamina. However, make sure you see your doctor for proper guidance on how to use this product.
What is Cordyceps Mushroom good for?
March 10, 2012 12:00 AM
Author: Darrell Miller
Subject: What is Cordyceps Mushroom good for?
Cordycep mushrooms have been receiving a lot of hype lately, as they are said to have many compounds that can benefit ones health. Cordycep mushrooms have been used for 1500 years in ancient Chinese history, and was proven to benefit a variety of factors. However, it seems as if people are having a tough time when it comes to looking for them, as they are known for being in natural habitats. Cordyceps itself is a type of fungus, and it includes over 400 kinds of described species. Cordyceps are abundant in tropical areas, as they tend to thrive better in humidity and high temperature. Cordyceps have also had an extensive history of being a medicinal fungi. Cordyceps are not really known in the Western world, as scientists have not been able to study it properly yet. However, since China has been studying the fungus for some time now, some of this fungus' secrets were already unfolded. The main reason to why Cordyceps have received so much attention is that the History Channel stated that if someone finds an ounce of Cordyceps, you will be given 900 dollars.
The Benefits To Taking A Supplement Of Cordycep.
One benefit to taking a supplement of cordycep is that it dilates the Airways of your lungs, allowing more oxygen to your lungs. Cordyceps are also known for fighting the means of womens infertility. It also enhances mens sexual performance and fuction by stimulating the sex hormones. Cordyceps helps in building muscle and even improve ones physical performance as well. It also has the capability to reduce the effects of fatigue, and has anti-aging properties as well. These help in strengthening the liver and kidney, as it improves the natural flow of your blood. They help strengthen and even enhance your immune system because it has the capability to increase and improve a huge amount of natural killer cells.
Where Can You Find Cordyceps In Nature Habitats?
Cordyceps can be found in a huge array of areas such as Australia, Asia, Europe, North America, China, and Russia. However, they tend to grow in the South areas of tropical places. The best places to look for cordyceps would have to be in the areas where ants climb the moment before they pass away. Those areas are tree branches and the bottom of tree leaves. They can also be found in tropical forests as well. The fruiting body of a Cordycep sort of has a grass-like appearance, making it easy for them to be spotted. They also kind of look like worms, and though they are technically mushrooms, in wild areas, they can grow on plants, insects, caterpillars, and a variety of other fungus' as well.
Cordyceps can be found in a huge array of areas, so you must learn and know exactly what they look like to actually find a couple ounces. Cordyceps are said to be worth a fortune, and its value has even increased throughout the years. Even if it's tough to find cordyceps, at least the reward that you are given is decent.
What Are The Health Benefits Of The Grain Quinoa?
February 13, 2012 01:57 AM
Author: Darrell Miller
Subject: What Are The Health Benefits Of The Grain Quinoa?
Quinoa is a gluten free seed rich in dietary fibers with creamy, fluffy and slightly crunchy texture. Its taste is somewhat nutty when cooked. It belongs to the family of spinach, beets, swiss chard and lamb's quarter.It is a complete protein grain with all the essential amino acids. There are nine essential amino acids known as the building blocks of protein. Amino acids help in building strong muscles and nourish the nerves.It is also rich in essential minerals such as manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and iron.
Quinoa is technically a seed, not a grain of a goose foot plant. The name quinoa came from Greek words chen which means goose and pou which means foot. This is because the leaves of the plant of quinoa seeds resemble the webbed foot of a goose.
Quinoa has been cultivated as early as the 12th century by the Incans, the ancient people of South America. They referred to quinoa as the "mother seed",considered as a sacred grain and gold of the Incans.They believed that it is a gift from gods that possesses enhancing properties.The emperor ritually planted and sowed the first quinoa seed of the season using his golden taquiza, a shovel like planting stick. Quinoa gives energy and increases oxygen to the relay teams of bare footed running messengers who lived in the mountains with an altitude considered high enough where oxygen level is reduced.This is because they were holding ash from quinoa plant and cocoa leaves. This combination increases oxygen in their body to sustain the runners increasing need for oxygen. In can armies also used quinoa to energize their body from frequent marching for days. Quinoa is part of the native Indian diet to increase their resistance to prevail over harsh living condition in the high mountains.
Today quinoa is making its name popular in the industry of wonder foods.It is so high in protein that builds and nourishes muscle tissues. It is used to treat people with migraine, diabetes and atherosclerosis. It is a good source of magnesium that relaxes the blood vessels. Magnesium reduces attack of migraine by improving blood and oxygen distribution to the brain.
Magnesium combined with high dietary fiber found in quinoa helps in maintaining healthy blood pressure and prevents cardiovascular diseases. Fibers absorb and eliminate bad cholesterol.It prevents plaque that blocks the arteries and enhances blood circulation.This process prevents atherosclerosis, the hardening of the arteries due to fat deposits and plaque buildup that narrows the arteries.
Quinoa is rich in anti oxidants that shields each cells from getting damaged caused by free radicals, pollution, alcohol and medication. It boosts the immunity and increases resistance from stress. Anti oxidants and fibers prevent risks of cancer and diabetes.Obesity and overweight are the most common risk factor of diabetes. Fibers remove toxins and excess fats, improve digestion and maintain healthy body weight to prevent diabetes.While antioxidants enhances cell regeneration and repair. This process lowers risks of cancer.
Quinoa is highin insoluble fiber thatprevents gallstones and helps in cleansing the liver. Whole grains like quinoa reduce asthma, allergic cough and wheezing in children. The protein in quinoa strengthens the muscle tissues of the air passage, thus prevents inflammation that narrows the Airways of asthma patients.
Can Quercetin And Bromelain Be Used As An Antihistamine?
December 22, 2011 07:59 AM
Author: Darrell Miller
Subject: Can Quercetin And Bromelain Be Used As An Antihistamine?
Bromelain and Quercetin
One of the most discomforting things that anyone can experience is allergic reactions. In more severe cases it is a big concern health wise and can easily be a cause of death but in less severe cases it can be a cause of so much annoyance. Severe cases can shut your throat in a matter of minutes and keep you from breathing and the more annoying once are the ones sometimes that are caused by dust or cat hairs as a couple of examples and it will cause you to sneeze all day long or trigger a running nose or something of that sort.
Simply put, it is a type of drug that is used to fight allergic reactions and it covers the minor to the more life threatening conditions. Each type of reaction also has a matching type of antihistamine however the bottom line is that it does one thing and that is to do what its name suggests, to counteract the chemical in our body known as histamine. This is the chemical which is released by our immune system when an allergen which is defined as a harmless external chemical, is exposed to the body. In a way an allergic reaction is our immune systems way of protecting us the problem is, in this case it is a false response. Histamine is a very powerful stimulant and has the ability to cause so much irritation within the body. The symptoms depends on the severity of the reaction, it ranges from itching, watery eyes, skin rashes, runny nose and the most life threatening one is closure of Airways.
It is a pigment from plants which are found mainly in onions, berries, apples and grapes. It is considered a flavonoid. Quercetin has been used in many countries for many years to improve blood vessel health naturally and has been part of natural medicine for years now. It also has been shown in some studies to have good potency as an antioxidant and has been shown to have the ability to reduce the risk of oxidative DNA damage which is a precursor to cancer.
This refers to the plant extract which is obtained from pineapples to put it in simple terms. This substance is known to be protease enzymes as they initiate the digestion of protein which is its main function. It also has been shown on various studies that it has antiviral capabilities. However its best known medical use is for treatment of arthritis and other inflammation based illness.
Both as antihistamines
Quercetin, aside from the health benefits mentioned above has been shown to be able to fight against allergic reactions and bromelain helps with its absorption so if put together it could be a potent one two punch against the common cold or flu but for severe cases against severe allergic reactions further research needs to be done to cement the idea that these substance can take the place of antihistamines.
May 08, 2009 10:00 AM
Author: Darrell Miller
L-Cysteine is what is known as a non-essential amino acid, meaning that it can be biosynthesized by the body and hence not an essential part of your diet. Due to its possessing a thiol side chain, it is termed a hydrophilic amino acid with an affinity for aqueous systems. Because of this it is relatively highly reactive, and is therefore an important component of a large number of enzymes and proteins.
Although, after all, it is not an essential amino acid, deficiencies can occur in the young and in the old, and also in those suffering certain metabolic diseases. Dietary sources include high-protein foods such as chicken, turkey, pork, dairy products and vegetables such as cereals, broccoli, garlic and onions.
The biochemistry of this amino acid begins with another amino acid known as serine, and also methionine. The latter is fist converted to homocysteine, which is then combined with serine to form cystathionine. This is then converted into cysteine and alpha- ketobutyrate. The thiol group is highly reactive and gives cysteine its biological properties.
L-Cysteine possesses strong antioxidant properties due to the thiol group which easily undergoes redox reactions. However, it is for its detoxification effect on the body that the amino acid is mainly taken as a supplement. It is, therefore, these properties that we shall discuss first.
Cysteine can reduce the toxic effects of alcohol, such as a hangover or the more serious liver damage. The by-product of alcohol metabolism that does most damage and is responsible for the majority of the negative after-effects of excessive alcohol consumption is acetaldehyde. L-Cysteine converts acetaldehyde into the more acceptable acetic acid, and so prevents the aldehyde from having too much of a negative effect on your health and well-being. However, the results obtained from such studies have been from animals only, and the therapeutic effects of cysteine have not yet been tested on humans.
What has been tested and is known is that L-cysteine is effective in the detoxification of heavy metals in the body. A common source of heavy metal toxicity is mercury from amalgam fillings in the teeth. Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared in 1989 that dental amalgams are a hazardous substance under the Superfund law, many people still have them in their mouths.
The thiol group and L-cysteine has a high affinity for mercury and other heavy metals, as previously stated, and a supplement can be used to remove from the body any mercury leached from mercury-based tooth fillings. It can also be used to bind to copper, lead and cadmium. Lead and cadmium are particularly toxic to the human body, and even though lead is no longer used in plumbing or paints, and cadmium in toys or paints, there are still many sources of these two heavy metals available that can lead to human toxification.
An L-cysteine supplement can be used to remove these heavy metals from the body. Any proteins containing cysteine will tightly bind heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, molybdenum, cobalt and mercury, and allow them to be excreted by the body in the usual fashion. This direct involvement in heavy metal detoxification is a very useful property of this amino acid.
Another detoxification application of L-cysteine is in direct involvement in protecting cellular glutathione levels, and also the prevention of the death of liver cells by acetaminophen poisoning. The latter is of particular interest to many people since acetaminophen is better known as paracetamol, and since this is a freely available over-the-counter drug, overdoses are not unknown. The result of an overdose is the necrosis of liver cells, with eventual liver failure and death.
The treatment of choice is N-acetylcysteine. If used within 10 hours of the overdose it is extremely effective, and even from 16 to 24 hours it is better than other controls. It is believed that the acetylcysteine liberates cysteine which, when available to the liver, enables the biosynthesis of glutathione. Glutathione can then maintain the production of the fifth metabolite required for the specific detoxification of the paracetamol/acetaminophen.
L-Cysteine is also an essential component in the biosynthesis of coenzyme A, an enzyme essential for the production of energy from fats and carbohydrates. It is also a very important component of hair, from which it is commercially produced. Without an adequate intake of L-cysteine the growth of healthy hair would not be possible.
There are several supplemental uses of L-cysteine including the treatment of bronchial conditions for which the amino acid can help to liquefy and clear mucus from the Airways and lungs. It is also used to protect against side effects of chemotherapy treatment of cancers and for medical treatments for excessive exposure to radiation.
However, there are certain situations in which L-cysteine should be avoided when at all possible. Diabetics should not use it, and neither should those suffering from cystinuria, whereby large quantities of amino acids, including cystine, are excreted in their urine. L-cystine, incidentally, is formed by oxidation of L-cysteine.
Paradoxically the amino acid is one of the several hundred additives made to tobacco by the cigarette companies. Although, as with the majority of tobacco additives, its purpose is unknown there are two possible reasons for its inclusion. L-Cysteine is a known expectorant, so it could be added to promote the expectoration of mucus in the lungs which is promoted by smoking, and it also increases the production off the antioxidant glutathione that is depleted in smokers.
There are several other non-medical uses for the amino acid, but it is for is its detoxification properties that it is most used as a supplement. However, because it is largely derived from human hair or duck feathers, it may not be classed as kosher or halal in spite of many claims made to that effect, though the more expensive source of microbial fermentation from corn sugar can be.
The substance is recognized as safe by the FDA, and must be labeled as L-cysteine when it is present in a preparation intended for its therapeutic effects. Keep in mind however, that it should be avoided by diabetics.
November 25, 2008 12:08 PM
Author: Darrell Miller
Subject: Allergy Remedies
According to the 2006 National Health Survey from the National Center for Health Statistics, it is estimated that about 17.6 million adult Americans suffer from hay fever, with 6.8 children also suffering. Even more, physicians state that more than 11 million office visits are by patients seeking relief from hay fever, which is also known as allergic rhinitis. Symptoms of hay fever include itchy eyes, runny nose, congestion, and an endless amount of sneezing. All of these symptoms are caused by an overacting immune response to a variety of possible triggers, which include pollen from plants, dust, dust mites, airborne pollutants, mold, and pet dander.
Hay fever is marked by inflammation of mucous membranes in the eyes, throat, ears, sinuses, nose, and lungs. Although the development of inflammation in allergies is complex, one of the most influential factors is immunoglobulin E (IgE), which responds to protein allergens. Although there is a genetic component to susceptibility to allergic response to certain triggers, the focus of allergy relief is on the events that occur as a reaction.
Various natural products offer allergy relief by targeting the factors in allergy pathology. Similar to other areas of immune health, fruits and vegetables are suggested for the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that they provide. Vitamin C is a major antioxidant in the airway surface liquid of the lungs; therefore, it can severely impact allergies and asthma. Low levels of vitamin C have actually been associated with asthma in both adults and children. Also, low levels of vitamin E have been associated with asthma and other wheezing illnesses. Combining antioxidant ingredients also provides additional relief. Therefore, by combining vitamins C and E with the antioxidant NAC, pollen-induced airway inflammation is inhibited by blocking ragweed oxidases which cause oxidative stress and inflammation in the Airways.
On its own, NAC reduces mucous viscosity and protects against lung tissue damage. According to scientists, lycopene may also be beneficial. As far as minerals are concerned, both magnesium and zinc have been proven to help. Quercetin has both antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties, allowing it to inhibit the release of histamine in nasal mucosa of allergic patients. Glucomannan was shown in a study to suppress allergy symptoms, while CLA reduces allergy symptoms such as sneezing.
One of the best natural remedies for allergies is comprised of botanicals such as licorice root, skullcap, pine bark extract, and butterbur. Licorice root offers anti-inflammatory activities along with aide in fighting IgE allergic reactions, while skullcap can restrict inflammatory cytokine production. Pine bark extract blocks the release of allergy troublemakers in the body even better than a known pharmacological histamine inhibitor.
Similarly, butterbur has abilities in blocking histamine release by IgE-sensitized mast cells and relieving allergy symptoms as effectively as drugs without the drowsy side effects. Although allergies are widespread and disrupt the daily lives of many people, they strike one out of every four Americans, affecting six times more than cancer. The mechanisms of allergic reactions in the body, especially those in the upper respiratory system, are becoming more and more well-known.
Natural products are available that can help to address these mechanisms, along with the mediators that produce the inflammation and symptoms that allergies create. Natural vitamin supplements are available at your local or internet health food store.
Vitanet ®, LLC
April 29, 2008 10:49 AM
Author: Darrell Miller
Subject: ButterBur Extract
Butterbur extract is taken mainly from the rhizome, root and leaves of the butterbur, a member of the daisy family. They are very hardy and have creeping underground rhizomes and large leaves like those of rhubarb. Another name given to it is the sweet Coltsfoot, and they generally grow in the temperate climates of Europe, North Africa and South west Asia. They like damp conditions, specifically marshes and ditches, and also riverbanks where there are always plentiful supplies of moisture.
It has been used by Native Americans for headaches and inflammation, and has been shown to be an effective remedy for hay fever and to provide relief from painful menstrual cramps. Butterbur has also been used throughout the middle Ages to treat fever and the plague, and has been recorded in the seventeenth century as being used for asthma, wounds and coughs. However, one of its most important applications is in restore bladder function in the incontinent and semi-incontinent.
Urinary incontinence is typified by an unusually high frequency of urination – more than 8 times a day, an immediate strong urge to pass water or leaking and involuntary urination. Any two of these three indicates urinary incontinence. As people age their bladders become smaller, and by definition the periods between urination will reduce. This does not, however, suggest that bladder size is the cause of urinary incontinence.
Urination is caused by the contraction of the smooth layered muscle that surrounds the bladder, called the detrusor, a contraction in turn caused by neurons both in the brain and in the detrusor itself. This naturally contracts and expands according to the volume of urine in the bladder, and once the bladder is about half full the brain will tell you that the detrusor is ready to contract to expel the urine. However, if the time is not convenient, the cortex will suppress this desire until a more convenient time.
In incontinence, the desire is suppressed but the neurons still fire to contract the detrusor, expelling urine at inconvenient moments. Butterbur contains the sesquiterpenes petasin and isopetasin, which are known to reduce spasms in smooth muscle tissue and in vascular walls. It can therefore be used to control the involuntary spasms that cause urine leakage or expulsion against the patient’s wishes. These sesquiterpenes are at highest concentration in the roots of the plant.
The effect that the sesquiterpenes have in inhibiting the synthesis of leukotriene in leukocytes tends to support this effect, since leukotrienes can cause contraction of vascular and smooth muscle tissue. Not only this, but the spasmolytic effect could also be explained by the inhibition of cellular calcium caused by the petasin isomers.
Many studies have indicated that the effectiveness of butterbur extract is also useful in the prevention of migraines. There has been a lot of research carried out on the use of butterbur extract on migraine sufferers, and the effective dose appears to about 75 mg twice daily. There is little evidence of it being a cure but as a prophylactic there appears no doubt of its efficacy: there have been too many positive results against placebos for its effect to be deniable.
It is significant that leukotriene can cause constriction of the small blood vessels in the veins, and so affect the flow of blood. Butterbur, in inhibiting its biochemical production, helps to keep these blood vessels open. Lekotrienes are also important components of inflammation, and altogether it appears that whatever the real cause of migraine, the petasin isomers in butterbur have an effect in inhibiting its initiation. Add to that the potential reduction in calcium content that can cause blood vessels to become less flexible, and the argument for its effectiveness is both irrefutable and well explained.
In one example of such a double blind study that is representative of many, a group of patients given 50 mg butterbur extract twice a day for twelve weeks experienced a 60% reduction in the frequency of attacks, a reduction in the severity of the attacks they did have, and a reduction in the length of the attacks. Although the vascular theory of the cause of migraine is no longer supported, maintenance of the vascular system appears to at least reduce the likelihood of attacks.
The effect of butterbur on asthma and other allergic reactions is also well documented. This again is due to its anti-spasmodic properties and inhibitory effect on the inflammatory immune response through the inhibition of leukotriene synthesis and the consequent positive effect on the metabolism of prostaglandin. Prostaglandins also constrict vascular smooth muscle cells, regulate the mediation of the inflammatory response and constrict general smooth muscle cells. All of these can lead a to a variety of disorders cause by smooth muscle spasms in additional to urinary incontinence, such as menstrual cramps, liver and gastrointestinal disorders and asthmatic conditions.
In one study of allergic rhinitis, administration of butterbur extract appeared to result in a reduction in the histamine and leukotriene content of nasal fluids and no difference was noticed between this treatment and histamine treatment. This was a useful study because histamines causes drowsiness and butterbur can be used as a substitute for histamine without the sedative effect. A study in Germany in 1993 has shown that the stomach ulceration caused by the anti-inflammatory medications for arthritis was reduced by the administration of butterbur extract
Cetirizine is a commonly prescribed prescription treatment for allergic conditions, and studies comparing that with butterbur demonstrated them to be equally effecting in reducing the symptoms typical of allergic reactions such as sneezing, runny nose and nasal congestion. 50% of the patients in the group took each and there was no difference in results. Again it was explained by the petasin limiting the production of leukotriene and histamine, both of which are produced by the immune response and promote mucous secretions and inflammation. They also constrict Airways that can be serious to asthma sufferers
These studies are simply providing scientific evidence and explanations for the tradition use of this plant for such conditions. Butterbur has been used for centuries to treat such conditions all over Western Europe, and once again the use of traditional medicine has been supported by modern investigative techniques.
Vitanet ®, LLC
Fight Histamine With Quercetin
February 11, 2008 03:48 PM
Author: Darrell Miller
Subject: Fight Histamine With Quercetin
Quercetin is one of the more powerful of the body’s antioxidants, and it can also be used to reduce the rate of histamine release by the body normally initiated by contact with an allergenic substance (for which your immune system has designed an antigen). We shall examine the biochemical mechanism which this is achieved, but first let’s have a closer look at quercetin and what it actually is.
Quercetin is what is known as a phytochemical, which is simply the scientific name for a chemical that is naturally produced by plants. Other phytochemicals include vitamin C and omega 3 fatty acids, so the term is very broad ranging for any substance that is produced by plants. It is commonly known as a flavanol, one of a family of compounds known as flavonoids that give color to plants.
It is a very active flavonoid, with very powerful antioxidant properties, in addition to acting as an anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory. Histamine is an amine released as part of the body’s immune response to allergenics, and quercetin inhibits its manufacture and release. This amine is an irritant and can itself cause inflammation and the other symptoms associated with allergies such as runny and itchy eyes, a stuffy nose, sneezing and itchy spots. Quercetin can be used to alleviate these symptoms by blocking the manufacture in the body of the histamine that causes them.
It demonstrates other anti-inflammatory properties such as alleviating the symptoms of arthritis, and also helps to destroy free radicals in the body through its strong antioxidant properties, but before we discuss how it does this we shall have a closer look at the mechanisms used in its effect in inhibiting histamine.
Calmodulin is a protein that is used to transport calcium ions, Ca++, across the membranes of certain cells in the body, and by doing so it helps to mediate a number of biochemical processes within the body, among them the immune response and inflammation. It should not be thought these are always unwelcome responses: on the contrary, they are the body’s way of reacting to foreign bodies and preventing more serious conditions from developing.
However, there are instances where the body can become sensitized to certain substances and overreact to their presence leading to conditions such as hay fever or, considerably more serious, asthma. These are just two of the undesirable manifestations of the human immune system that we would be better without. What quercetin does is to prevent calmodulin from properly binding to certain enzymic proteins and so suppress the effect of these proteins. Among these are the enzymes that control the secretion of histamine from mast cells.
Mast cells are found mainly in areas prone to injury and at the interface between internal tissues and outside world, such as the nose, mouth, lungs, eyes, blood vessels and feet. They contain granules rich in histamine that degranulate and released the histamine when the immune system detects foreign bodies such as pollen grains and dust mites, especially when the body has created antigens against them.
Quercetin suppresses the release of histamine from the granules in the mast cells by preventing the degranulation. The release of the histamine is not completely halted, but its effects are reduced and quercetin is used in the treatment of asthma where it is believed to help reduce the symptoms by reducing histamine-induced swelling in the Airways.
A similar application of this flavonoid is in reducing the inflammatory response to arthritis, the main cause of the swelling of this painful condition. Your skin can also be affected by inflammation that is partially controllable by quercetin. Collagen and fibronectin biosynthesis is increased that help to maintain not only healthy joints, but also to speed up the healing of wounds and repair damaged nerves. It is also believed that quercetin can hold back the effects of aging on the skin, and slow down the formation of wrinkles.
There are other applications of this versatile flavanol, including its effect on acute prostatitis where it reduces oxidative stress and the accompanying inflammation of the prostate gland. In fact, it is believed to have positive effect on many conditions caused by free radical oxidation and excessive reaction by the immune system causing inflammation. Apart from the allergies and arthritis previously referred to, quercetin is believed to have been effectively used in the treatment of gout, macular degeneration and heart disease, and it can also help to prevent the oxidation of low density lipoproteins (LDL) responsible for transporting cholesterol to where it is needed to repair major blood vessels.
When these lipoproteins become oxidized by free radicals then the cholesterol associated with them tends to be excessively deposited in the arteries it is meant to be repairing, and lead to atherosclerosis. This condition can lead to heart failure or to strokes if the blood vessels are in the brain.
Studies have indicated that the flavonoid might help to prevent certain cancers by preventing the nutrition of some types of cancerous cells, effectively killing them. Due to its phytoestrogen properties, quercetin can be used to bind to the sites in cancerous cells that are receptive to estrogen and so prevent their growth. Many types of cancerous cells need estrogen for their growth and proliferation, and phytoestrogens mimic the effect of this hormone. However, these are laboratory studies, and more work is required.
More certain is the effect of quercetin on heart disease due largely to the aforementioned control of cholesterol deposition in your arteries, but also through its ability to strengthen the capillaries. However, when all things are considered, it is in the properties of this non-allergenic bioflavonoid to fight histamine release that it finds it’s most popular and effective use.
So what is the best way to take quercetin? Like most bioflavonoids, it is available naturally in the majority of plant foods. Particularly rich sources are broccoli, red onions, red apple skins, black tea, red wine, red and purple berries and almost all dark green leafy vegetables.
However, the name of the game these days is to take measured doses, and while you should continue to eat these foods, you can also receive controlled doses by use of supplements. From 200 to 500 milligrams thrice daily is a good average dose, depending on the severity of your immune reaction or allergy. Bromelain is believed to improve its absorption in the gut, and quercetin is frequently provided with bromelain, which itself is also a good treatment for allergies and excessive response of your immune system to irritation.
Bromelain is an enzyme, generally extracted from pineapple, and treatments higher than the above doses of quercetin with or without bromelain are available online, although like any natural remedy you should inform your own physician of the dosage you are taking.
There is no better non-allergenic bioflavonoid to fight histamine and its potentially unpleasant effects on your body than quercetin.
Buy Quercetin at Vitanet ®, LLC
June 14, 2006 09:40 AM
Author: Darrell Miller
Advil – rash; ringing in the ears; headaches; dizziness; drowsiness; abdominal pain; nausea; diarrhea; constipation; heartburn; ulceration of the stomach and intestine; bleeding ulcers; black, tarry stools; weakness; orthostatic hypertension; reduced flow of blood to the kidneys; impaired function of the kidneys; congestive heart failure; asthma; disturbances of the gut; nausea; vomiting; diarrhea; indigestion; abdominal pain; bleeding of the stomach and intestine; perforation of the stomach and intestine; swelling of the lips, tongue and throat (angioedema); narrowing of the Airways (bronchospasm); fluid retention; hearing disturbances; decreased number of platelets in the blood (thrombocytopenia).
Bromelain Sinus Ease - Nature's Life
June 16, 2005 10:57 AM
Author: Darrell Miller
Subject: Bromelain Sinus Ease - Nature's Life
Bromelain Sinus Ease™
Nature's Life Sinus Products:
Sinus cavities are lined with delicate mucous membranes, which act as filters for your respiratory system. Normal sinuse tissues are pink and healthy. For many people, when their sinuses come in contact with allergens, pollutants or harmful micro-organisms, histamines are released as a protective measure by the immune system. Sinuses naturally respond by becoming irritated, red, and inflamed with these healing histamines. This process, called the natural inflammatory response, helps to neutralize and remove the irritants in sinuses cavities. Sometimes, however, the immune system continues to flood the sinuses even after the irritants are removed. Bromelain Sinus Ease™ contains three ingredients that have been shown to enhance the body’s ability to reduce this natural inflammatory response and help clear up sinuses.*
Bromelain is a group of protein-digesting enzymes extracted from pineapples (Ananassa sativa). Bromelain breaks down fibrin—a key component of the body’s natural inflammatory response to allergens and other foreign stimuli.* Bromelain also appears to inhibit the natural formation of prostaglandins (hormone-like substances) that trigger the natural inflammatory response.*1 It makes mucus less thick,2 allowing the mucus to drain more easily.*
Human trials have shown that by breaking down and helping to remove fibrin, bromelain reduces the discomfort of irritated tissues.*3 Double-blinded trials in patients with irritated sinuses show that the natural inflammatory response is reduced more effectively by concentrated bromelain than by placebo.*4 ,5 ,6 ,7 In all cases, a majority of people responded well to bromelain supplements.*
Bromelain has also helped reduce the duration of the natural inflammatory response after nasal procedures by over 70% in a controlled trial.*8
The recommended daily amount of Nature’s Life Sinus Ease™ utilizes 1,200 mg a very high potency bromelain enzyme which has an activity of 2,880 GDU (Gelatin Digestive Units), or 4,320 MCU (Milk Clotting Units) per serving.
Vitamin C also helps reduce histamine release.*9 Some studies have reported that vitamin C is useful in reducing the natural inflammatory response in nasal passages.*10, 11, 12 The effectiveness of vitamin C in reducing histamine release is still debated, however, because a controlled trial was unable to show consistent effects.*13 Doses up to 2 grams per day have been used by researchers. It may be difficult to show these effects in research trials because vitamin C appears to help only some people without affecting others.*14 Studies, however, clearly show that vitamin C supplementation can lower elevated blood levels of histamines.*15, 16 Nature’s Life adds naturally-buffered vitamin C to Sinus Ease due to its safety, immune-supporting effects and potential efficacy to reduce histamine release.*
Quercetin is a bioflavonoid found in many natural foods including citrus fruits, onions, apples, tea and lettuce. As with bromelain, quercetin helps reduce the natural inflammatory response by inhibiting the natural formation of the pro-inflammatory agents, prostaglandins and leukotrienes (white blood cells).*17,18 Quercetin also helps lessen the natural inflammatory response for children with sensitivities to inhalants.*19 Additionally, quercetin may help reduce the effects of harmful micro-organisms *20 Bioflavonoids at doses of 1,200 mg per day have reduced the natural inflammatory response in human studies in combination with 1,200 mg vitamin C,21 an outcome confirmed in double-blinded research using 600 mg/day of bioflavonoids and 450 mg/day of vitamin C.*22
Substances which inhibit the natural inflammatory response rarely target just one part of the body.* While quercetin has yet to be tested in reducing the natural inflammatory response in sinuses specifically, doctors of natural medicine frequently use it for that purpose because of its proven ability to lessen the natural inflammatory response elsewhere in the body.*
Nature’s Life Sinus Ease™
Nature’s Life has combined these powerful phytonutrients to make Sinus Ease™. High potency Bromelain, Quercetin and vitamin C work to inhibit the natural pro-inflammatory response and encourage adequate sinus drainage.* No safety concerns have been identified with any of these ingredients.23, 24 It is recommended to take the three capsules per day between meals. Since bromelain is a proteolytic enzyme, if taken with a meal it will act on the protein in the food rather than the natural pro-inflammatory fibrin, so remember to take it between meals.* Enjoy the winter season and find relief from allergens throughout the year! Nature’s Life Sinus Ease™ can help.
Taussig SJ. The mechanism of the physiological action of bromelain. Med Hypoth 1980;6:99-104.
Martin GJ. Bromelain pineapple proteases with anti-edema activity. Exper Med Surg 1962;20:228-48.
Blonstein JL. Control of swelling in boxing injuries. Practitioner 1969;203:206.
Seltzer AP. Adjunctive use of bromelains in sinusitis: a controlled study. EENT Monthly 1967;46:1281-8.
Taub SJ. The use of Ananase in sinusitis—a study of 60 patients. EENT Monthly 1966;45:96-8.
Ryan RE. A double-blind clinical evaluation of bromelains in the treatment of acute sinusitis. Headache 1967;7:13-7.
Taub SJ. The use of bromelains in sinusitis: a double-blind clinical evaluation. EENT Monthly 1967;46:361-5.
Seltzer AP. Minimizing post-operative edema and ecchymoses by the use of an oral enzyme preparation (bromelain). EENT Monthly 1962;41:813-7.
Johnson CS, Martin LJ, Cai X. Antihistamine effect of supplemental ascorbic acid and neutrophil chemotaxis. J Am Coll Nutr 1992;11:172-6.
Zuskin E, Lewis AJ, Bouhuys A. Inhibition of histamine-induced Airways constriction by ascorbic acid. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1973;51:218.
Ruskin SL. High dose vitamin C in allergy. Am J Dig Dis 1945;12:281.
Holmes HN. Hay fever and vitamin C. Science 1942;96;497.
Fortner BR, Danziger RE, Rabinowitz PS, Nelson HS. The effect of ascorbic acid on cutaneous and nasal response to histamine and allergen. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1982;69:484-8.
Bai TR, Martin JG. Effects of indomethacin and ascorbic acid on histamine induced bronchoconstriction in normal subjects. NZ Med J 1986;99:163 [abstr].
Holmes H, Alexander W. Hay Fever and Vitamin C. Science 1942;96:497-99.
Johnston CS, Martin LJ, Xi C. Antihistamine Effect of Supplemental Ascorbic Acid and Neutrophil Chemotaxis. J Am Coll Nutr 1992;11:172-6.
Middleton E, Drzewieki G. Naturally occurring flavonoids and human basophil histamine release. Arch Allergy Applied Immunol 1985;77:155-7.
Welton AF, Tobias LD, Fiedler-Nagy C, et al. Effect of flavonoids on arachidonic acid metabolism. Prog Clin BiolRes 1986;213:231-42
Balabokin II, Gordeeva GF, Fuseva ED, et al. Use of vitamins in allergic illnesses in children. Vopr Med Khim (Russia) 1992;38:36-40.
Ohnishi E, Bannai H. Quercetin potentiates TNF-induced antiviral activity. Antiviral Res 1993;22:327-31.
Miller MJ. Injuries to athletes. Med Times 1960;88:313-6.
Cragin RB. The use of bioflavonoids in the prevention and treatment of athletic injuries. Med Times 1962;529-32.
Taussig SJ, Yokoyama MM, Chinen N, et al. Bromelain: A proteolytic enzyme and its clinical application. Hiroshima J Med Sci 1975;24:185-193.
Hertog MGL, Feskens EJM, Holman PCH, et al. Dietary flavonoids and cancer risk in the Zutphen elderly study. Nutr Cancer 1994;22:175-84.
Catch Your Breath
June 14, 2005 05:56 PM
Author: Darrell Miller
Subject: Catch Your Breath
Catch Your Breath
by Carl Lowe Energy Times, October 10, 2004
Asthma is on the rise. This serious breathing problem already afflicts 300 million people around the world and is expected to hinder the lung function of 400 million people in 20 years (Annual World Asthma Meeting, 2/17/04).
In the US, asthma continues to strike our kids. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (2/24/03), the rate at which kids developed asthma doubled between 1980 and 1995. By 2001, 6.3 million American kids had asthma. The cost of treating all these kids: more than $3 billion a year.
Few researchers are prepared to state definitively why asthma rates have continued to climb during the past two decades. However, many investigators point to factors that seem inextricably linked to this disorder, which is marked by wheezing, shortness of breath and coughing spells.
A report from the American Public Health Association and researchers at Harvard puts a lot of the blame for the high rate of asthma on global warming, smog and the atmosphere's growing burden of carbon dioxide. These are linked to industries and car exhaust that release pollution.
In this increasing burden of toxins released into the atmosphere, the rate of asthma among toddlers has grown to be particularly worrisome. Their rate of asthma has climbed more than twice the national average: by 160% between 1980 and 1994. According to these researchers (Inside the Greenhouse: The Impacts of CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) and Climate Change on Public Health in the Inner City), global warming-which involves large increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide released by internal combustion engines and and industrial processes-has fomented the asthma epidemic in several ways:
• Extra heat in the atmosphere has stimulated rapid plant growth that results in more fungus, pollen and spores; this causes allergies that often lead to asthma. Weeds like ragweed, which release allergenic particles, have greatly increased during the past few years. • Extreme weather has caused more floods and damp houses, leading to more indoor air pollution from molds. • Diesel pollutants are now combining with pollen and mold to irritate lungs, causing troublesome allergic reactions.
Bus Fume Hazards
The report notes that in neighborhoods like Harlem, in New York City, 25% of all children suffer asthma. Rates are particularly high in children who live in apartments that are located along bus routes.
A finding that surprised the scientists is the fact that carbon dioxide released by city traffic and the burning of coal and natural gas persists over urban areas, causing a dome of CO2 pollution.
Research on air quality in New York City, Phoenix and Baltimore shows that these lingering CO2 domes contain from 400 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide to 600 ppm. Those levels are significantly above the global average of 379 ppm. Over the course of the earth's history, going back more than 400,000 years before the Industrial Age, research shows the atmosphere has averaged only 180 to 280 ppm.
Breathing difficulties that increase at night can point to asthma, according to Robert Fink, MD: "Asthma can be a nocturnal disease, at its worst between 10 pm and 4 am, when cortisol [a hormone that regulates many bodily functions] levels are lowest" (Pediatric Asthma: Diagnosis and Treatment Goals, Medscape).
Dr. Fink says that if problems with breathing are bad enough to interfere with sleep, a health practitioner should be consulted to analyze the difficulty.
Diet and Asthma
Although nobody can guarantee protection against asthma, research suggests that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can significantly reduce your risk. For instance, a study in Australia found that people who ate the most apples and pears reduced their chances of suffering from this breath-robbing disorder.
In research involving about 1,600 people, aged 20 to 44, they found that those who consumed the largest quantity of these fruits enjoyed the lowest rate of asthma (AJCN 2003; 78:414).
This is the latest study to confirm the fact that apples and other fruits help to keep lungs healthy. " There is extensive evidence from studies over the last 10 to 15 years that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is beneficial to lung health," observes Carol Trenga, PhD, a research scientist at the University of Washington in Seattle. "The most compelling evidence is linked to fruits high in vitamin C, which are associated with improved lung function in the general population of adults and children."
Produce for Smokers
Quitting smoking represents one of the best ways to reduce lung disease. But even if you smoke, research on smokers has found that those who ate a moderate amount of fruits and vegetables have fewer lung problems (American Thoracic Society 97th International Conference 5/2001).
And you don't have to change your diet very much to make a difference: In that research, merely eating one and half pieces of fruit a day or eating about a tablespoon of vegetables daily significantly dropped smokers' chances of serious lung disease.
Fruits and Veggies to the Rescue
In a study at the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom, scientists looking at the diets of more than 2,500 people found that eating five or more apples or three tomatoes a week increased lung function. Eating apples and tomatoes also reduced the risk of wheezing.
" The likelihood is that any effect is due to the concerted action of all the nutrients in apples and tomatoes, especially the antioxidants that are particularly rich in the peel of apples and contribute to the coloring of tomatoes," says researcher Sarah Lewis, PhD.
" Antioxidants may work by protecting the Airways against the insult of tobacco smoke and other atmospheric pollutants," she adds. Dr. Trenga recommends that everyone eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. She also notes, "[I]t is reasonable to suggest modest supplementation with for example, vitamin C (250-500 mg twice/day) and vitamin E (up to 400 IU per day), in at-risk populations as a complementary therapy after considering the specific needs of the individual...These levels are very safe and have other health benefits (such as vitamin E and heart disease) in addition to potentially improving lung health."
Since asthma is linked to allergies, herbs that help to quell respiratory allergies can possibly lower your risk of asthma. A blend of standardized herbal extracts that contains Phyllanthus emblica (Indian gooseberry or amla), Terminalia chebula (Harda or Haritaki), Terminalia bellerica (bedda nut tree), Albizia lebbeck (Indian walnut), Zingiber officinale (ginger root), Piper longum (Indian long pepper), and Piper nigrum (black pepper) has been found to improve breathing and reduce the effect of allergies (FASEB J 2004; Vol II:A912, Abs. 600.8). Other studies have shown that these herbs can relieve nasal congestion, ease sneezing and clear bothersome mucus (J Am Coll Nutr 22(5): Abs 46, 2003).
Avoiding antibiotics may also lower the risk of asthma. " Over the past four decades there has been an explosive increase in allergy and asthma in westernized countries, says Mairi Noverr, PhD, a researcher who has looked at the lin between antibiotic use with asthma and allergies. " We propose that the link between antibiotic use and dysregulated pulmonary immunity is through antibiotic-induced long term alterations in the bacterial and fungal GI microflora."
In other words, Dr. Noverr's research shows that beneficial bacteria in people's intestines, which take part in strengthening immunity and regulating the immune response to pollen, may have been harmed by the overprescription of antibiotics by physicians. Dr. Noverr and his fellow researchers gave lab animals antibiotics before exposing them to candida albicans (a yeast infection). They then exposed the animals to mold spores. The result: a greater sensitivity to inhaling the spores and breathing problems similar to what people experience during hay fever season (104th General Meeting American Society of Microbiology).
" The studies presented here are the first direct demonstration that antibiotic therapy can promote the development of an allergic airway response," says Dr. Noverr. On a global scale, the outlook for asthma is worrisome. As other countries continue their industrial growth, the burden on the earth's atmosphere will grow. Meanwhile, few serious measures are being taken to reduce global warming, and the national diet frequently neglects lung-friendly vegetables and fruits. But within that uncertain scenario, you can boost your chances of healthy lungs: Eat more apples. Stay away from smoky buses. Hope for clear skies.
Fats: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly
June 14, 2005 11:18 AM
Author: Darrell Miller
Subject: Fats: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly
Fats: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly by Thomas Sherman Energy Times, October 15, 2004
We need fat to absorb vitamins, to keep our brains sharp, to survive. But not all fats are our friends. Find out which ones are the heroes and the villains in your diet.
In a lot of cases health fads don't live up to their hype. But the case for consuming more good fats-the omega-3 fatty acids found primarily in fish, flax and hemp oils-is strong and growing stronger. As a nation we eat too little of these good fats, and our health would improve greatly if we relied a little less on the bad saturated fat in burgers, skipped the ugly trans fats in fries and indulged in more salmon and other seafoods.
Fish and the Heart
Need proof? A wealth of research supports fish oil's desirable effects, especially on heart health. While many people believe that heart disease is primarily a problem for men, women who have passed through menopause are just as susceptible to heart problems.
" [Our] findings suggest that all women, and most likely men, would benefit from regular fish intake," says Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at Tufts University in Boston. "A tuna fish sandwich counts, as does almost any other type of fish that is baked, broiled, grilled, or poached." But she points out that fried fish, which is often cooked in hydrogenated oils, is not helpful.
In research on more than 200 women, performed at the Jean Mayer US Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts, scientists found that the arterial blockages among women who dined on fish were less (and impeded blood flow less) than in women who hardly ever ate seafood. Fish was especially helpful for women who had diabetes, a disease that makes you more prone to heart and circulation problems (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 9/04).
These effects are important: Heart disease is the number one cause of death for women, and older women who suffer from diabetes are particularly susceptible. The number of people with diabetes has been increasing of late, mainly due to the fact that Americans are overweight. Right now about 18 million people have diabetes and another 20 million are expected to suffer this condition in the next four decades.
" This study shows that following the current guidelines of eating at least two servings of any type of fish per week slows down the progression of heart disease in women with coronary artery disease (CAD), especially those who were also diabetic," says Dr. Lichtenstein, coauthor of the study. "We further found that eating one or more servings per week of fish that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as tuna or other dark-fleshed fish, is equally effective."
Dangerous disruptions in heartbeat, known as arrhythmias, may also be affected by fish oil. "[E]xperiments show that fatty acids from omega-3 fish oils are stored in the cell membranes of heart cells and can prevent sudden cardiac death or fatal arrhythmias," notes Alexander Leaf, MD, medical researcher and professor at Harvard University.
Fat for Your Brain
The right kind of fat is also crucial for the function of your nerves and brain tissue, which is 60% to 70% fat. Incorporating omega-3 fatty acids into those cells can help keep your brain firing on all synapses. It may lower your risk of Alzheimer's disease, an irreversible form of mental deterioration that kills 100,000 Americans a year. About a thousand people a day in the US are found to have Alzheimer's, and experts believe that over the next 40 years 14 million of us will be doomed to being enveloped by the mental fog this condition produces.
Research indicates that our brains probably need omega-3 fats for protection against the kind of damage that causes our mental capacities to slip. Once Alzheimer's starts, deterioration accelerates because brain cells start losing these fats.
In experiments performed at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA (Neuron 9/2/04), scientists looked at how a lack of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, one of the omega-3 fats found in fish), affected the cellular processes that lead to Alzheimer's. They found that the part of brain cells that receive signals from other brain cells, the receptors, are vulnerable to damage from chemical reactions that take place inside the cells. However, DHA offers antioxidant protection against this destruction.
When brain cells were denied DHA, the cells' receptors suffered extra harm. But when fish oil was present, brain cells were protected. In addition, animals that received extra omega-3s were better able to learn and find their way through mazes.
Greg Cole, PhD, senior researcher on this study and a professor of neurology at Geffen, says, "We saw that a diet rich in DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, dramatically reduces the impact of the Alzheimer's gene [which made the animals more susceptible to Alzheimer's]. Consuming more DHA is something the average person can easily control. Anyone can buy DHA in its purified form, fish-oil capsules, high-fat fish or DHA-supplemented eggs." Fishes rich in omega-3s include salmon, halibut, mackerel, sardines and herring.
Protecting Kids from Asthma
A surprising benefit of omega-3s has been found in pregnant women and their newborns: Pregnant women with asthma who eat fish rich in omega-3s during their pregnancy lower their children's risk of asthma.
Not just any fish will do. The study (American Thoracic Society International Conference 5/25/04) discovered that mothers who ate fish sticks during pregnancy doubled the asthma risk in their kids. " Fish sticks are deep-fried, and they contain omega-6 fatty acids, which encourage inflammation of the Airways," says study co-author Frank Gilliland, MD, PhD, professor at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. "Oily fish [like salmon and trout] contain omega-3 fatty acids, which appear to be anti-inflammatory, and lead to the reduced potential for developing asthma and allergies."
The USC investigation showed that when women with asthma ate oil-bearing fish during pregnancy, the risk of asthma for their children dropped more than 70%. The more fish that mom consumed, the less likely her baby was to develop asthma. Unfortunately, the study did not find the same benefit in women without asthma.
" A family history of asthma is a very strong risk factor for a child developing asthma," Dr. Gilliland says. "It appears that oily fish interacts with the genes involved in the predisposition to develop asthma, and somehow reduces the risk."
Although most of us try to avoid accumulating unsightly fat around our hips, the right kind of fat plays an integral part in the functioning of our bodies and may even keep us alive. Fats don't get much better than that.
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Clearing the Air
June 13, 2005 10:34 AM
Author: Darrell Miller
Subject: Clearing the Air
Clearing the Air by Robert Gluck Energy Times, August 1, 1999
One crisp winter morning in Vermont, Alan hoisted his skis over his shoulder and tracked through the dazzling snowpack to the lift about a quarter-mile away. He had trekked this gently uphill route many times and valued it as an invigorating warmup for a day on the ski trails. The path seemed to grow steeper, however, and the winter sun more blazing as Alan struggled for breath, sweat dampening his woolen cap. Weak and wheezing, he paused for what seemed like an eternity and finally turned back, plodding arduously through the ice.
Fit and athletic, the 42-year-old Alan heard the alarming news from his health care practitioner: asthma. The therapy: inhaled steroids.
The incidence of asthma-a chronic condition characterized by narrowing of the bronchial tubes, swelling of the bronchial tube lining and mucus secretion that can block the airway, making breathing difficult-has ballooned to alarming rates.
In the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of people reported to suffer from asthma increased from 10.4 million in 1990 to 15 million in 1995. In 1998, the epidemic cost about $11.3 billion.
Worldwide, experts estimate that the prevalence of asthma increased approximately 50% over the last 10 to 15 years. Nations with the highest rates are the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia; lowest are Indonesia, Albania, Romania and Georgia.
Deaths from asthma have doubled in the last decade and, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, asthma is the seventh most common chronic health condition in the United States. Children constitute the most disturbingly burgeoning segment of the asthma explosion, its sufferers numbering five to six million. The rate of asthma among children five to 14 years old increased 74% between 1980 and 1994; the rate for preschool kids skyrocketed 160%. Asthma is the number one chronic childhood illness and the third leading cause of hospitalization for children under age 15. More than 5000 Americans die from asthma annually; the fatality rate among children five to 14 years old more than doubled from 1979 to 1995, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation.
Waging War on the Wheeze
Asthma is indeed chronic, but it can be prevented and controlled and its effects reversed. Mainstream MDs command an arsenal of pharmaceuticals, some of which are essential for severe or urgent conditions. Consult your health care practitioner about any breathing difficulties.
Because of its complexity, however, asthma requires a balanced therapeutic approach: careful attention to diet, exercise and stress reduction while taking supplemental nutrients and botanicals can help ease asthma's discomforts. Antioxidant nutrients like vitamins C and E, fruits and vegetables rich in phytochemicals plus herbs like echinacea and garlic, all possess the potential for helping the body fight asthma.
Induced by an array of inherent physiological vulnerabilities, some of which may not manifest until adulthood, as well as environmental factors, asthma benefits from extra sleuthing into its causes and planning for relief.
Triggers and Therapies
Asthma is derived from the Greek word meaning panting or breathing hard, which pretty much sums up the malady: Wheezing and shortness of breath typify the attack.
In bronchial asthma, the commonest variety, the passages that carry air from the throat to the lungs narrow as a result of muscle contraction, local inflammation or production of excess mucus. Breathing becomes difficult and wheezy as air is expelled.
"Asthma symptoms are triggered by various factors such as allergens, irritants, infections, pollutants, medications, and emotions," says Anthony Rooklin, author of Living with Asthma: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding and Controlling Asthma While Enjoying Your Life (Penguin). "Triggers are substances or situations that would be quite harmless to people with ordinary Airways, but that bring on asthma symptoms in susceptible individuals."
According to Ellen W. Cutler, nutritionist, enzyme therapist, chiropractor and author of Winning the War Against Asthma & Allergies: A Drug-Free Cure For Asthma and Allergy Sufferers" (Delmar), asthma is an allergic disease that is always triggered by allergens. "These allergens include not only foods, pollens and environmental factors such as perfume, animal dander and chemicals but also bacteria, climactic conditions and emotions," says Cutler.
"When these allergies are active from birth, asthma can be diagnosed early in life, even in infancy," she adds.
Cutler believes every individual with asthma should be able to lead a normal, drug-free life.
"Most asthmatics have been told that asthma is a chronic problem they will have to contend with for the rest of their lives. Asthma can be cured, not miraculously and instantaneously, but inevitably and permanently, once the allergies that cause it have been eliminated," she adds.
Dilating on Nutrients
Although it is vitally important for folks with asthma to develop a treatment plan with a trusted health care provider, that plan, according to experts, may lend itself to a rich variety of complementary options, especially nutrients, phytochemicals, minerals and enzymes.
According to Ruth Winter, author of A Consumer's Guide to Medicines in Food: Nutraceuticals That Help Prevent and Treat Physical and Emotional Illnesses (Crown), researchers in Nottingham, England, linked magnesium and lung function.
"Magnesium is involved in a wide range of biological activities, including some that may protect against the development of asthma and chronic airflow obstruction," Winter says. "Dr. John Britton and his colleagues at Nottingham University measured the magnesium in the diets of 2,633 adults aged 18 to 70 and they found that low magnesium was associated with reduced lung function and wheezing" (The Lancet 344, 1994: 357-62).
Magnesium actually boasts a long history as a bronchial relaxant, first demonstrated in 1912 on cows. Its potential was eclipsed, however, by pharmaceutical antihistamines and bronchodilators until its recent rediscovery.
Defending the Lungs
Antioxidants, with their ability to bolster the lungs' defense mechanisms by battling oxidizing free radicals that constrict bronchial tissue, wield tremendous force in the anti-asthma offensive. Michael T. Murray, ND, and Joseph E. Pizzorno, ND, in their Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (Prima), connect the steady decrease in dietary intake of antioxidants to the burgeoning incidence of asthma.
Among the top asthma-busting antioxidants:
Vitamin C. Murray and Pizzorno note that C is the major antioxidant present in the lining of the airway and cite generous evidence that when vitamin C is low, asthma incidence is high (Annals Allergy 73, 1994: 89-96). Vitamin C, taken over time, effectively suppresses histamine secretion by white blood cells.
Flavonoids. Also credited with reducing histamine production, flavonoids, notably quercetin and the extracts from grape seed, pine bark and ginkgo biloba, are key asthma-fighting antioxidants (J Allergy Clin Immunol 73, 1984; 769-74).
Carotenes. They limit production of allergy-related compounds (called leukotrienes) and bolster the lining of the respiratory tract (Biochem Biophys Acta 575, 1979: 439-45).
Vitamin E and selenium. Both reduce secretion of leukotrienes (Clinical Exp Allergy 26, 1996: 838-47).
Vitamin B12. Murray and Pizzorno cite the work of Jonathan Wright, MD, whose clinical trials with supplemental vitamin B12 proved strongly effective, especially for children with asthma.
A Bundle of Botanicals
Herbal remedies for asthma date back more than 5000 years to the Chinese emperor Shen-nung. The ancient Egyptians treated respiratory ailments with herbs as well; the Greeks favored mint, garlic, cloves and myrrh for pulmonary problems.
Today, the power of plants has been validated by clinical research and standardized for predictability. (Always consult a health care practitioner when seeking complementary therapies, and read the package labels carefully for dosages and cautions.)
In their book, Asthma: An Alternative Approach (Keats), Ron Roberts and Judy Sammut provide a concise guide to asthma-easing botanicals: Garlic: acts as antiviral, antibacterial and antihistamine; enhances immune response; contains the antioxidant selenium. Garlic also is an expectorant.
Echinacea: a traditional treatment for immune disorders and infections of the upper respiratory tract, known to shorten the duration of colds, coughs and flus.
Ginkgo biloba: inhibits the chemical responses that induce asthma discomfort (Br J Clin Pharmacol 29, 1990: 85-91).
Ginseng: stimulates immunity and the production of steroid-like hormones; helps chronic coughs.
Licorice: an expectorant, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic that also inhibits leukotriene production (Acta Med Okayama 37, 1983: 385-91).
Tylophora asthmatica: an Ayurvedic treatment that many respected experts believe can act both as an antihistamine and antispasmodic (Planta Med 57, 1991: 409-13).
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Lose the Gluten - everyone who suffers from food allergies
June 10, 2005 10:20 PM
Author: Darrell Miller
Subject: Lose the Gluten - everyone who suffers from food allergies
Lose the Gluten by Phyllis D. Light, RH Energy Times, October 14, 2004
Are you a glutton for gluten, the sticky protein found in bagels and many other breads? Unfortunately, not everyone can enjoy the taste of fresh-baked bread because it contains this natural substance that can cause allergic reaction or intolerance in susceptible folks.
And while not everyone who suffers from food allergies or intolerances has a problem with gluten, other foods that can cause distress include items like watermelon, fish or even the benign-seeming peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Still, with a little guidance, even if you have an allergy or two, you can enjoy meals and reduce food-related difficulties when you make food choices wisely.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, more than one in 50 adults and one in 12 children in the US suffer food allergies. But the problem may be even larger. Researchers believe even more of us have food allergies and don't know it: many food allergies and intolerances may be mistaken for irritable bowel syndrome or conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome.
The involvement of the immune system in an allergy represents the dividing line between intolerance and allergy. A food allergy strikes when the immune system attacks food ingredients as though they were threatening substances. Usually, proteins trigger these physiological alarms. The most common food allergens include wheat, soy, peanuts, shellfish, eggs, fish, tree nuts, milk and watermelon. Fortunately, many children who suffer allergies outgrow them as their bodies mature.
Signs of a food allergy may include a rash, hives, nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, itchy skin, shortness of breath, chest pain, swelling of the Airways and a condition called anaphylactic shock, a serious occurrence that can cut off breathing and requires immediate medical help.
If you believe you have a food allergy, see your health practitioner. If you have reasons to suspect an allergy to a particular food, avoid it altogether.
Intolerance Versus Allergy
Food intolerances are more common than allergies. They happen when food irritates the digestive system or offers substances that the digestive tract cannot break down. A food intolerance, however, does not provoke the immune system into an attack. The most common foods that cause intolerance are wheat, rye and barley; they all contain gluten.
Figuring out an intolerance generally requires adding and eliminating foods to gauge your response. Signs can include nausea, stomach pain, gas, cramps, bloating, vomiting, heartburn, diarrhea, headaches and irritability or nervousness. If you suspect you have a food intolerance, keep a food diary-recording what you eat and how you feel afterwards.
In addition, an elimination diet, wherein you avoid certain foods and track your responses, can help determine food intolerances. After you have dropped certain foods from your diet, reintroduce them, one at a time, until you eat a food that causes a return of your problems. These foods should then be permanently avoided.
Celiac sprue is a particularly severe inflammatory response to wheat or other grains containing gluten. According to the National Science Foundation, one in every 200 Americans suffers from this often misdiagnosed condition. That's more than a million of us!
If left untreated, celiac sprue can cause anemia, contribute to osteoporosis by limiting calcium absorption and increase the risk for intestinal cancer. Signs include headaches, weight loss, nutritional deficiencies, fatigue and neurological symptoms. The only treatment is to avoid all grains that contain gluten.
According to researchers in England, celiac sprue is often mistaken for chronic fatigue syndrome, type 1 diabetes or irritable bowel syndrome and can result in infertility (Med J Austral 2004 May 17; 180(10):524-6). Because sprue can confuse health practitioners, many people spend years trying to find an answer to their discomforts before finding that a gluten-free diet relieves their pain.
According to the Celiac Sprue Association, if you have gluten intolerance you should avoid durum wheat, semolina wheat, rye, kamut, spelt, barley, triticale and often oats. Some people find they can tolerate spelt, a distant cousin to wheat that's high in fiber and contains more protein (talk to your practitioner). Oats are generally well-tolerated by most people with gluten intolerance, but because oats are often processed on the same machinery as wheat, they may have traces of gluten. If you are gluten intolerant, you can still eat rice, corn, soy, potatoes, beans, sorghum, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, arrowroot and amaranth.
Other food ingredients can trouble digestion. They include: • Lactose: Up to 20% of Americans are lactose intolerant (Har Health Lett 2003 Dec; 29:6-7), reacting badly to milk products because they lack the enzyme necessary for digesting lactose (milk sugar). For these people, milk, ice cream and cheese cause gas, bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhea. • MSG (monosodium glutamate): A flavor enhancer, MSG can cause allergic responses in susceptible individuals. • Sulfites: Food preservatives-often found in baked goods, wines, snack foods and condiments-have been found to cause hives, nausea, shortness of breath, diarrhea and, in some cases, anaphylactic shock. • Food colorings: These items may cause allergic-type responses in some people.
If you have what seem to be allergies and intolerances, fermented foods that contain beneficial bacteria (probiotics) can aid the functioning of your digestive tract. Yogurt, kefir, buttermilk and sauerkraut supply active bacterial cultures and are generally easy to tolerate because they are predigested. According to researchers at Tufts University, yogurt can improve your digestive health and soothe difficulties linked to allergies and intolerances (AJCN 2004 Aug; 80(2):245-56).
In addition, yogurt and other probiotic foods have been found to reduce the recurrence of irritable bowel flare-ups and may help reduce the risk of colon cancer. Yogurt improves gut microflora, increases bowel transit time and enhances immune response. Probiotics are also available as supplements.
If you have problems with certain foods or additives, becoming an amateur food detective can make meals more pleasant. Before eating a packaged food, always read the label; if you are unsure of the ingredients, contact the food manufacturer. But, in any uncertain situation, if you are in doubt of a food's ingredients, do without. Better to avoid food problems than realize too late that you've eaten a food that has upset your digestion.
Some people find their food intolerance comes and goes, often depending upon the amount eaten and how often a food is consumed. For example, some people with lactose intolerance find they can have a little milk in their coffee or on their breakfast cereal one day a week, but have problems if they drink milk on two consecutive days.
While deciphering which foods in your diet cause you problems can be time consuming, the reward for eliminating these nutrients, better digestion, is great. Don't give up! Persevere and, eventually your digestion will thank you.
June 10, 2005 05:32 PM
Author: Darrell Miller
Subject: Allergy Alleviation
Allergy Alleviation by Cal Orey , February 2, 2002
Allergy Alleviation By Cal Orey
Welcome to the stuffed up world of seasonal allergic rhinitis: the wheezing, sneezing "inhalant allergies" that torment 35 million Americans. Adding insult to sinus pain, other allergens attack year-round. Air pollution, dust mites (microscopic gremlins that infest bedding, upholstery and rugs) and animal dander trigger allergies-or other respiratory ailments-in any season. Urban air is full of rubber tire particles, a true blowout for those with latex sensitivity. Altogether, roughly 50 million Americans-about one in five-suffer from some form of allergy, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI). Tired of cross-pollinating with plants or being bowled over by dust balls? Vitamins, herbs and other nutrients can help you nip allergy discomfort in the bud.
The Allergy Response
Your immune system triggers an allergic response when it overreacts to otherwise harmless substances or antigens (we're talking dust, pollen and mold).The alarmed immune system then launches a defensive chemical reaction, releasing potent chemicals (antibodies) supposed to destroy the "invaders." The antibodies, called IgE, carry the invading substances to special cells, which zap them with more biochemicals. Among these protective cells are mast cells: they release histamine, the substance that causes swelling and inflammation to the linings of the nose, sinuses and eyelids, resulting in sneezing, upper respiratory congestion and itchy, watery eyes.
Just Blame The Folks
Most allergies are determined by your genes. If your Mom or Dad sneeze and scratch, there's a good chance you will, too. "That is not to say that we directly inherit an allergy to any specific substance. Rather, it seems as if we might inherit some kind of immune system defect or weakness that leaves us more vulnerable to allergies," explain co-authors Glenn S. Rothfeld, MD, and Suzanne LeVert in their book Natural Medicine for Allergies: The Best Alternative Methods for Quick Relief (Rodale). For some people, allergies lurk in food, throwing the immune system into overdrive. "Many natural medicine practitioners believe that a diet high in animal fats will contribute to the development of allergy and asthma, as does a diet high in food additives, such as preservatives and dyes," says Gary McLain, PhD, in his book The Natural Way of Healing: Asthma and Allergies (Dell). Worse, allergies can up the risk of asthma, which afflicts 15 million Americans. Most people afflicted with asthma also suffer allergies: the two are linked, according to the AAAAI. Allergy triggers of asthma include pollen, mold spores and house dust mites. Remember Helen Hunt's asthmatic son in the movie As Good As It Gets? His character endured allergies to dust, and living in New York (and watching his mom date Jack Nicholson) didn't help his immune system. Coughs, ear infections, fevers and visits to hospital emergency rooms curtailed his social life (and limited his close-ups as well). That kind of routine happens in real life, too. (Well, maybe close encounters with Jack N. are not included for most.) But when we breathe substances such as molds, they can induce swelling and inflammation of the bronchial Airways which narrow and restrict air flow. This, in turn, causes wheezing and shortness of breath and can trigger an asthma "attack," according to Andrew Engler, MD, who specializes in allergy and asthma in San Mateo, California.
The Nose Knows: Chemical Sensitivities
Imagine a picture-perfect, crisp, clear Saturday morning. You make a final stop on your weekly errand run to the dry cleaner, where you drop off your laundry and spend a moment chatting up the owner. Back in your car, your eyes tear and you feel a bit woozy. Kenneth Bock, MD, and Nellie Sabin, writing in The Road to Immunity: How To Survive and Thrive in a Toxic World (Pocket Books) sense that your reaction could be chemical sensitivity, a difficult to diagnose but, in their opinion, very real malady. (Of course, a clinician can test you for immune responses to certain chemicals.) Reactions to chemicals produce the typical allergic responses: puffy or red-rimmed eyes; swelling; aching or stiff joints and muscles; irritability or dizziness; respiratory inflammations; headaches and the like. Villains include aerosol sprays, tobacco smoke, glues, insecticides and herbicides, household chemicals and fragrances. Identification and avoidance are key, say the authors. Vitamin C, which binds with chemicals, is one of the best nutritional defenses.
Breathing Problems Expand
Americans now freely take lifesaving medicines such as antibiotics and insulin but, in some people, "they have the potential to alter the immune system, which is where allergies begin," says Dr. McLain. (Consult your pharmacist if you have questions about your prescription medication.) We, as a nation, are also eating more chemicals, from the pesticides drenched on plants to the preservatives poured on prepared foods. We're breathing polluted air, which can lead to or exacerbate asthma, and then we choke on recycled air in sealed buildings. And while a century ago you were likely to have spent much of your time close to home, you can now hop on a supersonic plane and be taken to the other side of the globe within a matter of hours. With travel comes exposure to even more exotic allergens that can drive your immune system to distraction.
The All-Natural Gesundheit
Certain allergy-relief nutrients and herbs can help make life more bearable. Here's how they work: n Vitamin C for the lungs. According to experts, when vitamin C is low, asthma is high. Vitamin C carries the major antioxidant load in the Airways and therefore contributes mightily to the health of the lungs. A study in the Annals of Allergy (73(1994):89-96) reported that in seven of 11 clinical trials since 1973, vitamin C supplementation provided "significant improvements" in respiratory function and asthma symptoms. n Vitamin E and carotene to suppress allergic reactions. These antioxidants may also help protect the respiratory tract from caustic pollutants. Vitamin E is reputed to be one of the most important nutrients for antioxidant protection in the lungs. In addition, these two substances decrease production of allergy-related compounds called leukotrienes. n Zinc for the immune system. Research shows that a deficiency in this trace mineral can weaken your immune system, setting you up as a target for allergies and infections. (Some vegetarians may not store sufficient amounts of this mineral and should take supplements.) Zinc comes to the body's rescue by taking part in the production of IgA, the gastrointestinal antibody that lines the digestive tract. "When IgA binds to an allergen, it keeps it from being absorbed into the bloodstream and thus from causing an allergic reaction," report Rothfeld and Levert. Also, zinc protects mucous membranes and helps convert beta carotene to vitamin A, another anti-allergy, immune-boosting nutrient. In a study of 100 participants at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, half took a zinc-based lozenge, while the other half received a dummy preparation. The participants taking zinc experienced a 42% reduction in the duration and severity of their common colds (Annals of Internal Medicine, 7/96). n Quercetin as an antihistamine. A valuable, anti-allergic flavonoid (plant coloring agent that is a powerful antioxidant), quercetin shines as a potent weapon against allergies and asthma. Believed to inhibit histamine release from mast cells and slow the production of other allergy-related compounds, it stabilizes mast cell membranes. Other flavonoid-rich extracts include grape seed, pine bark, green tea and Ginkgo biloba. n Additional helpful nutrients: Vitamin B-12, particularly to combat sensitivity to sulfites (The Nutrition Desk Reference [Keats]); selenium, an antioxidant that breaks down leukotrienes (Clinical Science 77, 1989: 495-500); and magnesium to relax bronchial tissues (Journal of the American Medical Association, 262 : 1210-3).
Herbal Remedies To The Rescue
n Nettles for hay fever relief. Research at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon, showed that 40 of 69 folks suffering from hay fever found moderate to extreme relief from taking freeze-dried stinging nettles (Planta Medica,  44-47). "It is nontoxic, cheap and preferable to antihistamines, which I think are significantly toxic," reports Andrew Weil, MD, in his book Natural Health, Natural Medicine: A Comprehensive Manual for Wellness and Self-Care (Houghton Mifflin). n Cayenne to reduce inflammation. Cayenne, known as hot red pepper, is rich in capsaicin, a potent flavonoid "counter-irritant" that dilates and soothes inflamed nasal and bronchial tissues, according to experts. A bonus: Cayenne also contains a rich amount of antioxidant vitamin C, which can help enhance your immune system. n Echinacea for allergy prevention. This popular Native American herb provides cold and allergy protection, particularly when you take it before encountering allergens. Studies reveal that echinacea aids your body's tissues and protects you from germs and allergens. In fact, German studies have found it possesses valuable antiviral, antibacterial and immunity-boosting properties.
Make Your World Allergy-Free
For the most effective allergy relief, make sure you stay clear of allergens that wreak allergy havoc. Visit an allergy-savvy health practitioner and get tested to find out which substances rock your respiratory world. Plus, allergy experts recommend: n Banish dust mites: sweep out clutter and have your house power-vacuumed, if necessary; wash bedding and linens in very hot water. n De-pollinate your environment: flip on the air conditioner to sift out pollen (keep its filter and any forced air registers clean); exercise indoors; machine dry, rather than line dry, your clothes. n Buy a home air filter, especially if you experience dust, pollen or pet dander allergies. n Avoid allergy triggers that dog your days: cats and canines (or consider the hairless or shed-less breeds), mold and tobacco smoke. No matter what you do or actions you take, allergies may always remain an annoyance in your life. But attention to the foods you eat, the places where you exercise and the right combination of anti-allergy nutrients can limit your discomfort.
Leveling The Leukotrine Playing Field
On a microscopic level, a series of biochemicals implicated in allergic reactions are leukotrienes, substances that may constrict the bronchial tubes (breathing passages). In some people, consuming the food additive tartrazine can cause severe asthmatic breathing difficulties by boosting leukotrine release. In turn, this can interfere with the body's use of vitamin B-6. The process in which lack of B-6 or "errors" in how your body uses B-6 causes allergic reactions and is complex. According to Michael Murray, ND and Joseph Pizzorno, ND in the revised edition of the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (Prima), breathing problems may begin when the metabolism of tryptophan (an amino acid) goes awry: "Tryptophan is converted to serotonin, a compound that, among other things, can cause the Airways of asthmatics to constrict...Vitamin B-6 is required for the proper metabolism of tryptophan." Accordingly, a study of vitamin B-6, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, shows that people with compromised breathing may possess less B-6 in their blood than others who breathe normally. When people with asthma were given B-6, their wheezing and asthmatic attacks dropped.
Fat Fix For Allergies
The fat in your diet or supplements can also influence your susceptibility to allergies and asthma linked to allergies. Epidemiologists have found that countries where children eat fish at least four times a month cut their risk of asthma by 67% compared to other parts of the world where they consume fewer fish. Research on omega-3 fatty acids, the kind of fat found in fish, flax and hemp oil, demonstrates that some of these substances can improve breathing. In particular, fatty acids called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can help open up bronchial tubes. Studies in the American Review of Respiratory Disease and the International Archives of Allergy and Applied Immunology show that breathing passageways may not react so negatively to the presence of allergens when you eat more fish or take supplements containing these types of fats. Many of the scientists who study the kinds of fats we eat believe that the increase in allergies and asthma in the US during the twentieth century may be due to both increasing air pollution (which irritates our lungs) plus a simultaneous increase in our consumption of what are called omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 oils are contained in most of the vegetable oils Americans eat, including sunflower and peanut oils. While experts believe that we would be better off consuming a diet containing about five times as many omega-6 fatty acids as omega-3s, today we eat about 40 times as much omega-6s. The chemistry of how these fats influence our allergy susceptibility is complex. It begins in our cell membranes which consist mostly of fat. When we consume omega-3 fatty acids, in our diet or in supplements, and these fats enter cell membranes, the change in structure cuts the availability of arachidonic acid, a fatty acid your body can make and which is found in meat, eggs and dairy products. Eventually, it is thought that this change in cellular metabolism and reduction in arachidonic acid forces the body to make less 4-series leukotrienes, substances which are quite prone to provoking allergic inflammation and, instead, produce 5-series leukotrienes, leukotrienes which don't cause nearly as much trouble. This process requires patience. According to Pizzorno and Murray. "It may take as long as one year before the benefits are apparent, as it appears to take time to turn over cellular membranes in favor of the omega-3 fatty acids."
Chinese Medicine Versus Allergies
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) views allergies as an imbalance of the liver, says Jason Elias, co-author with Katherine Ketcham of The Five Elements of Self-Healing (Harmony Books). "The average American's (liver) deals with about fourteen pounds of chemicals a year. What would normally be a minor irritant becomes major because the liver can't process them anymore," explains Elias. Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) has traditionally been used to fight allergies since this herb battles inflammation as evidenced by Japanese research and a study published in the journal Allergy. Much of this anti-allergy action is thought to proceed from licorice's interaction with a biochemical called cortisol, a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands. Cortisol (along with epinephrine, another adrenal hormone) relaxes the muscles controlling Airways. By slowing the liver's breakdown of cortisol, licorice prolongs circulation of this hormone which, in turn, can help breathing passages stay clear. In addition, glycyrrhetinic acid, a compound in licorice, slows the body's manufacture of prostaglandins and leukotrienes, substances which exacerbate allergic inflammatory reactions. Ma Huang (Ephedra sinica) has been employed for thousands of years to aid breathing since chemicals in this plant widen breathing passages.
Homeopathic Remedies for Allergy
Homeopathic treatments consist of highly diluted substances designed to coax the body into healing itself. The effectiveness of homeopathy for hayfever has been demonstrated by research published in Lancet performed at the University of Glasgow, Scotland. There, scientists showed that homeopathically-prepared medicines produced statistically significant improvements in allergy sufferers. The appropriate homeopathic remedy for any illness depends on the personality type of the person suffering an allergy. These treatments are among those recommended by Dana Ullman: n Allium cepa: appropriate for burning nasal discharge that grows worse in warm rooms and improves outdoors. Relieves non-burning tearing from eyes, raw feeling in the nose with tingling sensation and violent sneezing. n Nux vomica: used when feeling irritable and chilled, with daytime fluent nasal discharge and night congestion that grows worse indoors. Also for those sensitive to cold and to being uncovered. n Pulsatilla: best for women and children with daytime nasal discharge and night congestion who are gentle, yielding, mild, impressionable and emotional. Used when congestion is worse in warm rooms, hot weather or while lying down.
Food Allergy Conundrum Food allergies can prove to be the toughest allergies to identify and eliminate. Jason Elias believes that people may develop food sensitivities from eating the same foods too often. "If someone has an allergy, I might say 'Let's get you off dairy for three weeks,'" he says, noting that some people have limited their hay fever problems by ceasing to consume dairy products. Many have also found relief by maintaining a food diary, keeping track of which foods are associated with allergy attacks and then eliminating those foods. So the next time you sneeze, don't just reach for your hanky, think back to the meal that you just ate. Your allergy problem may be sitting in your stomach as well as making you sneeze and stuffing your sinuses. Taking these kinds of anti-allergy preventive measures can provide life-enhancing relief that feels like a godsend. That lets you attain your healthy best.
This article included reporting by Judy Pokras.