Search Term: " Sneeze "
Health Tip: Get Enough Vitamin C
January 20, 2017 10:59 AM
To help give your immune system enough strength to protect you from the sniffles and Sneezes, start with vitamin C-rich foods.The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says: Vitamin C helps the body repair and grow tissue. Vitamin C helps the body absorb a type of iron. Besides citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit, strawberries and kiwis also are good sources of vitamin C. Vegetables such as green and red bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and tomatoes all contain vitamin C. To reap the greatest benefit, enjoy these fruits and veggies soon after purchasing.
"Vegetables such as green and red bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and tomatoes all contain vitamin C."
Vitamins That Help Prevent the Common Cold
November 13, 2016 06:41 AM
It is that time of the year again and if you are prone to colds, it is the perfect time to start taking a few extra vitamins that help you ward those colds off. What are those essential vitamins that you need to prevent the common cold? All of the information you need is found here! No more Sneezes!
"Always take care to use the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals and don’t “get creative” without seeking authoritative counsel with your doctor."
Can Quercetin And Bromelain Be Used As An Antihistamine?
December 22, 2011 07:59 AM
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.
February 19, 2009 05:14 PM
Hay fever, which is an allergy to proteins in the pollen of trees, grasses, some plants, or mold, affects the mucous membranes of the nose, eyes, and air passages. Symptoms of hay fever include itchy, red eyes; watery discharge from the nose and eyes; sneezing; fatigue; and nervous irritability. Many of the symptoms of hay fever can be confused with those symptoms of the common cold. However, allergies cause a distinctive clear, thin nasal discharge, whereas secretions that come from colds are usually thick and yellow-greenish as the illness progresses. Colds are also associated with mild fever and are usually gone within a week. On the other hand, allergy sufferers often feel wiped out for many weeks.
At least 50 million Americans suffer from seasonal Sneezes, runny nose, and itchy eyes that come with hay fever. There happen to be three seasons of hay fever which are distinguished by the different pollen present at these different times of the year. Tree pollen appears first, usually between February and May, depending on the climate. When trees, weeds, grass pollens, and people are out at the same time, the biggest problems arise. This usually occurs later in spring and in summer. The fall is the season for ragweed pollen. Depending on which pollen or pollens an individual is allergic to, hay fever may be present at any or all of these times.
In more detail, the following is a summary of the types of plants according to the times of year they are most likely to cause problems. Alder, hazelnut, and elm trees cause the most problems in February through May, while birch, maple, and oak trees are problematic in March through June. Beech and spruce trees bring about issues in April through June, while horse chestnut trees are responsible for causing problems in April through August. In April through September, Asters, pine trees, plantain, sorrel, stinging nettle, and various grasses are responsible for bringing about allergies. Buttercups are problematic in May through July and Goosefoot is an issue in June through September. In July through September, mugwort seems to pose a problem.
Those people who suffer from hay fever also often suffer from other atopic disorders like asthma and dermatitis. Those people who suffer from hay fever symptoms throughout the year are said to have perennial rhinitis, which can be caused by animal hair, dust, feathers, fungus spores, molds, and/or some other environmental agent. It should be noted that a susceptibility to hay fever tends to be an inherited condition. Those people who are most prone to allergies are often aware of the time of year and conditions under which they are most sensitive. A RAST test can easily be done and provide reliable results for a definitive diagnosis.
The following nutrients are beneficial for hay fever: bromelain, coenzyme Q10, Quercetin, raw thymus, vitamin A, vitamin B complex, vitamin C with bioflavonoids, proteolytic enzymes, zinc, calcium, magnesium, garlic, kelp, manganese, Pycnogenol, SOD, and vitamin E. Additionally, the following herbs have been noted to be helpful: alfalfa, chlorophyll, vitamin K, eucalyptus oil, eyebright, lady’s mantle, goldenseal extract, horehound, mullein leaf, stinging nettle, wild cherry bark, turmeric, nettle leaf, and noni juice.
In conclusion, discovering your allergic substance is the first step to recovery. When you can narrow down what is the cause then you can combat the problem with vitamins, herbs, and dietary changes. Your local or internet health food store has a large selection of herbal and homeopathic remedies for hay fever symptoms.
NaturalCare Virus Induced Nasal Decongestant – Super Strength SinuFix
October 06, 2006 02:34 PM
Super strength SinuFix Nasal Decongestant Mist 90 percent of Germs, Viruses and Pollutants May enter your body through the nose! All of us breath in through our nose and are inundated daily with thousands of foreign micro particles. Super Strength SinuFix Mist is an innovative formula specifically designed to fight the virus induced nasal allergy/sinus/cold/flu-like symptoms that may result from exposure to germs and viruses in the air in any crowded, potentially germ-infested environment.
Germs in the Air Everywhere!
Indications: For temporary, soothing relief of virus induced nasal and sinus congestion and pressure, dry, irritated nasal membranes associated with a cold and sinusitis, irritated/swollen sinus passages, hay fever, overuse of decongestant sprays or drops, or other upper respiratory allergies (Allergic rhinitis). Helps cleanse nasal passages and promotes nasal and sinus drainage.
Coming out of depression.
October 28, 2005 02:46 PM
If a positive outlook is the sun, then depression is a heavy shade drawn across one’s existence. Clinical depression is not the passing blue mood or feelings of sadness, grief and sorrow in the face of life’s more somber moments. But when sadness seems never-ending, when you can’t concentrate, sleep or enjoy anything, when you feel hopeless and that life isn’t worth the bother—now that’s depression.
If your moods are especially dark, seek professional help. What you may be experiencing, though, is more of a Sneeze n’ sniffle melancholy than the heavy chest-cold kind (and the analogy is apt, given how common a disorder depression truly is). If that’s the case, you may find the following supplements helpful:
Omega-3 Fatty acids: A healthy brain needs plenty of these healthy fats. Flax seed oil and fish oil are two common sources.
SAM-e: This naturally occurring substance helps activate serotonin and dopamine, two brain chemicals vital to healthy mood.
St. John’s Wort: One of the best-known natural depression fighters, St. John’s Wort also helps reduce the mild anxiety that often accompanies depression. It usually takes four to six weeks to reach full effectiveness.
Tryptophan: An amino acid the body uses to create serotonin. Natural tryptophan is found in milk protein concentrate.
Speak with health care practitioner if you are taking prescription medications for depression (or any other condition, for that matter). Do not stop taking synthetic antidepressants without proper guidance.
Protecting kids from Colds is a simple as Enhancing there immune system.
August 22, 2005 02:30 PM
Lax hygiene and parents who permit their children to attend school when they are sick are the main reasons that thousands of cases of colds and flu leapfrog from child to child each school year. Millions of school attendance days and adult work days are lost each year when schoolchildren get ill. In addition, schoolchildren can get and give a host of other illnesses, including strep throat, conjunctivitis (pinkeye), and impetigo. Sick children should stay home; a single child can easily infect 10 or more other children.
If a sick child Sneezes on, drools on or touches an object, the germs can be picked up by others who touch that object. The most proven way to reduce this problem is basic hygiene. In one day-care study, kids caught fewer colds after they were taught to wash their hands regularly and the toys were disinfected three times a week. It is vital to teach your child to cover his mouth and nose with a tissue while coughing or sneezing, and then to discard the tissue and wash his hands. Other ways to pick up germs are by petting a dog or a cat, handling dirty underwear, and using public restrooms. In one study, investigators added a mixture of bacteria and a virus to everyday objects at home and found that telephone receivers and kitchen faucets transferred enough organisms to the hands and then to the mouth to cause infections such as colds and diarrhea.
Hand washing is an important prevention measure, in terms of keeping healthy. The problem in some schools is that they make it difficult for kids to wash their hands. They don’t always have paper towels or adequate soap available. With all the things that are important to learn in school, one of the most important is washing your hands before eating and after going to the toilet. The purpose of school is to learn. And what’s more important to learn than good hygiene? Since regular hand washing is one of the best defenses against the spread of colds and gastrointestinal infections, teach your children to lather the hands with soap for at least 15 seconds, scrubbing between fingers, under fingernails and around the tops and palms of the hands. Teach them to dry their hands with a clean towel and to use the towel to turn off the faucet, open door handles, etc. You may also provide your child with sanitizing lotion so they can protect against disease when a bathroom is not close by.
When eating out or at a mass-prepared school lunch, first wash the hands. Avoid any raw food that doesn’t look washed or any item that has been implicated in a current outbreak of food poisoning. Eating raw fruits and vegetables at home where you can wash them may be a better choice. If you are unsure about the drinks served, have your child carry their own bottled water. The best way to fight back against these germs is to enhance your child’s immune system. Adequate nutrition is the backbone of health. Even marginal deficiencies of a single nutrient can profoundly impair the immune system. At least have your child take a multiple vitamin and mineral supplement every day. Eating sugar in the form of glucose, fructose, sucrose, honey, and orange juice all significantly reduced the body’s ability to have an effective immune system. These effects will start within less than 30 minutes and last for several hours. The white blood cells will not have the ability to gobble up those nasty bacteria the way they usually can.
Food is the largest challenge facing the immune system. When there is complete digestion, healthy bowel microflora, a healthy constitution, and minimal exposure to foods or elements that are toxic to the body, the immune system can do its job. Weaknesses in one or more of these areas can result in a weakened immune system. More than 50 percent of the immune system takes its signals from the digestive tract. It is one of the largest immune organs of the body that defends against the barrage of toxins ingested daily. Intestinal microflora also impact human health. The “friendly” bacteria living in us compete with the “not so friendly” germs and help us stay healthy.
The new U.S. food pyramid suggests we consume 5 servings of fresh vegetables daily and 3–4 servings of fresh fruits daily. Sounds easy enough. Yet, only 20 percent of the populations does this. It is also important to get adequate protein and fat in the diet. Water intake is vital as well. It’s best if the 6–10 glasses (depends on the age of the child) does not contain chlorine or fluoride. Dehydration may be a big factor in whether they stay healthy. By making even simple changes in your child’s diet and lifestyle, you might be amazed at how few illnesses she has this school year.
Nothing to Sneeze At
June 18, 2005 08:41 AM
Nothing to Sneeze At by Carole Poole Energy Times, August 14, 2004
To many, nothing is more annoying than a persistent allergy. Runny nose, itchy eyes, hives, sneezing, coughing...Frequently, allergies seem to represent suffering with no end.
When you are sensitive to something in your environment, often your only hope for relief appears to be to flee to an elsewhere that eludes the problematic, trouble-making allergen.
Complementary measures are available that can lower your risk of allergic reactions. Heading off allergic reactions before they strike can help you enter a comfort zone that leaves nothing to Sneeze at.
Limit Your Antibiotics
While people have always suffered allergies, today, many experts agree, allergies are on the rise. One possible explanation: antibiotics. For instance, research at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit demonstrates that kids who get antibiotics within six months of being born run an increased risk of being allergic to dust mites, ragweed, grass and animals. At the same time, if two or more cats or dogs live with them, they reduce their chances of allergies (Eur Respir Soc ann conf, 2003).
" I'm not suggesting children shouldn't receive antibiotics. But I believe we need to be more prudent in prescribing them for children at such an early age," Christine Cole Johnson, PhD, says. "In the past, many of them were prescribed unnecessarily, especially for viral infections like colds and the flu when they would have no effect anyway."
Dr. Cole's investigators found that by age 7, kids who got one or more rounds of antibiotics were:
When antibiotics are necessary, they are crucial to quelling bacterial infections. However, if you or your children suffer colds or flus, diseases caused by viruses, antibiotics have no effect on your illness but could increase your chance of developing allergies.
" Over the past four decades there has been an explosive increase in allergy and asthma in westernized countries, which correlates with widespread use of antibiotics and alterations in gastrointestinal (GI) microflora," says Mairi Noverr, a researcher on a study linking allergies to antibiotic use (104th Gen Meet Amer Soc Microbiol, 2004). "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." While a lot of research needs to be done, it may help to fortify the probiotic, or good, microbes in your intestines with probiotic supplements. One study has shown that giving probiotics to pregnant women helped their children avoid allergic eczema, a skin condition (Lancet 2001; 357:1076-9).
Green Tea Relief
Research has demonstrated that various types of tea can produce a range of health benefits. Tea drinkers can add allergy relief to that list.
Research in Japan demonstrates that for the allergy-oppressed, green tea may help them have nothing to Sneeze at. In laboratory tests, scientist found that green tea contains a substance that blocks one of the immune cell receptors which is often a part of the allergic response. The substance, methylated epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), is believed to have a similar effect in the real world (J Agr Food Chem 10/9/02).
" Green tea appears to be a promising source for effective anti-allergenic agents," notes Hirofumi Tachibana, PhD, the study's chief investigator and an associate professor at Kyushu University in Fukuoka. "If you have allergies, you should consider drinking it." Traditionally, many people have consumed tea as part of their effort to suppress Sneezes, coughs and itchy eyes caused by allergies. This experiment supports the evidence that green tea, in particular, has a reliable effect.
According to Dr. Tachibana, green tea's anti-allergenic benefits have not been completely established, but tea apparently has the potential to be effective against allergens like dust, chemicals, pet dander and pollen.
EGCG has also been shown to be a very active antioxidant, helping to quell the destructive effects of the caustic molecules known as free radicals. Green tea is richer in EGCG than black tea or oolong tea (a type that falls between black and green).
Although other research has demonstrated that EGCG offsets allergic responses in lab animals fed this substance, scientists don't completely understand why it works for allergies. Researchers theorize that EGCG restricts the production of histamine and immunoglobulin E (IgE), two substances secreted in the body as part of the chain of chemical reactions that lead to an allergic reaction, says Dr. Tachibana.
This study shows, for the first time, that a methylated form of EGCG can block the IgE receptor, which is a key receptor involved in an allergic response. The effect was demonstrated using human basophils, which are blood cells that release histamine. As of now, nobody knows how much green tea you need to guzzle to have the best protection against allergies and, of the several varieties available, nobody knows which green tea is best.
Outside of the US, green tea is the second most popular beverage in the world, right behind water. In the US, however, black tea is more popular than green. But the allergy sensitive should think and drink green.
Stay Away from Diesels
Those who are allergic to ragweed or pet dander usually know they should avoid the source of their allergies. But now scientists have found that, for many allergy sufferers, diesel exhaust can also worsen Sneezes and wheezes.
Scientists at two southern California schools have shown that about half of us have inherited a sensitivity to diesel pollution that can make our allergies significantly worse (Lancet 1/10/04). "[T]his study suggests a direct way that pollution could be triggering allergies and asthma in a large number of susceptible individuals...," says Frank D. Gilliland, MD, PhD, the study's lead author. Diesel exhaust particles are thought to act as destructive free radicals in the lungs, forming caustic molecules that damage lung tissue. This irritation can cause your immune system to create larger amounts of compounds that make you Sneeze and wheeze more.
The Antioxidant Advantage
Antioxidants, scientists believe, can help defuse this damage and ease the body's allergic responses. The California scientists looked at two antioxidant enzymes the body makes to protect the lungs called glutathione S-transferase M1 (GSTM1) and glutathione S-transferase P1 (GSTP1). Only about five of ten people's immune systems can make all the effective forms of these enzymes. The rest of us lack this protection to some degree, and the immune system in about one in five people can't make any effective form of these enzymes.
The research team found that people allergic to ragweed who lacked these antioxidant enzymes suffered more when they took in both ragweed pollen and particles from diesel pollution.
Breathe Easier With C
This research may help explain why many health practitioners recommend vitamin C, a potent antioxidant, to allergy sufferers. Vitamin C "prevents the secretion of histamine by the white blood cells, increases the detoxification of histamine and lowers the blood-histamine levels," says Sylvia Goldfarb, PhD, author of Allergy Relief (Avery/Penguin).
Scientists continue to study the allergy conundrum. Meanwhile, sip a cup of green tea and shut the window before the next truck comes by.
Herbs in Perspective
June 10, 2005 10:25 PM
Herbs in Perspective by Phyllis D. Light, RH-AHG Energy Times, June 16, 2004
"I don't claim a cure...I just try to give people some ease," noted Tommie Bass, a traditional Southern herbalist whose life has been the topic of several books, including Mountain Medicine by Darryl Patton (Natural Reader Press) and Trying to Give Ease by John Crellin and Jane Philpott (Duke University Press). That philosophy reflects the perspective embraced by herbalists for eons.
The traditional use of herbs is incorporated into all cultures. Herbs were the first medicine and the origin of what we now call modern medicine. These plants have not been prescribed to conquer specific illnesses but instead nourish the body and aid in building overall health.
Observation, psychological need and human instinct form the foundation of traditional herbal knowledge and use. This knowledge has been passed down through generations based on practice and experience. The result: a depth of information about the safe and effective use of herbs that spans thousands of years.
The goal of a traditional herbalist is to bring the body into balance (homeostasis), prevent disease and support immune functioning. Unfortunately, any kind of therapeutic knowledge can be misused, and that has happened with some herbs, causing some people to question herbal medicine's safety.
As more people turn to natural therapies, scientists have begun to perform evidence-based research into their safe and effective use. The good news is that much of this research has validated the effectiveness of herbs and supplements.
Echinacea to the Rescue
Do the sniffling Sneezes that herald a cold have you reaching for your bottle of echinacea? If so, you are in good company. Echinacea (Echinacea spp) is one of the top-selling herbs.
The colorful American prairie plant was extremely popular during the early 1900s, until the use of modern antibiotics relegated it to the back shelf. But a resurgence of interest in herbs propelled echinacea back into the mainstream in the second half of the twentieth century. And this herb boasts an impressive body of research and has an excellent record of safety.
For instance, researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy have found echinacea to be effective in supporting the body's defenses against upper respiratory tract infections and for reducing the duration of discomforts that accompany the common cold (Pharmacotherapy 2000; 20(6):690-7).
Although studies have not confirmed its ability to prevent colds, echinacea is widely used by many folks for just that purpose. Researchers have found that echinacea's effectiveness may drop if you use it for eight straight weeks (Am J Health-Syst Pharm 1999; 56(2):121-2). So if you take it for a couple of months, take a couple of weeks off before using it again.
St. John's wort is another herb with ancient origins that has experienced a modern resurgence. Named after St. John the Baptist, St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) is generally in bright yellow bloom around St. John's Day (June 26). According to herbalist Michael Tierra, author of The Way of Herbs (Pocket Books), St. John's wort affects the liver and the nervous system. In 1984, the German Commission E, a recognized herbal authority, approved St. John's for depressive disorders, and in topical form for acute injuries and first-degree burns.
Modern research has reaffirmed the use of St. John's wort in the short-term treatment of mild to moderate depression (Cochrane Review Issue 2, 2004). It has also been found to be useful in premenstrual depression (Int J Psy Med 2003; 33(3):295-7). (Researchers have found that the herb may alter how the body processes some prescription medications, so check with your healthcare provider before using such medicines along with St. John's wort.)
King of Herbs
" Ginseng (Panax) received the lofty title, King of Herbs, due to its reputation as a tonic and its ability to stimulate the body into healing," notes herbalism writer Darryl Patton. This plant was once so popular in China that it was worth its weight in gold.
In fact, ginseng is the popular name for two different types of ginseng, American and Korean (Panax quinquefolium and P. ginseng). Both are considered adaptogens, or substances that help the body deal with stress more effectively. And modern research has found that ginseng can be used to improve overall energy and vitality, and to help the body deal more effectively with chronic stress (J Pharm Sci 2003 Dec: 93(4):458-64).
Researchers have found that ginseng helps boost the immune system (J Med Food 2004 Spring; 7(1):1-6). This ancient herb is also a powerful antioxidant that confers protection on the heart (Biochem Biophys Acta 2004 Feb 24; 1670(3):165-71). In other studies, ginseng has been found to reduce symptoms of menopause, improve endurance and lower blood sugar levels. To avoid overharvesting wild ginseng, most of the herb on the market is now grown on farms.
Ode to Ginkgo
Known as the Living Fossil, ginkgo is the oldest known plant in the world. A native of Asia, ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) is now found in many US cities, where it has been planted as a quick-growing shade tree. Traditionally, ginkgo was used for disorders and diseases of the lungs and the kidneys, as a remedy for bronchitis and to improve circulation in older people.
Ginkgo contains substances that act as potent antioxidants by scavenging cell-damaging free radicals, and it is thought to help reduce the risk of disease. By opening capillaries, ginkgo increases circulation, and enables nutrients and oxygen to move around the body, especially to the extremities.
Indeed, recent research indicates that ginkgo may ease pain associated with arterial disease in the legs (Am J Med 2000; 108:276-81). Other studies support the use of ginkgo for acute stress (J Pharm Sci 2003 Dec; 93(4):458-64) and some cases of hearing loss (Acta Otolaryngol 2001; 121:579-84).
In a UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute study on ginkgo, researchers found significant improvement in the verbal recall of people who had age-related memory problems. According to Dr. Linda Ercoli, lead author of the study, "Our findings suggest intriguing avenues for future study...with a larger sample to better measure and understand the impact of ginkgo on brain metabolism."
Traditionally, fiery ginger (Zingiber officinale) has been used to aid digestion, reduce nausea, relieve gas, reduce symptoms of arthritis and strengthen the heart. Modern researchers have started to validate these traditional uses; ginger has reduced the nausea and vomiting of morning sickness in studies (Aust NZJ Obstet Gynaecol 2003 Apr; 4392:139-44).
Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Minnesota have applied for a patent on a substance found in ginger, believing it to have anticancer activity. According to Ann Bode, "Plants of the ginger family have been credited with therapeutic and preventive powers and have been reported to have anticancer activity."
Ginger can be found in natural food stores as fresh or dried root. It often appears in small amounts in herbal formulas as a carrier herb-one that helps move other herbs around the body.
The best medicine combines the health support of herbs with the scientific rigor of conventional medicine. And as scientists continue to search for new medicine from ancient remedies, we can enjoy the best of both perspectives.
June 10, 2005 05:32 PM
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.
Important Information for Allergy Sufferers
May 13, 2005 09:52 AM
Important Information for Allergy SufferersRichard Conant, L.Ac. C.N.
Imagine you are one among millions who greet each spring with worry about the flood of pollen that fills the air this time of year. When the pollen season arrives, as it inevitably does, you find yourself with two choices. You can either take over-the-counter antihistamines and put up with unpleasant side-effects, or endure the sneezing, runny nose, itchy, watery eyes and other discomforts of hay fever.
If there was a natural ingredient, a nutritional substance found throughout nature in many foods and plants, that could offer an alternative, would you not be interested?
Quercetin, one among hundreds of flavonoids found throughout the plant kingdom, is this ingredient. Quercetin has been researched in numerous pharmacological studies. The results of this work strongly suggest that quercetin helps to stabilize the fundamental process in the body which causes an allergic reaction. Quercetin, as shown in test-tube ("in vitro") studies, prevents the release of histamine from "mast cells," immune cells that stand guard in the tissues which meet the outside environment—the nasal passages, the lungs, the digestive tract and skin. While this has yet to be confirmed by human clinical trials, in the picture that emerges from the research so far, quercetin looks like a rescue nutrient for allergy sufferers.
Reports from Quercetin Users
I have seen numerous reports from individuals who have indeed achieved significant reductions in allergic sensitivity by using quercetin. And this includes food allergies as well as environmental allergies. Anecdotal stories like these carry little weight among scientists, because they do not provide evidence that the observed result will be repeated in other cases. Only placebo-controlled, double-blind studies can produce this kind of scientific proof. Yet, when anectodal evidence (this includes physician "case reports") correlates with the results of pharmacological research such as we have on quercetin, I believe it should be taken seriously. And quercetin is a nutrient that works effectively when taken as a dietary supplement.
For example, one gentleman writes that his wife, who is allergic to pollen and dust, is now "Sneeze-free" after using quercetin for three years. A Pennsylvania woman writes that her husband, also a long time allergy sufferer, "seems to be nearly allergy free" after one month of use. Another man says that "quercetin has literally changed my life." These are not isolated cases; a respected nutritionist who specializes in allergies and environmental problems has seen many similar outcomes with a quercetin. Clearly something significant is going on with respect to quercetin as a nutritional approach for overcoming allergies.
Bear in mind, though, that quercetin does not function like an antihistamine medication; it is not a quick fix. As a nutrient that helps to normalize body functions naturally, quercetin needs time to work, and should be taken for at least two or three weeks to achieve these results.
Exerting a broad range of biological effects, quercetin is perhaps the most active and versatile flavonoid. In test-tube studies, quercetin acts directly on the mast cell in a way that quiets the allergic response.
An allergic reaction occurs when IgE antibodies, positioned on the mast cell surface, come in contact with a potential allergy-causing substance like pollen. The mast cell is then signaled to release histamine from storage granules located inside the cell, through a process called "degranulation." The histamine circulates throughout the body, causing the runny nose, itching and other discomforts associated with allergies.
Quercetin stabilizes mast cell membranes, in effect turning down the allergic response signal. Quercetin also slows other mechanisms which are involved with inflammation, such as the production of inflammatory prostaglandins and leukotrienes. This adds to its membrane-stabilizing effect, and its value in allergy control.
Quercetin appears to substantially raise the threshold for initiation of an allergic reaction. In allergy sufferers this threshold is low, for reasons which are not well understood. They may have more IgE antibodies than normal, making the mast cells overly "trigger happy." Histamine has its proper place in the immune response that defends us against truly harmful foreign substances in the body. But like many chemicals produced by the body, histamine is a two-edged sword. In allergy-prone individuals, the mast cells have become overreactive, releasing too much histamine, unnecessarily. With quercetin in the bloodstream, histamine release from mast cells is kept under control. Quercetin's ability to down-regulate both the inflammatory and allergic responses makes it, I believe, a highly important nutrient for humans to consume on a regular basis.
Quercetin-the Scientific Evidence
Several studies, published in respected journals such as the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and others, have demonstrated quercetin's ability to control the release of histamine from mast cells. (Quercetin has the same effect on basophils, a type of white blood cell that also contains histamine.) In these experiments, mast cells taken from both animals and humans are exposed in the test tube to various substances—called "antigens"— that stimulate histamine release. The researchers then add an inhibiting agent such as quercetin to the mixture and measure the differences in histamine output. Quercetin has shown itself to be one of the more powerful histamine inhibitors, more powerful, in fact, than disodium cromoglycate, an anti-asthma drug.
Quercetin has other beneficial properties. A strong antioxidant, Quercetin has a higher level of antioxidant activity than both vitamin C and vitamin E. (Quercetin enhances the antioxidant activity of vitamin C; quercetin and vitamin C are true synergists.) Quercetin has been shown to block the oxidation of LDL cholesterol by free radicals. Quercetin also protects cell membranes from being injured by oxidized LDL. The damage that oxidized LDL causes to the delicate membranes of blood vessel linings allows plaque deposits to form, setting the stage for atheroslcerosis. These observations point to quercetin as a key nutrient for maintaining cardiovascular health.
Like all flavonoids, quercetin is not classified as an essential nutrient, although flavonoids were once called "Vitamin P." In view of its many beneficial actions, quercetin is a nutrient that clearly has important roles to play in human nutrition, for allergy sufferers, and for everyone.