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Natural and Alternative Allergy Treatments

April 24, 2011

Natural Allergy Treatments

This article is intended to give you reliable information on how to naturally prevent and treat allergies so that you can live a happy, healthy allergy free life! However, in order to do that, it’s important to cover a vast amount of information about allergies. If you’re not interested in the compiled allergy statistics, research and information, just scroll to the bottom of this post for the checklist of natural allergy treatments.

What Causes Allergies?

Allergies are caused by an immune system response to an allergen. An allergen is simply a compound that may cause allergies. Allergens always contain proteins, because the immune system allergic response is always caused by a response to protein.

So if you have allergies, you simply have a sensitivity to a certain type of protein. Most people consider protein as just something to eat. However, protein is just an organic compound containing hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. There are some non-protein allergens which include penicillin and some other drugs. For these allergens to cause an allergic response they need to be bound to a protein once they are in the body.

When an allergy occurs, your immune system believes that the invading allergens are dangerous and in response the body produces an antibody (“IgE”) to attack them. This in turn leads to other cells (called mast cells) to release further chemicals which together cause irritation, inflammation and the symptoms of an allergic response. Thus, the pain, irritation, and other symptoms of allergies are not caused by the allergen itself, but rather are caused by the immune system’s attacks and defense mechanisms – literally, your body is trying to kill off a perceived invasion and in the process damages itself with an allergic reaction.

The Most Common Allergy Symptoms

Here’s a list of the most common allergy symptoms (Please note that it is not easy or advisable to self-diagnose allergies).

  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing
  • Sinus pain
  • Runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Hives (Urticaria)
  • Rashes
  • Swelling
  • Itchy eyes, ears, lips throat and palate (roof of mouth)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increase in mucus secretions

Common Causes of Allergies

Some of the most common allergens or causes of allergies are:

  • dust mites
  • pollen (from trees, grasses, and flowers)
  • cat dander
  • dog dander
  • insects (wasps, bees)
  • milk
  • eggs
  • peanuts
  • tree nuts
  • fruit
  • latex
  • gluten (related to celiac disease and gluten intolerance)

This list of allergens is not comprehensive. There are many, many possible allergens.

U.S. Allergy Statistics

  • Statistics show more than half (54.6%) of all U.S. citizens have one or more allergies.
  • Over 50% of homes have at least six (6) allergens at detectable levels.
  • Allergic diseases affect between 40 and 50 million Americans.
  • Allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic disease in the United States.
  • Allergies cost the health care system more than $18 billion annually.
  • If a parent has an allergic disease, the estimated risk of a child to develop allergies is 48%; the child’s estimated risk grows to 70% if both parents have a history of allergies.

Allergic Rhinitis (Hay Fever Allergies)

  • In 2006, 8% of adults and over 9% of children had been diagnosed with hay fever in the past 12 months.
  • There were more than 12 million physician office visits because of allergic rhinitis (hay fever) in 2006.
  • Allergic rhinitis (hay fever) affects between 10% and 30% of all adults and as many as 40% of children.
  • The prevalence of allergic rhinitis (hay fever) is around 35% in Europe and Australasia, according to the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS).
  • From 2000 to 2005, the cost of treating allergic rhinitis grew from $6.1 billion (in 2005 dollars) to $11.2 billion. More than half of the expense was for prescription medications.
  • Immunotherapy helps reduce hay fever symptoms in about 85% of people with allergic rhinitis (hay fever).
  • Allergic Rhinitis (hay fever) is estimated to affect approximately 60 million people in the United States, and its prevalence is increasing, especially pediatric rhinitis.

Sinusitis Allergies

  • Sinusitis accounts for 20% of office visits to specialists in allergy and immunology.
  • At least12% of Americans under the age of 45 have symptoms of chronic sinusitis.
  • One study found 55% of patients with sinusitis had a history of allergic rhinitis pr hay fever.
  • Sinusitis is one of the leading forms of chronic disease, with an estimated 18 million cases and at least 30 million courses of antibiotics given annually.
  • Over 40,000 people have sinus surgery every year for chronic sinus problems related to allergies. 
  • People with sinusitis miss 4 days of work each year because of the condition.

Drug Allergies

  • Anaphylactic reactions to penicillin cause around 400 deaths annually.
  • Between 6% and 10% of adverse drug reactions are allergic or immunologic in nature.
  • Between 29% and 65% of patients with HIV/AIDS are allergic to sulfonamide drugs, compared to 2% to 4% of other individuals.
  • Penicillin is the most common cause of drug-induced anaphylaxis.

Skin Allergies

  • About 27% of children who have a food allergy also have eczema or another skin allergy.
  • Contact dermatitis leads to approximately 5.7 million doctors visits each year.
  • More than 3,700 substances have been identified as contact allergens.
  • Atopic dermatitis, or Eczema, affects between 10% and 20% of children and 1% to 3% of adults.
  • Atopic dermatitis is one of the most common skin diseases, particularly in infants and children. The estimated prevalence of atopic dermatitis or eczema in the United States is 9%.
  • The prevalence of atopic dermatitis (eczema) appears to be increasing rapidly.
  • As many as 15% to 24% of people in the United States will experience acute urticaria (hives) or angioedema at some point in their lives.

Digestive and Food Allergies

  • In 2007, approximately 3 million children under the age of 18 were reported to have a food or digestive allergy in the previous 12 months.
  • The prevalence of food allergies among children under age 18 increased 18% percent from 1997 to 2007.
  • Kids with food allergies are two to four times more likely to have asthma and other allergies.
  • Food allergies affect 6% of children under the age of three.
  • 6.5 million Americans (about 2.3% of the general population) are allergic to some form of seafood.
  • Over 3 million people in the United States report being allergic to peanuts, tree nuts or both.
  • The number of children with potentially fatal peanut allergies doubled between 1997 and 2002.
  • More than 3% of adults have one or more food allergies.
  • Food allergies account for 35% to 50% of all cases of anaphylaxis.

Insect Sting Allergies

  • At least 40 people in the United States die each year as the result of insect stings.
  • Life-threatening reactions to insect stings occur in 0.4% to 0.8% of children and 3% of adults.

Latex Allergies

  • Latex allergy affects between 5% and 15% of healthcare workers, but less than 1% of the general population (this is most likely due to the large exposure of health care workers to latex gloves).
  • Between 24% and 60% of people with spina bifida have latex allergies.

Food Allergy Causation Theories

There are numerous theories for the dramatic increases in food allergies over the past several years:

1. Genetic Susceptibility

Some claim genetic susceptibilities account for much of the incidence of allergies. However, this is unreasonable to believe that allergies could increase at such a fast pace if they were caused by genetic predispositions because our genes simply cannot change that quickly.

Furthermore, with all the new research on epigenetics we are learning that other factors affect which of our genes turn on and off based on lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, and stress. It is much more likely that lifestyle factors are causing our genes to misbehave on an epigenetic level which then causes allergic reactions.

2. Hygiene Hypothesis

Some claim that the rampant overuse of antibiotics in our food supply and drugs, vaccinations, antibacterial cleaners and other environmental factors have damaged our immune systems, leaving our immune system out of balance and overreacting to various allergens.

3. Lack of Vitamin D 

Over 70% of Americans are seriously deficient in vitamin D, which plays a role in the immune system. This could cause immune system imbalances and create susceptibilities to allergens and allergic reactions.

4. Imbalance of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids
  
Americans have a huge imbalance in our ratio of consumption of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids. We should be eating a ratio close to 1:1 of these fats, however, our ratio as a society is closer to 1:15. This causes inflammation and immune system imbalances which can lead to allergic reactions.

5. Processed foods

Processed foods are known to be damaging and suppressing to the immune system. This damage can cause the immune system to become out of balance, thus promoting allergic reactions.

Natural Allergy Treatments

Because allergies are caused by an imbalanced immune system reaction, the natural treatment for allergies must involve bringing the immune system back into balance and reducing immune system inflammation. (Please note that the following recommendations have been proven to be effective for a variety of allergies such as skin allergies like eczema, food allergies, and hay fever and other autoimmune diseases and immune system disorders such as psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, allergies, asthma, and more).

There are a number of ways to help bring your immune system back into balance, reduce inflammation, and naturally treat allergies.

1. Eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables

Thousands of studies have shown that eating fruits and vegetables reduces oxidative stress which invariably reduces damage to the immune system. Fruits and vegetables help balance the immune system. This is one of the reasons why people who eat more fruits and vegetables are less likely to develop diseases like cancer, heart disease, and many others. Many studies have shown that eating fruits and vegetables reduces your risk for asthma and allergies.

Furthermore, fruits and vegetables are anti-inflammatory. Eating fruits and vegetables (and berries) is one of the most imporant things you can do to reduce inflammation.

Since most people don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables and won’t even if they know it will eliminate their allergies or other chronic diseases, I recommend taking Juice Plus+. We have seen numerous people improve and reduced their allergies using these concentrated fruit and vegetable powders.

2. Avoid All Dairy Products

Dairy products contain a protein called casein. Casein has been shown to be incredibly harmful to the human immune system and has been shown in thousands of studies to increase allergies, asthma, respiratory infections, and autoimmune disorders. In fact, most people find that simply taking dairy out of their diets has helped them eliminate their food allergies and other allergies.

Much more information about casein and dairy protein can be found in The China Study by T. Colin Campbell.

Not sure what to use instead of dairy? Check out our previous article about dairy substitutes.

3. Add Omega-3 Fats to your Diet

Omega-3 fats are essential to good health and proper immune system functioning. Omega-3 fats are the anti-inflammatory fats. Omega-6 fats are the pro-inflammatory fats. Researchers have found that the ideal balance for human nutrition is a 1:1 ratio of Omega-3 fats to Omega-6 fats. In America, our ratio is closer to 1:15. Studies have shown that omega-3 fats can reduce our risk for allergies and asthma.

This incredible imbalance in the right fats in our diets causes our immune systems to be extra inflammatory and out of balance. This immune system imbalance causes immune disorders like allergies, eczema, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, and many others.

There are two very easy ways to add more Omega-3 fats to your diets – with whole flax seeds or with flax seed oil. You can buy them at your local health food store or order them online.

4. Get Enough Vitamin D Every day

Vitamin D is necessary for proper immune system function. Vitamin D is not actually a vitamin, it’s a hormone and it effects so many parts of your body. Even though the RDA for Vitamin D is 200 IU, you need significantly more for ideal health – between 4,000 and 6,000 IU daily. You can’t get enough Vitamin D every day just by eating foods or taking a multivitamin. Unless you get 30 minutes or more of excellent sun exposure on your whole body every day, you should be taking a high-quality Vitamin D supplement.

For more information about Vitamin D, visit What You Need to Know About Vitamin D.

5. Avoid Refined Sugar and Processed Foods 

Refined sugar is incredibly damaging to the human immune system and has been proven increase allergies, asthma, and other diseases. Several studies have shown sugar can actually cause food allergies and respiratory infections. For more information about sugar, I recommend Dr. Mercola’s article 76 Ways Sugar Can Ruin Your Health.

Likewise, processed foods are also damaging to the immune system and often contain many chemicals like refined sugar, hydrogenated oils, and other ingredients and food additives which are damaging to the immune system. Furthermore, because processed foods are either cooked, pasteurized, or chemically changed in some other way, they often contain very little if any nutritional value. And remember, nutritional value is what you need to improve your immune system and naturally treat allergies (that’s why eating a variety of fresh, raw fruits and vegetables is so effective in treating allergies).

6. Chiropractic Treatments Help Allergies

My chiropractor, Dr. Robert Schiffman, has sent me numerous case studies and research articles about chiropractic through his newsletter. The clinical research I’ve seen has shown that chiropractic treatments can be effective in reducing allergies and are an extremely safe allergy treatment method.

On May 7, 2009 a story was run by an ABC affiliate which featured help for allergies through chiropractic care. Jami Lynn Lilly suffered from allergies during the Spring allergy seasons in Missouri. Her allergies produced sinus problems and watery eyes. Jami said, “I get really bad sinus infectors, for weeks I just look like I’m bawling all the time.”

Jami reported dramatic improvements in her allergy symptoms after her first chiropractic adjustment. She said, “He adjusted me one time for it [allergies], two three days my nose just drained and then I was fine after that.”

Jami finally decided to go to a chiropractor for her problem. After her first visit she reported improvement. She described the experience by saying, “He adjusted me one time for it, two three days my nose just drained and then I was fine after that.”

Jami’s chiropractor, Dr. Baca, said during the interview, “If there’s an allergy floating around out there, what makes one person susceptible to it, when it doesn’t make all of us susceptible?” The answer, he said, is “Your nervous system controls every aspect of your body, including your immune system… If one of the vertebrae on your spine is out of place, it could be putting pressure or irritating one of your nerves. Maybe the nerve that controls your sinuses, your head, your throat, or your immune system.” When this happens, your immune system may get out of balance and can subject you to allergies.

Another case study comes from a 7 year old boy whose case was documented in the Journal of Pediatric, Maternal, and Family Health. The boy’s parents explained that their son had been suffering from asthma, allergies, and chronic colds since he was 5 and had been taking the medication Alavert daily for allergies and Albuterol for asthma as needed. He also required nebulizer treatments for his asthmatic episodes. On top of that, steroid injections were used regularly! Because of his allergies, asthma, and chronic colds, he missed 1-2 days of school per month and had monthly visits with a medical doctor for his various health problems.

When he went to a chiropractor, the examination showed multiple postural abnormalities and changes in the boy’s ranges of spinal motion. The boy received 3 chiropractic adjustments per week for the first month. Within two weeks, the child was no longer dependent on his prescription medication for allergies. His parents also said that his frequency and severity of asthma attacks had improved and nebulizer treatments were no longer necessary. Within 3 months of the first chiropractic treatment, the mother reported that all of the boy’s initial complaints were successfully addressed without any adverse reactions.

Natural Allergy Treatments

So there you have it – six natural methods to balance your immune system, reduce inflammation, and get rid of your allergies forever. Some of natural allergy treatments may work for you and some may not. Of course, every human body is different and unique, and there are so many factors which can affect your immune system and cause allergies. So I do not know which of these natural allergy treatments will work for you…

But I do know this – If you do all of these things – eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, remove all dairy products from your diet, add more Omega-3s to your diet to get closer to the 1:1 fat ratio, get enough Vitamin D every day, avoid refined sugar and processed foods, and receive proper chiropractic care, your immune system will be happier and you will may finally get some allergy relief.

As Dr. Candace Corson says, “There is no disease which cannot be helped or improved by good nutrition.”

What do you think? Have you tried any of these natural allergy treatments? Please comment and let me know what allergy treatments have worked for you and which have not!

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