Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,
I am suffering from allergies and this is all new to me. I didn’t grow up with allergies. My eyes burn. My nose is a faucet and I have headaches and fatigue. My doctor said it is a bad time for allergies with the climate all screwy. Lots of mold, pollen, and dust abound. What can I do? Nothing seems to help. Antihistamines just make me tired, decongestants make me crazy…acupuncture helped a bit but I am still really suffering.
For symptom relief, try Butterbur. It is an herb that you can get it at most drugstores and it works as an anti-inflammatory, not an antihistamine, so it won’t make you tired. It helps headache too. But take a look at your life style- exhaustion and stress weaken your immune system. You may need to make some changes.
Stress releases a chemical called cortisol. It is a steroid that can suppress your immune system. Cortisol can cause steroid type side effects, from weight gain to feminizing the male of the species. Stress can also cause your immune system to get confused, causing allergies or even auto immune disorders.
Doctors are recommending probiotics these days because part of your immune system is related to the ratio to good and bad flora in your intestines.
Be careful of over the counter medications and supplements: Americans tend to think “more is better” but even more of a good thing is not often a good idea. For instance, vitamin E used to be considered great for everything from nail problems to skin color and texture. Now we know that if too much is taken you could die of early heart disease. Vitamin D is the current big fad but even that in high doses can cause heart disease.
Weight is a big issue in allergies too. The body functions better if its needs are being met, but over meeting them just tends to screw things up. Adipose tissue (fat) manufactures estrogen but too much of this estrogen is bad for your immune system and causes cells to grow; it needs to be in a good balance with ovarian estrogen or it can cause cancers. Men don’t have this particular protection.
Other home allergy remedies that help are exercise and orgasm. Both release norepinephrine which is what many asthma medications do. They also boost the immune system but you may not want to do both at the gym.
Also- eating local honey helps desensitize you to a lot of the environmental pollens.
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Granny says: I’ll add Vitamin C to the list- it’s a natural histamine suppressant. 3,000 mg a day is recommended during allergy season, but don’t take it all at once. Your body can’t retain Vitamin C and you will just get the trots, to put it politely. Take it in 500 mg doses regularly through the day instead. Stay away from chlorine in pools too! It worsens congestion. And it is very helpful to take a shower later in the day as well as in the morning, because you are probably walking around accumulating pollen all day long.
The pollen problem is only going to increase as CO2 levels go up. You are better off strengthening your own immune system than increasing your doses of medication. Decongestants in particular are hard on your heart, and with any medicine, you are only suppressing symptoms, it isn’t a cure.
A last note- oddly, some of the foods you eat can exacerbate symptoms- allergy sufferers often have antibodies in their systems that cause them to overreact to specific foods. If you are allergic to ragweed, your symptoms will worsen after eating bananas, melons, cucumber, or zucchini. If your problem is with tree pollen, apples, pears, peaches, hazelnuts, kiwi, carrots, or celery will cause your symptoms to accelerate. Watch how you feel after meals; it could provide you with clues.
Best of luck to you. Allergy season bites the Big One.