sunflowersIn my area of the US, pollen is literally covering everything outdoors right now. For those of us with , also known as , this time of year can be miserable. Symptoms of pollen allergy include runny nose, scratchy eyes and throat, cough, fatigue, itchy eyes and throat and sneezing.

are a common reason for people to seek naturopathic medical care. Naturopathic therapies for allergies are quite successful and there are many options. Following the therapeutic order (see my post from 2/3/09), the first things I recommend are avoiding pollen exposure by showering before bed, changing pillow cases often, changing clothes after being outside, and using an air filter in the bedroom for severe cases. Dietary changes that help include avoiding any food sensitivities you know you have, diary, sugar, alcohol and fruit juices. These can all thicken mucus and be inflammatory. Anti-inflammatory foods rich in omega-3 fats such as wild salmon, sardines, walnuts and flax seeds are excellent substitutes.

, a bioflavonoid from citrus, onions, and squash skins, is a natural anti-histamine. is an enzyme-based anti-inflammatory form the pineapple plant that helps keep mucus membranes from over-reacting to irritants. and are also useful supplements for treating allergic symptoms.

Herbs for allergies include Nettle leaves, Eyebright leaves, Goldenrod leaves and Ephedra leaves (low dose.) Homeopathics for allergies such as Allium cepa (onion), Sabadilla, Natrum muriaticum or a combination remedy like Boiron’s “Sabadil” also work well. Local , 1/4 tsp twice daily from March through June helps some folks, but should be used with caution in highly sensitive individuals.

I have recommended all of the above advice to many a patient individually or in all kinds of combinations and have had great success in helping them ease their symptoms and be able to enjoy the outdoors again. Other ND’s use desensitization and a myriad of other approaches I have not mentioned to treat allergies. There are many effective treatments out there, so don’t give up if you try something that doesn’t work at first.

One patient I treated last year and followed up with this week with extreme seasonal and environmental allergies that give her hives along with the other symptoms only experienced minor relief using the above treatments. She also used to get migraines, so we added liver support to her program and her migraines have resolved. Unfortunately, she still gets severe allergy symptoms. So, we have moved to the higher rungs of the naturopathic treatment ladder and she takes prescription fexofenadine once daily this time of year. It works well for her and she hasn’t experienced side effects, so I am comfortable with this approach. She is the only patient out of approximately 100 I have treated for allergies that has needed a pharmaceutical medication to control her symptoms.

So, if you have allergies, you don’t need to suffer every spring. Visit a naturopathic physician and explore your options!

Margaret Philhower, ND