As a child, I can remember having ragweed allergies so badly that my eyes would often swell completely shut, I would be up all night sneezing, and generally having a woefully unhappy time. To my dismay it seemed that every over-the-counter allergy medication at the time barely touched my symptoms and knocked me on my butt simultaneously. When I was in my early teens I spent several years receiving allergy shots which made my arms break out in a series of hives that were beyond itchy. As time progressed, my allergies seemed to get progressively worse; I was always known as the “snotty kid” with portable Kleenex packs hanging out of my jeans. My cousin Andrea took me aside one day and said “Listen buddy, you’re never going to have a girlfriend with all those Kleenexes around.” I think she was right about that; luckily I had the fortune of meeting my wife in February.

At the time, I had no idea that I would graduate with a degree in Applied Nutrition, or marry a wonderful Naturopath, but the culmination of those events meant that I now had a fighting chance against my allergies. Indeed, after 15 years of accumulating knowledge, examining research and a touch of trial and error, I now have a toolbox of solutions at my disposal. My allergies have progressed from 3 months of antagonizing torture to about 2 weeks of sniffles; all without medication.

hayfever by matt hopson licensed under CC BY 2.0

     The list of allergy products available in Canada is quite extensive, but in my experience (and based upon research), there are a few that really stand out, and seem to work consistently. Depending on your unique set of symptoms, whether you’re on medications, other health concerns you may have, and even your age there’s always a unique solution.

Several combinations that utilize quercetin (a bioflavonoid commonly found in apples and onions), can be particularly effective at lowering histamine levels quite dramatically. Combined with other standardized herbs such as nettle and butterbur, symptoms can be drastically reduced by naturally reducing the body’s production of histamine and other pro-inflammatory compounds. Combine that with side-benefits such as incredible anti-oxidant effects and anti-inflammatory / pain-relieving effects, and you have a natural health product that is incredibly effective and promotes health in other areas. Win-Win I say!

A new form of quercetin has also emerged over the last couple of years called enzymatically-modified iso-quercetin (or EMIQ for short). Like many natural health products, advancements in the technology used to improve the bioavailability of poor-absorbing natural chemicals like quercetin, have paid off remarkably. EMIQ absorbs roughly 40x better than typical quercetin, and improves 24 hour plasma concentrations by approximately 1500%.

     If you’re an advocate of homeopathy, there are several solutions for allergies, each dependent on symptoms. Shelly and I are both on the same time-schedule with respect to allergies, and last year we had a “double-blocked nostril” disorder that had both of us catching flies with our mouths open. One of our most potent sinus homeopathic remedies had us both unblocked (in both nostrils) within seconds….which we found rather eerie.

Furthermore, identifying potential food sensitivities and eliminating them will decrease the burden on your immune system, and reduce allergic symptoms. There are several effective ways to identify food allergies; from the do-it-yourself “elimination diet”, to and IgG food panel blood tests that reveal real objective results that allow a more strategic and methodical approach.

Lastly, foundational staples such as a good probiotic , a healthy dose of vitamin D, and an adequate amount of the right kind of omega 3 will ensure your immune system plays nice with the flowers and plants outside.

If allergies have got you down this season (or if you’re waiting for the hammer to fall), give us a visit, and we can set you up with a strategy that works for you.