Other ways to fight allergies
It is the old “Catch-22.” The shovels and snow thrower are put away only to make room for the lawnmower. It is great to see the flowers bloom and trees bud, but that means it is time to start weeding the gardens. The skis and snowboards are ready for their long summer nap, but the bikes have been just tuned (thanks Charlie!) and the trails are calling.
I spent a good part of Saturday in the drizzle taking down our elk fences, but was glad to see everything so green. My wife reminded me (soaking wet) that back east, perpetual drizzle would just be a typical day.
I am amazed at how many of you have come in or asked about allergies. It seems you’ve exchanged mittens and winter coats for tissues and itchy eyes.
Dear Doc: I read and appreciated your column in Monday’s Daily regarding allergies and their sufferers. I am the wife of a sufferer and would like to find out about more long term treatments for airborne allergies.
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Are there alternative treatments, perhaps acupuncture or something I have never even heard about. I would really appreciate some advice as my husband, the sufferer, has had to make emergency room trips in the middle of the night, and really has never found anything that makes Rocky Mountain summers bearable for him(or me).
Suffering with a Sufferer
Dear Suffering: In my quest to look for alternative therapies for treating allergies I contacted Bruce Wignall, DC, who with other alternative providers in our valley provides a non-medical approach to allergy relief. As with any therapy, what counts is how it works for you, and the side effects of therapy. He was very kind to educate me with respect to supplements and herbs. I thought I would pass that on to you.
A supplement is a vitamin or mineral that we take to add to or supplement what is already in our system. Generally it is recognized that these are essential to maintaining health. Deficiencies are often associated with specific disease states.
In America, we are fortunate to have more than adequate food available (remember our talk on obesity!) and much of it is fortified with additional supplements. Think of salt with iodine, milk with vitamin D, cereal with vitamins and minerals and orange juice with calcium. Deficiencies are actually rare, but extra may be helpful.
In that light consider the following:
n Bromelain, a natural enzyme which may help reduce inflammation and histamine release.
n Coenzyme Q10, which may improve oxygenationand immunity.
n Quercetin, a bioflavonoid tht may stabilize the membranes of cells that release histamine.
n Vitamins A, B and C may also help our immune system.
n Probiotics may help stimulate our immune system.
Herbs are different. They are not needed to maintain health but function as substances that help our bodies natural processes work better. For the treatment of allergies they include:
n Echinacea which may decrease histamine production in those cells that release it. It is also used to boost our immune system. Use of echinacea over eight weeks should be followed by a three-week period off the herb or there is a risk of immune suppression.
n Curcumin, also called turmeric, is also used to inhibit histamine release and may be enhanced with the use of bromelain. The use of curcumin should be voided if you have intestinal ulcers, gall bladder problems or use coumadin a blood thinner.
n Garlic may help block histamine as well and has some antioxidant effects. Because it may also increase bleeding, it should be avoided if you have upcoming surgery or stomach ulcers. Like curcumin it should not be used with coumadin.
n Ginko or ginko biloba may reduce airway spasm associated with allergies. The precautions regarding its use are the same as for garlic.
n Nettle may work as an antihistamine and help the respiratory system.
n Goldenseal may reduce inflammation and help heal swollen membranes.
Before using any supplements during pregnancy or breast-feeding, it is a good idea to consult with your doctor.
Well, I hope that helps. Thanks to those who wrote in with great questions or helpful information. Allergies aren’t going to go away, and one season will be better or worse than the next. Different things work for different people and at different times. Don’t give up because it is important to get outside.
Please send me your questions. The only bad question is the unanswered one.
Health is our greatest asset and it doesn’t happen by accident. If something doesn’t seem right, or questions are left unanswered, don’t wait. Call your doctor.
Dr. Drew Werner of the Eagle Valley Medical Center writes a weekly column for the Daily. He encourages health questions. Write him by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Editor, Vail Daily, P.O. Box 81, Vail, 81658.