LIFE AFTER ALLERGIES
Since we moved here to Arizona a year ago, I have met many people who have moved here to escape the `weather'' or because they expect their allergies to be better. There is sometimes an improvement but not one of them has been `cured'' by moving. I am not surprised. There is more to an allergy reaction than the weather or even the pollens that are supposed to cause them. If that was the only reason then how come all of us don''t suffer with allergies to the plants that cause them. How is it that one person in a household sneezes every time their dog or cat is close but everyone else is O.K. It is, ofcourse, the same reason that some people catch a cold thats `going around'' and not others - simply we are all different and so is our health.
Allergies are often treated by finding the allergen (the thing which is causing it) and de-sensitising the person to each allergen. A tedious process that still does not always work. Many people will then develop allergies to something else - and so the process is repeated. If you are one of those unfortunate people, still suffering, then let me give you hope ! You only have a problem because there is an imbalance in your body systems. Change that and you can be as healthy as the next person.
The most prevalent allergy reaction that I have seen here is congested sinuses, sneezing, running nose and red, itchy eyes. These are generally caused by pollens, dust, cat and dog hairs, chemicals and other pollutants. The problem happens in the mucous membranes - that is the membrane or skin lining the nasal passages and it becomes inflamed, more mucous is produced to try to soothe it and then the sinuses fill up causing pressure and pain. These membranes are also linked with the digestive system and many people find that eating cheese and milk makes it worse. Try using soya milk or rice milk instead of regular milk products.
The Herb I most often use is Ephedra sinica. It greatly reduces the allergic response, even in very small amounts, by promptly relieving swellings of the mucous membrane. It is often used for asthma as it helps to open up the airways. It should not be used if there is high blood pressure as it contains ephedrine which can raise it further. Frequent or prolonged use should always be accompanied by an adrenal support such as Borage, Licorice, or Siberian Ginseng. Eyebright (Euphrasia spp.) helps to cut down on the amount of mucous being produced and also to break it up and eliminate it from the body. It is particularly good used as an infusion to bathe the eyes or as eye drops. Golden Seal (Hydrastis canadensis) is very useful in drying and toning the mucous membranes. Do not use it if the membranes are already dry as it is astringent due to the presence of Hydrastine,an alkaloid. The powdered root has been used as a snuff in the past for nasal catarrh.
These Herbs will generally greatly help the symptoms but my ultimate goal is always to treat the cause so that the symptoms will not recur. Professional advice is necessary to really get to the root of the problem. The common areas often involved are the digestive system and glands such as the lymphatics as well as the pancreas and adrenals. If there is congestion in the bowels, so will there be in other areas. Constipation must always be corrected with diet and Herbs such as Dandelion root, Milk thistle, Butternut or occasional use of Cascara and Senna. These last two are very strong and should not be used long term as they can take away from the natural elasticity of the bowel wall. Dandelion and Milk thistle are both wonderful as they cleanse and promote the liver so helping in general digestion. The lymphatics respond well to Herbs such as Clivers (Galium aparine) which promotes the flow and health so aiding drainage from the sinuses.
As always, if symptoms persist, consult your Herbalist or other health professional. Remember that there is always a way. Above all, the next time you hear yourself talking about `my'' allergies, remind yourself that they don''t have to be `yours'' anymore !