I am an allergy sufferer. If you are like me, just the mention of "pollen" may be enough to make your eyes start itching. Seasonal allergies have been higher than normal where I live the past several weeks due to prolonged winter conditions that created a super-storm of pollen to be released in a short amount of time this spring.
Every year around this time people start talking about allergies — the severity, the symptoms and the solutions. But a different type of article caught my attention a couple weeks ago. Eleanor Cummins wrote a piece for Popular Science titled You’re almost certainly using the word 'allergies' wrong. You can read the full article here.
Allergies have become so common a cause for concern and conversation that the word seems to almost have lost its meaning—assuming it ever had one. “People use the word allergy to describe anything they just don’t like,” says William Reisacher, a doctor and professor of head and neck surgery at Weill Cornell Medicine. “I had a patient who came in with an upper respiratory illness. She says, ‘I think I have allergies.’ I said, ‘No, it’s a cold, this is a virus.’ And she said, ‘Well I’m allergic to the virus.’”
It appears that many of us have taken the freedom to use the word "allergy" to define different responses within the body including true allergic responses, immune disorders, intolerances and related problems. However, allergies are not the culprit of it each of these.
The article provides this helpful description of a true allergic reaction:
Today, allergies are typically defined by the presence of immunoglobulin E, or IgE, antibodies. Basically, allergenic material like pollen binds to IgE antibodies and, in a sensitive person, trigger the release of histamines. Histamine binds to cells inside your body and, in enough quantity, can cause sneezing, itching, and other symptoms of seasonal allergies. That’s why many people take Benadryl or other “antihistamine” drugs to stop the reaction in its tracks. It’s also what makes a legitimate allergy—the result of an aggressive (and maybe even misguided) immune system response to a fairly common compound.
Allergies are all about a histamine response. This helps to explain the difference between a milk allergy — which can result in hives, itchy skin, and even anaphylaxis — and a lactose intolerance. When we know what is really happening within our body, then we know how to prepare and react to it.
So what can be done naturally to aid with the histamine response we experience every spring and fall? A study on this topic has shown positive responses from Stinging Nettle, Quercetin, Bromelain and Vitamin C. Nutritional Resources offers two products that might be very helpful — Liquid Herb Nettle and Nature's Sunshine HistaBlock.
Breathe deep, protect against allergic responses and stay healthy!