Hayfever - Allergy - Pollen - Mold - Yeast - Dust

Itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing, irritability, allergic rhinitis, antibodies, histamine, mucus membranes, sinuses, antihistamines, antiinflammatories, asthma.

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It's that time of the year again... "spring" when billions and billions of tiny pollen grains start filling the air, causing some 25 million Americans to experience itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing and irritability. If you're one of those unfortunate souls who suffer from allergic rhinitis (known to us lay folk as hayfever) then this issue is your cup of tea (herbal tea, of course!)

Hayfever is caused by sensitivity to the pollen released by flowering plants, especially trees, grasses and ragweed. Pollen is the male seed of the plant, which is carried by wind or insects for reproduction. These tiny pollen granules enter the respiratory system and lodge on the mucus membranes. In most people they cause no discomfort, but in the hayfever sufferer the immune system is excessively sensitive to tiny foreign particles. It produces antibodies to destroy them. These antibodies tend to cling to special cells called mast cells which are very prevalent in the lungs and liver. The antibodies attach themselves to the pollen (or other irritant) to destroy it.

This antibody reaction causes the mast cell to rupture, which releases large quantities of chemicals (histamine is one of them). This in turn causes inflammation of the surrounding tissues. It is the inflammation of the mucus membranes in the sinuses, lungs and eyes which causes the suffering in hayfever (i.e., the itchiness, the redness and irritation). It also causes the thin, watery mucus discharge, which helps to cleanse the area of debris.

You can see why medically, hayfever is usually treated with antihistamines and antiinflammatories. The goal of orthodox medicine is to counter the histamine or reduce the inflammation. These chemicals may help to alleviate symptoms, but they are not getting at the root causes of the problem. Furthermore, they typically have side effects such as drowsiness and depression.

Chronic suppression of the inflammatory response in the lungs through the use of these drugs can actually make the problem worse. It reduces the ability of the mucus membranes to keep themselves clean. A little recognized fact is that suppressed hayfever can turn into other problems like asthma. Most cases of asthma today are allergic reactions in the lungs which are causing swelling of the lung tissue. Don't worry, though. Mother Nature has nontoxic and inexpensive answers to these problems which are overlooked by most people, perhaps because her methods aren't considered scientifically proven (whatever that means).

Herbs, supplements and dietary changes may not afford the rapid symptomatic relief offered by drugs, but what they do offer is hope of a lasting cure. Think of it like this: Have you ever had a leak in your roof? Putting a pan under the leak may protect your carpet, but it doesn't stop the leak. Drug treatment for hayfever is similar. It may ease the effects of hayfever, but it does nothing to stop the cause. In a similar manner, a drip from the ceiling doesn't mean that the roof is leaking directly above that spot. When you check the attic, you may find the water is running along a beam and the leak is actually in another location. It's the same with allergies.

HayfeverDon't assume that the respiratory symptoms mean that the original cause is in your lung and sinus tissues. Believe it or not, your runny nose is probably originating from a leak in your gut. When digestion is not working properly, food ferments and putrefies in the intestinal tract causing inflammation and irritation. The irritated mucus membranes of your stomach and bowels allow large molecules of improperly digested food, as well as the toxic end-products of fermentation, to enter your blood stream. This overburdens the liver, an organ charged with the responsibility of filtering your blood and keeping it healthy.

Your immune system has to deal with all this waste material in your blood stream and your eliminative organs become overburdened and overworked. Thus, when the hay arrives, it's one straw too many and the back of your overtaxed immune system breaks. Put more plainly, the runny nose is a safety valve to let off the excess pressure from irritants in the system. So, from the natural healer's point of view, hayfever is not a sign that the body's immune system is running amok. Your immune system is just doing its job.

What it needs is for you to take some of the stress off of it. Eat more fruits and vegetables and less junk food. Keep your bowels and liver in good working condition. You may be pleasantly surprised at what the Tiao He Cleanse colon cleansing program might do for your hayfever. Finally, try some of the remedies listed in this issue. They can help your respiratory passages cleanse themselves. Some can stabilize the mast cells so they are less likely to burst and help the liver and other organs remove histamine and other toxins from the system more efficiently. Others can reduce inflammation without side effects.

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Other herbs and formulas which may help hayfever or other respiratory allergies include the following:

Bee Pollen
A homeopathic-like therapy which has worked for many hayfever victims is to eat bee pollen. The encapsuled pollen helps some people, but even more effective is to get pollen from local bees. Eating raw, locally produced honey may help too, because of the small amounts of pollen present in the honey. It's best to start with a very small amount and gradually increase the dose.

Although plant pollens trigger hayfever, the plant community also contains many allies which can relieve both the cause and the symptoms of this disorder. Your best bet is probably an herbal combination, which will help not only with the respiratory system directly, but will address the digestive tract, liver and other underlying causes.

Here are other popular herbal formulas to consider for hayfever problems.

AL-J
A well-known formula with a popular reputation for relieving allergy symptoms is AL-J. However, as we examine the ingredients, we realize that half of the herbs in this formula are specific remedies for the digestive system! So this formula doesn't just treat the symptoms, it gets to the causes. The fenugreek, fennel and horseradish in AL-J all stimulate and improve digestive function. They help increase hydrochloric acid production and settle nervous indigestion. Fenugreek also helps to decongest the sinuses and breaks up hardened mucus in the body. Along with mullein and boneset it helps drain the sinus cavities so they can cleanse and heal themselves.

It's important to understand that AL-J isn't going to arrest sinus drainage like antihistamines do. Quite the contrary, you may actually notice an increase in drainage for the first day or two. As the mucus membranes cleanse themselves of irritants, the drainage stops and healing begins. Mullein and boneset also help soothe mucus tissues and reduce swelling and inflammation. Be sure to take enough, because these are mild herbs requiring high amounts in order to see best results.

Anywhere from two to four capsules every four hours is usually required.

HISTA-BLOCK
Provides antioxidant strength to maintain stable mast cells and supports the body's efforts to maintain normal mucous membranes, keeping nasal passages open. This Nettles Combination supports the body in times of respiratory discomfort brought on by changing seasons, airborne particles, environmental conditions and a host of other causes.
A powerful combination of stinging nettle, quercetin, bromelain and immature orange peel (which contains synephrine). This formula provides antioxidant strength to maintain stable mast cells and supports the body's efforts to maintain normal mucous membranes, keeping nasal passages open.

Recommended Usage: Take two capsules with a meal twice daily.

Combination Four
Long used to combat hayfever, combination Four combines herbs for respiratory congestion together with plants which aid liver and digestive system function. The pleurisy root and yerba santa in this formula are respiratory decongestants which tone-up mucus membranes to reduce watery secretions. Yerba santa helps asthma-like conditions and dries up water secretions. Pleurisy root reduces swelling in the mucus membranes and chest cavity. Catnip and blessed thistle, also found in this formula, have little direct effect on the respiratory organs. However, both aid digestive function. Blessed thistle helps decongest and protect the liver. It also stimulates digestive secretions. Besides settling the stomach, catnip also reduces nervous stress. An overstressed, excited nervous system will merely add to the severity of the allergy.

SINUS SUPPORT
Sometimes, we need some symptomatic relief because we can't wait a couple of days for our sinuses to drain and clear. That's where Sinus Support comes in handy. Sinus Support contains herbs which work on the underlying causes of the problem while affording temporary relief of symptoms. For example, Sinus Support contains burdock, an herb which purifies the blood and strengthens mast cells (which reduces the release of histamine). Parsley, a diuretic, also helps to cleanse the blood. Goldenseal is a specific for chronic inflammation of the mucus membranes, while yerba santa and horehound act as decongestants to rid the body of excess mucus. Lastly, capsicum not only stimulates digestive function, it also reduces inflammation.
In short, Sinus Support is a good choice for weaning someone off antihistamine drugs, because it provides both short-term and long-term relief.

Lung Support is a Chinese formula designed to ventilate the lungs. It helps to open blocked airways and may help hayfever and asthma.

EW is an herbal eyewash formula which contains the eyebright herb just mentioned. Like eyebright itself, however, this combination is extremely useful for upper respiratory problems. Besides eyebright, it contains goldenseal which we mentioned earlier as being excellent for chronic irritation of the mucus membranes. Another ingredient is bayberry, an astringent which reduces mucus in the digestive tract and respiratory areas. So, EW can be of great benefit to those suffering from hayfever and related problems.

Licorice root supports the adrenal glands and helps to reduce stress levels in the body. The adrenals also produce cortisol to reduce inflammation levels in the body. Thus, licorice has an antiinflammatory action and soothes irritated mucus membranes, valuable benefits in hayfever cases.

Additional Helps

An indoor air sanitizer like the Boomerang may help to reduce pollen and airborne allergens.
Keeping pets outdoors can help, too.
Eat yogurt with live acidophilus. One study showed that regular consumption of yogurt reduced the incidence of asthma attacks.
If you have a dairy allergy, of course, this won't be helpful.

Trees are the first plants to release their pollen in the spring (alltrees have flowers, many just aren't showy, so people seldom notice them). Later grasses get into the picture. Hay, of course, is simply cut and dried grass, so it's the grass pollen allergies that give this disorder it's common name. Ragweed pollen shows up in the fall. Hayfever-like symptoms also occur in some people with exposure to dry grass, animal hair, mold and house dust.