Ahhh Chooooooo! Does this sound familiar? If you’re among the 20 percent of Americans who suffer from chronic allergies or hay fever, you may be seeking a natural remedy for your runny nose, sneezing, teary eyes or scratchy throat. Allergies are the result of the immune system*s overreaction to a normally harmless substance, such as pollen, molds, animal hair or indoor dust mites.
Specifically, an allergy occurs when our immune system develops a sensitivity and attacks what it considers to be an invader. When the substance enters the body, the body produces many antibodies in the blood to attack it. The antibodies then bind to a kind of white blood cell called mast cells. This binding causes the release of histamine, a chemical in the body which causes the uncomfortable, yet familiar hay fever symptoms.
If hay fever develops in the spring, it's usually due to tree pollen. If it develops in the summer, grass and weed pollen are probably to blame. Many people also develop hay fever in response to mold, dust mites, animal hair, etc. Taking care to avoid or remove these substances can go a long way in relieving allergy symptoms.
Remedies that have been proven useful for allergies include Nettle Leaf, Vitamin C, Quercetin, and air ionizers. Quercetin belongs to a class of water soluble plant coloring agents called bioflavonoids. Bioflavonoids are found in many fruits and they aid in the absorption and metabolism of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). Quercetin is often recommended as a treatment for allergies and asthma. Several test tube studies have found it beneficial in stopping the release of allergenic substances and histamine in the body (1 to 6).
A study of the herb nettle leaf was published in the journal *Planta Medica*. In the study, 58% of the people experienced less symptoms of hay fever, including sneezing and itchy eyes, after taking doses of nettles for one week (7). Nettle leaf is high in vitamin C and trace minerals and is a rich source of chlorophyll.
Some people with allergies have experienced improvement in their symptoms after taking 1 to 2 grams of vitamin C per day. A buffered form of vitamin C such as calcium ascorbate may work better for allergy or asthma sufferers than regular vitamin C (9). One group of researchers proved that vitamin C reduces the tendency of the lung’s bronchial passages to go into spasm (8), and another study in China showed that people with more vitamin C in their diet had greater lung volume; meaning they could exhale more air than those eating less of the vitamin (11).
Negative ion therapy can be a wonderful relief to allergy sufferers. The air we breathe contains molecules with electrical charges, both positive and negative. These minute electrified particles, called ions, affect the environment in which we live and breathe. Researchers have shown that most of us who live, work and travel in closed spaces suffer some degree of negative ion starvation or the effects of too many positive ions.
Some allergy provoking substances, such as dust and pollen, also have a positive electrical charge. Negative ions appear to counteract the allergenic actions of these positively charged ions on respiratory tissues and people have experienced considerable relief from respiratory allergies (10). A plug in negative ion generator can work wonders in enclosed spaces.
Allergy symptoms can be greatly reduced with the right combination of herbs, vitamins, healthy food, and healthy air.
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11. American Journal of Epidemiology 1998 Nov; 148 (6):594 9