Nothing to Sneeze at
by Lynn Hinderliter CN, LDN

allergiesOften, Spring is the time of year when the misery starts for thousands of people, as noses redden and run, eyes water, and Kleenexes come into their own. It quite takes the pleasure out of the season!  However, for some unfortunate people, allergies are a year-round problem.  James Thurber, one of my favorite cartoonists, said I used to wake up at 4 A.M. and start sneezing, sometimes for five hours. I tried to find out what sort of allergy I had but finally came to the conclusion that it must be an allergy to consciousness.” allergies

It doesn’t have to happen to you, and you don’t have to rely on drugs to prevent it. That is surely good news: when I listen to the side effects on those television commercials, I wonder how anyone can be expected to decide which is worse, their symptoms or the drug!  Allopathic allergy relief, after all, is not designed to address the CAUSE of the problem, just to suppress the symptoms through blocking the immune response.  And while that may make you feel better for a while,  not only do you expose yourself to the immediate side effects, but to the long term  risks associated with continually suppressing the immune system. allergies

For example:
The most common side effects seen in studies  with ZYRTEC-D 12 HOUR® Extended Release  Tablets include:

dry mouth
sore throat

Side effects from pseudoephedrine (Lynn: there are 120 mgs in Zyrtec D)  are not common, but they can occur. They include:

weakness insomnia
fast or irregular heartbeat

This is an improvement HOW exactly??

Leigh Broadhurst  is a Physical and Analytical Geochemist, and visiting research scientist at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center.   I found her division of allergy sufferers into 3 groups very helpful:

 1. Those who suffer year-round from allergies.   Often one or more of these conditions are present: hives, eczema, dark circles under eyes, asthma, chronic bronchitis, hypertension, digestive or gastrointestinal problems, recurrent infections of the ear and sinuses, with possible gallbladder and bladder involvement.

2. Those who suffer from allergies, chemical sensitivities and fatigue, typically developing later in life, not present in childhood. These people have severe gastrointestinal problems, gas and bloating, and a history of fungal and yeast infections and reproductive tract problems.  (For a link to the problems caused by yellow dye, see RESOURCES at bottom.) allergies

3. Those who react to seasonal events, and suffer mostly in the spring or late summer. Colds, sinus and bronchitis are a factor with them, often accompanied by a run down feeling, fatigue and mental fogginess. allergies

4. To this list  I would add those profoundly influenced by dietary factors

The point of these divisions into groups is that many times people approach allergies from one point of view, not realizing that there are many possible causes of their suffering; and a program that works for one aspect of the problem, may not work for another.

For people of type 1
 persons who would be considered to have a genetic allergy profile.

The underlying food allergies must be identified and removed before improvement will be possible: then a professionally designed supplement program should be implemented to regulate the immune system. Herbs may be helpful, but need to be approached with caution as it must be taken into account that some of these people may be allergic to the very herbs that help allergies in other people!

To identify substances which may be causing fairly minor symptoms of allergy, consider the Coca Pulse Test, a simple form of testing you can do at home on your own time, at no expense.

We see more and more children who belong in this group, and of course the most common offenders are milk and wheat.

If your child has type O blood and allergies, you may be 99.9% sure that these 2 substances are the main problem, and in most cases corn should be added to the list.

In these cases I recommend the addition of pancreatic enzymes immediately, and avoidance of the offending substances. These enzymes break down proteins in the digestive system, preventing them from entering the bloodstream whole and triggering the body’s defenses.  Many people who suffer from severe allergies and intolerances, have low levels of pancreatic enzymes. Warning: do not take this to mean that you can use pancreatic enzymes and eat foods to which you have severe allergies!  That would be very dangerous indeed. You are still best advised to avoid such foods entirely.

I have often theorized that the rise of type 2 diabetes in children. which suggests pancreatic inefficiency, may be occurring side by side with the increase in allergies precisely for that reason.

If the problem has been a recurring one for years, such as repeat ear infections, and it has been addressed with antibiotics, be sure to read on!

Babies that are fed so called “good” bacteria while they are being weaned may be less likely to develop the allergy-related skin condition eczema.

Previous research has found that children with food allergies are more likely to have a “disturbed balance between beneficial and potentially harmful bacteria in the large intestine.

In fact, both of the two first groups benefit from the addition of probiotics. An article in Gut ( (July 2002;51:51-55) says definitively that “a healthy balance of gut microorganisms is essential for the normal development of the immune system. The establishment of such a balance in infancy is thought to nudge the immune system away from allergic reactions to harmless substances in the environment.” allergies

In this investigation, the team of researchers evaluated 21 breast-fed infants who were previously diagnosed with eczema and therefore had a heightened risk of allergies. Infants were weaned to whey formula that either did or did not contain good bacteria, and stool samples were tested for the presence of good and bad bacteria. Those who did not get the good bacteria-laden formula were more likely to have higher concentrations of “bad” bacteria. What’s more, the presence of these bad bacteria appeared to be related to immune system responses and the extent of eczema.” allergies

It therefore also makes sense in my view  to add probiotics later in life to remedy the situation.  Certainly no-one with Candida symptoms should neglect this step! allergies

The role of Essential Fatty Acids and Digestive Enzymes for allergies involving eczema should not be overlooked.  Children in particular benefit from supplementation with Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, plus a Digestive enzyme designed for them, such as Renewlife’s KidZyme.

The second group almost certainly has a chronic Candida yeast infection

and will not benefit until that is addressed: they will have to adopt a diet very low in carbohydrates,and it is  very possible that after the Candida has been brought under control, the allergies may no longer be a problem: Candida has an extremely adverse effect on the immune system.

A side development of this combination of Candida and Allergies is almost always leaky gut syndrome, where the abused and inflamed lining of the gut deteriorates to the point where it lets large molecules escape through it into the blood stream, thereby worsening the allergic reaction—in fact this is classic “Chicken & Egg” stuff: who can tell which comes first?? allergies

In extreme cases, I recommend a course of high colonics, in combination with probiotics, food for the probiotics (prebiotics such as Inulin orFOS), and identification of the allergens/intolerances, with a view to complete avoidance of them.

The third group has  “seasonal allergies”

and while these are uncomfortable and unpleasant they need not be permanent, and can be controlled.. This group benefits very much from improving their diet and lifestyle– for example adding more fruits and vegetables and quitting smoking, where applicable. allergies

The list of herbs recommended for group 1 and 3 sufferers contains many old favorites, to include Nettles, Garlic, Cayenne, Feverfew, Skullcap, Ginger and Peppermint, Picrorrhiza Kurroa, Schisandra and Turmeric. Some of these are available as combinations. allergies

In fact. for these seasonal allergies, I recommend a supplement which comes with considerable support (including double-blind, placebo controlled clinical trials) that claims it will:

  • support normal respiratory function in the presence of airborne allergens

  • promote healthy respiratory and immune functions

  • promote clear airway passages and easy breathing

  • promote stabilization of Mast cells, which promote respiratory health

  • neutralize free radicals, which can damage the body’s respiratory and immune systems .

The Vitamin Lady®’s Own line has also produced ALLER-7™-Support for allergies, which contains quercetin, nettle and feverfew, among others.

Allergies and Food Intolerances

I do not propose here to address the issue of serious food allergies, but I do want to bring attention to the relation between allergy symptoms, and hidden food intolerances. Very often, we do not make a connection between the food we have eaten and the unpleasant, inconvenient but not life threatening symptoms we may suffer from, such as sinus problems, lack of energy, brain fog, skin problems, digestive disturbances (bloating, flatulence) and more. This is because the events are not necessarily closely connected in time.  While these symptoms may eventually lead to more serious health conditions, early on they are often ignored as being just a part of life.

It is my opinion, by the way, that when your allergist finds you have more than a dozen allergies, you need to consider the possibility that you are reacting to the pesticides and chemicals, rather than the foods themselves. 

Those of you who are familiar with Dr. d’Adamo’s theory of diet and blood type, will be familiar with the term “lectin”.  Here is Carolyn Pierini, CLS (ASCP), CNC at Vitamin Research Product’s definition:

Lectins are a class of proteins that are found in common foods especially grains, seeds, beans, nuts, some fruits and vegetables, and seafood. They act as a sort of an immune system for plants by “sticking” themselves to the structural carbohydrates (sugars) of invaders.

When we eat foods containing these proteins we risk lectin attachments to the structural carbohydrates (sugars) antigens found in the gut and immune system. Our unique genetic make-up and the state of health will determine the lectins we are sensitive to and how we will react to them. It is important to note that many people will report that they do not feel any digestive disturbances but that does not mean that lectins are not affecting them. Lectin damage may be cumulative and show up as pathology years later.

Lectin attacks in the gut initiate inflammation that may be expressed in other parts of the body. The fact that as humans we possess these cell surface sugars, such as n-acetylglucosamine, fucose, and mannose, and more, means that certain lectins that bind to those sugars will affect us all (but to different degrees).

It is possible to determine which foods may be causing you problems by following Dr. d’Adamo’s recommendations;  another possible course is to follow Dr. Coca’s pulse test instructions, which you will find here.

A third possibility is to use VRP’s new supplement called Lectin Lock,, designed to help to protect against adverse reactions caused by lectins. As Ms. Pierini points out, obviously, if you know that a particular food is a definite problem, using the natural agents contained in the supplement is not an invitation to indulge freely on that food. allergies

However, if you cannot control your diet as when you are traveling, or do not know precisely what is affecting you, Lectin Lock can act as a successful shield. allergies

I recently came across some sad information – sad for me, that is, since I do enjoy my occasional glass of wine :  Scientists in Spain are reporting a link between moderate alcohol consumption and antibodies found at high levels in people prone to developing allergies. The antibodies, of a type called  IgE , cause allergic symptoms by overreacting to generally harmless substances inhaled from the air such as pollen, mold or animal dander.

In patients allergic to house dust mites, regular alcohol intake was associated with increased (blood) levels of specific IgE against these mites.

The findings are more likely to offer clues on how the immune system functions with regard to allergies than to provide new strategies for allergy treatment, but it appears that if you drink only moderate amounts of alcohol you are more  still likely to develop an allergic reaction to something. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research January 2002;26:60-64. 

On the other side of the coin, Sapporo breweries in Japan claim that the hop flavonol glycosides in their beer brought about a 60% reduction in rhinitis and sneezing in a group of people with allergic rhinitis…. allergies


The bioflavonoid Quercetin has been suggested to block the cascade of mast cells involved in histamine release, thereby relieving allergies, and also to reduce inflammation in the mucous membranes.

The first studies on Quercetin concentrated on its role in helping gout sufferers. (Murray) It appears to help by inhibiting xanthine oxidase ( which is what allopurinol does) and by preventing inflammation through the release of leukotrienes. It also affects some enzyme pathways. allergies

Subsequently, Quercetin was found to have value for asthmatics (Whit/Asthma/8) because of its ability to inhibit the release of histamine, as well as leukotrienes (inflammation). allergies

Quercetin is a bioflavonoid found in grapes, grapefruit, onions, berries, green veggies, and legumesas well as Blue Green Algae. It has been the subject of dozens of recent scientific studies, because it appears to have the greatest activity of all the bioflavonoids. It inhibits the release of histamine by mast cells, thereby controlling the inflammation which is a part of such conditions as asthma, hay fever and asthma. allergies

Very recent research is finding it also of great value in the fight against prostate cancer, possibly because of its ability to inhibit inflammation. The study was so impressive that the prestigious journal Urology published it as a matter of “high priority”.  (1999;54:960-3)  What the study found is that out of a group of 30 placebo controlled, double-blinded category 111 chronic prostatitis sufferers, those taking the Quercetin experienced improvement on the average of 40%, compared to 6% for placebo.  The symptoms for which improvement was reported were: pain, voiding dysfunction, and quality of life.  A second similar study reported 82% of the Quercetin users reported 25% or more improvement in their problems. allergies

Along those lines, I would speculate it will also turn out to be a valuable protective substance against heart disease since inflammation is increasingly cited as a villain there. Quercetin is also valuable for its protective effect on small blood vessels. allergies

Dr. Lise Anschuler, who teaches at Bastyr University, is very impressed both with Quercetin. Her list of Quercetin’s manifold benefits is impressive!

  • Supports the health of tissue, and stabilizes connective tissue. allergies

  • Inhibits the reactions of Mast cells, controlling inflammation allergies

  • In vitro, it has proved to be anti-viral, anti-tumor, and anti-cancer allergies

  • It modulates the endocrine system, reducing reaction to stress. allergies

  • As an antioxidant it spares Vitamin C. allergies

  • It inhibits angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels. allergies

  • It decreases mutagenic effects allergies

  • It induces apoptosis, which is programmed cell death. allergies

  • Perhaps most important, it protects against eye problems. It inhibits the conversion of sugar to sorbitol. The eye cannot rid itself or sorbitol, and she states this is the main cause of neuropathy, cataracts and glaucoma. allergies

  • Has a protective effect against the herpes virus, and the polio virus. allergies

  • Prevents inflammation of the gastric and respiratory tracts. allergies

Quercetin is also found in the valuable food Green Tea, and I want to draw your attention to the wonderful new source of that nutrient I have found, where each 30 drop dose of caffeine free Chi Green Tea is equivalent to 10 cups of standard green tea.  

Quercetin as a supplement can be a little difficult to absorb, and many professionals recommend taking it with Bromelain to enhance its availability.  There is a plus to this, as a study already done years ago ( EENT Monthly 46: 361-365 1967) documents the fact that people taking bromelain experienced extremely good results clearing up sinusitis! allergies

Vitamin C in potencies as high as 4,000 mg can be helpful. together with Magnesium (400 mg per day) and N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine.

For the fatigue that comes with allergies, caused by having to keep the adrenals  in their “flight” mode all the time, adaptogenic herbs, such as Siberian or American Ginseng, Schizandra, Licorice and Ashwagandha can be helpful..

The recommended action, therefore,  is

  •  first, to ascertain which group describes your problem best

  •  and then addressing the steps which will alleviate the problem

  •  together with the supplements that will support your efforts at improvement.

Dividing allergies and intolerances into groups in this way helps explain why someone will use a herb or supplement for their personal situation,  have terrific results, suggest that a friend try it, but have that friend experience disappointment.

If two friends belong to different allergy groups having different under-lying reasons for their allergies, the same approach will not help them both: your personal allergy has to have your personal solution! allergies

 ASHWAGANDHA – (Withania Somnifera)
Ashwagandha, also known as Winter cherry, has been used for thousands of years as a popular remedy for many conditions. Perhaps its main use, as described in Ayurvedic literature, is as a daily, long-term ‘rasayana’ or rejuvenating treatment. allergies

Ashwagandha is one of the best known and best researched Ayurvedic herbs and holds a place in the Ayurvedic traditions similar to Ginseng in Chinese therapies. For that reason, Ashwagandha has been often referred to as the ‘Indian Ginseng’. It is one of the best health tonics and restorative agents that have been used to treat general debility, exhaustion, stress induced fatigue and insomnia. Studies have shown its rejuvenating effect, particularly for the muscles and marrow. Various alkaloids and withanoloides in Withania somnifera have shown impressive results in scientific tests, two of them as stimulants for the immune system. allergies

Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, which is to say it has demonstrated such nonspecific effects as not changing any functions already in the accepted range, yet  possessing a normalizing influence on the body, and  increasing resistance to physical or biological stressors. allergies

Dr. Anschuler’s list of benefits follows:

  • Contains high levels of an absorbable plant iron

  • Improves the results of cancer treatment

  • Reduces the side effects chemotherapy.

  • Increases Red Blood Cells through its action on the bone marrow.

  • She personally finds it effective for anxiety

  • It induces restful sleep.

  • It is an adaptogen, balancing the body

  • It spares the release of Cortisol, moderating its effects on such conditions as PMS, depression, thyroid imbalances, & menstrual irregularities

  • Helpful for arthritis and all chronic inflammatory conditions.

  • Excellent for older people in a weakened state

  • Helps control rhinitis & atopic dermatitis.

Dr. Shibnath Ghosal, a Fulbright scholar, has patented an extract of Ashwagandha called  Sensoril®, which is high in the active ingredient Glycowithanolides and may therefore be even more active in its effects. allergies

A Report on BUTTERBUR (Petasites Hybridus) –By Dr. Andreas SchapowalAllergic rhinitis , whether seasonal or constant are characterized by sneezing, runny nose, blocked nasal passages, itchy eyes and throat, and runny eyes. allergies

Although the term hay fever is commonly used for seasonal allergic rhinitis, it is inappropriate because the symptoms are neither produced by hay nor associated with fever. Allergic rhinitis is caused by pollen allergens falling on the mucous membranes of the nose, resulting in a hypersensitivity reaction. allergies

Butterbur (Petasites hybridus; butter dock, bog rhubarb, exwort) is an Asteraceae herbaceous plant native to Europe, northern Africa, and south western Asia.

Extracts of butterbur have been used in bronchial asthma, smooth muscle spasms, and headache, and studies have shown that they inhibit the biosynthesis of leukotrienes, which may be associated with antispasmodic activity and anti-inflammatory hypersensitivity. allergies

The usual treatment for seasonal allergic rhinitis is antihistamines. These reduce the runny nose and sneezing but are less effective for nasal congestion and may cause sedation and drowsiness. allergies

The availability of steroid nasal sprays without prescription has increased their use by patients with allergic rhinitis. Similarly, antihistamines can be obtained over the counter for treatment of hay fever, and all may interact with alcohol and decrease driving ability. allergies

Value of Butterbur

The study found that the butterbur was comparable to the effectiveness of the antihistamines as judged separately and blindly by patients and their doctors. allergies

With regard to safety, butterbur was well tolerated and did not have the sedative effects associated with antihistamines. Fatigue and drowsiness accounted for two thirds of the side effects reported in the antihistamine group. allergies

Butterbur can be found growing along rivers, ditches, and marshy areas in northern Asia, Europe, and parts of North America. It sends up stalks of reddish flowers very early in spring, before producing very large heart-shaped leaves with a furry gray underside. allergies

Once the leaves appear, butterbur somewhat resembles rhubarb-one of its common names is bog rhubarb. It is also sometimes referred to as “umbrella leaves” due to the size of its foliage. Other more or less descriptive common names abound, including blatterdock, bogshorns, butter-dock, butterly dock, capdockin, flapperdock, and langwort. allergies

Butterbur is often described as possessing an unpleasant smell, but being malodorous hasn’t protected it from harvesting by humans. The plant has a long medicinal history, including use for stomach cramps, whooping cough, and asthma. allergies
British Medical Journal January 19, 2002; 324:144

Find supplements recommended for allergies here

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