Dr. Angela Agrios, ND
My very talented Naturopathic Doctor
She treats a wide variety of conditions
Office & phone appointments available
Los Angeles, CA (Pacific Palisades)
Naturopathic Medicine Treatment Interview with Dr. Shannon Sinsheimer, ND
Treat Seasonal Allergies with Naturopathic Medicine Many individuals suffer from allergies and seasonal hay fever, most specifically in the fall and spring seasons. This is because there is an excess production of pollen in the air, which the body sees as foreign invaders. These foreign invaders are inhaled by the body and create an immune response very similar to a cold or flu. The body creates excess mucus and inflammation in the nasal passages. You will experience tearing or watery eyes and will have coughing. The symptoms you will feel when you have an excess production of mucus or when you're having watery eyes and a cough is that you will feel more tired, you'll feel more congested, more flu-like; you'll have trouble sleeping, and it really affects the quality of life on a daily basis because of the increase in fatigue.
The foreign invaders that affect your body’s immune system do so because our body views them very much like a bacteria or a virus that causes the flu, and we attack, so to speak, these foreign invaders by creating excess mucus by coughing and creating watery eyes so that our body is expelling the pollens rather than ingesting them.
Conventional Medicine Treatment of Seasonal Allergies People who experience these problems often treat them with conventional drugs, such as Benadryl, Allegra, or Claritin. These drugs often treat the symptoms, but don’t get to the real root of the problem. Certain side effects of these medications can be drowsiness and fatigue, as well as not completely resolving all of the symptoms. In addition, after long-time use of these drugs, certain individuals feel as if the drug is no longer working as well as it used to.
Root Causes of Seasonal Allergies One of the root causes of seasonal allergies is improper elimination from the colon and poor digestion. Improper elimination from the colon is constipation, and when you are constipated, you irritate the surrounding tissue of the colon. Surrounding the colon are lymph nodes, and when you're not properly eliminating from the colon, these lymph nodes are irritated and inappropriately produced white blood cells. When you are exposed to excessive pollens, these lymph nodes inappropriately produce excessive white blood cells, making your body attack the pollen and produce allergy symptoms.
Naturopathic Medicine Diagnosis of Seasonal Allergies When a patient comes into my office with the symptoms of seasonal allergies or hay fever, I first start with a full medical intake of the current problem that they're having. I also want to know a history of the symptoms throughout their life that they’ve experienced with this issue. I will also do a physical exam, which includes looking at their eyes, ears, nose, and throat. During the medical intake process, I also ask a thorough history of their diet, exercise, and sleep habits. When asking about their diet, I’m very curious about the type of foods, the quality of foods, and the frequency in which they eat. When assessing a patient’s diet, I specifically ask about the intake of foods that are mucus-producing, such as dairy, citrus, wheat, and gluten.
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I ask about the patient’s home environment to find out if they are being exposed to common allergens, such as animal dander, if they have carpet throughout the home so that I know if they're being exposed to the dirt and environmental pollutants that carpet traps. I ask about exposure to potential molds in the home, about the outside environment, the yard environment, as to what types of pollens they are being exposed to. I ask if they have a home filtration system to see if they're removing allergens and pollens that come into the home. I ask about their sleep environment to find out if they might be exposed to mites in their mattress or excessive dust in their room.
It’s very important to run labs when you have seasonal allergies that assess what in your diet may be aggravating your symptoms, what foods may be causing excessive mucus, what foods may be adding to the inflammation process that’s occurring. The lab tests I run is a blood test that assesses IgG food sensitivities. Food sensitivities are not food allergies, but are foods one may be sensitive to and contribute to excessive mucus production and inflammation. Assessing food sensitivities allows me to determine which foods may be worsening the allergy symptoms. And finally, to determine which allergens a patient may be allergic to, such as specific pollens, danders, and mites, I would run an allergy test.
Naturopathic Medicine Treatment of Seasonal Allergies One of the first things I want to do when I see somebody with seasonal allergies is to address their colon health and their diet. By addressing colon health, you increase elimination and decrease the white blood cells’ response or the immune system’s response to pollens.
To address the colon and digestive health, I will first begin with dietary changes. Dietary changes I would make would include eliminating foods that produce mucus, inflammation, and slow down the digestive process. Those foods are dairy, wheat, gluten-containing foods, citrus, red meats, soy, eggs, potatoes, and caffeinated products. Whole, organic foods, such as those that you'll find in the produce aisle are nutrient-dense, reduce inflammation, and improve elimination from the colon, therefore, I recommend to my patients that they eat these foods every day.
I also prescribe several supplements. I begin with digestive enzymes and probiotics. Digestive enzymes improve the body’s ability to digest food, and the digestive process. Taking probiotics increases the amount of good bacteria in the colon. By increasing the amount of good bacteria in the colon, you improve elimination, and the immune system. I’ll also prescribe several nutrients that can act as either anti-inflammatory or antihistamine agents. Vitamin C and bromelain are both anti-inflammatory nutrients that can decrease inflammation in the sinus cavities. Quercetin and bioflavinoids are both antihistamines that decrease the body’s histamine response.
An herb that I often prescribe that is a powerful antihistamine is called stinging nettles. Stinging nettles is so powerful that it can, in fact, replace most antihistamine medication. The most effective way to use stinging nettles is to begin six weeks prior to when allergy season typically begins.
A common symptom of seasonal allergies is nasal congestion. To help relieve nasal congestion, you can use a nasal rinse that includes warm water, sea salt, and a small amount of an herb called goldenseal. To rinse the sinuses, you use a small syringe or a neti pot filled with the saline-herb solution. You inject the saline solution into the nose into one nostril at a time. The saline solution will go up one nostril and come out the other nostril, and with it, decrease the mucus congestion and cleanse out any bacterial overgrowth from chronic mucus congestion.
I have a high success rate. For the patients who follow my protocol, they have a reduction in symptoms to no symptoms within two to four weeks and they stop their anti-allergy meds. However, this does not mean they have a complete reduction of symptoms at their next allergy season. If they continue to work on digestion and remove dietary irritants, they will continue to reduce their symptoms from season to season.
If you have allergies, there’s a good chance you can eliminate them by doing what I discussed in this video. The supplements and organic food are available at your local health food store. However, if you're not finding that it’s working the way you'd like it to, I encourage you to visit a naturopathic doctor to get your own individualized treatment plan.