Trees are blooming, flowers are blossoming, and the grass is turning green. Spring has officially arrived! Unfortunately, so have allergies in a new allergy season, along with a host of miserable symptoms like itchy eyes, runny nose, congestion, coughing, and sneezing.
Seasonal allergies affect over 24 million people in the U.S. every year. These seasonal allergy sufferers typically rely on antihistamine medications, nasal sprays, or steroid inhalers. If their allergies create enough congestion, they may also develop sinus infections and be prescribed additional steroids and antibiotics. This approach often turns into a vicious cycle that leaves their gut and immune system severely damaged, out of balance, and unable to deal with irritants in the environment.
Thankfully, functional medicine can offer an alternative approach that relieves symptoms, brings the body back into balance, and supports its natural defenses against allergens! This approach is called the 6R protocol and addresses both the symptoms and the root causes of allergies.
Let’s take a look at each of the 6 Rs to understand how they can provide relief for those suffering from seasonal allergies.
A functional approach to reducing allergy symptoms can include the use of:
- Saline and xylitol nasal sprays
- Stinging nettles in tea or capsule form
Treating the nasal passages with a saline and xylitol solution helps wash away allergens and prevent dryness, which is often a side effect of traditional medications. Quercetin reduces histamines and inflammation, making it highly effective in treating allergies and asthma without adverse side effects. Stinging nettle is a traditional herb known for its antihistamine properties.
Remove the antigenic load
Your antigenic load is simply the sum total of your food and environmental allergens. You may not be able to remove allergens such as pollen from your environment. However, you can reduce your antigenic load in other ways. These include:
- Identifying and eliminating foods you are sensitive to
- Taking steps to ensure the air and drinking water in your home are as clean as possible
- Switching to personal care and cleaning products that are free from toxic chemicals, dyes, and scents.
Repair your natural barriers
The most vital barrier to repair is the lining of the gut. For those with allergies, it is also essential to take steps to repair and support the natural defenses of the skin, nose, throat, and lungs. Functional medicine practitioners may provide this support with supplements such as:
- Slippery elm
These strategies will help to reduce your sensitivity to allergens and help prevent them from entering your system.
Restore your microbiome
An imbalance of microbes in the gut is often present in those with allergies. Balance can be restored by:
- Eating a diet rich in plant-based foods
- Including fermented foods
- Supplementing with pre-and probiotics
- Reducing stress
Note that the use of fermented foods and probiotics are general recommendations that may need to be individualized, especially for those with histamine intolerance.
Replace nutrient deficiencies
It is crucial to replace any nutrients you are deficient in, especially those that reduce inflammation and support healthy barrier function. Nutrients such as vitamins D3, A, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids are especially critical.
Rebalance body and mind through self-care
If you suffer from allergies, it is essential to rebalance your body and mind by reducing your stress levels. Chronic stress leads to high cortisol levels, which damage the body’s natural barriers and immune system. Tools for reducing and managing stress levels include breathwork, meditation, yoga, and sound or light therapies.
If you are struggling to find real solutions and lasting relief from your allergies, now is the perfect time to work with a functional medicine physician. Dr. Sisu can address the root causes of your allergies and provide you with a solution that lasts! We are here to help, so call today to schedule your consultation!