Spring Allergies

How to Ease Your Symptoms Naturally

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Dr. Aaron Hartman

March 6, 2024

Spring Allergies

    Ah, spring. That time of year when the sun starts to shine, light showers bring out the flowers… and seasonal spring allergies turn us all into an itchy, sneezy, groggy mess!

    What Are Allergies, Anyway?

    Allergies are a type of immune reaction that occur in response to foreign microorganisms or particles invading the body. Allergies (such as Allergic Rhinitis, aka Hay Fever) are a common occurrence that affect over 50 million people in the United States.

    In my studies and practice, I’ve identified three major culprits that exacerbate common spring allergies:

    • Air quality
    • Water quality
    • Poor gut health

    I’ve also pinpointed some easy ways to ease allergy symptoms naturally that I use on myself and my family, including:

    • Filtration systems
    • Anti-inflammatory nutritional pharmaceuticals

    I’ll go into more detail about common—yet little known—causes (did you know there’s probably chloroform in your tap water irritating your lungs?) and some natural—yet effective—allergy management techniques and answer, once and for all, what causes seasonal allergies. But first, a little background on the rise of allergies in our modern society.

    What Causes Allergies?

    The Industrial Revolution…Wait, What?

    What many do not realize is that the first case of Hay Fever was reported in medical literature in the 1820s, and by the 1840s it was an epidemic throughout Europe. That epidemic coincided with the emergence of the industrial revolution and a transition to coal-burning for energy. Many of us remember the pictures of major European cities in the 1850s from our grade school textbooks, where the smog was so thick that people could not see more than a few feet away from their faces. One of the many stories from this time is about the white moth in London that disappeared and evolved into a black and white “peppered” moth because all the trees were so black with soot that the white coloring made them an easy target for birds to pick off and eat.

    Why do I tell this story? It’s no coincidence that people started reporting allergies on an epidemic scale during the Industrial Revolution. Environmental pollution was, and continues to be, a huge factor causing allergies. 

    90% of your immune system is in your gut, so trying to address an immune-inflammatory condition (like seasonal allergies) without addressing the gut is definitely putting the cart before the horse.

    Gut Health & Environmental Particulates

    In the functional medicine world, we’ve come to find that gut health can be tied to almost all health issues—and allergies are no exception. 90% of your immune system is in your gut, so trying to address an immune-inflammatory condition (like seasonal allergies) without addressing the gut is definitely putting the cart before the horse.

    Inhaling environmental particulates (especially combusted petroleum products that we are all exposed to) irritates the respiratory tract, nasal sinuses, and lungs—and ultimately this feeds back into the gut and skin. This results in a whole array of atopy or allergic-type symptoms from sinusitis, bronchitis, to eczema and more gut issues.

    This backdrop is important because a functional medicine practitioner looks at all these factors to try to treat allergies. Yes, you can use nasal sinus rinses, like a neti pot with nasal saline (which I use daily). You can also use antihistamines or nasal steroids. But these are just treating the superficial symptoms. How do you prevent seasonal allergies in the first place?

    Addressing Seasonal Allergies

    Air Quality

    Going a little deeper on getting to the root cause of a patient’s allergies, a functional medicine specialist looks at air quality.HEPA filters in your house are a great adjunct to preventing and treating allergies. They remove 99.97% of microparticles from the air, which are a huge irritant to respiratory and nasal passageways.

    I recently added a short (7 min) video to my free micro course, “Creating a Healthy Home,” in which I provide some practical guidance on air filtration in your home.

    Water Quality

    The water in your house can affect allergies. Many do not realize that chloroform, chloromethanes, and other chemicals are produced by the breakdown of cleaning chemicals and chlorine that is added to tap water. When taking showers, these are inhaled and can cause low-grade irritation to the lungs. This irritation can be increased during allergy season. A simple activated charcoal filter in the shower and on your drinking water tap in your house can limit exposure to this and in turn, reduce allergy symptoms. In our house, all of our drinking water is filtered through a Berkey charcoal filter.

    Natural Herbs & Supplements to Ease Allergies

    In addition to an activated charcoal filter in the shower and a HEPA filter in your home, herbs and natural anti-inflammatory nutritional supplements can help with gut health—and in turn, help mitigate allergy symptoms.

    • Quercetin

      One of my favorites! I use it routinely for my own personal allergies in the spring. I used to get bronchitis every spring and fall, and since using quercetin as a preventative with a few other herbs, I have not had an issue with my allergies for almost 10 years. Quercetin is a mast cell stabilizer and natural antihistamine. It can calm down gut inflammation and respiratory tract irritation from allergies.

    • Turmeric / Curcumin

      Health Benefits of Turmeric and GingerTurmeric is another great herbal supplement that provides anti-oxidant defense, decreases inflammation, and helps the liver detoxify. It activates over 82 different chemical pathways that help modulate inflammation.

    • Probiotics

      Let’s not forget the probiotics! There’s great data on probiotics helping eczema, atopy allergies, IBS, chronic UTIs, vaginal infections, and a whole host of other issues. Having the right gut bacteria balance in your gut not only helps your GI tract to detoxify but also helps calm down the inflammation that sits there.

    • Vitamin D

      Vitamin D Soft Gel Capsule SunLast, but not least, is vitamin D. Vitamin D is a critical nutrient for modulating your immune system. The two arms of your immune system, the Th1 and Th2, must communicate and switch back and forth. Vitamin D is required for this, and without an adequate level of vitamin D, that hand-off cannot occur. The immune system gets stuck in either a Th1 or Th2 dominant position, which can look like allergies, chronic inflammation, chronic fatigue, pain, and other similar syndromes.

    You can, of course, research all of these supplements yourself. I’ve written an article series to help you shop supplements safely. The REALLY condensed version is… it’s dangerous out there and researching supplements wisely is a lot of work. The good news… I’ve done the hard work for you. I’ve put together a supplement bundle based on my recommendations above.

    Embrace Spring with Confidence in Nature’s Shield!

    Don’t let allergies hold you back. Dr. Hartman has curated Nature’s Shield: Spring Allergies — your natural defense against the nuisances of spring. Combining the power of Vitamin D, Curcumin, Quercetin, Nettles, and Probiotics, this all-natural solution addresses the root cause of your allergy symptoms (targeting inflammation and gut health). Stride into spring with Nature’s Shield as your safeguard.

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