Holistically armed against allergies this Spring
Emma Thompson (Musculoskeletal Therapist)
Is there a season we welcome any more then Spring? After battling through the torturous dark and frigid Winter months a sense of relief comes to play as September nears, the days grow longer and the sense of happier and brighter days fill the air as we slowly spring to life. But when your eyes become puffy, your nose starts to drip and you are plagued with a dose of the sneezes it is hard to keep the positive vibes rolling on. The initial response for most of us is to reach for an over the counter antihistamine medication, but for some a more holistic and gentle approach to relieve you from your symptoms may be of choice. From one seasonal allergy sufferer to another, I have your back. Don’t shy away from the next picnic, get started with my 5 preventative allergy busting tips now and then get on out there and bathe in the warmth.
Utilise Complimentary Medicine
Our bodies have a natural and innate ability to heal themselves but often due to the strain and pressure of our everyday lives we become physically and emotionally overwhelmed creating an internal environment that does not adhere to restorative conditions, this is where complimentary health care has a huge benefit. With a focus on support and encouragement, modalities such as Naturopathy, Acupuncture, Nutritional Care and Massage Therapies concentrate on re-establishing an internal balance that encourages self-healing. This can be relevant for our overall health and wellness but from a more specific seasonal allergy perspective we can look at our immunity, an allergic reaction occurs when there is an over-reaction of our immune system usually because it is weak and susceptible either due to stress or other underlying conditions. The more we can nurture and strengthen our immune system by utilising complimentary and holistic healthcare the lesser chance of there being an inflammation response and in turn allergic reactions.
‘We need to change our view of seeing modalities such as Massage and Acupuncture as a treat and start looking at them as an investment and insurance to our overall health.’
Defend the Body with the Right Nutrients
We have become a society obsessed with the need to label things and our eating habits have not escaped the bucking trend…Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten, FODMAPS, Paleo…the list is never ending. Whilst I am not disregarding any of the above diets I strongly believe that the best food regime for an individual is the one that works for you. We need to become mindful eaters, meaning that we need to take time to make conscious food decisions, asking ourselves – is what I am putting into my body benefiting me? Is this something my body needs? Understanding the way your body reacts to food regardless of a label is the best way to support your wellbeing. Certain foods for people can create resistance and inflammation of our immune and digestive health, if our immune system is already under strain due to things we are willingly introducing to our bodies how can we expect it to be strong enough to fight off environmental hazards like pollen, dust and grass. By cutting back on food that seems to provoke even a mild sensitivity we lighten the burden on our bodies helping support a hyperactive and over-sensitive immune system, reducing the impact of seasonal allergy reactions.
Nurture The Gut with Probiotics and Ferments
Hippocrates stated thousands of years ago “all disease begins in the gut” however it is only recently that we have decided to really stand up and appreciate this notation. Scientific research is fast coming up with overwhelming results that poor gut flora can result in a plethora of health issues indicating that a good balance of gut flora in our colon is the ultimate gatekeeper to our overall wellbeing. Gut Flora is the major regulator for our immune system and an imbalanced gut environment can result in an overactive and malfunctioning immune system. The use of probiotics and cultured foods such as Kim chi, sauerkraut, Milk kefir and Miso can be used to help ensure a good balance of gut bacteria helping to combat any pathogenic microbial overgrowth that may lead to an over production of toxins and overly sensitive immune system. In the modern day we are so regularly exposed to all different types of chemicals, additives, medications and other toxic matters that our bodies can become quite quickly and inadvertently out of whack. Fermented foods and probiotic supplements act as that little extra insurance for gut health. (If looking to start on a probiotics keep in mind that there are a lot of different types to choose from on the market and not all are created equally, always consult with your healthcare professional when choosing which one is best for you.)
Relax the Mind and Support Immune Health
Battling with serious seasonal allergies for months at a time cannot only be incredibly draining physically but also mentally for sufferers. The anxiety associated with any kind of outdoor activity can cause the body to undergo a lot of unwanted stress and worry which can be of damaging consequences. Stress can be directly linked to a compromised immune system further more increasing the severity of allergy responses within the body. It is important to take time out to settle and calm the mind, whether this is in the form of a meditation/yoga, relaxation massage or something as simple as relaxing in a warm bath (benefit double: steam and warmth can loosen mucous entrapped in sinuses, even try adding some eucalyptus essential oils to further assist with opening congested passageways). The more settled the mind, the more opportunity our body has to rest and recover ensuring a strong immune defence line.
Calm Reactions With Herbal Medicine and Massage
Yes, sadly its true, even when we are pro-active in our health, nurture our bodies to the best of our abilities and try every preventative health care trick in the business there is unfortunately still times when we succumb to that horrid itchy eyes and throat feeling. Having bespoke herbal tinctures designed specifically for you by your Naturopath or Herbalist on hand is a great idea, taking them just as you feel that first little sniffle can sometimes be enough to ward off a further much stronger response preventing us from reaching for much harsher medications. And one last tip, next time you visit your massage or physical therapist ask for some at home pointers to help manually relieve any sinus congestion. There are specific points found on the face that pressure can be applied to, to help loosen mucous, support lymphatic drainage and result in some fast-acting and much needed relief.
Like most things in life, preparation is key. Safeguarding your mind and body, treating it consciously, listening to the warning signals, fine-tuning your own self-awareness and acting pro-actively are the best forms of medication, treatment and healthcare. Treat your body as a temple and in return it will worship you as a god.