An allergy is an overaggressive immune response triggered by ingesting certain foods, touching certain substances, or inhaling an irritant such as pollen or animal dander. Allergies to pollen, spores, mold, and dust (also called hay fever or allergic rhinitis) affect the respiratory system and are usually the most difficult to control.
Symptoms of hay fever are sneezing, runny nose, stuffy nose, watery eyes, itchy eyes and nose, and headache. Hay fever is often seasonal (when pollen is in the air), but if constantly exposed to an offending substance (e.g., pet dander), symptoms can last year-round. Many people use pharmaceutical anti-histamines and steroids to control their allergies, but these drugs can have unwanted side effects.
From a naturopathic viewpoint, allergies are often associated with weak adrenal, immune, and digestive functions. Natural treatments are used to support and improve those functions, and to alleviate allergic symptoms.
For seasonal allergies, beginning natural treatments (e.g., Stinging nettles) one or two months before the season starts can help reduce the severity of symptoms.
Good health can help ease allergy symptoms, and good health starts with nutrition. People sensitive to airborne allergens may also be sensitive to certain foods. Identifying and removing those foods from the diet can greatly improve health and reduce allergy symptoms.