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Seasonal Allergies in Ottawa - A Naturopathic Approach

Dr. Ann Lawrence BSc., ND
May 29, 2024

Naturopathic Doctors each can have their own unique approach in how they might work in helping different health challenges. Often there is a combination of modalities such as nutritional advice along with natural supplements and possibly other modalities such as homeopathy, botanical medicine, Bowen Therapy, and acupuncture that might also be part of a seasonal allergy protocol. 

One useful analogy in health would be to imagine that your body is like a water barrel. The water barrel is filling up as we go through life with environmental toxins, emotional stressors, traumatic events, chronic stressors, pesticides and the consumption of foods that put stress on our bodies such as sugar, hydrogenated oils, refined foods and junk foods in general. What happens for a lot of people is that the barrel becomes too full and starts to overflow and now symptoms appear such as allergy symptoms, skin eruptions, and more as the body struggles to maintain a healthy balance. The essential message here is that everyone needs to take steps regularly to help empty the barrel and one way to start this process is to eat better! 

Benefits of a Clean Diet

A clean diet is one of the key factors to help reduce the load on your lymphatic system, reduce inflammatory processes in the body and thereby reduce seasonal allergy symptoms. Eating organic foods and buying from local organic farmers is a great place to start. 

  • The first step towards a cleaner diet is to stop eating sugar in all its various forms except what is naturally occurring in foods such as a piece of fruit. This includes, but is not limited to, cane sugar, agave syrup, maple syrup, fruit juice and artificial sweeteners as well as alcohol.
  • The second step in a cleaner diet is to avoid refined processed foods such as white flour, white rice, fast foods, deli meats etc. 
  • The next potential step is to remove dairy. Dairy often is one of the biggest aggravating foods for promoting nasal stuffiness, runny noses and phlegm/ mucus in general. One option is to do a trial period without dairy along with the above-mentioned refined foods to see if it helps. 
  • Don’t forget to drink lots of clean filtered water as well, to help your body clear waste products. 

Benefits of Exercising

Exercise also plays an important role in this and should not be discounted as sweat is one of the ways the body clears waste products. The other extremely important reason to exercise is that the lymphatic system, which has about the same amount of fluid in it as the cardiovascular system, does not have a pump like the heart. The way lymph moves is mainly through moving our bodies! We need to move our bodies to clear the toxins and waste products and improve our lymphatic flow, which in turn puts less stress on the body and helps it cope better with allergies (among numerous other health challenges). 

What is the best homeopathic remedy?

When deciding on a homeopathic remedy, questions are quite detailed on exactly how the symptoms are presenting in the person experiencing seasonal allergies. Questions such as: Are the eyes watery, red? Is the nose runny? What is the discharge like? When did the symptoms start? What is the mood like? Does anything itch? What is thirst and appetite like, any cravings? Are there any pets? These types of questions can lead the practitioner to find a remedy that best fits the symptom picture. There are many homeopathic remedies to choose from. One example is Allium cepa, a homeopathic remedy made from red onion. Some symptoms for this remedy include sneezing, itchy burning eyes, watery nose that is irritating the skin leaving the nose and upper lip red. 

A few nutrients to consider: 

  • Quercetin: a bioflavonoid that has natural anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties, is known to have a beneficial effect on seasonal allergies by helping to stabilize mast cell membranes – the cells that release histamine. Apples and onions, among many foods, are sources of quercetin. 
  • Vitamin C:  the major antioxidant present in the lining of our airways, also has a number of effects on histamine secretion and increases the detoxification of histamine. Some sources include citrus fruits, kiwis, berries, potatoes, papaya, kale, broccoli, rose hip tea and more. 
  • Magnesium: can help ease breathing and provide some allergy relief. Foods high in magnesium are squash, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, black beans, brown rice, avocados, and almonds.
  • Essential Fatty Acids: Omega 3s have anti-inflammatory properties. Some sources of omega 3s are walnuts, flax seeds (ideally ground fresh at home), and small fish like sardines.

Herbs to consider: 

Stinging Nettle
  • Nettle (Urtica dioica): used for centuries as a tonic and cleanser, this herb may be used as an allergy tea as well. It has a mild flavor and is tolerated well by most people. 
  • ‍Goldenrod (Solidago): a herb that grows prolifically in Canada and is known to cause allergy symptoms in some people. In tea form it may be beneficial in helping to alleviate allergy symptoms. 
  • Mullein leaves or flowers (Verbascum Thapsus): a beautiful, tall spire growing in our meadows with yellow flowers on the top part of the spike. The plant is known for helping with mucous membranes and mucous production. 
  • Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis): classically used as a tea for eye redness, itchiness and watery eye discharge. Homeopathic eye drops made of Eyebright are available in health-food stores.
  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium): a dainty looking plant with feathery leaves that grows wild locally. The flowers may be used to help with allergy symptoms and colds. 

Consider seeing a Naturopathic Doctor for an individualized treatment plan which might include a homeopathic remedy along with some other nutritional or supplement advice or other helpful modalities. 

As is always the case with any therapy or treatment, you should obtain the advice of a qualified healthcare provider before using any of these products. This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. 

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