Ragweed and Pollen and Mold …. Oh My!

Diet, Neti Pot, Acupuncture and Air Purifiers to the rescue!

It has happened once again … September has arrived and so has the fall allergy season.  It is pretty much always the same thing this time of year: the ragweed starts blooming, the leaves start falling to the ground, and the mold starts growing and with that comes the allergy symptoms.  Everyone is starting to feel the effects.  Itchy eyes, congested or runny nose, sinus pressure and headaches, sneezing, and a general feeling of “can I just stay in bed today?”  Allergy season … what fun!  For some of us, this happens only once a year but for others spring and fall bring some or all of these symptoms.  Is there anything that can bring relief this time of year?  Yes, I think that there are several things that can help people to  feel more human again.

Diet

food

Dietary changes can help a lot.  I am not saying that diet will cure all of your symptoms but what I am saying is that if there are things in your diet that are compromising your immune system causing inflammation in your body, then identifying them and removing them will free up your immune system to deal with the allergens outside and may help to decrease your symptoms.  I think that one of the best things that people with allergies can do for themselves is to put themselves on an elimination/challenge diet and see if there are any foods that create similar allergy symptoms.  Even if you only remove these foods during allergy season, your body will function much better and you will be much happier.  What is an elimination/challenge diet?  Basically, you are taking out the top 8 foods that have been shown to cause people to have reactions, avoiding them for a 2-3 week period and then adding them back in to see what happens.  It is a pretty simple process.  The most common food sensitivities are wheat, gluten, corn, dairy, sugar, citrus, eggs and soy.  I would say that there are a lot of people out there that would benefit greatly from taking dairy out of their diet during allergy season.  From the Chinese Medicine perspective, dairy creates dampness (phlegm/mucus) in some people and by eliminating it, people can decrease their congestion, runny nose, sinus pressure and headaches.  It is certainly worth a try! [If you would like more information on the elimination diet, send me an email at wellspring@wellspringholisticcenter.com]

Neti Pot

Another option that helps some people is the neti pot.

neti pot

I know that a lot of people find this option to be disgusting, but it really does help. Many ear, nose and throat doctors are recommending some type of nasal irrigation whether it be with a neti pot or other device.   Here is what WebMD has to say about the use of neti pots:

” Many people with sinus symptoms from allergies and environmental irritants also have begun to regularly use the Neti pot or other nasal irrigation devices, claiming that these devices alleviate congestion, and facial pain and pressure. Research backs up these claims, finding that nasal irrigation can be an effective way to relieve sinus symptoms when used along with standard sinus treatments. For some people, nasal irrigation may bring relief of sinus symptoms without the use of medications.

The basic explanation of how the Neti pot works is that it thins mucus and helps flush it out of the nasal passages.

A more biological explanation for how the Neti pot works has to do with tiny, hair-like structures called cilia that line the inside of the nasal and sinus cavities. These cilia wave back and forth to push mucus either to the back of the throat where it can be swallowed, or to the nose to be blown out. Saline solution can help increase the speed and improve coordination of the cilia so that they may more effectively remove the allergens and other irritants that cause sinus problems.”

So, as you can see, there really is something to nasal irrigation!  The warm water actually feels good as it flows through the nasal passages.  I have found that during allergy season, if I have been outside for an extended period of time, coming right in and flushing out my nasal passages can really reduce my symptoms later on.  You can buy a neti pot pretty much anywhere these days – the grocery store, drug store, health food store and also at Wellspring.  If you need more information about them, you can call or email us and we will be happy to help you.[wellspring@wellspringholisticcenter.com or 570-421-3708]

Acupuncture-

acupuncture

Another option for allergies is acupuncture.  Acupuncture is based on the idea that there are meridians or channels that run along the body which carry Qi or vital energy.  By taking your pulses and looking at your tongue, the state of the energy in the meridians and hence in your body is assessed. This helps a practitioner to create an acupuncture treatment designed specifically for you.  Needles are then placed along the meridians to stimulate the flow of qi changing its direction or increasing or decreasing it which helps to create more balance in the body.  This balance can allow the body to handle the allergens better, decrease congestion, eliminate itchy, watery eyes, eliminate headaches, and increase overall energy.

In a small but significant study of 26 hay fever patients published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine, acupuncture reduced symptoms in all 26 — without side effects. A second study of some 72 people totally eliminated symptoms in more than half, with just two treatments.

“Acupuncture can be particularly useful if you are suffering from multiple allergies, since it works to quiet the areas of the immune system that are overstimulated by exposure to multiple irritating factors,” Dillard tells WebMD.

 Austin Air Purifiers

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One of the best things that Anita and I have found to help our allergies, as well as our family’s allergies, is the Austin Air Purifiers. Anita has been using them for years and has sworn by their effectiveness.  When I moved to Stroudsburg, I immediately noticed an increase in my allergy symptoms and decided it was time to invest in a couple of air purifiers.  I have not regretted my purchase.  Several years ago Anita and I started to notice that our allergies were worse when we were working at the Wellspring office, so naturally our first thought was air purification.  We now have 2 machines at the office and have noticed a huge difference.  There are many brands of air purifiers on the market but we feel that the Austin Air purifiers are the best.  New York Times best-selling author and allergy expert, Dr. Doris Rapp, awarded Austin Air her esteemed Seal of Approval.  This accolade was given to the only air cleaner brand proven to get real results based on independent studies.

Here is some additional information about the air purifiers from the Austinair.com website.

“Sources such as dust, dust mites, pet dander, chemicals, and other household pollutants need to be managed with a plan. A very important part of your relief plan should be to first, find a good Austin Air purifier. The Austin Air Allergy Machine is the ideal air purification system for allergy sufferers. This Austin Air purifier is a high quality system that is very affordable while at the same time, exceptionally efficient in the removal of germs, bacteria, viruses, chemical sensitive particles, tobacco smoke, dust, pollen, gases, pollutants, allergens, and bothersome odors. It is also very effective at removing the harmful effects of mold and mildew!

How is this done? The Austin Air Purifiers contain the advanced features of a gas trapping military carbon cloth combined with High Efficiency Particulate Arresting (HEPA) filtration. Austin Air calls this revolutionary filtering solution High Efficiency Gas Adsorption (HEGA). This particle filtration, a new industry standard, delivers the most effective relief of symptoms for allergy and asthma sufferers. This Austin Air Purifier is so effective that the US military personnel use it to remove toxic poisons from the air.”

Wellspring Holistic Center sells Austin Air Purifiers.  Contact us for more information about models available and prices.  Allergy Season Special: take 15% off any machine and/or filter.

Ragweed and Pollen and Mold, No More!

So, is there one thing that can bring relief this allergy season?  No, I do not think that there is one magic bullet, BUT I do think that a combination of one, two or all of the suggestions above can bring significant relief.  If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us at wellspring@wellspringholisticcenter.com or by phone at 570-421-3708.  Happy Breathing!

 

 

 

Bacteria, and more bacteria!

Did anyone hear the report on NPR earlier this week about bacteria?  It was great!  It was an update on an earlier report about bacteria and the immune system.  The first report talked about children and pacifiers and how the children whose parents picked up the pacifier when it dropped on the ground and put it in their mouth before giving it back to the child developed fewer allergies. I thought that it was a great report.  A few days ago they did a follow up about the important role of bacteria in the body and how they continue to learn more everyday about the role that bacteria actually plays inside of us. It was saying how years ago they thought all bacteria was bad. Now they realize that there is bacteria on every square inch of our body inside and out.  They think that some bacteria even may produce their own versions of antibiotics.  So why am I telling you this? When I was listening to the report, it made me think about the good bacteria that is found in the gut and how for many years there has been talk about overall health being linked to the health of the gut. It made me think about the ALCAT testing and the dietary plan that we are following and how glad I am that I am working on my health through my intestinal tract.

I have been mentioning ALCAT on and off in this blog and thought it was appropriate to mention it again.  The test that we did was looking at foods and their link to inflammation in the body.  There has been speculation for years about “leaky” gut syndrome and it’s role in allergies and other digestive issues. However, since using this testing for myself, my family, and clients, I have seen the direct link between food and all sorts of inflammatory reactions.  Joint pain anyone? Insomnia? Chronic sinus congestion? Knee pain? Fatigue? Constipation? Chronic stomach distress? Frequent urination? Depression?  All of these symptoms and more have been helped by changing our diet according to the results of the test.  Foods that you would think are supposed to decrease inflammation were found to increase inflammation in multiple clients.  How often have you been told to use ginger, turmeric, or garlic and to eat lots of leafy green vegetables?  As a nutritionist I feel it almost a disservice now to give advice that is not individualized for each person. We are all unique and what works for one person does not always work for another. I am learning and growing so much this year and am enjoying being challenged and pushed out of my comfort zone. (Okay, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration but it is certainly making me a better practitioner.)

No, insurance does not cover this test and yes, there are plenty of people who can’t afford to take it.  Is it going to cure all of your ailments? No!  Is it going to help heal your gut so that your body can function like it should? I am seeing the results now, so I am voting Yes!

Inflammation – Musings from Anita

Inflammation is the hot topic in my world right now. I cannot seem to open an email or a newsletter without being bombarded with the latest research and ideas about how to combat it in our bodies, minds, and hearts. How it is the major cause of almost all disease and illness.

We can easily find the 10 worst foods for inflammation (gluten, sugar, alcohol, etc). We can read about too much time in front of the computers, TV, and negative news contributing to our stress which is a major component of increased inflammation in our bodies. We can also find evidence that harboring negative feelings, engaging in angry outbursts, and chronic worrying
are also causing inflammatory conditions inside and out.

Personally, I have been watching an interesting finding in myself and I dare say, my clients: we seem to be addicted to inflammation! We continue to engage in all of the behaviors that cause it and have a ton of excuses about why we just can’t seem to change or how we are “trying” to change. As chronic as our inflammation is, so is our complaining about our aching joints, problems sleeping, troubles in our relationships with friends and family, and our dissatisfaction with our work and lives.

What does it take to change? I am beginning to take this question seriously as if my life depended on it because, guess what? IT DOES! I am carefully and consciously making choices that I know are good for me. Not easy choices, not quick choices, but good choices. We all know what those are when it comes to food, work, family, and friends. No one needs to tell us and we don’t need to spend countless hours researching it. If we are really honest with ourselves, we know exactly what to do. I hope you will join me.

Make the good choices, even though they are hard. I really do understand. It is much easier to take the quick and easy road as I did it for years. Looking back though, there have been a lot of casualties and standing in the present there is a lot of pain. So looking forward I choose “the road less traveled” and trust that will make all of the difference. Stay tuned.