May 25, 2009

Natural Remedies For Allergies - Facts You Should Know

In line with the rising popularity of alternative medicine, those seeking natural remedies for allergies and allergy-induced diseases like asthma are also on the upswing.

The fact is, mainstream medication can produce adverse side effects that are not properly understood even after years of trials and actual use of drugs in clinical practice.

For instance, a 1995 study in New Zealand showed that prior to 1940, the death rate from asthma was very low. However, after that time, when bronchodilators were introduced, asthma deaths shot up significantly.

Here are several natural remedies for allergies that have been used by practitioners of alternative medicine.

Dietary therapies
* Dairy products are said to contribute to food allergies. They also tend to increase mucus secretions in the lungs which can be detrimental to asthma patients. Some practitioners recommend elimination of dairy products from the diet for allergy patients.

* Avoid processed food, refined sugars / starches, foods that contain sulfites and in general, anything that contains additives.

* Consider switching to a purely vegan diet. Meaning, a diet with zero animal foods. This cuts out arachidonic acid, which is a fatty acid linked to food allergies. Note that a vegan diet may not always work, since some allergies are triggered by vegetables rather than by meat.

* Onions and garlic contain a flavonoid that cuts down the release of histamine. That can help allergy sufferers.

* Drink plenty of water. This helps the body’s elimination process and may assist in reducing allergic reactions.

Acupuncture / Acupressure
Acupuncture has been used as one of the natural remedies for allergies. Asthma patients have also used this form of treatment. Acupuncture relies on stimulating certain points on the body by inserting fine needles into them.

This is part of traditional Chinese medicine and restores health by balancing subtle energy flows in the body. Allergy and asthma patients will need to see a qualified acupuncturist for treatment.

Acupressure is similar to acupuncture, but instead of inserting needles into the body, it relies on stimulating those specific points using finger pressure. Under the guidance of an experienced therapist, the patient herself can learn to stimulate certain body spots to relieve symptoms.

Both acupuncture and acupressure are thought to strengthen the body’s immune system and thereby prevent allergic reactions.

Herbal remedies
There are a number of herbs that have been used as natural remedies for allergies. Here is a sampling.

* An extract of grape seed has anti-inflammatory properties and is useful for treating allergies.

* Chinese medicine recommends using Ginkgo biloba seeds to control wheezing and other allergic symptoms.

* Stinging nettle helps control the body’s responses to certain allergens.

* Licorice (biological name: Glycyrrhiza glabra) is a herbal produce that can be taken as a tea. It is said to have effects similar to cortisone and helps control inflammatory reactions.

* Both cramp (Viburnum opulus) bark as well as khellin (Ammi visnaga) have bronchodilator effects and help with allergies.

* Another herb called ephedra or ma huang (Ephedra sinicia) can be consumed as a tea. It helps to treat allergies because of its anti-inflammatory properties.

Some of the herbal remedies listed above produce adverse side effects if used over a period of time. Therefore they must be used only under qualified medical supervision.

Many natural remedies for allergies have been used as complements to traditional western medicine. They have a useful role in alleviating symptoms and helping the body function well even when allergens are present in the environment.

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