In this time the weather is incredible the sun is shinning and its just a great time to be outside. Walks, hiking, getting together with family, and sports are all waiting for you outside so having seasonal allergies can bring down a time that should be full of joy. So here are 3 supplements that are wonderful for combating seasonal allergies and ones that I prescribe to my patients.
1) NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine)
NAC is an amino acid that can be classified as a mycolytic, that means that it helps to break apart mucus so that it can be easier to cough out or blow out through your nose. The fact that its an amino acid is also a plus because amino acids are the building blocks of all proteins.
I would recommend taking this supplement with foods.
Dosage: 1-3 grams daily are used in most clinical trials.
2) Fish Oil
Omega -3 fatty acids which are found in high concentrations in fish oil are anti-inflammatory in nature. You can think of inflammation as being to active when it comes to seasonal allergies. Inflammation is very important when it comes to the immune system, but if it gets too activeted then it can become a problem. Fish oils will help to decrease the total inflammation in the body and also immune response to the pollen that is occurring.
Dosage: 1-3 grams daily
Contraindications: Caution if you are using blood thinners.
3) Vitamin D
Vitamin D is actually a hormone that your body produces that requires sun light to turn into its active form. So without sunlight you body may be prone to not having this necessary hormone in your body circulating at levels that it should be.
I recommend that Vitamin D levels be established before taking a supplement because perhaps you really aren't deficient in it or perhaps you are severely deficient and you need high doses of it.
Dosage: Seek primary care provider for labratory findings on Vitamin D levels. Most clinical experiences have Vitamin D from 400 IU to 4000 IU. Also, new research is coming out stating that vitamin K supplement is important as well when you are taking Vitamin D because it allows it to be properly stored in your bones.
The immune system and our emotions are closely related. This relationship has even crated a new field in medicine called the psyconeuroimmunology. We can think of stress and anxiety causing a wide range of changes to our body. These changes may result an increase in allergies.
One study showed there was difference in intensity of allergies and personality traits supporting the link between the mind and allergic symptoms. The personality traits that the study looked at included depression, anxiety and hysteria. The study also concluded that one of the mechanisms of action that the link between stress and allergies may be due to cortisol levels. I'll be doing a future blog on what is cortisol and the proper management of cortisol for a healthy mind.
Another study looked at asthma which is often induced by allergies. This study analyzed college students during the middle of the term and the last week of the term where finals where going to take place. The sputum of the participants were analyzed and they found that there was an increase in inflammatory mediatiors and immune cells especially eosinohpils. Eosinophils are directly involved in productions of many of the allergy symptoms such as stuffy nose, itchy eyes and congestion.
The importance of looking at stress is not only limited to allergies but to a wide range of other diseases including cancer, HIV, and irritable bowel syndrome. The linkage between mind and body is one of the cores in naturopathic medicine. Life style changes is what I like to address with every patient in one way or another. Like many other health problems that we face the exact cause of it is complex and often requires a team in order to get the root of the cause.
Immunol Allergy Clin North Am. 2011 Feb; 31 (1): 55-68