This month sees Allergy Awareness Week so let’s take a look at the most common Allergies and what we feel might be causing them and how to help treat them?
We discussed another common Allergy: Eczema in September 2018 (please see my Health Blog on my website for a copy of that article if you missed it??) Let’s take a look at the other most common allergies and any Complementary Therapies or Natural Remedies that may help treat and hopefully prevent reoccurrence.
Firstly may I say that any severe allergic reaction causing shortness of breath, immediate swelling and rapid heart rate should be a 999 call and straight to A&E to treat or rule out Anaphylactic Shock.
The most common Allergies are:
- Drug Allergy
- Food Allergies and Intolerances
- Skin Allergy
Let’s start with Asthma and look at the others at a later date:
Asthma is a condition that causes swelling and inflammation inside the airways of the lungs. This inflammation and swelling is there to a greater or lesser degree all the time in people with asthma. The more inflammation there is the harder it becomes to breathe. People with Asthma also have over-sensitive airways, so their airways react to triggers that do not affect other people. When sufferers come into contact with something that irritates their airways (a trigger), it can cause their airways to narrow.
Causes: Air pollution, Allergy to pollen, pets, dust, perfume, mould etc., Colds, Emotions, Exercise, Medication side effects, Smoking and the Weather.
Conventional treatment: This relies on a two-pronged approach.
The first is to eliminate the ‘triggers’, which provoke asthma attacks in the first place. The second is to use powerful drugs to reduce the body’s response to the trigger, and to attempt to increase the size of the patient’s airways.
It is said that one of the biggest medical failures of recent years is treatment for asthma. Despite greater diagnostic skills, better identification of causes of the disease and ever more complex drug cocktails to treat it,
Doctors and Asthma Associations are bewildered by the fact that the epidemic incidence of Asthma and asthma-related deaths are continuing to rise.
There are various Complementary Therapies and Natural Remedies that have been shown to help Asthma sufferers and interestingly enough many of the Pharmaceutical Drugs on the market today have their origins in Herbs.
A lot of scientific proof in the successful treatment of Asthma – always consult a Registered Homeopath – I recommend Debbie Greenslade at www.buryhomeopaths.co.uk
A number of herbs have a good track record for alleviating the symptoms of asthma even though, in many cases, the herbs treat only the symptoms and not the cause, necessitating that they be taken for long stretches of time. For deeper and longer-lasting treatment, some traditional Chinese herbal medicines have shown success. Always consult a Registered Herbalist.
Besides diet, (see next) Acupuncture is probably the most researched alternative treatment for asthma.
Although allergies have been identified as an asthma trigger, they don’t necessarily cause Asthma on their own. In fact, not all allergic people have Asthma, and many asthmatics are not Allergic.
Food allergy is not a particularly common cause of Asthma. It’s said it only affects about 1% of children and 0.05 % of adults. Inhaled allergens such as house dust mites, cat fur and pollen, are more likely to trigger an asthma attack than are food stuffs .
Some people may be sensitive to some additives and preservatives. It has been estimated that about 5% of asthmatics are sensitive to sulphur containing compounds (especially sulphites), which are added to foods to
prevent them from becoming oxidised and contaminated with microbes.
Possible sources of sulphites in foodstuffs include:
- Alcohol (wine, beer, cocktail mixers)
- Beverages (soft fizzy drinks)
- Condiments (vinegar, pickles, salad dressings)
- Processed Dips
- Grain products (gravies, instant noodle mixes)
- Processed fruits (dried fruit, fruit juice concentrates, purees, dried coconut)
- Processed vegetables (instant mashed potato, restaurant salad bars, dried
- vegetables, canned or pickled vegetables, purees)
- Processed meats (sausages, cold meats, paté)
- Puddings (fruit fillings, gelatin)
- Soups (dried or canned)
Asthma can also be triggered by the preservative Sodium Benzoate (found in fruit juices, soft drinks and foods with fruit), colourings like Tartrazine, flavour enhancers like MSG (monosodium glutamate) and Salicylates (found in aspirin)
Note: a lot of these triggers are in Processed Foods so the easiest change to make is to prepare fresh food yourself! Focus on foods, which have an anti-inflammatory effect, such as garlic, onions, flax oil, oily fish and seeds. Follow a diet low in sugar, animal fat and additives, and high in grains and vegetables.
Foods that are difficult to digest, such as dairy products, refined sugar and white flour, and hydrogenated oils, can in some people produce mucus (a way of eliminating undigested foods and toxins)
The following have all been used in Clinical trials and shown to help with Asthma
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Fish Oils
- Evening Primrose Oil
An Apple a day keeps the Doctor away?
An apple a day could reduce your risk of asthma. A 28-year Finnish study
of eating habits of more than 10,000 men and women has revealed that the risk of several chronic diseases drops as flavonoid intake rises. Most fruits and vegetables proved to be protective to varying degrees, but apples,
which are rich in quercetin, provided the strongest and most consistent
benefits, followed by onions. (Am J Clin Nutr, 2002; 76: 560–8). Note: organic apples are best!
Yoga and Breathing exercises
There are studies that show the benefits of Yoga in improving the symptoms of Asthma – in my own experience the Heart and Chest opening backbend poses help improve lung function by improving posture and allowing the lungs to expand more. Many of yoga’s breathing practices focus on lengthening and slowing down the exhale which in turn improves lung function as it allows for more air to enter. Inform your teacher and they will have specific poses that will help.
The Buteyko Method – The two words: ‘breathe correctly’ sum up the essence of Buteyko. The exercises promote nose-breathing and taking in an effective amount of air.
For example, many people with breathing problems tend to respond to everyday situations such as walking uphill or talking on the telephone by automatically breathing more than is necessary. This is called over-breathing or hyper-ventilating.
The Buteyko exercises provide you with the skills to be able to breathe correctly in these situations, and this prevents the development of a vicious cycle of over-breathing which can result in breathlessness, wheezing or coughing.
The technique originates from Russia and was named after the Russian doctor, Konstantin Buteyko, who first developed the techniques during the 1950s.
Please be advised the health suggestions contained in this article are only the personal opinion of Carole Baker, they do not constitute medical advice. Please always consult your GP before taking any alternative or complementary remedies, particularly if you are currently on prescription medication. Please ensure you always see a professionally qualified and insured complementary therapist or teacher.