Ask The Doctor: Allergies & Hay Fever
Question: I am a 34-year-old male and basically in excellent health. However, ever since I was about ten years old, I have had hay fever so bad that I feel like I almost miss Spring. From early May to mid June my eyes water, my nose runs and my throat itches. I get short of breath and every year I end up with a sinus infection. I have been treated with allergy shots which helped for a while, decongestants which made me drowsy, the new allergy medicines which just made me feel funny and homeopathic medicines which only gave very temporary relief. Do you have any advice for me?
Answer: Allergies and hay fever are among the most common maladies suffered by modern Americans. Allergy medication every year is among the top five best selling drugs and if you count asthma, eczema and food allergies, almost one out of three Americans has some sort of allergy. Surprisingly, this condition is of relatively recent origin as even the homeopathic doctors in the early part of the century rarely described allergic diseases or hay fever. As I have discussed in this column, many changes in our life-styles and habits have occurred this century which probably account for this rising incidence.
Specifically, the best theory on the etiology of allergies is that they are related to an imbalance in the functioning of our adrenal gland. More exactly, when the adrenal cortex– that part of our adrenal gland that makes various hormones (such as cortisone) that mediate the inflammatory response– is weak or underactive, then a variety of symptoms occur. Besides inflammation, which can manifest as asthma, weeping skin or hay fever, depending on the site of the inflammation, these adrenal hormones also regulate such functions as sugar balance (via glucocorticoids), mineral balance (via mineralocorticoids) and sexual development (via the sex hormones.) A key point in understanding the therapy for supporting adrenal function is that all of these hormones are synthesized from cholesterol, and that the adrenal cortex is the organ in our bodies with the most need for the vitamin C complex to maintain its function. Also, it seems as if the adrenal cortex is very sensitive to blood sugar levels and that consumption of refined carbohydrates is at the bottom of many cases of allergies for both humans and in animal studies. The natural therapy for all allergies, therefore, is not cortisone–the conventional therapy for allergic disease but which suppresses and eventually weakens our adrenal glands–but a nutritional and supplemental program which actually rebuilds and rebalances our adrenal cortex.
The first step in this therapy is to absolutely avoid all refined carbohydrates including bread, pasta and sugar, as well as most sweet foods such as maple syrup and fruit juices, while any allergic symptoms are present. The diet should be rhythmical, that is you should eat three meals a day with no snacks in between. At each meal eat about 1/3 animal food, 1/3 properly prepared whole grains and 1/3 vegetables in a variety of ways, and with plenty of good quality butter. To aid in mineral balance, use only Celtic sea salt. I also suggest people include zucchini daily in their diet and to make liberal use of bone broths as the minerals in these foods seems to lessen allergic symptoms.
To help “immunize” yourself against pollen, eat 1 tablespoon of really raw honey (locally produced if possible) with the addition of about 1/2 tablespoon of fresh bee pollen. With the bee pollen, start with a few granules and gradually increase to the full dose. Eat foods high in the full vitamin C complex such as sprouts, sauerkraut, raw milk and fresh berries. Also, take a supplement with these components such as Cataplex C or Collagen C from Standard Process, or acerola berries, about 250 mg. three times a day, from Schiff, or from Springreen (816-221-3298).
Often with my patients I add either sublingual or intravenous adrenal cortical extract to augment adrenal function. Your physician can obtain the adrenal cortex preparations from Apothecure (800) 545-9960. They also make a product called Adrenal Cortex Support which is a combination of desiccated adrenal gland, vitamin C, magnesium and licorice root, an herbal medicine well known for its ability to strengthen adrenal function.
Most people get significant relief from this regimen after about three to four weeks, so don’t forget to start early next year!