Ask Dr. Julie

Herbal Options That Help You to Spring Forward Without Allergies

As we head solidly into Spring, many people with asthma or allergies are busy dealing with their symptoms instead of being able to enjoy and marvel at the beauty of Mother Nature’s artistry in their yards or in the parks of fully bloomed flowers and trees. I love how beautiful those first blooms and buds can be, so in an effort to help you get to a point where your allergies and asthma are stable enough to enjoy these miracles of nature, let me see if we can help you find some supplements that can help with those symptoms.

• Stingling nettle is plant that can be found in supplement form and it’s frequently used in hair or skin products as well. It can help with prostate enlargement issues and also allergies and asthma issues when using the above ground parts of the plant. It can act as a diuretic so if you are already on a medication that is a diuretic, that’s something that can be problematic and safety and monitoring has to be employed. Topically, stinging nettle can be used for joint and muscle pain support and also for help with hair loss and healthy hair; that’s why you can find it in some hair products.

• Tinospora cordifolia is a shrub that is native to India and is frequently used in ayurvedic medicine. It’s seen to be possibly helpful with sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, and nasal itching after two months of therapy but care of using any herbs must be cleared with your doctor first to make sure it’s safe for you. Because of its possible impact on immune function, those with autoimmune diseases should use this with caution and only under the guidance of a physician but there are suggestions that tinospora cordifolia might help with autoimmune symptoms too so the jury is still out on the true efficacy in that department. However, it seems to be a good option for those with simple allergies and asthma. The safety seems to be fine up to 8 weeks but after that, it should be cleared with your doctor.

• Quercetin is a flavonoid that is found in foods like onion, green tea, apples, and berries, just to name a few. It’s frequently used as supplement for antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. It can be used to support allergy and asthma health goals and it seems to help with lowering post-exercise upper respiratory infections. In any situation, I’m a big fan of using food as medicine so trying to increase food intake of foods high in quercetin for its anti-inflammatory benefits would always be a plus in your healthy regimen.

• Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapple stem and pineapple juice. This seems to help with sinus and nasal allergy symptoms especially if you need an added extra boost if you’re already on allergy medication. Please check with your doctor before you add this to your medications and please remember to keep medications and supplements at least 2-3 hours apart at least in order to make sure your medications and supplements are working optimally. There’s also some suggestion that bromelain could help with some joint pain issues so if you’re looking to support joint and allergy inflammation, this might be your perfect tool. It does have the potential to cause some blood thinning so do not take if you are already on blood thinning medications or at least check with your doctor first.

• Vitamin D is one of my favorite vitamins because there’s more and more growing evidence on its health benefits. Many patients ask what’s the optimal goal range on labs they should try to achieve, and I always let patients know that it depends on every person specific health needs and limitations. But, if you’re looking for a generic ball park range, it’s basically mid-range, around 50 is where you want your lab to hit. Vitamin D is a great supporter of immune function, so I always encourage patients with allergy issues or asthma issues to get their lab checked for their level and aim for that goal of 50. If you’re not sure how much to take, ask your doctor to check your level so your doctor can dose you on the right amount of vitamin D.

Even with these amazing supplements, the most important thing you can do is get your environment as allergen-free as possible and that means HEPA air filters; and if you have dust mite allergies, you need dust mite covers for your pillows, comforter/blankets and also your top mattress.

The most important thing to prevent allergy flares is to try to avoid the offending agents if possible. If that’s not working enough, that is when you reach for additional supplement or medication support. Hopefully, with the assistance of these amazing supplements and allergen-avoiding approaches, you’ll be able to enjoy the beautiful artistry of Mother Nature in your area this Spring.

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