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How to Heal Allergies Holistically

written by: Annette Pope • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 12/31/2010

Allergy sufferers are always open to new ways to relieve the symptoms of their affliction, and many resign themselves to simply living with the discomfort and inconvenience. Others, however, are investigating ways of healing allergies holistically, a practice that is gaining momentum quickly.

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    Allergies can take many forms and be caused by seasonal allergens, usually pollen or mold, food, pet dander or insect venom. The intensity of the reaction to these triggers can vary from mild—runny nose or watery eyes—to severe—anaphylaxis, which occurs when the airways swell and restrict breathing. While the more severe allergic reactions should be treated by trained professionals, mild cases can be handled more easily, sometimes without the use of pharmaceutical drugs.

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    What Causes Allergies?

    The culprit responsible for your uncomfortable reaction to certain allergens is actually the same one you rely on to keep you healthy—your immune system. In people with allergies, their immune systems are overreacting to the presence of an otherwise harmless substance, such as pollen or cat dander. It reacts to these the same way it would to a virus or bacteria, and releases antibodies and histamines to fight off the invader. It's this response that causes your body's reaction to the allergen, usually manifesting in a runny nose, watery eyes and sneezing.

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    How Are Allergies Traditionally Treated?

    Allergies can be treated a variety of ways, ranging from allergen avoidance, to over-the-counter medications for symptom relief, to regular allergy shots designed to slowly acclimate you to your allergen and lessen future allergy attacks. Severe allergies often require the sufferer to carry epinephrine, a drug used to counteract severe anaphylaxis. Those with more mild allergy reactions can consider the option of healing allergies holistically, and avoid the use of harsher drugs.

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    Why Choose Holistic Healing?

    Holistic healing is a more natural way to take control of your health and well-being, incorporating lifestyle changes to promote natural healing. Instead of throwing a pill at your physical problem, you're encouraged to utilize alternative therapies to balance your body, mind and spirit. Holistic treatments allow you to take an active role in your health, instead of relying solely on pills and doctors.

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    Types of Holistic Treatments for Allergies

    When looking for a way of healing allergies holistically, remember that one size does not fit all. What may work for some people may not work for others, or cause an entirely new allergic reaction! You can also use these treatments—and others, as this is not an all encompassing list—in combination to gain the most relief possible.

    Herbal Supplements

    One of the easiest ways to treat allergies holistically is to add certain herbal supplements to your daily regimen. Butterbur, quercetin, stinging nettle and bromelain are all useful nutrients in fighting allergy symptoms, and may also be found in some fruits and vegetables. These supplements can be started before or after allergy symptoms appear to minimize the intensity of your reaction.

    Acupuncture

    Beginning acupuncture a few weeks before allergy season starts can help lessen the intensity of your allergy symptoms. Discuss your situation with the acupuncturist and ask for details on their success rates with relieving allergies. The acupuncture points around the spleen, stomach and large intestine are usually the focal areas for allergy relief, but your acupuncture practitioner may utilize different areas.

    Yoga

    The use of yoga in healing allergies holistically depends upon the practice helping to temper your immune system's response to the allergen. Stress can exacerbate allergy symptoms by releasing additional histamine, triggering inflammation and generally making a reaction worse. Yoga helps to calm the body, allowing the nervous system to signal a “no danger" message to the immune system, thereby reducing allergy symptoms. Poses that enhance calmness instead of vigorous stretching are recommended for allergy relief, and inversions such as "shoulder stand and plow" pose can clear nasal passages.

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    Healing allergies holistically doesn't have to mean that you don't use any pharmaceutical medications at all, and most holistic treatments can be used in conjunction with other medications and treatments. Focusing on helping your body heal itself may allow you to slowly wean off of these other allergy medications and treatments, which can help prevent your body from building up a tolerance to them and lowering their overall effectiveness.

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    References:

    Mayo Clinic: Allergies - http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/allergies/DS01118

    Holistic Help: Holistic Medicine - http://www.holistichelp.net/holistic-medicine.html

    WebMD: Natural Allergy Remedies - http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-lifestyle-guide/allergies-allergy

    American Academy of Medical Acupuncture: Acupuncture and Seasonal Allergies - http://www.medicalacupuncture.org/acu_info/articles/allergies.html

    Yoga Journal: Allergy Antidote - http://www.yogajournal.com/health/885

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