When people ask me how I treat allergies, I often answer “it depends.” As a functional medicine doctor, I treat the cause of the symptoms instead of managing the symptoms. Because even seasonal allergies can have many different possible causes, there are also many possible treatments.
In pharmaceutical medicine, seasonal allergies are treated with an antihistamine. Antihistamines block the signal that your immune cells send out when they encounter an allergen. The antihistamines stop the allergic response at one of the last steps of the process.
In functional medicine, seasonal allergies are treated based on asking why the person has allergies:
- Joe may have reduced numbers of good bacteria in his intestines due to the frequent use of antibiotics. I treat him with probiotics to help calm his immune system and prevent reactions to non-infectious agents.
- Linda has seasonal allergies but she is also “slightly allergic” to her beloved cat, Muffin. Using a HEPA filter next to her bed, vacuuming, and changing her sheets every week will help to reduce her exposure to allergenic substances and may completely eliminate her symptoms.
- George has had eczema, allergies, and asthma since he was a child. Most of his family has these conditions as well. He has been managing his congestion and asthma with antihistamines for his whole life but he still notices that he feels more run down during allergy season. His fatigue is a result of signals other than histamines that are produced in an allergic response. The other signals break down collagen (a building block of the skin) and cause fatigue. I treat him with nettles and quercetin, a bioflavonoid found in onions and red grapes, and other brightly-colored fruits, which balances his immune system. Quercetin prevents his body from over-releasing histamine and the other molecules that cause congestion, asthma, eye irritation, rashes, and fatigue.
If you’d like to stop suffering from seasonal allergies – and find a natural way to feel better – contact me to make an appointment.