by Dr. Jacqueline Cooper, ND
The majority of individuals who suffer from allergies rely on over-the-counter anti-histamines to control their symptoms. While anti-histamines provide effective short term relief, using them regularly may create more serious problems in the long run.
Allergies are an indication that your immune system is in an hyper-reactive state. There are many factors that contribute to the development of a hyper-reactive immune state, such as underlying food intolerances, nutrient deficiencies, chronic inflammation and others. If left unchecked, or if the underlying factors contributing to the problem are not addressed, this hyper-reactive state tends to progress to some form of degenerative disease over time. A typical sequence of events is the onset of allergies followed by the development of asthma which later in life often shifts to a more serious respiratory condition such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder.
The biggest problem with anti-histamines is that they are suppressing allergy symptoms without doing anything to improve the underlying causes of the hyper-reactive immune state. When the symptoms subside, there is a false sense that the problem has been addressed. The naturopathic approach, on the other hand, is two pronged. Naturopathic allergy remedies are effective at providing the same symptomatic relief but a naturopathic doctor will generally also recommend dietary changes or will provide other treatments and recommendations to address the cause of the allergies.
Anti-histamines can be very effective and fast acting, but they may not be the best treatment long-term. Times when a pharmaceutical anti-histamine may be very valuable include:
- If a person begins to experience swelling in the face, tongue, throat etc.
- Acute hives or swelling
- Extreme, intolerable discomfort that prevents ability to engage in daily activities.
For those with chronic or severe allergies who have taken anti-histamines on a daily or seasonal basis prophylactically, it is important to bridge - i.e., start taking naturopathic remedies that begin to moderate the hyper-reactivity of the immune system before discontinuing anti-histamine use. At the same time, work with a naturopathic doctor to determine what else needs to be changed or be addressed.
Allergies can be well controlled and eventually eradicated with an individualized treatment plan that manages symptoms naturopathically while simultaneously addressing the deeper causative factors that lead to a hyper-reactive immune state.
For more information on how naturopathic doctors address allergies, request a free 15 minute info-session with myself or one of the other doctors at our clinic.