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Time to Get Ready for Spring Allergy Season

Spring_allergiesJacquieIconBy Jacquie Eubanks

Spring is definitely in the air! Those of us who were bogged down by snow and bitter cold this winter are happily looking forward to sighting the first brave little flowers popping up through the still icy ground. Seasonal allergy sufferers, however, are not looking forward to the release of billions of tiny spring pollens that can bring on sneezing, coughing, congestion, sniffles, itchiness, breathing problems and other disagreeable symptoms. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, pollen season can begin as early as February and last through October depending on what’s blooming where you reside. Seasonal allergic rhinitis, which affects 40 to 60 million Americans, occurs when the immune system becomes sensitized and overreacts to something in the environment, such as airborne mold spores and pollens from trees (spring), grasses (summer) and weeds (fall).  

Allergic reactions are annoying, but otherwise normal, immune responses to substances that are usually not harmful, including pollen, mold, pet dander and dust mites. In sensitive individuals, the immune system views allergens as invaders and responds by unleashing antibodies, histamines and other compounds, which leads to localized inflammation, irritation and discomfort. Although generally a temporary condition, allergy symptoms can be very unpleasant and can disrupt sleep and daily activities.

Allergic triggers differ for each person and once you know that you have spring allergies, it pays to be proactive. OTC therapies such as antihistamines, decongestants, eye drops, or nasal sprays should be initiated at least 2 weeks before the likely onset of symptoms. These medications will treat allergy symptoms but will not address the root cause. Inflammation, once developed, reduces the chances that these treatments will do much to alleviate the discomfort. Swollen tissues can block nasal passages and limit drainage from the sinuses, which can often result in a sinus infection.

Unfortunately, spring 2015 is expected to be a particularly severe pollen season due to the extreme amount of snow and precipitation this past winter. All the more reason to be prepared even if you have not experienced allergies in the past, as allergies tend to be hereditary and can unexpectedly develop at any time or any age. While it is likely improbable that you can eliminate all seasonal allergy triggers, the following tips may help to reduce or partly eliminate them:

  • Try natural herbal remedies to relieve allergy induced symptoms. Quercetin, a bioflavonoid, acts as an antihistamine and an anti-inflammatory and aids in preventing histamine release. Capsaicin, found in chili peppers and cayenne, helps to reduce nasal congestion and stuffiness. Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine. Swiss clinical trials found the plant extract butterbur was as effective as OTC antihistamines in easing airway inflammation. Bromelain, a plant enzyme, is sometimes used to curb inflammation after sinus surgery to reduce swelling and improve breathing. NAC aids in thinning mucus, allowing for improved clearing of respiratory airways. A few drops of eucalyptus oil, which has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, can be added to a bowl of steaming water to supercharge inhalation, aiding in opening sinus and nasal passages. Hot peppermint tea has both decongestant and expectorant properties.
  • Replenishing your intestinal system with healthy microbiota through probiotic-rich foods or a probiotic supplement will aid in strengthening the immune system, especially when antibiotics are prescribed for a sinus or respiratory infection. Avoiding sugar laden foods and refined carbohydrates, which feed harmful microbiota, will help to support the immune system and protect against inflammation.  
  • An overall healthy and well balanced diet may be helpful in controlling or eliminating symptoms. Research suggests that certain foods may help fight allergies by controlling underlying inflammation or dilating air passages. Following an anti-inflammatory diet reduces overall swelling and fluid accumulation in tissues, which can assist in healing, detoxification and reduction of allergic symptoms.
  • Irrigating daily with a saline nasal rinse to clean and clear nasal passages decreases sinus inflammation and rinses away pollen. This can be done at any time of year and is especially helpful before and during allergy season, as it aids in eliminating symptoms and helps to protect sinus membranes.
  • Addressing stress, hormone imbalance and food sensitivities can also help to alleviate allergic reactions. High levels of stress can lead to imbalanced cortisol levels, which may negatively affect immune system function.  
  • Consider acupuncture as a proactive measure to correct underlying imbalances that allow symptoms to develop. Acupuncture may also help to reduce symptoms that have already flared. Ongoing treatment throughout the season may be necessary to keep symptoms under control.
  • Yoga is a natural stress reducer. Stress promotes inflammation, which intensifies allergic responses. Yoga breathing techniques may also help to open stuffy or clogged nasal passages.

As much as possible, limit your pollen exposure. Keep windows and doors closed and, if feasible, stay indoors between 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. when pollen counts are highest. Tracking pollen counts listed online or in your local newspaper can help you plan outdoor activities accordingly.   Dry, sunny days will have higher pollen counts than colder, rainy days. Pollen can settle on your hair or clothing so wearing sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat can help. Be sure to change clothes and shower before bed after spending time outdoors. Pets can also bring pollens indoors, so bathe them frequently and try to keep them out of your bed to reduce further exposure. As much as we might not want to take the time to do it, spring cleaning your home can help remove pollen that can come in through open doors or windows or can be brought indoors on your shoes and clothes. Installing a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in your vacuum or air conditioning unit also helps to remove microscopic irritants.

Popular supplements for season allergy support include:

Natural D-HistNatural D-Hist by Ortho Molecular – This popular formula provides optimal seasonal allergy support with a targeted blend of anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, enzymes and botanicals, which actively promote healthy nasal and sinus passages for those with elevated histamine and respiratory irritation. Contains quercetin, stinging nettles, vitamin C, bromelain and NAC. Non-drowsy, gluten and soy free formula.   D-Hist Jr children’s formula also available.
 HistaEze™ by Designs for Health – This synergistic blend of nutrients provides natural support to help balance the immune response during allergy season. With vitamin C, quercetin and nettles, this formula also supplies a patented and clinically researched Ayurvedic herb known for its immunomodulating ability. Gluten, soy and dairy free, non-GMO vegetarian formula.
MucoStop™ by Enzymedica – This blend of proteolytic enzymes assists with seasonal allergies by reducing the effects of histamine-induced inflammation, supporting normal mucus function and promoting natural antihistamine qualities. Gluten, soy and dairy free, non-GMO vegan formula.
MSM powderMSM Powder by Pure Encapsulations – This highly pure and effective anti-inflammatory acts as an immunomodulator, supporting respiratory function by eliminating free radicals, detoxifying cells and flushing out allergens. Gluten and soy free, non-GMO vegetarian formula.
Seasonal Allergies. http://www.pdrhealth.com/diseases/seasonal-allergies
Allergic Rhinitis. http://acaai.org/allergies/types/hay-fever-rhinitis
Beat Spring Allergies – Naturally. http://www.prevention.com/health/health-concerns/natural-remedies-spring-allergies


Winter Cold or Winter Allergies?

IsItACold..JacquieIconBy Jacquie Eubanks

Many seasonal allergy sufferers are grateful when temperatures cool, as outdoor pollens and allergy triggers temporarily disappear. However, spending more time inside increases our exposure to indoor allergy triggers. Holiday foods, indoor festivities and holiday decorations can all trigger allergic responses, especially for those who may have sensitivities or asthma. Central heating, Christmas trees, overindulging in holiday foods and drinks and skimping on sleep may all cause reactions, which can contribute to asthmatic or allergic responses. Indoor allergens and pollutants can include irritants such as mold spores, dust mites, pet dander, household chemicals and smoke. Mold spores are especially hazardous as, unlike pollens, mold can grow anywhere and requires little more than moisture and oxygen to thrive.

With additional time spent indoors, allergic individuals are more likely to suffer from symptoms that are often attributed to colds, such as runny nose, sinus irritation, sore throat, headache, fatigue and congestion. Both colds and allergies set off immune responses and, while many symptoms overlap, cold sufferers are more likely to have fever or body aches as opposed to itchy eyes or throat . Usually with colds, symptoms gradually get better within a week or so. If symptoms persist or are intermittent, allergens may be responsible. People who have allergies are more likely to develop asthma and those who have asthma may be particularly sensitive to indoor allergens. Insufficient sleep, eating too many sugary holiday treats and getting overexcited can also trigger asthma attacks.

Knowing your triggers and limiting your exposure is one way to control winter allergies.

  • Christmas trees are often blamed for an onset of allergy symptoms. While some may be sensitive to the strong scent of pine, others will be sensitive to pollen and microscopic mold spores that may be present on the tree and released into the air. If you have the time and the space, hosing down the tree and letting it dry outdoors before bringing it inside may help to reduce allergens. For those with sensitivities, limit the amount of time a live tree stays indoors to less than two weeks, or perhaps consider an artificial tree.
  • Molds can be found indoors and out and are well known allergy triggers. Mold can hide in many indoor spaces, especially basements and bathrooms. Increasing ventilation in damp areas can help combat mold. If you store your holiday decorations in the basement, be sure they are stored in sealed containers and wash your hands thoroughly after moving any boxes. Firewood stored outdoors can also be mold contaminated, so wear gloves when bringing it inside and be aware that burning the wood indoors can trigger the release of airborne pollutants.
  • Dust mites, microscopic allergy-inducing relatives of the spider, are known to live on mattresses, bedding, upholstered furniture, carpets and drapes. Stuffed animals can collect dust mites too, but they can be limited by placing unwashable favorites in a plastic bag and putting the bag in the freezer for a few hours each week. It’s unlikely that dust mites can be entirely eliminated but you can reduce their number by washing bedding in hot water once a week and, if you live in cold climates, you can leave non-washable bedding outside overnight to kill dust mites. Frequent vacuuming with a cleaner that has a HEPA filter can help to trap allergens. Those who are super sensitive should consider wearing a mask while vacuuming to reduce exposure to dust, dust mites and mold spores. Better yet, when possible, have someone without sensitivities do it for you.
  • Animal dander can cause allergic reactions in people who have a reaction to the proteins found in dead skin cells that are shed by the animal. While we don’t want to leave our family pets out in the cold, there’s increased exposure to dander during winter months spent largely indoors. Bathing pets regularly often helps reduce allergens , as does keeping pets out of our bedrooms and especially our beds. Ideally, your pet should sleep in a less used area of the home.

Although not recognized as an allergen, sugar invokes an inflammatory response and suppresses the immune system, so be wary of too many indulgent holiday treats if you want to stay healthy this winter. In addition, insufficient sleep can compromise the immune system, leaving us more susceptible to viruses and infections. Studies show that our amounts of killer T cells go down and inflammatory cytokines go up when we are sleep deprived, leaving us more susceptible to the pathogens that cause colds and flu. Continuing on with a healthy lifestyle during the holidays and reducing exposure to your known triggers is the best way to combat indoor allergies, hopefully enabling you to feel well enough to enjoy those holiday parties!

Great product suggestions for seasonal allergies include:

Natural D-HistNatural D-Hist by Ortho Molecular – This very popular product provides natural relief of allergy discomfort with carefully selected nutrients. The formula contains anti-inflammatories, antioxidants and flavonoids, which help to manage histamine levels, support natural antioxidant activity and support sinus, nasal passage and respiratory health. Gluten, soy, corn, and yeast free.
D-Hist Jr.
D-Hist Jr. by Ortho Molecular, formulated especially for children, provides relief from seasonal allergy discomfort in an easy to take lemon-lime flavored chewable tablet. Gluten, soy and yeast free. No artificial colors or flavors.
Allergy Response
Allergy Response by Innate Response Formulas – This product supports healthy allergy and inflammatory responses and helps stabilize histamine release with vitamin C, quercetin and nettle leaf extract. Gluten, soy, dairy, sugar and corn free formula.


And for immune support and cold and flu symptom relief try:

Immune Support Packets
Immune Support Packets by Designs for Health – These individual packets provide antibacterial and antiviral support with a comprehensive arsenal of immune supportive herbs and nutrients, which aid in building a strong immune defense during cold and flu season.
Hevert Cold & Flu ReliefHevert Cold & Flu Relief by Hevert Pharmaceuticals – This product provides homeopathic support for the temporary relief of cold and flu symptoms. This formula will not cause drowsiness and contains no artificial ingredients. Formulated for adults and children over 6 years of age.
Comparative degree and type of sensitization to common indoor and outdoor allergens in subjects with allergic rhinitis and/or asthma. Online. ww.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9117881
Tips to Control Indoor Allergens: Online. http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=9&sub=18&cont=533
Allergy: Lifestyle Management. Online. Henry, Milgram, M.D. http://www.nationaljewish.org/healthinfo/conditions/allergy/lifestyle/holiday-tips/
Sleep and Immune Function. Online. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3256323/
Common Seasonal Allergy Triggers. Online. http://acaai.org/allergies/types/seasonal
Allergies, Asthma and Winter Holidays. Online. http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/asthma-library/allergies,-asthma-and-winter-holidays.aspx


Our Customer’s 10 Favorite Supplements

favoritesBy Jacquie Eubanks BSN, RN

At Professional Supplement Center, we care about our customers and their health and wellness.  Nothing makes us happier than to have our products receive high praise and 5 star ratings from our customers.  Many of our customers report positive results, relief of symptoms and in some cases, through supplementation and lifestyle changes, elimination of  medications. 

Ortho Biotic by Ortho Molecular –  Our customers have given this probiotic a 5 star rating for its effectiveness, ease of use and value.  Many have found relief from symptoms associated with  dysbiosis, IBS, and candidiasis.  This once daily capsule contains a Propriety Blend of 20 billion CFU’s for maximum results and does not require refrigeration, making it a very convenient take along product. 

OmegaGenics EPA-DHA 720 by Metagenics –  Our customers love the quality, purity and effectiveness of this highly concentrated product, which contains a healthy balance of omega-3 essential fatty acids obtained from cold water fish.  Produced in Norway in a pharmaceutical-licensed facility, this product supports brain, joint, heart and overall health. 

BioTears by BioSyntrx –  This highly effective product addresses the root cause and relieves symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome.  Recommended for effectiveness, our customers consider this product a must for a diagnosis of chronic dry eye.   

Cortisol Manager by Integrative Therapeutics –  Our customers report that this product is highly effective for stress reduction and effective sleep support.  This calming product addresses elevated cortisol levels and allows for a good night’s sleep while awaking refreshed and energized in the morning. 

Bio-D-Mulsion by Biotics ResearchThis liquid vitamin D3 is favorably rated by our customers as a very effective and easy to use product that is especially helpful for those with malabsorption issues. 

Meriva-SR Curcumin Phytosome by Thorne Research –  Our customer rated this product 5 stars for both effectiveness and value.  The potent antioxidant turmeric supports joint health, cardiovascular function and helps maintain a normal inflammatory response.  Our customers report relief from arthritic swelling and inflammation and are very satisfied with their results. 

Adaptocrine (k-2) by Apex Energetics –  Customers using this scientifically selected herbal adaptogen product report a noticeable increase in energy and endurance levels and more   balanced adrenal function.

Kavinace by NeuroScience –  Our customers highly recommend this product for those who have trouble relaxing and sleeping through the night.  This popular product promotes a restful night’s sleep, reduces anxiousness and supports healthy levels of GABA.

Natural D-Hist by Ortho Molecular –  Highly rated by our customers for sinus and seasonal allergy symptom relief.  This non-drowsy immune-balancing supplement supports sinus and nasal passage health naturally. 

Estrovera  by Metagenics –  This intensely researched and completely natural extract of rhubarb root has been clinically shown to dramatically reduce menopausal hot flashes and relieve other menopausal symptoms including irritability, sleep disturbances and exhaustion.  Highly recommended by our customers for effectiveness, ease of use and value.