Good health and a strong immune system are our most precious possessions in warding off allergic reactions that are plaguing an ever larger percentage of the world’s population. While some allergic responses are little more than a nuisance, others affect the entire body and can develop, if untreated, into more serious problems as we age.
Research indicates that blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, arthritis and other degenerative diseases can develop as a result of untreated allergies. Our immune system is our first line of defense against substances that would otherwise harm us. The cells of the immune system communicate with each other, while acting in concert with the endocrine and nervous system to maintain body homeostasis. The immune system is so intricate and complex that many of its functions are still not fully understood. How an organism triggers, regulates, completes or stops an immune response remains under intense study.
Nutritional Support System
Building a nutritional support program for allergies is a complex matter because our immune system is so complex. However, there are nutritional supplements (vitamins and minerals, enzymes, phytonutrients and herbs) which show promise in building and strengthening the whole body and, specifically, the immune system.
Some of the most noted are:
Quercetin (a non-citrus flavonoid)
Quercetin is an organosulfur flavonoid phytonutrient that gives the taste to onions. Quercetin also shows up in tea and red wine, but onions are its richest common food source. This phytonutrient has been making the news recently due to its powerful antioxidant and flavonoid content. Flavonoids appear to function as biological response modifiers. In other words, flavonoids appear to modify the body’s reaction to compounds such as allergens, viruses and carcinogens. Flavonoids have been shown to contain anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-viral and anti-cancer properties. Current research suggests that flavonoids may be useful in the support of many health conditions such as allergies. The flavonoid quercetin has a strong affinity for mast cells and basophils. It seems to stabilize their cell membranes, thus preventing them from spilling histamine. It also has been shown to have the power to inhibit two enzymes that regulate the release of leukotrienes, which are implicated in asthmatic-type reactions.
Green Tea (Camillia/Thea sinensis)
Tea is one of the most ancient and, next to water, the most commonly consumed beverage in the world. From the time that tea was introduced to the west in 1610, the green varieties have been touted as health elixirs. There is a difference between black tea and green tea, even though they originate from the same leaf. Black tea undergoes a fermenting process, wherein most of its polyphenols are lost. Green tea is not fermented and, thus, retains its polyphenols. Polyphenols are phytonutrients that are receiving much scientific study and are believed to be responsible for the antioxidant activity of green tea. Polyphenols are flavonoids that give tea its tart flavor. Catechin, epicatechin, epicatechin gallate, epigallocatechin gallate and proanthrocyanidins are some of the polyphenols found in green tea. Polyphenols, like other antioxidants, ward off the everyday cellular attacks that cause the body to deteriorate and develop numerous symptoms of disease. Recent scientific research documents the health benefits of the polyphenols in green tea.
Selenium is an important mineral needed in low quantities. It is often deficient in foods due to selenium deficient soils plus modern refining and processing. It acts as an antioxidant, protecting cell membranes and stimulating immune function. Studies show that it increases B-cell antibody response and is essential for protein synthesis and antibody formation. It enhances the function of vitamin C and is essential to the production of Coenzyme Q10. When combined with quercitin, selenium can help reduce inflammatory responses.
Pineapple (Bromelain) and Papaya (Papain)
A number of phytonutrients are provided by tropical fruits. Each fruit is known for its unique taste and particular nutrient value. Pineapples contain a digestive enzyme, bromelain, said to be a protein digesting enzyme. Bromelain is also said to have a mild anti-inflammatory action in the body. It also assists and aids in the digestion of vegetable protein in the gastrointestinal tract. Papaya is best known as a digestive aid. It contains the enzyme papain, also a proteolytic enzyme effective in breaking down protein and dead tissue.
Licorice Extract and Glycyrrhizin Activity (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Glycyrrhizin is a sapon-like glycoside found in licorice root and licorice root extract. It is sometimes used therapeutically to treat gastric ulcers and inflammation of the skin and has been studied for its antiallergic, antiarthritic, anticholinergic, anti-estrogenic, antihepatotoxic and anti-leukemogenic properties. In Chinese medicine, licorice is said to replenish vital energy, moisten the lungs, strengthen the digestion and modulate the effects of other herbs. Herbalists often suggest licorice teas to help heal gastric ulcers.
Copper plays a role in the immune system. It is, in fact, an essential component of Superoxide Dismutase (SOD), an antioxidant made by the body to combat free radical damage to the mitochondria (energy-producing portion of the cell). Without copper, the liver is unable to degrade estrogen. It is crucial to the formation of helper Tcells.
This essential mineral is required in extremely small amounts for nitrogen metabolism. It promotes normal cell function and is a component in the metabolic enzyme xanthine oxidase. This mineral enhances the use of sulfur amino acids by the body. Sulfur is critical to immune system function, to antioxidant activity and to detoxification pathways. It is the component of enzymes that detoxifies sulfites and aldehydes and enhances the cells utilization of vitamin C.
Chelated Magnesium and Calcium
Magnesium and calcium are the earth’s alkali minerals. However, they play different roles in the body. Magnesium is considered the anti-stress mineral because it acts as a natural tranquilizer, relaxing the smooth muscles of the body, particularly the gastrointestinal muscles. It may also help reduce the broncho-constrictor in asthma by relaxing the muscles around the bronchial tubes.
Some other important functions of magnesium include:
- Regulates the body’s acid/alkaline (pH) balance. Buffers the acidic stage of an allergic reaction along with calcium
- A deficiency causes mast cells to increase histamine secretion.
- It is required in many of the body’s detoxification pathways.
- It aids in the production of antibodies
- It helps the body metabolize essential fatty acids into prostaglandins, which regulate many body functions.
Calcium, also an alkaline mineral, helps to regulate the body’s acid/alkaline pH balance in tissues. It discourages the cell uptake of toxic metals such as lead, cadmium and mercury.
Other functions include
- It is excellent for the proper function of magnesium and phosphorus.
- It acts as a catalyst in some enzyme synthesis.
- It acts with magnesium as a natural tranquilizer.
- It reduces histamine production
- It is essential for bone and teeth
- It helps balance the high phosphorus level found in soda pops, diet pops, meats, eggs and processed foods such as lunch meats and cheese spreads.
Vitamin B15 (Dimethyl-glycine)
Research from the former Soviet Union indicates that this nutrient can help lessen muscle fatigue and increase endurance. Dimethyl-glycine combines with gluconic acid in the body to form pangamic acid.
Continuing research on vitamin C, an important antioxidant, is revealing its ability to stimulate the immune system. Vitamin C may activate neutrophils, the most prevalent white blood cells that work on the frontline defense. It also seems to increase production of lymphocytes, the white cells important to antibody production, and in coordinating the cellular immune functions. It has been shown to decrease the production of histamine, thereby reducing immediate allergy potential.
Other functions include:
- It helps to relieve allergic symptoms and prevent inflammatory reactions.
- It provides an antihistamine-like effect (without the side effects of antihistamines).
- It assists in the production of several adrenal hormones needed to combat the stress imposed by allergic reactions
The herbs Stinging Nettle, Mullein, Wild Yarrow, Licorice and Dandelion Root have been shown to help lessen the inflammatory response to allergens and support the overworked adrenal glands during excessive defense reactions. They are also known to be useful for hay fever, eczema, itchy eyes, sneezing, hives, sinus and respiratory reaction.
Nutritional Support Program for Allergies
The following nutritional supplements are recommended for those who desire to practice prevention, as well as those who are experiencing symptoms that are affecting their lifestyle.
1. Nutritional Support Factors for Allergies. It is important to take a product that has been specifically designed to provide the Nutritional Support Factors (phytonutrients, herbs, vitamins, enzymes and minerals) for allergies. This product should include ingredients such as quercetin, green tea extract, selenium, digestive enzymes, licorice extract, copper, molybdenum and minerals.
Recommendation: Buy these products at your local health food store or try Dr. Bo’s® Aller Control™ all-in-one formula. (See label for dosage)http://www.drbo.com/aller-control Best used with Dr. Bo’s Aller Aid
2. Liquid Herbal Tinctures are also an easy and popular way to receive wild and organic herbs that have been shown to be beneficial for allergies and other respiratory issues. The best natural herbs for support of allergies are Stinging Nettles, Mullein, Licorice and Dandelion Root. You can buy these individually or in combination at your natural health pharmacy or try Dr. Bo’s® Aller Aid™ all-in-one tincture of all of these herbs. (See label for dosage). http://www.drbo.com/aller-aid. Best if used with Dr. Bo’s Aller Control
3. Essential Fatty Acids/Gla. Be sure that you take an essential fatty acid/GLA supplement on a daily basis. EFAs aid in prostaglandin synthesis. Prostaglandins regulate immunity, cell recognition and inflammation. EFAs help suppress the formation of leukotrienes, which are 1000 times more inflammatory than histamines.
Recommendations: Buy these products at your local health food store or try Dr. Bo’s® Daily EFA™ (See label for dosage). http://www.drbo.com/daily-efa
4. Vitamin C is one of the most important, protective biochemical substances in all life processes. Obtaining adequate amounts of vitamin C on a daily basis from food is difficult. Supplementing this vital nutrient is a must, particularly for those who suffer from symptoms of allergies.
Recommendation: Buy these products at your local health food store or try Dr. Bo’s® C-Max™. Begin with one 500 mg. tablet of C-Max. Continue to increase until you are taking 2,000 to 3,000 milligrams each day (4-6 tablets). It is difficult to recommend an exact amount of vitamin C, as the amount will vary for each person.http://www.drbo.com/c-max
5. A Probiotic Complex (usually referred to as Lactobacillus Acidophilus with other cultures). The human body is a walking ecosystem. We are “home” to trillions of beneficial microorganisms that live in our digestive tract. These beneficial, or Probiotic microorganisms, help us digest foods, create vitamins (such as B12 and K), and inhibit the growth of disease-promoting pathogenic bacteria.
Other important functions are:
- Production of enzymes such as proteases, which help digest proteins, and lipases to digest fat.
- Help alleviate lactose intolerance.
- Help alleviate dermatitis and other skin disorders by modifying and improving gastrointestinal microbial balance.
Recommendations: Buy these products at your local health food store or try Dr. Bo’s® Super Pro™. Begin by taking one capsule with each meal or within 20 minutes following a meal. In some cases, where lots of antibiotics have been used, supplement with two capsules per meal for a minimum of 14 days.http://www.drbo.com/super-pro and http://www.drbo.com/kids-probiotics
To Your Good Health,
About the Author:
Dr. Bo Wagner holds a Doctor of Natural Medicine, a Doctor of Naturopathy, a Ph.D. & Diplomate in Clinical Nutrition, is Board Certified in Integrative Medicine, a Fellow of the American Association of Integrative Medicine and a former Dean of Internal Wellness & Professor of Functional Medicine and currently serves as an Adjunct Faculty member at the University of Natural Medicine. Visit: www.drbo.com for more information and resources, and connect with Dr. Bo on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Information contained in this bulletin is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. In all cases, it is recommended that you consult with your healthcare professional before initiating a supplement program.