Natural Relief from Seasonal Allergies

It is that time of the year.  Flowers are blooming, trees are pollinating, and folks with seasonal allergies are starting to feel the effects.  As of 2017, just less than a third of all Canadians have an allergy of some kind (pollen, food, medicines), with 20-25% of Canadians having seasonal allergies.  Most commonly, seasonal allergies will start when we are younger but they can affect folks of all ages.  Other people can develop them or see their allergies change in adulthood and as elders.

Seasonal allergies can be serious but are mostly a nuisance, leading to disrupted sleep, worsened productivity, and general fatigue.  Reactions to inhaled substances are some of the most common concerns Canadians have, whether seasonally or all year.  That’s right, allergies can occur when the seasons change or for some all year round.  Pollinating trees and flowers are predictable seasonal causes but so are fungal spores, seen more frequently here in our moist west coast climate.

Various factors can make us more susceptible to seasonal allergies.  Addressing these factors and providing symptom relief are what I consider, as a naturopathic doctor, when creating an individualized plan for someone. 

One factor are the foods we eat, which can make us more susceptible or even trigger a reaction.  Foods like milk and egg, wheat, even citrus and pork can be culprits.  Determining which foods may be a trigger for you is key to providing relief for your seasonal allergies.

On top of that, eating more fruits and vegetables generally can lower the risk of seasonal allergies.  This is because they contain various compounds, such as flavonoids and antioxidants, that can help modulate inflammation.  Various green leafy vegetables are best, bitter ones like arugula are even better.  Healthy omega 3 fats found in fish and algae also are anti-inflammatory.

A healthy gut microbiome and the use of probiotics is another factor that can reduce susceptibility to seasonal allergies.  This is because various strains of probiotics (good gut bacteria) can help balance immune cells that are involved in allergic reactions,

Acupuncture can also support relief from seasonal allergies.  We can improve allergy symptoms by using points to stimulate the body to balance the immune system and support the sinuses and lungs.

If you are looking for other options or for a comprehensive plan to tackle your seasonal allergies, naturopathic medicine can help.  Working together with you, naturopathic doctors have multiple tools to help you manage seasonal allergies.


Dr. Shawn Peters, ND is a naturopathic doctor practicing in downtown Courtenay.

Contact Dr. Peters for a free “meet the doctor” visit to see if naturopathic medicine is right for you.

Natural Therapies for Seasonal Allergies

Do the buds of spring signal trouble to you? If so, you may be among the 20% of the population who suffer from spring hayfever. Hayfever, known medically as seasonal allergic rhinitis is the most common allergic disorder in Canada. It is characterized by nasal congestion, sneezing, red, itchy eyes, nose or throat, tearing, fatigue and the dark bags under the eyes (known as allergic shiners). For people allergic to pollen, grass, and weeds spring and summer are a mixed blessing. But allergic rhinitis can occur at any time of the year for people allergic to dust mites, feathers, and animal dander. Mold and fungus allergies typically flare up in the fall when the molds grow rapidly in the cool moist air. Think mold allergies if you suffer from sinusitis at the time of year when mushrooms are popping up underfoot.

Allergies are a reflection of a disordered immune system perceiving harmless substances as foreign invaders. The symptoms the body produces are its convoluted attempt to protect itself. Parts of the immune system, mast cells and basophils, release histamine, which causes swelling and fluid discharges in the eyes, nose, and throat.

Conventional treatments target the symptoms of the condition and may provide temporary relief. The new class of anti-histamines, while producing far fewer routine side effects can have potential fatal side effects if combined with some other common drugs, including antidepressants and antibiotics. Steroid nasal sprays have local side effects including nasal irritation and bleeding and perforation of the nasal septum. So, what’s worse, the disease or the cure?

Many people are turning to natural medicines to help combat allergies. Extensive scientific research has helped us understand which herbal remedies and natural substances are most beneficial with the least side effects. Nature provides a medicine for spring hayfever in the form of stinging nettles. Ironically, the same plant that can cause a stinging rash if touched, can be transformed into an effective anti-histamine. Studies show that 60% of people find freeze dried nettles to be effective in relieving their symptoms, and 50% find it to be equally or more effective than the conventional drug counterparts.

Nettles not only rarely have side effects, they have many side benefits. They are one of the most nutritious, edible plants in our BC forest. Just make sure you steam them or dry them before eating!

Several other natural remedies have been proven to be effective against allergies. Bromelaine is an anti-inflammatory and mucous clearing agent. Quercetin has anti-histamine, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. N-acetylcysteine is an amino acid with few side effects and many side benefits that breaks down mucous, so it can be discharged more easily. Vitamin C is also helpful for allergies in a number of ways.

Naturopathic physicians are primary care physicians who often pay extra attention to diagnosing and treating allergic conditions. But they not only treat the allergy symptoms, with medicines such as those addressed above, they also help their patients to understand what may be the underlying cause of the allergies. What has caused the immune system to become so disordered that it mounts such a defense to such harmless invaders? What other stresses are impacting the immune system? What can be done to strengthen the immune system in the long run, to prevent or cure allergies? These are the deeper questions one must ask if one wants to get off the endless cycle of symptoms and short-term treatments.

Naturopathic physicians individualize an allergy treatment program for each patient. They educate their patients on how to use diet, herbs, vitamins and homeopathy in the safest and most effective manner. Allergy Desensitization can be achieved using a safe and effective homeopathic technique.

For more information contact Dr. Deidre Macdonald, naturopathic physician at (250) 897-0235 in Courtenay or via this website.