Supplement Perspectives

Yes! There are Natural Options for Allergies

<p>Supplements can be made for those with dietary restrictions/allergies, but Mark Becker explains how they can be used in the treatment of allergies. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p>

Allergies are characterized by an overreaction of the human immune system to an unfamiliar protein or allergen that is either eaten, inhaled, injected or touched. This immune overreaction results in symptoms, including coughing, sneezing, scratchy eyes, runny nose, and irritated throat. In severe cases it can also result in rashes, hives, lower blood pressure, difficulty breathing, asthma attacks, and even death.

Allergy sufferers need to be aware that there are no cures. However, allergies can be managed with proper prevention and treatment. Allergies have a genetic component. If one parent has allergies of any type, chances are 1 in 3 that each of your children will have an allergy. If both parents have allergies, the odds go way up 7 in 10, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America reports. According to WebMD, 1 in 5 Americans have either allergy or asthma symptoms.  55 percent of the U.S. population tests positive for one or more allergens. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, allergy is the fifth leading chronic disease in the U.S. among all ages, and the third most common chronic disease among children under 18 years old.

These numbers clearly illustrate the need for consumers to manage and be proactive when it comes to allergy prevention and treatment. Remember, there are no cures for allergies. There is a genuine opportunity for suppliers as there are dietary supplements and even certain foods that can significantly help in the battle against allergies.

When formulating natural allergy solutions, manufacturers and suppliers should consider the following:

Butterburr: The extract of this Native American healing herb has been shown to reduce the activity of specific immune system components that contribute to the allergic response. Known as leukotrienes, these immune system compounds play a key role in producingand sustainingthe swelling, inflammation, and nasal passage stuffiness that characterize inhalant allergies. Butterburr has long been used to reduce inflammation. Studies indicate that butterburr reduces the symptoms of allergies with the effectiveness of various prescription antihistamines, but with fewer side effects.

Milk Thistle: This plant was used for thousands of years to treat a number of conditions. Scientists have investigated milk thistle extract (silymarin) and have discovered that it contains a handful of highly active compounds that offer a variety of health benefits. Among these is silybin, a potent antioxidant compound that may help reduce the production of proteins called immunoglobulins, which create the allergic response. Silymarin is known for helping the liver regenerate the natural antioxidant glutathione, increasing the livers ability to detoxify foreign chemicals.

Quercetin: This is a plant pigment found in many common herbs and foods. It is a very reliable anti-inflammatory compound. Quercetin helps with gut repair, boosts the immunity in mucus membranes, reduces reactivity to seasonal allergens, and can also help reduce food allergies. 

Foods:

Vitamin C-Rich Fruits: The scratching, hives, and other discomfort you feel during an allergic response can be blamed on histamine. Vitamin C indirectly inhibits inflammatory cells from releasing histamine. Studies indicate that high levels of vitamin C can reduce histamine. This helps break it break down faster providing allergy symptom relief. In addition to its histamine-fighting power, vitamin C fruits, such as oranges, strawberries, apples, and watermelon, also provide allergy relief by reducing inflammation. Vitamin C is an antioxidant which offsets the inflammatory effects of free radicals.

Cold-Water Fish: Cold-water fish, including salmon, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects that may help with allergic reactions. Walnuts and flaxseeds are also foods rich in omega-3s.

Grapes: Red grapes contain a mix of polyphenols, potent antioxidants that are believed to help inhibit inflammation in the airways. According to the journal Asthma, red grapes minimize allergy symptoms such as swollen sinuses or congestion.

Another promising natural solution for allergies are probiotics. These healthy bacteria keep your gut healthy, which, in turn keeps your immune system healthy. Your gut houses about 70 percent of your immune system. Probiotics can actually help train the immune system to fight against pollen, dust, and other environmental allergens.  Research even indicates that new-born infants with low levels of healthy bacteria are more apt to develop environmental allergies and eczema, while infants with healthy gut flora are less prone to seasonal, food and skin allergies. So, supplementing with probiotics should be an important part of prenatal care, especially if not breastfeeding. Nonetheless, taking probiotics as an adult can be a very effective way to help rebuild the immune system in the fight against allergies.   

Can formulators work with suppliers to develop natural solutions that truly work? So many fail. There is reason for optimism though. Well see.

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