April 27 2012
Renegade Rows are a great full body core workout. This intense exercise can be adjusted for beginner and the advanced. In this video Dr. Fred Roberto of Maximized Living demonstrates with weights - choose weight that is appropriate
Renegade Rows are a great full body core workout. This intense exercise can be adjusted for beginner and the advanced. In this video Dr. Fred Roberto of Maximized Living demonstrates with weights - choose weight that is appropriate
photo courtesy of iStockphoto / Thinkstock
Eating healthy is not always as easy as it may seem. Many foods that are pitched to us as “healthy” are anything but. As you look to improve your eating habits, be on the lookout for these Top 5 “Often Disguised As Healthy, But Harmful” Foods:
5. Frozen Yogurt – Some frozen yogurts can be okay, but you must look very closely at the ingredients list. Most of the tasty yogurts promoted as healthy alternatives to ice cream are pumped full of sugar or even aspartame and high fructose corn syrup.
4. Multi Grain Breads – When deciding to move away from white bread to a more healthy option, beware that multi-grain is not always healthier. That’s because multi-grain products try to pretend they are whole grain products. Whole grain can be good for you in moderation if you are not gluten sensitive. It contains every part of the grain that provides health benefits – the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. Whole grains can be a good source of dietary fiber. Multi-grains, on the other hand, are refined, meaning they have been milled. This refining process removes the bran, which is the part of the grain that is healthiest. In some cases, multi-grain bread is little different from white bread.
3. Vitamin Drinks and Diet Drinks – TV commercials encourage us to replenish our electrolytes by purchasing vitamin drinks or to quench our thirst by choosing diet sodas as a lighter option, but the truth is these are just sales gimmicks. Popular vitamin drinks actually contain loads of sugar and some even contain caffeine. One popular producer of vitamin drinks has even been sued for trying to deceive consumers with their health claims. Even the diet sodas that claim to have eliminated sugar have only substituted toxic chemicals that may be even worse for you. Aspartame, a popular sugar substitute in many diet sodas, has been linked to brain tumors, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease.
2. Low Fat Fakers – We often see food labels touting “low fat” or “reduced fat,” but even when these labels are true, they can be deceptive. Read the label carefully. Oftentimes, low fat “diet foods”are high in sugar, making them counterproductive for weight loss. Also, keep in mind there are good fats and bad fats. Good fats, like in some oils, avocado and nuts, are part of a healthy diet.
1. Soy Substitutes – While organic soy can be healthy, conventional soy like in many soy burgers or soy milk may increase the risk for thyroid problems, breast cancer, and brain damage. Conventional and processed soy contains anti-nutrients that can interfere with the digestion of protein, hemagglutinin, which can clot your blood, and goitrogens that can damage thyroid functions. Soy is also packed with compounds called isoflavones that can mimic human estrogen and cause such complications as infertility, altered menstrual cycles, and even increased risk for breast cancer.
Perhaps you noticed the theme here: many food makers are taking advantage of your desire to make healthy food choices by selling you “healthy” food options that are actually no better than the junk you are trying to abandon. To protect yourself, always read the labels and learn to separate facts from jargon.
Sensory Processing Disorder affects on average 1 in 20 children. 1 in 6 children have sensory challenges present in their every day lives. 1 in 100 children are diagnosed with Autism.
Children learn through their sensory systems. Everything they see, smell, taste, and touch is taken into their brain. Every movement of their body is registered. Neurosensory integration is the ability of the brain and body to take in, process, organize and integrate sensory information so we can feel safe and secure in our environment. This allows us to respond appropriately to situations and requests so proper social and academic learning can occur. The integration of the sensory systems beings when the baby is developing in the womb and the first year of life is a critical time for brain pathways to develop.
When a baby is born, they are pre-programed with primitive reflexes, which are automatic reactions to a specific stimuli. For example, have you ever stroked a baby's cheek and noticed that they automatically turn their head and open their mouth? This is an example of a primitive reflex that helps them learn to eat. These reflexes protect them from harm and help them learn how to live outside the womb. These reflexes should disappear after a few months as higher brain functioning takes over.
For some kids these reflexes do not disappear completely, meaning the child retains the primitive reflex and higher brain functioning does not take over as it should. Why this happens in one child and not another is still unknown, however many theories exist.
Symptoms of a retained reflex depend on which of the many reflexes still exist. Some common symptoms are:
Many children with these traits are labeled with Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Dr. West offers a unique neurodevelopmental program in her office that combines chiropractic care with neurointegrative exercises and nutritional counseling. Dr. West is a board certified Pediatric Chiropractor who has advanced education working with the specific needs of these fantastic kids!
Each child is evaluated for subtle misalignments in their spine and pelvis. These misalignments can be created in utero, through the birth process or as the result of physical trauma. Physical trauma can happen as they are learning to walk or ride a bike and take a few falls. As they play in sports or on the playground. The brain and body need to be in constant communication through the nervous system, which is supported by the skull and spine. A misalignment in the spine can slow this communication creating an immaturely functioning nervous system. The sensory information that comes into the body and the commands down from the brain will be delayed. The chiropractic adjustment helps to stimulate the nervous system and remove blockages in this flow of information.
Numerous studies have shown that kids with neurodevelopmental disorders have chronic gut inflammation. This inflammation can contribute to picky eaters, repeated illnesses and behavior problems. Dr. West works to help correct the source of the gut problem, not just covering the symptoms. Through specific dietary changes and supplements it is possible to heal the intestines, leading to happier and healthier children.
Neurointegrative exercises help to restore the brain-body connection. Each child has their own exercise program developed specifically for their needs. The program works to integrate any retained primitive reflexes, while helping the child develop their sensory skills.
If you think your child may benefit from our program please call us at the office today!
by Dr. Jessica Caruso – Prenatal and Family Chiropractor
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder resulting from the brain’s inability to integrate everyday sensory information received from the five senses: touch, vision, sound, smell, and taste.(1)
The five senses mentioned above are commonly known. However, there are 2 other senses, rarely known but extremely important: vestibular and proprioceptive systems.
The vestibular system is physiologically located in the cerebellum (base of brain), upper cervical spine (top of neck) and inner ear. The vestibular system is responsible for regulating all incoming sensory information and is considered the most important sensory system. The proprioceptive system is located throughout the spine and joints of the body. Disruption of this system may lead to problems with learning, motor skills, behavior, and social / emotional development. (1)
It is estimated that 1 in 20 children suffers from SPD. Children with SPD are often misdiagnosed as having ADD, ADHD, or other neurodevelopmental disorders. This misdiagnosis may be due to the fact that SPD often co-exists with ADD, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, OCD, anxiety disorder, traumatic brain injury, and learning disabilities. These children are usually misunderstood and labeled as aggressive, clumsy, inattentive, or difficult. (1)
Some signs your child may have SPD:
Touch: they may avoid or crave touch, get irritated by certain clothing (ex: tags, sock seams) and food textures (1)
Smell: may be susceptible to allergies, may need to excessively smell toys, items, people (1)
Taste: “picky eaters”, exhibit pica (eating non-edible items like chalk, crayons, dirt, etc.) (1)
Vision: difficulty going down stairs, poor hand-eye coordination, eye discomfort when required to perform visual work like reading, frequent headaches and stomach upset after school, may need to read out loud to keep place (1)
Auditory: may be upset with loud or unexpected noises, hum and sing to screen out unwanted noises, bothered by clock ticking, refrigerator humming, air conditioner on, cover ears a lot, speak loudly (1)
Proprioception: may need physical contact with another person, may exhibit hysteria over washing hair, pulling shirts over head, difficulty falling asleep, sleep walking, and are clumsy (1)
Chiropractic care is an essential treatment for these children. Properly functioning vestibular and proprioceptive sensory systems are key components in developing and maintaining a healthy sensory processing system. Because these two sensory systems are largely located in the spine, it is extremely important to remove any spinal misalignments with a chiropractic adjustment that may be causing nerve interference.
Family wellness chiropractors are also well versed in proper nutrition. It is important to avoid certain foods and add certain foods into the diet for treatment of SPD. Refined sugar, food preservatives, and food colorings should be avoided. Omega-3 fatty acids found in cold water fish (wild caught) such as salmon, tuna, and trout, and dark green leafy vegetables and flaxseed oil are considered good “brain food.” Dairy-free and gluten-free diets may also be helpful for these children (1). Keeping a food journal and reviewing it with your family chiropractor is advised.
Exercising your child’s brain is highly recommended. Today children spend more time in car seats, walkers, and other places that restrict movement and impair neurodevelopment. As children get older they are spending more time in front of a computer, playing video games, or texting, and not enough time running, jumping, skipping, climbing, swinging and crawling. Activities that involve using both sides of the body are necessary for proper development (1).
Other things to consider:
Finding a chiropractor familiar with Paul E. Dennison, Ph.D. and Gail E. Dennison’s work is recommended.
To find a family wellness chiropractor near you visit www.icpa4kids.com
(1) Pathways to Family Wellness, Issue 19; What is Sensory Processing Disorder?, Monika Buerger, D.C.
(2) Brain Gym® Exercises, About.com, Kenneth Beare
By Claudia Anrig, DC
For doctors of chiropractic who serve the challenged child segment, it is not uncommon to hear, "Doctor, can chiropractic help my child with ADHD?" In my personal practice, I have seen many children helped with these disorders, and I have spoken to colleagues worldwide who shared their personal success stories. However, in all honesty, these success stories do not necessarily mean we can produce repeatable "breakthrough" results.
Over the years, I have never seen any specific technique, system of chiropractic analysis, protocol of care or adjunctive therapy (e.g., exercise, nutrition) to treat such challenging disorders. Now, however, the wait finally may be over. Monika Buerger, DC, and Robert J. Melillo, DC, DABCN, each have established timely, instructional programs for those seeking to serve these challenged pediatric population groups.
Dr. Buerger has been in private family practice for 15 years, specializing in sensory integration disorders in children. In her experience, she has found that many children who are diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, dyslexia, and various other autism spectrum disorders and learning disorders have an underlying problem with sensory integration dysfunction (SID). She notes that many of these children are being prescribed unnecessary medications and/or are not receiving proper treatment.
Sensory integration is the ability to take in, process, organize and assimilate sensory information so that we feel comfortable and secure; we then can respond appropriately to given situations and demands. All forms of learning occur through this process. Children with sensory SID experience a "disconnect" between the brain and the body (PNS and CNS) and have difficulty processing sensory information. Two rarely known senses are vestibular and proprioceptive sensations, both of which commonly function improperly among children with the above disorders.
Several years ago, Dr. Buerger became interested in this area and began extensive research, attending various seminars and workshops. Most sensory integration work has been performed in the occupational therapy arena; however, knowing the great impact chiropractic plays on the occulomotor, vestibular and proprioceptive systems, not to mention the entire nervous system, she knew the chiropractic profession needed to be a vital component in the treatment of these children. The more she researched and began to work in this field, it seemed to her that the neurological basis for SID was written for the chiropractic profession. Armed with a DC degree and a bachelor's degree in exercise physiology from California State University, Fresno, she began developing a program in her office for children with ADD and ADHD. As the children's success became known in her community, this area of her practice grew and began to include a variety of children with learning disorders. She also began to develop programs for local elementary schools.
Dr. Buerger is on the postgraduate faculty of several chiropractic college and is an instructor with the ICPA. She is also a contributing author to Pediatric Chiropractic. She shares a mission to teach doctors vital information regarding the treatment of children. As part of this mission, she developed a sensory integration program for the doctor of chiropractic, integrating the neurological principles of SID and those of chiropractic. The program in now offered through the ICPA and teaches how to perform a specific and detailed history, including what she calls a sensory and academic profile (SAP), a detailed neurological and sensory analysis and evaluation, specific short-lever adjustment protocols, home, school, and recreational recommendations, nutritional and biochemical considerations, and specific sensory exercise programs that are "graduated" in difficulty as children progress.
The program also discusses ways to implement a sensory integration program into your practice at any level, depending on how much space you have in your office, how much time you want to spend with patients, and how much you want to invest financially. The program is designed to give the doctor of chiropractic a firm understanding of the fundamental principles of neurosensory disorders and how they relate to children with ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, autism spectrum disorders, and various other learning and behavioral disorders. Its neurological basis gives the doctor of chiropractic a solid understanding as to why these children need chiropractic and its value as part of a drug-free treatment approach.
At the University of Bridgeport College of Chiropractic, Dr. Robert J. Melillo has been working with children in the area of neurobehavioral disorders like ADHD, dyslexia, learning disabilities, and autism for more than 10 years. He started to research the problem in 1995; at that time, the statistics showed a 250 percent increase in the use of Ritalin between 1990 and 1995. With these disturbing facts in mind, Dr. Melillo chose to devote much of his professional career toward trying to understand not only what causes ADHD and other neurobehavioral disorders, but also what can be done to correct these problems on a long-term basis, without the use of medication.
In 2004, Dr. Melillo published a textbook titled Neurobehavioral Disorders of Childhood - An Evolutionary Perspective, which describes what he believes to be the primary neurophysiologic mechanism that produces many of the most common neurobehavioral disorders. Applying this neurophysiologic mechanism to chiropractic, he focuses on three main areas: sensory/motor systems, biomechanical/nutritional, and neuropsychological, with the main concept revolving around hemispheric balance. His belief is that most of the symptoms seen in children with ADHD can best be explained by decreased activity in one hemisphere in the brain, often caused by an imbalance in the way that postural, vestibular and occulomotor information is being sent to the brain. As a result, one hemisphere is underactive, preventing the proper synchronization of the two hemispheres, which is necessary to properly share and process information.
From a chiropractic standpoint, an imbalance in postural muscle tone producing an observable subluxation complex may result in more gross postural disturbances, such as head tilts, which also could have central neurological consequences affecting and involving cognitive and behavioral functions.
Dr. Melillo recognizes that each child is different and should therefore be treated specifically; however, he has made his courses and treatment approaches more protocol-driven throughout the years for teaching purposes. He has developed specific protocols that involve not only precise adjustments, but also particular nutritional-, sensory-, motor- and cognitive-based protocols as well. The key, as he sees it, is to get the doctors to start seeing results, and protocols are the best means to that end.
A graduate education in neurology is not necessary for chiropractors wishing to take either of these new programs. The courses provide the chiropractor with all of the information necessary to treat children with ADHD and to help them feel comfortable interacting with other professionals such as teachers, occupational therapists, psychologists, and optometrists who also treat these children. To learn more about these programs, contact Monika Buerger, DC, at www.icpa4kids.com or Robert Melillo, DC, DABCN, atwww.carrickinstitute.org.
It's music to my ears and a symphony to my soul. Nurses may finally be coming around and grasping the gravity of how vaccines are damaging our bodies. A study in Vaccine shows that nurses trust in health authorities and vaccination is at an all time low following the H1N1 flu pandemic that was ultimately proven to be a hoax.
The 2009 H1N1 pandemic fraud perpetrated by health authorities worldwide seems to have backfired on those orchestrating the plot. Instead of reinforcing the "claimed" effectiveness of vaccination, it only created more doubt even within conventional medical practitioners themselves.
The study in Vaccine titled "What lied behind the low rates of vaccinations among nurses who treat infants?" is evidence of a growing resistance to vaccinating infants in the developed world.
What is unfortunate is that many of these nurses refuse the vaccinations themselves, yet proceed to administer these poisons to infants to protect their employment. That is quite cowardly, contradictory and at the very least shameful, not only as a health practitioner, but as a human being.
The aim of the study was to identify the barriers and reasons why nurses did not vaccinate themselves against pertussis despite the fact that the pertussis vaccine is the vaccine these nurses administer to infants every day. Two major and two minor themes were identified based on qualitative methods as described in the literature.
Lack of Trust in Health Authorities
The majority of nurses in all focus groups expressed, to varying
degrees, lack of trust in the health authorities regarding their
recommendation to be vaccinated. This was related to the recent
"...there was a drastic change in trust..."
"...I feel a real crisis in trust due to the swine flu affair."
The general mistrust generated during the A/H1N1 pandemic
was directed to the pertussis vaccine when they were asked to
Treatment of Nurses By The Employer
The nurses expressed their frustration with the administration
and complained of the treatment they received from the administration
that had no respect for them as individuals.
Some of the comments were related to the pertussis vaccine
"They should treat us like human beings."
"...we are not soldiers..."
Most of the comments were related to the influenza vaccine:
"...we were threatened, we got multiple emails asking who got
vaccinated and if not why not..."
The Right For Autonomy
The nurses expressed strong feelings against the Ministry of Health's (MOH's) recommendation for Health Care Workers (HCW's) to be vaccinated. They do not want to be told what to do and want to make the decision themselves.
"One nurse in the hospital got pertussis, and infected someoneor
not- don't know. So then 'wham' all the nurses have
to get immunized, so no one got immunized and they are
right!...what are we?- in Soviet Russia?...on principle I am not
getting vaccinated this year."
"...if I want to, I will get the vaccine, I am a grownup, I am
responsible, if I want I will get vaccinated, it will not help whatever
he says (the MD)."
Within this conflict between self and profession they wanted to
be given the opportunity to decide for themselves if to get vaccinated.
They knew they had to work by "the book" regarding the
infants they treat. However, they do not accept the recommendations
blindly for themselves.
"...the line runs between me giving vaccines and receiving vaccines,
I can personally be against vaccinations but am not against
the national policy regarding vaccines, whoever wants can get
"I don't want anybody to make me get immunized, I do not want
to, even if it is mandatory, even if it is pertussis, I don't want to
Mistrust of Health Information
Many nurses felt the information they received was not adequate and did not answer their needs. They felt the information they received did not help them counsel families or make decisions regarding their vaccinations. This was in the context of their mistrust in the MOH.
"With the swine flu there was a lot of disinformation at the
beginning, there was a lot of confusion at the beginning."
"...you can't brain wash us, they expect us to forget what they
said three months ago or a year ago and start again, part of what
we did was not so good, now we do something else... .you can
do that at work but not in my private life, I can't..."
Being a Role Model
Most nurses did not see themselves as role models and did
not think they should reveal their personal behaviors or beliefs to
patients who ask them about themselves. However, a few nurses
found their decision not to be immunized problematic and debates
between nurses started in all focus groups.
"What I do as a person and my beliefs are not relevant at all as
Fear of Side Effects
The nurses reported on their experiences of side effects of vaccines.
They felt that the risk of contracting the diseases and the severity were not worth the risk of being injected with a vaccine that was not in use long enough to know what the side effects were. This was directed towards both influenza and pertussis vaccines, and they felt the authorities were using them as guinea pigs.
The Tides are Turning And The Vaccination Game Will End
I have no doubt that we will see the end of vaccinations one day and it will be exposed for the barbaric practice that it is, especially on infants and children.
The antivaccinationist ideals the nurses expressed are an indication of the resistance within medical circles. Emotions and attitudes such as fear of the vaccines and mistrust in the health authorities and leading factors in lower compliance rates.
These attitudes and emotions may influence their actions toward other vaccines in the future. Eventually physicians and medical students themselves will begin to question vaccine wisdom. The house of cards is crumbling and the vaccination hoax health authorities have promoted to the population is being exposed.
If you still believe in vaccination to prevent disease, I promise that one day you won't!
Dave Mihalovic is a Naturopathic Doctor who specializes in vaccine research, cancer prevention and a natural approach to treatment.
This allergy season could be worse than those of past years in the U.S., heavy snow and rain in many places, followed by a sudden shift to warm weather, have led to a profusion of tree pollen and mold.
A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows a link between warming temperatures and a longer ragweed pollen season. According to researchers led by Lewis Ziska of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the ragweed season is now 27 days longer in the northernmost areas of North America, largely because winter starts later and ends earlier, extending the time for pollen-bearing plants to thrive. It's not the first piece of research to make the claim that global warming will worsen allergies, but it's the most detailed and it's peer-reviewed.
In general, allergy seasons have been getting longer and more challenging, although pollen counts and allergy attacks vary widely from region to region.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
If you're a seasonal allergy sufferer, you know that few things can drain the joy out of summertime like the misery of red, itchy eyes, continuous sneezing and post-nasal drip. Airborne pollen is the most common cause of seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis. Allergies can mean more than general misery for asthma sufferers, whose bouts can be much worse during allergy season—even life-threatening, in some cases. Allergy-driven asthma affects 10 million Americans, rates that havedoubled since 1980.
I will discuss this in greater detail below, but there is a technique called provocation neutralization (PN) that offers many allergy sufferers permanent relief with virtually no side effects. The success rate for this approach to treating allergies is about 80 to 90 percent, and you can receive the treatment at home.
Pollen from trees, weeds and grasses are the primary culprits behind seasonal allergies. Spring allergies are typically from tree pollen, whereas summer allergies usually come from grasses, and then weed pollens dominate the airways during late summer and fall. Without allergy testing, it's nearly impossible to determine which offenders are causing your wheezes and sneezes, but the time and season may give you some clues. If you've noticed your allergies seem to be getting worse lately, you're not the only one.
There are now a number of studies linking changes in climate with increasingly long and severe allergy seasons. In fact, springtime is arriving 10 to 14 days earlier than it did 20 years ago, which results in higher pollen levels for longer periods of time. A new USDA study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Health Sciences confirms that hay fever season is becoming more intense and lasting longer. How do altered weather patterns contribute to allergies?
Clifford Bassett, MD, medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York sheds some light on this by using the example of ragweed, a very common allergen. Under normal circumstances, a single ragweed plant produces 1 million pollen grains. However, a CO2-rich environment boosts that number to 3 to 4 million grains. And ragweed is only ONE of the weed species making you miserable—there are many others that scientists expect to become "supercharged" by Earth's warming climate.
But here is something you probably don't associate with allergies: thunderstorms.
Stanley Fineman, MD (president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology) reports that quite a few studies have linked thunderstorms to a greater incidence of asthma-related hospitalizations. The phenomenon even has a name—it's called "thunderstorm asthma," and physicians believe it has something to do with all the pollen and dust that thunderstorms stir up. Thunderstorms appear to be increasing in both frequency and severity. These trends are not likely to reverse themselves anytime soon, so it's time to arm yourself with some effective allergy fighters if you are one of the 60 million Americans afflicted.
Allergies are your body's reaction to allergens (particles your body considers foreign), a sign that your immune system is working overtime. The first time your body encounters an allergen, your plasma cells release IgE (immunoglobulin E), an antibody specific to that allergen. IgE attaches to the surface of your mast cells. Mast cells are found in great numbers in your surface tissues (i.e., those with close proximity to the external environment, such as in your skin and in the mucous membranes of your nose), where they help mediate inflammatory responses.
Mast cells release a number of important chemical mediators, one of which is histamine.
So, the second time your body encounters a particular allergen, within a few minutes the mast cells become activated and release a powerful cocktail of histamine, leukotrienes, and prostaglandins, which trigger the entire cascade of symptoms you associate with allergies: sneezing, runny nose, sore throat, hacky cough, itchy eyes, etc. Histamine can cause your airways to constrict, like with asthma, or cause blood vessels to become more permeable, leading to fluid leakage or hives.
Leukotrienes cause hypersecretion of mucus, which you commonly experience as a runny nose or increased phlegm.
Pollen is an extremely common mast cell activator, but other agents can trigger these processes as well. Mold spores, dust, airborne contaminants, dust mites, pet dander, cockroaches, environmental chemicals, cleaning products, personal care products and foods can all cause allergic reactions. Every person is different in what he or she reacts to. And, just because you haven't reacted to something in the past doesn't mean you won't react to it in the future—you can become sensitized at any point in time.
The good news is, many people "outgrow" their seasonal allergies by the time they reach the age of 60 to 70, when their immune systems become less reactive.
Besides pollen, household chemicals such as triclosan and bisphenol-A (BPA) can aggravate or even cause allergies. Scientists from the University of Michigan recently found that people who commonly used triclosan products were more likely to suffer from allergies or hay fever. This is why it is NOT a good idea to use antibacterial soap—which leads us right into one of the theories about why allergies have become such a problem today.
Could your meticulous housekeeping be making you and your family's allergies worse? Proponents of the Hygiene Hypothesiswould say, "Yes!" Experts estimate that many allergies and immune-system diseases have doubled, tripled or even quadrupled in the last few decades. Some studies indicate more than half of the U.S. population now has at least one allergy.
Many researchers suspect the increase in immune-related diseases is rooted in our preoccupation with germ-free, dirt-free environments. As society in general becomes more "sterile," our immune systems have become increasingly unable to differentiate between real threats and harmless things like pollen and dust-bunnies. Meanwhile, you're exposed to antibiotics and pasteurized foods, which contain none of the bad or good bacteria that were once part of everyday life and helped stimulate robust immune function.
Children don't play outside in the dirt like they used to, so are not being afforded the opportunity to develop healthy immune responses, and allergies and autoimmune diseases are the result. Numerous studies have provided very compelling evidence that your body actually benefits from regular exposure to dirt. Add to this the predominant junk food diet of the West, and you have a real recipe for a wimpy, confused immune system.
Allergies may be far more predominant than is widely appreciated, and they may even underlie many common diseases.
Doris Rapp, MD, a pediatric allergist and environmental medical specialist, believes there's a good chance that allergies of all sorts are to blame for the majority of unexplained illnesses. You could be allergic to just about anything, and it could be causing a dizzying array of symptoms that you might not even suspect are related. So, what can be done to ease your allergy angst? It turns out—quite a lot!
Addressing allergies takes a multi-faceted approach that involves optimizing your diet and avoiding potential triggers. Typically, people anticipating the misery of allergy season arm themselves with a variety of antihistamine pills, nose sprays and eye drops. But these drug treatments come with their own set of side effects, and relief is short lived. And it's been my experience that conventional allergy testing, whether done through the blood or skin, works for only 20 to 30 percent of patients. It is also quite inconvenient, as you need to go to the doctor's office every week for months or years, and it can take several years to be effective.
Provocation neutralization (PN) allergy testing and treatment offers many allergy sufferers permanent relief without adverse side effects. The success rate for this approach is about 80 to 90 percent, and you can receive the treatment at home.
Provocation refers to "provoking a change" and neutralization refers to "neutralizing the reaction caused by provocation." During provocation-neutralization, a small amount of allergen is injected under your skin to produce a small bump called a "wheal" on the top layers of your skin, and then it is monitored for a reaction. If you have a positive reaction, such as fatigue, headache, or a growth in the size of the wheal, then the allergen is neutralized with diluted injections or with drops that go in your mouth of the same allergen. If you are interested in pursuing PN, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has a list of physicians and offices that are trained in this technique.
About one-third of seasonal allergy sufferers have something called "oral allergy syndrome," in which your immune system is triggered by proteins in some foods that are molecularly similar to pollen. Your immune system looks at the protein molecule and says, "Close enough!" and attacks it. If you are allergic to ragweed, for example, you may have cross-sensitivity to melons, bananas, tomatoes, zucchini, sunflower seeds, dandelions, chamomile, and echinacea. If you have a grass allergy, you may also react to peaches, celery, tomatoes, melons and oranges.
Besides avoiding foods that may trigger your allergy, there are a number of foods that can be helpful for calming down allergy symptoms.
Consider the following:
- Omega-3 fatty acids: According to Mother Earth News, a German study published in the journal Allergy found people who have diets rich in of omega-3 fatty acids suffer from fewer allergy symptoms. A second study in Sweden found that children who regularly ate fish prior to age one had much lower allergies by age four. My favorite sources of omega-3 fatty acids are grass fed meat and eggs, and krill oil. (Fish has become too contaminated to rely on as a staple.)
- Probiotics: In a 2008 study, researchers discovered that people who took probiotics throughout allergy season had lower levels of an antibody that triggered allergy symptoms. They also had higher levels of a different antibody (IgG), thought to play a protective role against allergic reactions. Other researchers found evidence that giving probiotics to newborns and mothers-to-be may help prevent childhood allergies.
- Vitamin D: Insufficient vitamin D levels have been linked to more severe asthma and allergies in children. Vitamin D has also been found to reduce allergic responses to mold.
- Hot peppers: Hot chili peppers, horseradish, and hot mustards work as natural decongestants. In fact, a nasal spray containing capsaicin (derived from hot peppers) significantly reduced nasal allergy symptoms in a 2009 study.
- Locally produced honey: Many believe that consuming locally produced honey, which contains pollen spores picked up by the bees from your local plants, can act as a natural “allergy vaccine.” By introducing a small amount of allergen into your system (from eating the honey), your immune system is activated and over time can build up your natural immunity against it. Just be careful to consume honey moderately as it’s high in fructose.
Below are several other foods and herbs you might want to try:
- Quercetin: Quercetin is an antioxidant that belongs to a class of water-soluble plant substances called flavonoids. Although research is sketchy, many believe quercetin-rich foods (such as apples, berries, red grapes, red onions, capers and black tea) prevent histamine release—so they are “natural antihistamines.” Quercetin is also available in supplement form—a typical dose for hay fever is between 200 and 400 mg per day.
- Butterbur (Petasites hybridus): Another natural antihistamine, this herb has been used since ancient times to treat a variety of conditions, including migraines. In a German study, 40 percent of patients taking butterbur root extract were able to reduce their intake of traditional asthma medications. A British study found butterbur as effective as the drug Zyrtec.
A word of caution is needed, however. Butterbur is a member of the ragweed family, so if you are allergic to ragweed, marigold, daisy, or chrysanthemum, you should not use butterbur. Also, the RAW herb should not be used because it contains substances called pyrrolizidine alkaloids that can be toxic to the liver and kidneys and may cause cancer. Commercial butterbur products have had a lot of these alkaloids removed.
- Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica): Another natural antihistamine, stinging nettle has a long history of use for seasonal allergies, without the drowsiness and dry mouth associated with many pharmacological antihistamines. Nettle inhibits your body’s ability to produce histamines. The recommended dose is about 300 mg freeze-dried nettle extract daily.
- Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis): Goldenseal may be helpful for seasonal allergies. Laboratory studies suggest that berberine, the active ingredient in goldenseal, has antibacterial and immune-enhancing properties.
- Eucalyptus oil: This pure essential oil can be healing to mucus membranes. You can apply a drop on a cotton ball and sniff it several times a day, add a few drops to water (or to a nebulizer, if you own one) for a steam treatment, or use a few drops in your bathwater.
Refer to this University of Maryland article for a more complete discussion of common herbal allergy treatments.
Another simple, inexpensive and very beneficial practice you can do at home is flushing out your nasal passages with a neti pot. A neti pot is a small vessel with a spout you insert into your nose that can be used to gently irrigate your nose and sinuses with a salt-water solution. (For more on this method, please refer to this previous article.) You may want to also consider the purchase of an air purifier. Air purification will result in lower levels of allergens circulating around your home or office.
One of the best things you can do to reduce your allergy symptoms naturally is exercise. In a 12-year long German study, sedentary children had more than twice the rates of hay fever as active children. If you have seasonal allergies, you will also benefit from clearing out some of your "energy meridians" with an energy technique such as acupuncture or EFT.
In one study published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine, acupuncture reportedly reduced allergy symptoms in ALL 26 participants. In a second study, just two acupuncture treatments totally eliminated symptoms in more than half of the participants. Even simpler is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which is my favorite energy technique because you can do it by yourself at home, and it's easy to learn. EFT is "acupuncture without the needles."
Lastly, remember to keep your vehicle and building windows closed on high-pollen days, especially in the mornings before 10 am when pollen levels are normally highest. Similarly, avoid using window fans when pollen levels are high. Pollen levels are also worse on dry and/or windy days. If you must do yard work, wearing a mask might be helpful. If you enjoy hanging clothing or sheets outside to dry, you may want to avoid this during allergy season as spores and pollen can cling to fabric and end up right next to your body, triggering symptoms.
- Avoid chlorinated pools and hot tubs if you have allergies or asthma. Swimming in chlorinated pools has been shown to increase respiratory problems and allergies.
- Want to clean your air ducts? Don’t bother. One study showed that no significant allergens accumulate in air ducts, so cleaning them is a waste of money. Instead, put the money toward a good air purifier.
- You might want to back off on cell phone use if your allergies are raging. A study out of Bastyr University found cell phones might actually worsen allergy symptoms. The study, published in Archives of Allergy and Immunology, found that one hour of continuous cell phone use exacerbates allergic responses to dust and pollen. Although the findings are preliminary, they suggest that microwave radiation may somehow make allergic responses worse.
Hopefully, I have given you a number of ideas to try that you might not have known about. It is always best to employ natural measures before harsh drugs, and fortunately, natural allergy treatments work quite well. If you find a "magic combination," please don't hesitate to share your pearls of wisdom by posting a comment below!
- Rodale.com February 23, 2011
- Curr Allergy Asthma Rep September 2009
- MSNBC May 5, 2011
- Rodale December 2010
- American Academy of Environmental Medicine
- USA Today March 29, 2011
- WebMD October 2009
- University of Maryland Medical Center
- The Weather Channel PollenCast
- Bastyr Center for Natural Health
- International Archives of Allergy and Immunology 2002
- Allergy August 2006
- Altern Med Rev March 2004
- Mother Earth News August/September 2006