Allergies and Naturopathic Treatment with a Focus on Modulating Cytokines
With the start of allergy season, many patients are interested in alternatives to the daily routine of popping an over-the-counter antihistamine. Generally, patients have had to try a variety of types of these antihistamines to find one that works well for their symptoms. Some have gone the route of using intra-nasal steroids as a way to control allergic rhinitis. These patients end up in the office usually because of a disdain for the daily use of a synthetic drug, and are interested in natural alternatives.
There are definitely natural alternatives that have similar mechanisms of action as the over-the-counter drugs. For example, quercetin has been widely used because of its known action in stabilization of the mast cell membrane, and subsequently lessens the release of histamine.1 This effect of quercetin can be enhanced by the use of a variety of herbal teas, including the commonly used herbs chamomile, saffron, anise, fennel, caraway, licorice, cardomom and black seed.2 Often times, I have found in clinical practice that the use of quercetin alone is usually insufficient. The addition of high doses of oral vitamin C can be used to enhance its effectiveness; most of my allergic patients benefit from bowel tolerance doses of vitamin c.
The first part of my approach to difficult allergic patients is to ascertain whether or not food sensitivities may be promoting the allergic phenotype. I choose foods to evaluate first because of the control the patient has in choosing his or her exposure – for example it is much easier for the patient to avoid casein as opposed to staying away from environmental allergens such as grass. The identification and elimination of food sensitivies helps many of my patients with their environmental and seasonal allergies.
The second component of my treatment program involves detoxification of organic and heavy metal toxins. While I recommend a combination of intense exercise to promote sweating, usually a compromise is made whereby alternating hot and cold showers (similar to constitutional hydrotherapy) is done. Provoked testing for an increased body burden of toxic metals is done using oral DMSA, oral DMPS, and IV CaEDTA.
My third branch of treatment for allergic patients is the one that I have found most useful in the majority of patients. This involves the use of the oxidative therapies. Particularly, ultraviolet blood irradiation, ozone therapy by major autohemotherapy, and occasionally intravenous hydrogen peroxide according to the International Oxidative Medicine Association guidelines are the therapies that are most useful.