Whether you call them hay fever, cedar fever, or another name, spring allergies are upon us. As certain plants begin to produce pollen, allergy sufferers’ immune cells overproduce histamine, one of the compounds responsible for the body’s inflammatory effect. This can lead to runny nose, sneezing, difficulty breathing, and other allergy symptoms.
This month, we consulted with Dr. Paul Tsui, a doctor of naturopathy from Round Rock, Texas. He has practiced in this region for over 17 years and helps hundreds of allergy sufferers by using only natural herbs and supplements.
When allergies start to become severe, most people resort to either OTC or prescription medication. Is that a good idea? Will these drugs really help your body to overcome the real causes of allergies?
Dr. Tsui: As an allergy and asthma suffer myself and a past user of prescription meds (over 25 years of oral, nasal, and inhalers), I have experienced many of the side effects of allergy medications firsthand. I would say that they did work to temporarily relieve symptoms, but they never worked in the long term. I think everyone should ask this simple question: Have the allergy meds you’ve taken over the years improved your body’s natural ability to fight allergens and reduce your dependency on the meds? Or are you seeing exactly the opposite effect of increased dependency on the meds (in dosage and added meds) over the years?
That’s the exact question I asked myself in 1996, after 25 years of the meds-only approach. After personal evaluation, I took action with the help of my wife to do something about it. We found alternative approaches that were able to help me with short-term relief. More importantly, however, I developed long-term immune normalization to achieve the medication-free situation I have had for the past 17 years. I breathe freely using herbs and other alternative means today, and I am free from depending on medications.
Since medication only serves to temporarily hide your symptoms, what makes natural allergy remedies different?
Dr. Tsui: First of all, I want to say that allergy and asthma are serious health conditions. One should always begin by seeking medical diagnosis and advice. That’s what I did. Having said that, the natural approach to allergies is different and has no intent to harm your body. Natural products don’t produce many, if any, side effects. Instead, they tend to work with your body much more harmoniously than medications. The holistic approach works to strengthen your body and yourself as an individual, instead of treating your symptom(s) alone. We will look at your diet, nutritional habits, and elimination systems that a medical doctor might not consider to be critically relevant to seasonal pollen allergies.
Do you recommend any behavioral or environmental changes that should also be made?
Dr. Tsui: Absolutely. The intent of the natural approach is to accomplish long-term homeostasis in your body’s internal environment and thereby to achieve true health. All factors that may play a role in affecting the allergic reactions should be considered. This includes the external factors, such as environment or behavior, as you mentioned. An environmental improvement could be as simple of as purifying your home’s air quality and removing some of the toxic house-cleaning chemicals from your kitchen. A common-sense thing to do during the allergy season is to minimize your intake of mucus-forming foods such as white flour, simple carbs, sugar, soda, dairy products, fried foods, and red meat (even better if you consider eliminating them altogether). You may replace them with pH balancing foods such as green vegetables, raw cruciferous vegetables, fruits high in antioxidants, and alkalized water, to name a few.