According to the American College of Asthma, Allergies, & Immunology, more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year. Between 1997 and 2007 food allergies in children increased as much as 18% (USCDC). Overall allergic responses to otherwise harmless environmental influences, from pollen to house dust and animal hair are also on the rise. Chronic conditions such as asthma are increasing as well.
Holistic Allergy Remedies Inspired by Hildegard
Why have allergies become more prevalent? What holistic allergy remedies are available?
Hildegard would look inward, to our disrupted immune systems. Though she could not know the extent of the relationship between gut health and immune health, her focus on healing foods for gut health and thus overall health, is the same path where modern researchers are increasingly found.
The real question stems from why our immune systems might be out of balance. Only after addressing the issue of what happens to the body through allergies can we address holistic allergy remedies to resolve the symptoms. Ultimately, we hope to treat allergies naturally, so we can resume our enjoyment of nature unfettered.
Far-reaching effects of gut health
Researchers are just beginning to link the various lifestyle and environmental changes that have occurred over the past few decades to the mysterious rise in allergies, asthma, and other auto-immune disorders. Interestingly, much of the research points toward the gut.
While most people think of the gut in terms of digestion, gut health is actually essential for proper immune function. If gut health is impaired, immunity is compromised. For many, the once the gut health has been compromised it never fully recovers, rendering them susceptible to a variety of chronic conditions, allergies included.
The gut hygiene hypothesis
In children, the sharp increase in food allergies and asthma is linked to what the medical community calls the Hygiene Hypothesis. Also known as the “Biome Depletion Theory”, it is the idea that the lack of early childhood exposure to infections agents, symbiotic microorganisms (e.g. “good” bacteria in the gut), and even parasites increases susceptibility to allergies and auto-immune diseases by suppressing the natural development of their immune system.
Clostrida gut bacteria
Studies are honing in on the gut, hinting that modern hygienic and dietary practices may play a role by disturbing the body’s natural bacterial composition. One such study focused on just one common strain of gut bacteria naturally present in the digestive system called Clostridia. While there are numerous strains of bacteria that have important symbiotic functions within our digestive system, this particular strain was remarkable in how it seems to induce immune responses that inhibit food allergens from entering the bloodstream. By inhibiting the mobility of allergens, clostridia prevent sensitization – a critical process in the development of allergies.
Like many similar studies on gut bacteria and immune response, the significance of an impaired gut biome is far reaching. Reporting on the findings of the study to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, lead researcher Cathryn Nagler, PhD, stated that, “Environmental stimuli such as antibiotic overuse, high fat diets, caesarean birth, removal of common pathogens and even formula feeding have affected the microbiota with which we’ve co-evolved…Our results suggest this could contribute to the increasing susceptibility to food allergies.”
Holistic Allergy Remedies: Get Dirty, Get Clean
So what can we do about allergies – our own and those of our children? How can we prevent them? There is no simple solution, but what little is known seems to support the hygiene theory. Further, the role of anti-bacterial agents in the home should be carefully weighed against potential downsides. Similarly, the use of antibiotics should also be carefully measured as well as balanced by incorporating a regimen of probiotic and prebiotic foods.
Finally, if you have young children the advice by many medical professionals in the field is to let them get a little bit dirty. A healthy young immune system needs to be exposed to a few bugs in order to grow into a healthy old immune system.
And what if the allergies are here to stay? We can go back to nature with Hildegard.
Hildegard’s Holistic Allergy Remedies
As with all of Hildegard’s remedies, we start with the concept of balance, particularly among our bodily juices. As is often emphasized in Hildegard of Bingen medicine, restoring balance to our intestinal flora by regenerating intestinal mucosa leads to a strengthened immune system, and limits the emergence of allergic reactions. Here’s how:
1. Minimize personal pollution
It is generally a good practice to limit exposure to contaminants in food, drinking water, clothing, and home furnishings (furniture, carpet) through a conscientious selection. This includes limiting exposure to smoke.
Avoid the need for unnecessary fragrances found in perfumes, room sprays, and toiletries. In addition, avoid aggressive detergents, especially in sprays, because they can aggrevate an already sensitive respiratory system. Some can even induce asthma.
Consciously paying attention to the ingredients found in personal care products and household cleaners reveals a staggering number of synthetic fragrances and aggressive chemical substances confronting our immune systems every day. The market is slow to respond, but there is a growing number of labels utilizing more natural components in their products.
2. Detoxify your body
Heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and palladium (from dental fillings), as well as other inescapable environmental toxins can tax our body’s natural detoxification organs, the liver and kidneys.
Due to our increasing exposure to toxins, our bodies fail to sufficiently neutralize these foreign agents. Thus, they remain in our bodies, leaving our immune systems overloaded with the stress of containing and eliminating these foreign substances.
It’s up to us to support our bodies in the process of recovery and cleansing. Despite the overwhelming exposure, our bodies are quite robust and recovery can be easier than you think. We recommend simple measures for implementation into everyday life. In spite of their ease, these tools are extremely effective, and serve to recharge our organs and relieve our immune systems.
Algae, the green Detoxifier
Supplement your health regimen with ancient microalgae, such as chlorella and spirulina. They have the ability to bind heavy metals and other toxins, so that they can be more easily excreted through the intestines.
These species of microalgae (chlorella and spirulina) contain vitalizing “power substances”, such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and vital fatty acids. Not only do they relieve the immune system, but they provide our bodies with micro nutrients utilized to strengthen and regenerate our organs and vital systems.
As for holistic allergy remedies, the positive effect of spirulina algae on the immune system was scientifically established in 2008, where the ingestion of the algae led subjects to a significant relief of hay fever symptoms.
Green Vegetables Detoxify
As with green algae, all green plants contain chlorophyll. A natural cleaning agent, chlorophyll generally promotes the discharge of toxins. Whether you choose spinach, chard, lettuce or arugula, your body will always thank you. Green vegetables should be on the menu as often as possible.
If you do not have fresh green vegetables on hand, we recommend the use of natural supplement drinks from barley grass or wheat grass. They can be exceptionally effective as whole food supplements and are incredibly nutrient-dense.
With Hildegard, there is no shortage of herbal treatments. Some have proven themselves particularly useful in naturopathy over the centuries for stimulating detoxification activity. These herbs include dandelion, nettle, coriander, and milk thistle.
Detoxification of oral mucosa: Oil extraction
Oil extraction is a traditional method of detoxification that derives from Ayurvedic medicine. It is easy to perform, inexpensive and surprisingly effective.
Take a tablespoon of cold-pressed organic oil (e.g. sesame or sunflower) in the morning and leave it in your mouth for 10 to 15 minutes, moving it around, pulling it through your teeth. Afterwards, spit out the frothy liquid oil, rinse your mouth several times with water and clean your teeth thoroughly. Repeat this procedure in the evening before bedtime.
3. Support your liver
The liver is our most important detoxification organ. Pay special attention to it in your efforts to detoxify.
In order to relieve and activate the liver, try bitter substances, such as fresh pressed dandelion root juice and artichoke. These have been established in traditional German medicine to stimulate regeneration of liver cells, and create resistance to toxins. Also consider the benefits of milk thistle.
Turmeric for the liver and respiratory tract
Turmeric, a traditional spice ranks among the most effective foods to maintain and restore a healthy liver. The most active constituent of turmeric, curcumin protects the liver through its powerful antioxidant & anti-inflammatory properties. At the same time turmeric helps intercept free radicals and thus protects against oxidative stress. As a result, it works as an anti-allergic and anti-asthmatic.
You can use turmeric generously as a spice, however it generally demonstrates low bioavailability, so it makes sense to take turmeric in capsule form. Add capsules to piperin (an extract of black pepper), to improve the bioavailability of turmeric.
4. Bring your gut in order
No Hildegard remedy is complete without addressing gut health. Hildegard would concur that you cannot strengthen the immune system without a healthy gut. A deficient gut fails the body in retaining and utilizing the important nutrients and vital substances found in our food. In addition, an unhealthy gut allows harmful waste materials to remain for too long.
Weak intestines directly affect the immune system. Therefore, the first and most important measure for the restoration of intestinal health should be a cleansing cure.
A cleanse liberates the intestines from mucus, old feces, and other harmful deposits, creating a healthy environment wherein the immune system can regenerate. Health-promoting bacteria and flora thrive in purified intestines, allowing them to multiply and counteract “bad” bacteria.
Step 1: First ‘clean up’
To clean the intestines, one needs a preparation that dissolves old deposits found on the intestinal walls, and releases residue quickly via stool. Psyllium and Bentonite are among the most effective preparations to address these issues.
Psyllium powder (finely ground psyllium husk) binds large amounts of liquid, which supports an exponential swelling capacity. With its increased volume, psyllium acts to literally “sweep” the intestine through its passage along the digestive tract, freeing you of deposits and toxins.
Bentonite is a mineral earth substance of volcanic origin, which has an enormous binding capacity. It absorbs the deposits, toxins, and heavy metals dissolved by the psyllium so that they can eventually be eliminated via the intestine.
Step 2: Enhance Intestinal flora
There are several solutions to promote the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria, such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, to bring the intestinal flora back into equilibrium. You can ingest the “good” intestinal bacteria indirectly with fermented foods, such as sauerkraut. This approach, however, is most effective using raw fermented foods. You can also ingest intestinal bacteria directly in the form of probiotics. They contain viable micro-organisms in capsules and are also available as liquid concentrates.
In contrast to probiotics, there are no living bacteria contained in a prebiotics. Instead, prebiotics provide the “fodder” for the health-promoting intestinal bacteria so that they can multiply rapidly. The key to prebiotics is in their fiber, specifically the prebiotic inulin.
For an excellent solution in reconstructing intestinal flora, consider a combination of a probiotics, containing lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, along with a diet rich in prebiotic foods.
5. Neutralize the acid in your Body via alkaline nutrition
Allergies are accompanied by acidity in the body. Without consideration for acidity, no amount of detoxification and colon cleansing will achieve long-term success against allergies. There are many factors involved in the acidity of the body, but an unhealthy diet is one of the main culprits.
Our modern, carbohydrate-rich diet of sugar and flour, accompanied by animal proteins and milk (products), along with a high proportion of processed foods, leads the body straight down the path of acidification.
Consider adjusting your diet with surplus alkaline. Don’t be afraid! There’s no need to worry about sacrificing taste or food quality. On the contrary, you will feel as comfortable as ever. And, you will simultaneously realize the following benefits.
These foods are highly alkaline: avocado, broccoli, cabbage, celery, cucumber, endive, garlic, kale, parsley, sprouts, spinach.
A diet consisting of surplus alkaline (base) has the following effects.
- Supplies your body with all nutrients and vital substances;
- Decreases chronic inflammation caused by allergies;
- Promotes the development of a healthy intestinal flora and displaces undesirable germs,
- Strengthens the immune system, restoring a balanced state.
6. Limit your inflammation
The symptoms of allergies result from inflammation to the skin and mucous membranes. Other related conditions, such as leaky gut syndrome also derive from inflammation. Anti-inflammatory agents and antioxidants found in age-old plant treatments serve as holistic allergy remedies to resolve these conditions.
Herbal Inflammation Inhibitors
There are several herbal treatments considered effective against allergies. But, please bear in mind the use of certain anti-inflammatory plants or strong antioxidants only succeed in treating a portion of the interrelated symptoms.
In order to achieve a truly convincing and lasting result, attempt to integrate these recommendations into an overall holistic approach. The most important of these concepts includes developing surplus alkaline (base) nutrition in support of colon cleansing and subsequent restoration of intestinal flora.
Some plant-varieties that help treat allergies:
Black Cumin Oil in any type of allergy
Black Cumin Oil, also known as black seed oil, or black caraway oil, has proven itself in the treatment of allergic conditions, because it acts as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It strengthens the immune system, relieves the bronchial muscles in allergic asthma, and offers anti-bacterial properties for viruses and fungi.
Butterbur against hay fever
Butterbur has proven itself among effective holistic allergy remedies, particularly for the respiratory tract. This works well for hay fever. Tests in the EU show Butterbur extract effective when compared with conventional antihistamines, but without their negative side effects.
Note: Do not use Butterbur as a tea because the root contains liver-damaging pyrrolizidine alkaloids. These alkaloids have been removed from supplement versions found in capsules.
Other Helpful herbs
The following medicinal plants have been proven as effective holistic allergy remedies.
- Malabar Nut (Adhatoda Vasica): Anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory, relieves the bronchi, is effective against hay fever and allergic cough (e.g. best found in prepackaged homeopathic preparations)
- Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis): Relieves hay fever and allergic conjunctivitis. Drink 3 times a day a cup of tea from the eyes of solace herb
- Hyssop (Hyssopus offcinalis): Hyssop also acts against hay fever. Drink a cup of hyssop tea 3 times a day, but not during pregnancy
- Nettle (Urtica urens): Can alleviate some acute allergic symptoms. If necessary, drink a cup of nettle tea.