Allergic reactions are among the most common afflictions
encountered in medical practice. It is estimated that one in
four people in the U.S. are allergic to one or more substances.
Allergens trigger a response that involves cells and messenger
molecules of the immune system. This activation of immune
responses can set up an “inflammatory situation” that causes
many different symptoms and signs.
Medications taken to control symptoms of allergies are
among the most widely used drugs. A substantial portion of
these popular drugs belongs to a group of compounds called
anti-histamines. Anti-histamines have a variable ability to treat
allergic responses, but their use is often associated with side
effects, especially drowsiness.
Histamine and other inflammatory chemicals involved in
the allergic reaction can travel through the body and cause
many changes in body function, such as contraction of muscles
20 Nutritional Support Pathways for the Natural Clinician
in air passages (asthma), increase in mucus production in the
nasal passages (rhinitis or sinusitis) and leaking of blood vessels
with accumulation of fluid in body tissues (swelling or edema).
One may understand that these changes in body function
manifest themselves in common medical disorders, such as hay
fever, runny nose, swollen red eyes, cough, sneezing and even
asthma. Some allergic reactions are more apparent by their
effects on digestive function (food allergies), whereas others
may be more obvious by their effects on the skin e.g. different
types of skin rashes.
There are extreme cases of allergies that cause violent
changes in body functions. These changes in severe allergic
reactions include fainting, drop of blood pressure, shock,
interruption of breathing, obstructive swelling in the mouth or
throat, and even suffocation. There are cases of death reported
on a regular basis from severe allergic reactions; and anyone
with more severe forms of allergies must not self-medicate.
If signs of severe allergies occur suddenly, individuals must
present themselves at an emergency medical facility to receive
intensive drug treatment or life support. People with a history
of anaphylaxis should avoid dietary supplements containing
herbs and any other potential allergen.
While an obvious approach to allergic responses is to avoid
the substances that cause them, there are frequent cases in
which allergy sufferers cannot easily identify the allergens that
are triggering adverse symptoms. Blood and skin testing helps
to identify allergens.
Natural approaches to allergy reduction (to support body
functions) include the use of homeopathy, external techniques
and an array of herbal or botanical agents.
Clinical Allergy™ is a synergistic combination of nutrients,
herbs or botanicals. There is variable scientific agreement
for these nutrients to support the opinion that they can be
used for nutritional support of body structures and functions
involved in mild allergic responses.
In brief, these substances include bioflavonoids (especially
quercetin), vitamin C and several botanical substances or
extracts. The herbs and botanicals that are nutritional support
in this context include: Picrorhiza kurroa, Astragalus, Devil’s
claw, Nettle, thyme, fennel, milk thistle and bitter orange.
There are some general principals that should be applied in
the nutritional support of balanced immune function. Vitamin
C may act as “a kind ofhistamine antagonist”. Vitamin C is a
powerful antioxidant that seems to stabilize white cells and it
may inhibit release of inflammatory substances such as histamine.
It is important to understand that the potential benefits
of vitamin C, in this context, are usually seen at higher dosages
of vitamin C, taken on a continuing basis.
Quercetin and other bioflavonoids exert “helper effects”
with vitamin C and result in stabilizing effects on cells that
release histamine (e.g. Mast cells). The absorption of quercetin
from the gut is sometimes poor and this commonly occurring
flavonoid is often taken with other mixed flavonoids.
A little known herb, with potential benefit in stabilizing
certain body functions is Picrorhiza kurroa. This herb is discussed
in Ayurvedic medicine to have the ability to interfere
with histamine release. These nutritional effects of Picrorhiza
have not been documented to the same degree as drugs that
are used to treat airway constrictions and no disease treatment
claims can be made. Asthma always requires drug treatment.
Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus; huang ch’i) is an
herb that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is
reported to balance immune function with effects of synergy.
Astragalus is quite popular with traditional Chinese herbalists
who use this herb in combination with many other botanicals,
because it is believed that it may promote the function of other
herbs that are taken that are taken for the same reason. Devil’s
Claw is mentioned as having specific value and it appears to have
anti-inflammatory actions (German E Commission, not always
accepted by U.S. regulators).
The natural substances bromelain (an enzyme from pineapples),
nettle leaves, milk thistle, thyme and fennel have all been
proposed as useful in balancing immune functions by a variety
of different mechanisms, including the provision of antioxidant
or detoxifying effects. Other valuable natural antioxidants
include grapeseed extract and Citrus aurantium (a source of
Clinical Allergy™ is a synergistic blend of natural substances
with a variety of different effects on body structures
and functions. This unique product contains bioflavonoids,
selected vitamins and specific botanicals with a precedent for
their use in relevant contexts. Anyone with clinically significant
allergies may be best managed by appropriate pharmaceutical
interventions. Do not manage asthma with supplements only.