PART II – Allergy Season (The Immune System)
Immunity and reducing inflammation
The immune system is known to protect the body against invading agents such as bacteria, viruses and allergens. In the case of allergies, the immune system mistakenly considers allergens to be an invading agent, thereby triggering an attack by antibody Immunoglobulin E (IgE), resulting in the body releasing chemicals known as histamine (an inflammatory chemical).1
It is important to support the immune system to help minimise the inflammatory response associated with the immune reaction and help minimise the severity of the symptoms associated with seasonal allergies.
Some natural anti-histamines and immune supporting herbs and supplements, which may be beneficial in supporting the immune system through an allergic response are;
Vitamin C – Is a naturally occurring antioxidant which has multifactorial benefits to our health. It plays a significant role in growth and repair of our tissues, it supports adrenal function in times of stress and supports healthy gums. It is also an important vitamin which assists in the absorption of iron.
Although Vitamin C is found in many fruits, we often require higher doses than what is naturally available in our food. It is not naturally produced by the body, so supplementing with the required amounts is necessary to support a healthy immune system.
Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin, meaning it is excreted via the urinary system shortly after being ingested.
Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) – is a herb known for its, anti-catarrhal, astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. It has traditionally been used to help relieve and reduce Upper respiratory secretions and catarrh. It may help alleviate; nasal catarrh, such as chronic sneezing, sinusitis and hayfever.2 The active component of Eyebright that contribute to its anti-catarrhal and anti-oxidant properties is a glycoside called aucubin. 2
Golden Seal (Hydrastis Canadensis) – the active nutrient, berberine, found in Golden Seal offers antibacterial and immune-enhancing properties. Golden seal’s anti-catarrhal and astringent action works to expel mucous congestion and heal irritated mucus membranes.
The key active component of Golden Seal, Berberine, is what gives this magnificent herb its, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory action. Traditionally Golden seal has been known to restore the integrity and soothe the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract,2 and is therefore lovingly referred to as the, ‘King of the mucous membranes’.
Zinc- helps support the immune system and strengthen the mucous membranes. Zinc lozenges may help soothe inflamed mucous membrane.
- Better Health Aug 2015 http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Allergies
- Mills, S. and Bone, K. (2000). Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy. London: Harcourt Publishers Limited. pp. 374-376, pp. 286-295.