Are natural remedies effective? Can they be successfully used to complement other allergy & asthma treatments to help improve symptoms?
Some natural therapies may help to manage symptoms of allergy and asthma. For example-emotional stress can cause an asthma attack and some natural relaxation remedies like deep abdominal breathing and progressive muscle relaxation can help relieve stress. In addition, it is also thought that herbs and other natural dietary supplements can be used as complementary treatments for allergy & asthma. However, because there has been limited research on complementary and alternative treatments for allergy and asthma, the effectiveness and safety is often unknown.
Quercetin shows promise as a natural treatment for seasonal allergies. It is an antioxidant found naturally in black tea and several foods. In laboratory research, quercetin appears to fight inflammation and is found to act as a natural antihistamine, by slowing the release of histamines, a type of chemical released by the immune system during exposure to allergens, which are known to trigger allergy symptoms like itching, sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes. One study found that mice placed on a quercetin-enriched diet had a decrease in inflammatory chemicals linked to allergic diseases. However, since the evidence, so far, for quercetin's allergy -fighting effects comes from animal research and test-tube studies, it's too soon to tell whether quercetin can successfully treat seasonal allergies in humans. Still, increasing your intake of quercetin-rich foods (such as citrus fruits, apples, onions, and teas) may help enhance your overall health by providing a range of antioxidant nutrients. Unless you are allergic to it, Bromelain, when combined with quercetin, appears to make quercetin more effective. Bromelain, a mixture of enzymes found naturally in pineapples, seems to increase the intestine's absorption of quercetin. However, if you are allergic to pineapple, wheat, celery, papain, carrot, fennel, Cypress pollen, or grass pollen, you might have an allergic reaction to bromelain. Bromelain can increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using bromelain at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Nettle (Urtica dioica), also known as "stinging nettle", is an herbal remedy derived from the leaves or root of the stinging nettle bush. A number of studies show that nettle may help manage allergies and ease symptoms like sneezing, nasal congestion, and itching. In one study published in 2009, scientists discovered that nettle may help treat allergies by reducing inflammation. Although nettle is generally considered safe, it may trigger side effects such as stomach upset, skin irritation, sweating, and skin rash. Since nettle can interact with
certain drugs, it's important to consult your physician if you're currently taking antiplatelet, anticoagulants, blood pressure edicine,
diuretics, diabetes medication, and/or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Recently one of our Nurse Practitioners attended the annual symposium of the Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Foundation of Northern California (AAIF) which was held in San Francisco. Here are a few highlights of what is new in Allergy & Asthma:
It is an exciting time in the treatment of allergy and asthma. Several effective treatment options are becoming available, including multiple biologic therapies. These medications are monoclonal antibodies that target specific pathways in the immune response. They can be very effective, particularly in patients who have not responded well to traditional allergy and asthma therapies. The current therapies on the market for certain patients with asthma include: Xolair (a once or twice a month injection), Nucala (a once a month injection), and Cinqair (a once a month IV infusion). There are simple blood tests that can help determine if you are a candidate for these medication options, and your healthcare provider can review your history and help to determine if these medications should be considered. For patients with chronic hives (of unknown origin), Xolair is also available for treatment as a once a month injection. Most recently, Dupixent has been approved to treat adults with Moderate to Severe Atopic Dermatitis, and these injections can be administered at home twice a month in appropriate patients. Other therapies are undergoing clinical trials (including phase III trials for Dupixent in the pediatric population with atopic dermatitis (eczema)), and more therapeutic options and indications are expected in the coming years.
If you have asthma, hives, or atopic dermatitis (eczema) that has not been well controlled on your current medication regimen, you should discuss with your provider whether you should consider any of these treatment options. While biologic therapies may not be right for everyone, for many, they can make a significant improvement in their symptoms and quality of life.