I suffer from hay fever or pollen allergies. Is there anything I can take or do that will help me?

Section: ask the doctor
— Mary S., Rome, New York

Allergies are a function of an overresponsive immune system. So, to alleviate your allergies, you have to calm your immune system down.

All inhalant-type allergies actually have their cause in food allergies. Many times, when I tell patients this, they shake their heads and say, "I don't have food allergies." But in reality they do — they've just learned to live with them.

That's why I recommend that you go on an elimination diet as follows:

Avoid eating chicken, turkey, lamb, halibut and mackerel.
Use milk substitutes such as rice milk — but avoid soymilk.
Breads made from rice, buckwheat, millet, tapioca or potato flour are OK, but avoid wheat and corn-based breads.
Unrefined oils are fine, but avoid margarines, shortening, peanut oil, and the refined oils found in salad dressings and spreads.
Avoid citrus, soy products, dairy, coffee, chocolate, peanuts, dried fruit, sweetened fruit drinks, alcohol, red meats and cold cuts.
Olives, vegetables, legumes, potatoes, rice, unsweetened fruits and gluten-free products are allowed.
Follow these recommendations for 2 weeks, then reintroduce these foods to your diet one or two at a time. Note your reactions, which may include fatigue, diarrhea or a return of your hay fever symptoms.

Once you've tuned up your diet, you can take advantage of natural medicine to get your desired results. Begin by taking thymus extract, which is useful in restoring immune function in people suffering from hay fever. Follow the manufacturer's directions. Quercetin is a flavonoid derived from a water-soluble plant pigment. It acts as an antihistamine and anti-inflammatory. Take 500 milligrams (mg) three times per day. Nettle contains polysaccharides and lectins, which modulate the immune system. I like it as an oil extraction in a gel cap, taken according to the label directions.

There are homeopathic companies that make what arc called nosodes for specific regions of the United States and Canada. These nosodes contain localized pollens that are made into homeopathic dilutions. These dilutions allow the immune system to know what it's dealing with without activating its inflammatory cascade.

Finally, there are Chinese herbs used to treat hay fever. Magnolia flower, licorice, ginger, peony root and Schisandra have been used for hundreds of years. One exciting product is the herb Luo Han Kuo, or LHK, which benefits the lungs and is now available for the first time in health food stores.

Dr. Ervolino is happy to answer your health questions. Email him at askdre@adelphia.net.

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By Frank Ervolino, ND

Frank Ervolino, ND, lives in Palm City, Florida. He received his doctorate of naturopathic medicine and a master's of science degree in acupuncture from Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington.

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