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Natural Medicine for Seasonal Allergies

Springtime = Allergy Season

Ah, Spring! We welcome the pleasant weather, the scent of new blossoms, and open our windows to the rush of fresh air. Along with that, we invite in pollen, grass, mold, and spores. For those who are allergic, our bodies launch a major immune response designed to flush out the offensive agents. This can result in illnesses such as allergic rhinitis (hay fever) which is common for all age groups in the United States. Each year, over 50 million Americans suffer from allergies, the sixth leading cause of chronic illness with an annual cost in excess of $18 billion. This does not include the 24 million Americans who have allergic asthma.

When does Allergy Season Begin?

Depending on how warm the winter months were, seasonal allergy symptoms can start as early as February, but typically arise mid-March to April and last throughout summer. The most common plants to trigger allergies are birch and oak, dandelion, ragweed, and grasses.

Symptoms include:

Sneezing
Stuffy nose
Runny nose
Watery eyes
Itching of the nose, eyes, ears, or roof of the mouth

What Drives an Allergy Response?

Allergies occur as your immune system reacts to foreign invaders, producing antibodies that identify particular allergens (e.g., pollens) as harmful. During an “allergy attack,” the immune system reaction can inflame your skin, sinuses, airways or digestive system (as in food allergies). Mast cells – specialized white blood cells found throughout the body (lungs, skin, intestines, and near blood vessels and lymph nodes) – regulate how the immune system responds. Mast cells contain the histamine released into the bloodstream during an allergic reaction, resulting in symptoms such as itching, redness, and dilated blood vessels. When histamine release is excessive, it can cause a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).

Typical allergy treatments aim to relieve symptoms. Prevention of symptoms should begin much sooner than the first sneeze. Early detection and addressing underlying issues can reduce symptoms and sometimes prevent allergies from developing.

  • Be Proactive. Before symptoms appear, undertake spring cleaning of your home and office. Flush out your system with a seasonal detox: eat lots of fresh organic fruits and veggies, sip Moringa and Green Tea; use supplements suggested by your holistic physician such as quercetin, which helps stabilize histamine production in the body.
  • Wash Your Hands Often. Clean hands are essential to protecting your health. If you have been outdoors, don’t touch your eyes, and clean your hands as soon as possible.
  • Change & Wash Clothes and Bedding. Keep pollen and other triggers out of your home. Remove clothing when you come in from outdoors and wash on an allergen cycle, if available on your machine. Shower immediately to remove pollen from your hair and skin. Change bedding at least weekly.
  • Change Air Filters. In your home or workspace, use a high-quality HEPA air filter and change the filters seasonally, perhaps even monthly during peak pollen times.
  • Heal the Gut. Leaky gut has been linked to increased seasonal allergies.

Once symptoms are present, the following steps can help minimize the severity:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Keep home and car windows closed during peak season
  • Avoid being outdoors during peak pollen times in your geographic area (check daily weather reports for what is peaking–type of pollen, mold, etc.
  • Wear a high-rated filter mask when mowing the lawn or working outdoors
  • Consider buying a home air purifier designed to address allergens
  • Periodically wash the nasal cavities using a Neti Pot or saline nasal spray.

For more personalized recommendations for prevention and management of allergy symptoms, consult your natural medicine practitioner.

 

Resources

American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. “Allergies” Retrieved 15 March 2020: https://acaai.org/news/facts-statistics/allergies

Cancer.gov. “Mast Cells.” Posted to NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms. Retrieved on 16 March 2020: https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/mast-cell

Schoones, A. et al., “Pycnogenol® (extract of French maritime pine bark) for the treatment of chronic disorders.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. (2012) v4:1465-1858. https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD008294.pub4/full

Rohdewald, P. “A review of the French maritime pine bark extract (Pycnogenol), a herbal medication with a diverse clinical pharmacology.” Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther. (2002) Apr;40(4):158-68.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11996210

RxList.com “Pycnogenol Uses, Benefits, Side Effects.” Retrieved 16 March 2020: https://www.rxlist.com/pycnogenol/supplements.htm

Fighting Candidiasis!

Natural Medicine Approaches to Candidiasis

Candida albicans is a type of fungus living in harmony with millions of other microorganisms that are part of our body’s normal gut flora. However, it can get out of control, resulting in a condition known as candidiasis, or candida overgrowth. When that happens, it can trigger a number of seemingly unrelated health issues, from athlete’s foot to yeast infections. Candidiasis typically affects women more than men and often is first noticed as a vaginal yeast infection.

Many people believe candida lives only in the intestines or in the vaginal area. In actuality, candida can live in every tissue in the body. Overgrowth often starts in the intestines, disrupting the healthy balance of gut-friendly bacteria and fungi. The candida spores spread through the digestive tract until they reach the throat and then the lungs. From the lungs, spores enter the alveolar sacs where blood is exposed to oxygen. From here, the bloodstream carries candida throughout the body. The extent of infection by this opportunistic fungus – and what systems it infects – are a complex mix of factors including age, lifestyle, diet, pre-existing conditions, among others.

Typically, a combination of factors trigger an overgrowth of candida; sometimes, however, it only takes a single element to incite an infection. Some of these factors include:

  • Taking antibiotics
  • A weakened immune system, either from a health condition or from taking immunosuppressive medications like steroids or chemotherapy
  • Taking hormonal contraceptives, especially high-dose estrogen birth control pills
  • Eating a diet high in refined carbs or sugar
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • High levels of stress

Depending on the extent of the overpopulation of the fungus and the systems affected, candidiasis can bring on a variety of symptoms, including:

  • A white, cottage cheese-like coating on your tongue, inner cheeks, throat, or the roof of your mouth can all be a sign of candida overgrowth in the mouth, called oral thrush. The same type of substance in vaginal discharge can indicate a vaginal yeast infection.
  • Frequent urinary tract infections can be another sign of candida overgrowth.
  • Fungus can manifest in the toe nails, under or within skin folds, and over-populate other bodily symptoms resulting in surface symptoms that do not resolve.

A holistic physician can diagnose candidiasis with a simple test. Because yeast is a morphogenic organism – it changes shape throughout its lifecycle – treatment requires adjustments. Your health practitioner will likely use different herbs and supplements at different points in your treatment plan.

References

 

New Therapy to Support Your Gut?

N-acetyl glucosamine (N-AcG): A Possible New Therapy for Supporting Our Gut

N-acetyl glucosamine (N-AcG) comes from the outer shell of shellfish. Studies indicate it might help protect the lining of the stomach and intestines. N-AcG seems to be an energy source for friendly organisms within the microbiota, which may account for its protective benefits to the intestinal tract/gut.

There is early evidence that taking N-AcG by mouth or rectally might decrease symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis, conditions that are known to have deterioration of the gut microbiota. While a holistic practitioner will always focus on reestablishing a healthy microbiota, sometimes we also need therapies and treatments to help with flared symptoms.

Do not confuse N-AcG with the forms of glucosamine that are used in holistic therapies for osteoarthritis; the supplements are very different. For osteoarthritis, glucosamine sulfate is used. N-AcG, since it is derived from shellfish, carries the risk of causing a reaction in individuals who are allergic to shellfish. Also, N-AcG may raise insulin levels, interact with prescription medications, and is not recommended for pregnant or nursing women.

The appropriate dose of N-AcG glucosamine depends on several factors, such as age, health issues, current medications, and many other factors. The appropriateness of N-AcG for any individual needs to be determined by a natural medicine practitioner.

Have you used N-AcG glucosamine in the past? Let us know if you have and what your experience has been by contacting out office at office@drlachman.com.

References

 

Fecal Microbiota Transplantation

Fecal Microbiota Transplantation: Cutting-Edge Intervention to Rebalance the Microbiome

All that bacteria in your gut? Trillions of bacteria, in fact. It has a job to do: protect your microbiome and ensure it remains in balance. But when there’s trouble – when a microorganism becomes overgrown, the resulting imbalance damages the integrity of the microbiome, leaving it open to disease processes that affect other systems in the body. One particular bacteria that is a normal part of our gut biome, but which is likely to overgrow and cause damage, especially after antibiotic use, is C. difficile, which is often difficult to control.

An innovative, cutting edge treatment is Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT), or stool transplantation; in randomized, controlled clinical trials, it has resolved 80-90% of infections caused by C. difficile. With FMT, an infusion of bacteria from a carefully-screened, healthy donor’s stool is transplanted into the recipient’s colon. The procedure may be done in different ways, depending upon the needs of the patient. Methods used for FMT include: colonoscopy, naso-enteric tube or capsules, each having unique risks and benefits.

Experts indicate that FMT works by repopulating the patient’s microbiome with diverse microorganisms that rebalance the microbiome. Other health conditions that may be helped by FMT include Irritable Bowel Syndrome, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and Crohn’s Disease. However, more research must be conducted to confirm the safety and efficacy for these conditions. Current FDA guidelines permit the use of FMT only for the treatment of C. difficile infection that is not responsive to standard antibiotic therapy. It is not recommended for people who are immunocompromised.

The procedure is performed by a licensed physician (Holistic or Medical Doctor). FMT can lead to serious health complications if performed by untrained individuals. To be considered for this procedure, you must have a complete medical evaluation and be assessed for your candidacy. Consult with a holistic physician for more information.

References

 

Your Gut & Cinnamon!

Cinnamon’s Sweet Surprise: It’s Good for Your Gut!

A favorite sweet herb for cooking, cinnamon has been used for centuries to treat health concerns such as fever, menstrual problems, congestion, sore throat and cough, and gastrointestinal distress. Preliminary research shows that cinnamon helps support the optimal environment for “friendly” gut bacteria to thrive, while suppressing the growth of “unfriendly” bacteria. This effect appears to be adaptogenic, meaning the bioactive chemicals in cinnamon adjust to your body’s specific needs.

Cinnamon has four main varieties, with dozens of subtypes. The two most commercially used are Cinnamomum cassia – aka Cassia Cinnamon or Chinese cinnamon, and Cinnamon zeylanicum – aka Ceylon or True Cinnamon, from Sri Lanka. The other two, Saigon and Korintje, are often used for their essential oils. Each contains a varying amount of biologically active compounds.

Ceylon is the most commonly studied because it has the lowest levels of coumarin, which is high in other varieties, and can be toxic to the liver. Preliminary evidence suggests that Ceylon has anti-microbial, anti-parasitic, antioxidant and free radical scavenging properties. This means it supports the body’s innate processes for reducing inflammation, protecting the cells from damage, supporting detoxification, and maintaining the integrity of tissues, particularly in the intestinal lining. In a nutshell, cinnamon appears to exert its beneficial effects on the gut by supporting a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria, while decreasing the inflammatory effects of “unfriendly” bacteria.

Almost every part of the cinnamon tree, including the bark, leaves, flowers, fruits and roots, has some medicinal or culinary use. The chemical composition can vary drastically in each of these parts, which suggests each may have different effects in the body as well. As a medicinal supplement, each of us responds to different doses and forms of cinnamon whether used in cooking or taken as a supplement. Because cinnamon can change the way some medications work, it’s important to speak with a holistic physician before taking a cinnamon supplement.

References