Sep 13, 2009

Dealing with Allergies

For many of us spring heralds an onslaught of allergies, for others living with an allergy is part of their lives. A number of theories have been tabled to explain why more and more people find themselves suffering from allergies. These include the increased stresses on the immune system ( a weak defense due to greater chemical pollution in the air, water and food); early weaning and introduction of solid food to infants; genetic manipulation of plants resulting in food components which cross-react with normal tissues and increased ingestion of foods lacking basic components such as fiber, proteins, vitamins etc.

Then there is the fact that most common allergies are the expression of an inherited genetic predisposition. For example, studies have found that when both parents are allergic, 67% of the children are also allergic. On the other hand, when only one parent is allergic, 33% of the children end up being allergic. This makes knowing your family’s medical history all the more important.

The question, however, still remains, “How do I deal with allergies?”

This question is even more pertinent for sufferers who find that taking anti-histamines causes them to slow down to a certain extent, which considering today’s hectic lifestyles can be extremely inconvenient if not outright impossible.

Not all is lost though, as there are other ways of dealing with allergies.

Here is a look at a few:

Avoidance and Elimination. The simplest and most effective method of treating your allergies is by avoiding the allergic item, environment or food. In cases of food allergies, the symptoms will start to alleviate in three to five days, once your intestinal tact has eliminated the allergy causing food. Remember, avoidance means not only avoiding the food in its most identifiable sate (e.g. eggs in an omelets), but also in its hidden state (e.g. eggs in bread).

Rotary Diversified Diet (RDD). This method requires eating tolerated foods at regularity spaced intervals of four to seven days. This approach is based on the principle that infrequent consumption of tolerated foods is not likely to induce new senilities. Additionally, it has been found that tolerance for eliminate foods (those which caused the allergy) returns usually within four to seven days at which time they may be added back into the rotation schedule. Not only does this system help vary your diet; it also helps in minimizing inhalant allergies such as dust, pollen, mould, etc. By reducing the load on your immune system and proving improved nutrition.

Immune system support. Bolster your immune system by taking vitamins and minerals such as B-complex, Vitamin A, selenium, Zinc etc.

Underlying and Associated Conditions. If you find that although your allergies have subsided, you still continue to suffer from conditions such as dermatitis (inflammation of the skin) or an upset digestive system it is always better to have lab tests done and get proper medial treatment.

Eastern (Unani) medicine. General treatment follows the principle of evacuation (tanqiyah) or the morbid matter developed as a result of any specific type of allergic condition. The process consists of concoction, purgation and detoxification / evacuation. Then natural anti-allergic drugs such as combination of lavender ( Ustkhudus / Lavandula stoechas), Artemisia (Afsantin / Artemisia absinthium) and soapnut (Retha / sapindus trifoliatus ) are administered. A common medicine in the form of tablets (Qurs Shilarji) is prescribed frequently to allay allergic conditions.

The writer is Professor of Pharmacognosy and Phytotherarpy, Faculty of Eastern Medicine, Hamdard University Karachi.

1 comment:

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