Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Allergy Epidemic & Vitamins for Allergies

 Many (many) people I know have allergies of some kind, whether they recognize them or not. Sneezing, bloating, belching, wheezing, itching, mental fog, malaise, irritability, headaches, etc. are all symptoms of allergies (or "sensitivities" to foods and pollens, which trigger the immune system to attack "foreign" entities in the body).  

There are many theories about the global rise in rates of asthma and various specific allergies, including: 

1.     Global warming (more pollens migrating to northern climates and more dust from drought and ecosystem destruction),
2.     Pollution (everyday chemical exposures lead to multiple chemical sensitivities), and 
3.     Government subsidies for four main agricultural products (wheat, dairy, corn, and soy are subsidized and sold at unnaturally low prices, these inexpensive ingredients make their way into most modern foods, causing problems through overexposure to these common food molecules).

However, according to Dr. Damien Downing, author of The Vitamin Cure for Allergies, "The worse your body is at detoxifying, the more likely you are to develop allergy problems." Dr. Downing states that "environmental pollution will make anybody's allergy worse, but if your body can't detoxify very well, it will make your allergy a lot worse." 

What can you do? Dr. Downing recommends some of the same things that my other integrative medicine friends recommend: 

Taking Vitamin C in Grams Per Day -- vitamin C is known as a natural antihistamine and increases the detoxification of histamines and the body needs more vitamin C under stress (a la Dr. Linus Pauling's research; Pauling's personal intake was between 6-18 grams daily). 
  • Downing talks about using both ordinary vitamin C (in water-soluble powders or capsules) and a liposomal version (vitamin C bound up in drops of oil). He argues that you get more absorption using parallel channels of uptake but he also notes that liposomal vitamin C is expensive. 
  • Downing recommends up to 16 grams of vitamin C per day and offers the handy tip that ascorbic acid is stable in water solution for up to one day (for folks who want to have  bottles of vitamin C water ready for each day).  
  • He also advises taking vitamin C multiple times a day, as "blood level peaks around two hours after swallowing" and drops rapidly after that. 
Increasing Vitamin D3 to Support Cellular Performance -- while vitamin D is called a vitamin, it looks like a hormone and affects everything in the body including resistance to infections, reduction in pain, strengthening muscles, improving moods, and reducing allergies. Immune system cells have receptors for vitamin D, which is important because asthma and allergies occur because the immune system gets highly reactive to everyday entities.

  • Downing recommends at least 4000 IU vitamin D3 daily for adults,  and suggests higher amounts if someone is over 200 pounds or has dark skin and lives in a northern climate with limited sunshine for long periods of time.
  • Downing cautions readers to never take vitamin D2. He notes that many of the negative studies in the news used synthetic vitamin D2, which is not a natural molecule for humans and which may even block or interfere with vitamin D3. 
Balancing Essential Fatty Acids to Manage Inflammation -- Downing's premise is that "life depends on lipids (fats and oils), including cholesterol." Like most of the industry, Downing is big on omega-3 fatty acids, which turn off inflammation, but not to the extent that Omega-6 fatty acids become insufficient to control inflammation. 

  • Downing recommends a 5:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids for asthma  
  • A typical American diet is said to have a 10:1, and as much as a 30:1, ratio.
Increasing Magnesium To Calm Over-Excited Cells -- Too much calcium and not enough magnesium can make cells have a hair-trigger response to allergens. Histamine-based allergies and magnesium deficiencies are a bad combination, as the body is primed to react more severely to allergens.

  • Downing believes that 800-1200 mg of magnesium is probably the right amount for oral supplementation.
  • Downing also recommends Epsom salt baths 2-3 times per week but cautions allergy sufferers to avoid salts with fragrances as they may exacerbate chemical sensitivities.
Dr. Downing's recommendations are inexpensive and non-toxic (both vitamin C and magnesium will cause a "flush" when the body receives enough of these nutrients and expels surplus amounts in loose bowel movements). 

In a difficult economy, with budgets tight, and stress levels up, affordable and healthy ways to combat the discomforts of allergies can only be a welcome piece of news. 

Pass on this information and consider giving someone you love the gift of Dr. Downing's slender book The Vitamin Cure for Allergies. It's less than $12.00 at Amazon.com. Some vitamins and Epsom salts with no perfumes or additives might be good companion products.

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