Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Combatting Seasonal Allergies Naturally

It is that time of year again- sneezing, watery eyes, headaches, sniffles, and bloodshot eyes.  Yup, allergy season has begun.  While many reach for the over the counter allergy medication to stop symptoms, there are many non-pharmaceutical and natural options as well.

A naturopathic doctor, such as myself, can help guide you though the allergy remedies and what may work for you.  There are treatments to address the symptoms, but it is also important to have a treatment strategy that addresses overall health and balances the immune system.  For example, diet is a big part of this, eating a whole food based diet high in vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats and avoiding your food allergens can help your seasonal allergies as well. 

So what are some of the treatments that you can try for seasonal allergy relief?

Lifestyle changes
Avoiding exposures to pollens when they are at their worse – checking the pollen counts and plan to go for walks or runs when the counts are low, or in the evenings.  Most plants pollinate early to mid morning hours, so later in the day is better to head outside.
Take showers and change your clothes to reduce the pollens you are carrying on your self.  Change pillow cases every few days.

Spring cleaning
It’s also important to consider what, exactly, might be triggering symptoms inside your home, and then combat common offenders such as dust mites, pollen and mold:

Use a diluted bleach solution to clean and denature mold in basements and garages and on old patio furniture and the like, making sure to thoroughly dry all objects to prevent further growth.

Consider a good HEPA air filter and change it at least every two to three months to help prevent pollen and dander from being recirculated in your house.

Launder bed linens at least once a week in 130-degree water (which is what it takes to kill dust mite eggs). And bear in mind that the default “hot” setting on many washing machines doesn’t reach that temperature, so you may have to adjust your hot water heater.

Saline Nasal Rinses
Using a daily neti pot or salt-water rinse can really help to clear out the nasal passages and wash out the pollens.  If you make the salt-water solution at home, use filtered or bottled water as tap water can contain bacteria.

IV and Injectable Treatments
I utilize in office injectable and intravenous (IV) treatments that help seasonal allergy symptoms and also help the body to desensitize its reaction to the allergens for a longer term solution.

Myers cocktail and immune supportive IV’s containing B vitamins, Vitamin C, selenium, and other nutrients help the immune system better respond to the allergens.

Herbs and supplements
There are many herbs and supplements on the market that help to a minimize allergy symptoms.  Most of these do not have negative side effects such as drowsiness and headaches.  But it is best to see a Naturopathic doctor who can recommend which ones you should try. 

Vitamin C:  Strengthens the immune system and helps to fight off allergens

Quercetin:  It is an antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory, it helps to stabilizes mast cells and reduce histamine release- important players the in the allergic response.  

Magnesium: an important mineral that most people are low in, it can help wheezing by relaxing the bronchial tubes and is also important for the immune system.

Probiotics:  Supporting the gut and making sure there are high levels of good bacteria in the gut is key in sustaining a healthy immune response.

Nettles: Stinging nettle plant extract is a common herb used for allergy relief.  It helps to reduce the inflammatory response. 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids:  Getting a good, clean source of omega 3 fatty acids daily can help decrease inflammation in the body. 

With so many options, it is important to have a concise treatment plan that you stick to daily.  It is important to support the body continuously through the allergy season to best combat symptoms.  If you are interested in booking an appointment to have your allergies assessed and have a treatment plan customized for you, you can visit the website at or call 604-779-7869. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spring Cleaning.....The Safer Way

Spring is finally starting to appear, and with the change in season comes a new fresh start.  Often a time of detoxing, changing routines, and household cleaning. 

While a clean fresh environment is great, cleaning products can expose us to many chemicals and unnecessary toxins.  There are easy switches we can make to reduce this toxin exposure.  

An average home contains up to 10 gallons of toxic materials in the form of household cleaning products.  These toxins linger in your home environment, you breathe them in and absorb them through your skin.

The good news is there and natural, safe alternatives to chemical cleaners that will not only save you money but also make your environment less toxic.  Many things that you already have in your home, such as baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and vinegar, make excellent cleaners for multiple purposes.   The following information and tips have been gathered with the help of  

Natural Cleaning Ingredients to Stock up on:

Baking sodaWhite vinegar
Lemon juiceHydrogen peroxide
Olive oilLiquid castile soap
Organic essential oils (optional)Mixing bowl/bucket
Coconut oilSpray bottles
VodkaMicrofiber cloths

DIY Cleaner Recipes:

All-Purpose Countertop/Kitchen Cleaner:  Mix equal parts vinegar & water in a spray bottle with a few drops of essential oil for a pleasant smell.  The vinegar can be replaced with vodka or rubbing alcohol as well.

Tub and Shower Scrub:  White Vinegar can be sprayed onto tiles/walls to clean mildew.  Let sit for 3o minutes and scrub/rinse off.  
For tougher jobs, sprinkle baking soda on the area first, then spray with vinegar and scrub clean.  

Antibacterial disinfectant:  Mix 2 cups of water with 3 tablespoons of castile soap and 20-30 drops of essential oil- tea tree oil or Thyme.  Spray onto surface and wipe off.

Carpet Deodorizer:  sprinkle liberally with baking soda, allow to sit 30 minutes or more then vacuum.

Coconut Oil:  can be used as a natural lubricant (where you would use WD-40), to remove gum from many surfaces including carpets, Moisturize and soften leather goods.  

The video below has lots of great at home cleaning recipes and tips:  

For more detailed information, more recipes, and more info on the chemicals contained in common household cleaners, see this article on