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Natural allergy remedies for springtime sufferers

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A Langara student suffering with seasonal allergies blows his nose for some relief. Photo illustration: Kayla Isomura
A Langara student suffering with seasonal allergies blows his nose for some relief. Photo illustration: Kayla Isomura

Along with the sun, heat and freedom that comes with summer, there’s also the annual allergies some people face.

While medication seems to be a quick fix, natural methods like acupuncture and Chinese remedies are not always considered.

Benefits of natural methods

Neither have side affects like over-the-counter medication, according to Tasreen Alibhai, naturopathic medical director of Vitalia Health Care in Vancouver.

“Some people find that when they use over-the-counter medication or ones that are prescribed, they may feel a little bit groggy, they get a dry mouth, or they don’t like the way they feel,” she said.

As a naturopathic doctor, Alibhai will identify the cause of her patients’ allergies and work to reduce exposure of the cause. Annual visits to a naturopathic doctor will help reduce peoples seasonal allergies year-by-year, she added.

Kelly Cmolik, a doctor at the Health Centre for Integrative Medicine, frequently deals with patients suffering with allergies and prescribes them herbal formulas.

While acupuncture is another option, she prefers an herbal treatment because acupuncture requires patients to visit their doctor at least twice a week for treatment.

“It’s effective until your next acupuncture treatment,” she said.

Patients using herbal medication to relieve allergies will take a dose twice daily but as Alibhai said, they won’t affect patients like over-the-counter medication.

Whole-body approach to get allergies under control

Both doctors explained that natural remedies focus on a “whole body approach,” taking into consideration things like diet, reducing exposure and other lifestyle choices.

“Initially our goal is to get their systems under control,” said Cmolik. “Once we have those under control, we strengthen the organs.”

Jackson Ross, an SFU student, has summer allergies that occur worse later in the season but has never used natural methods to relieve his symptoms.

“I wouldn’t go that far,” he said. “They’re not that bad.”

Ross typically uses medication from drug stores, and recommends taking cold showers.

“I tried not taking allergy medication last year but that didn’t work,” he said, “so I’ll probably take allergy medicine [this year].”

Former Langara student Kayla Desjarlais has seasonal allergies too. She said she has asthma in addition to her allergies so will cope with them with her inhaler.

Desjarlais said she would be willing to try natural remedies but only if her allergies worsened.

Naturopathic doctor Tasreen Alibhai discusses some less conventional allergy treatments in this podcast.
Reported by Kayla Isomura

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