Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Spiritual Approach To Healing Allergies - Part 3

This is the last part on Spiritual Approach to Healing Allergies. If you have missed the earlier parts, see part 1 and part 2.

I am still quite new to this healing concept but after reading a fair bit on this area, I believe it does makes sense. But whether one believes in it or is able to take it a step further by practicing it is another matter altogether. The spiritual approach is very "zen". It is very simple, but not easy. It is all about getting back to basics, being in touch with yourself and getting rid of all the complexities that we make our lives out to be. In short, de-clutter your life and love yourself. But in the world that we live in today, it is not easy.

Not easy does not mean it is not achievable. I have gathered some great testimonials from allergic sufferers who have successfully healed themselves of allergies using the spiritual approach. It being their own experience, they can express much better than me, hence I have extracted the essence of their experience here. Do click on the source to read their full experience.

From lipstickmystic.com:
"On the *shamanic path, you approach everything around you as a living, self-aware ecosystem. You view plants, animals, and even minerals as collaborators in this wonderful life you’re experiencing. And also, “That which you resists, persists” is a bit of an axiom here; meaning, work too hard to AVOID something like pollen and you’re setting yourself up for allergies and other bodily reactions. Instead of treating something as the enemy, you want to learn how to bond with it, understand it, and communicate it." 
*Shamanism is an ancient healing tradition that teaches us to focus on our bond with nature and promote the well-being of all creation.

From chattanoogan.com:
"As I prayed, I became more aware of the spiritual nature of God’s creation and of God as the source of all good. So, if God’s creation is all good, what was I reacting to? For me, the cure was as simple as changing how I viewed the various forms of environmental stimuli that were making me uncomfortable. I focused on reacting to the goodness and love coming from these beloved family pets and the beauty all around me."
From thesacredlimp:
"And then it was suggested to me that allergies have a spiritual root, and that root is a spirit of fear. The body, I believe, eventually will agree with and align with the spirit. Fear and anxiety can keep a person “on edge”; expecting the worst, planning for disaster, frequently worrying, not at ease (or at dis-ease). It’s as if the spirit has become hypersensitive to events in life, or to emotions, or to thoughts of the future. And I believe the body eventually will come to reflect this hypersensitive spirit. 
 Hypersensitivity strikes me as a pretty good summary of what has gone wrong in the body that suffers from allergies. The immune system has become “on edge”. It overreacts. Going beyond its natural job of fighting off infection, the immune system starts reacting to allergens, releasing unnecessary chemicals into the body. That’s when the “allergic reactions” start; the itching, the rashes, the sneezing, the cramps, the swelling. 
The body and spirit agree: better safe than sorry; better to expect the worst and react that way."

I was trying to see how I can apply the "God's creation is all good" and focused on reacting to the goodness from err.. dust mites??  While I can understand the goodness from pets and plants (despite their dander and pollen issues), it seemed odd to be able to think of dust mites in a positive way. After thinking for a long time, I came to this conclusion:

1. Dust mites eat dead skin from pets and humans. In a positive way, they help to get rid of our waste from the ecosystem naturally.

2. The American Lung Associations tells us that "Dust mites are not parasites; they don't bite, sting or burrow into our bodies. So dust mites are not bad for us really!

Before I end off, I want to say that this is not an endorsement of any specific religion. I believe regardless of religion and even for free-thinkers, this can be applied and practiced. I hope you have found this series on spiritual approach to healing allergies useful. Your feedback is always appreciated.

Spiritual Approach To Healing Allergies - Part 1
Spiritual Approach To Healing Allergies - Part 2

Friday, 10 October 2014

Spiritual Approach To Healing Allergies - Part 2

Following up from Part 1, I got my hands on this book Heal Your Body A-Z: The Mental Causes for Physical Illness and the Way to Overcome Them by Louise Hay. The author is an internationally known leader in the self-help field. She is a metaphysical lecturer and teacher with more than 40 million books sold worldwide. The two books that I have referred to in this post are rated with 4.5/5 stars in Amazon, with many positive reviews from all over the world.

Louise Hay believes that we suffer from diseases because we are at dis-ease with ourselves psychologically and that diseases can be reversed by simply changing mental patterns. Her key message is: "If we are willing to do the mental work, almost anything can be healed." This small reference book explains our physical illnesses via psycho-spiritual or metaphysical light. For each health condition, Louise lists the probable psychological cause(s) and shares the new thought pattern required for healing that condition. For example:

Problem: Allergies
Probable cause: Who are you allergic to? Denying your own power
New Thought Pattern: The world is safe and friendly. I am safe. I am at peace with life.

Problem: Hay Fever
Probable cause: Emotional congestion. Fear of the calendar. A belief in persecution. Guilt.
New Thought Pattern: I am one with ALL OF LIFE. I am safe at all times.

This is a very easy to read book, but perhaps I should have started reading You Can Heal Your Life first, her bestselling book. That book will probably talk more in depth about how we can go about healing ourselves by changing the way we think. I will try to get my hands on it soon.

As you know, I am all for natural alternative healing of any forms and shapes. Some may find this approach hard to swallow. You either believe it or you don't. But for those who are sick of taking antihistamine pills or those who find that their medicine is no longer effective or simply just want to try a drug-free alternative, I'll say have an open mind and give it a try! Don't underestimate the power of positive affirmation.

Having said that, you are not going to be allergy-free overnight by just thinking about the new thought pattern once, unlike popping a antihistamine pill that will alleviate your symptoms within an hour or two. Our thought patterns are changed gradually overtime. So you got to give it time to work. If you suffer from serious allergies, continue with your medications, but try this on the side. I would suggest reading the entire book to find out exactly how you can go about healing yourself as what I have mentioned here is certainly not sufficient. I recommend you read You Can Heal Your Life first, then Heal Your Body A-Z: The Mental Causes for Physical Illness and the Way to Overcome Them.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Spiritual Approach To Healing Allergies - Part 1

While reading up on allergies, I came across some articles and testimonials that discussed using spiritual healing for allergies. I was pretty fascinated and dug deeper. The idea of spiritual healing for allergies may seemed odd at first, but after reading more, it actually makes quite a lot of sense. Well, before you think this is all hocus-pocus, I want to add that you can either view this from a religion-spiritual sense OR from a psychological-emotional sense. More of the latter for me though.

Here are some great readings on this topic. Very thought provoking and made me think deeper about the root of allergies...

"Allergies are tied to the quality of our thoughts, the suppression of our feelings, and are produced and perpetuated by the limiting patterns of behaviours created by our attitudes and beliefs.  
The idea that negative thoughts and feelings contribute to ill health is not new. “We are what we think,” said the Buddha. 
Illness is the soul’s way of communicating dissatisfaction. It expresses unconscious feelings and conflicts by way of physical symptoms. It tells us that we are in a relationship or situation that is causing us to compromise who we are."
Extract from vitalitymagazine.com, read full article here.

"Allergies are an expression of ‘intolerance’, and though we normally think of this as occurring on a physical level only, this translates to a kind of intolerance in the mental and emotional capacities as well. This is the basis for what happens and is expressed within the body. 
  I mean this in a loving and compassionate way, but people with allergies tend to be very critical of themselves and others, a choice that is not intentionally malicious but comes from previous unresolved trauma and emotional sensitivity.
 If you truly want to heal from your allergies, you will have to take a different stance on the things in life that piss you off.  
Actively changing our mind so that it reflects a gratitude-filled perspective is necessary, and accomplished through meditation and appropriate positive affirmations. Your allergies will never go away until you are able to look out at the world and seek the goodness, not just the crappy parts."
Extract from entelechyheals.com, read full article here.

"Allergies have their origin in psychological conditions.
 "An allergy usually begins with a traumatic experience that causes a lifestream to develop a fear of a particular substance or condition. If the trauma is strong enough, or if it is reinforced over several embodiments, it will manifest as a physical allergy in the lifestream's next embodiment."
Extract from ascendedmasteranswers.com, read full article here.

I would love to hear your opinion on spiritual healing for allergies. Please share your experience if you have any. More on this topic in Part 2. Stay tuned.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

5 Ways To Prevent Allergies In Children

We all know that there is an increasing trend in people suffering from allergies worldwide. Is there a way we can try to prevent or reduce the possibility of our young ones from being afflicted by allergies right from the start? NaturalNews.com published an interesting article on this topic and I would like to add my thoughts too. Read entire article by NaturalNews.com here.

#1 Breastfeed your baby

There is a saying that breast milk is pure gold. This could not be further from the truth. Breastfeeding boosts the immune system for the little ones to help them fend off infections and be less susceptible to allergies. Lendon Smith, M.D., author of numerous books on children's health has this to say:
"If babies are given anything other than breast milk in the first few months of life, food sensitivities may develop. Their intestines are not meant to digest anything other than breast milk." 
Absolutely! There is a reason why mother nature provides mommy with the ability to feed her child her own milk. A mother's milk contains the most complete nutrients with just the right amount of fat, sugar, water and protein that is needed for a baby's growth and development. The proteins and fats in breast milk are also easier to digest. I have not heard of any babies being allergic to breast milk.

If for some reason, breastfeeding is not possible, the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology recommends the use of hydrolyzed infant formulas instead of cow’s milk formula as a preventive strategy.A hydrolyzed formula is one where a protein in either cow's or soy-based milk has been broken down into tiny parts. This makes it easier to digest the proteins, which are the usual cause of allergies.

I am glad I made the choice to breastfeed my child for 12 months. It is not easy: bearing with the initial pain, struggles when one didn't get the technique right and also more time consuming. But it is all worth it!

#2 Introduce solid foods later on

Postponing solid foods and breast-feeding longer gives the infant's immune system more time to properly mature. A study published in the British Medical Journal found that children who were started on solid foods before four months of age were much more likely to experience chronic or recurrent episodes of eczema than children who were not introduced to solid foods at such an early age.

After four to six months, the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology recommends single-ingredient infant foods including fruits, vegetables and cereal grains to be introduced one at a time. This gradual process gives parents a chance to identify and eliminate any food that causes an allergic reaction.

Yup, I waited till my child was almost 6 months before introducing any solid food to him. And the first food that I gave him was avocado, which he still loves eating now.

Where possible, it is best to avoid or delay giving the child processed food due to the presence of addictives, preservatives, colouring etc. Whole foods are the best, be it for children or adults.

#3 Avoid early immunization

This is a contentious topic. They are some who opposes any form of immunization strongly while they are others who feel the benefits outweigh the cons. I am kind of standing on the fence on this topic.

First of all, childhood immunizations are compulsory in my country, Singapore. Without it, you cannot attend school. I am not sure if there are special cases for exemption possible. All kids here have a health booklet which display the immunizations they have taken.

There is the "hygiene hypothesis" theory that suggest that babies needed to be exposed to infectious diseases for their immune systems to develop in a good way. Thus childhood immunization prevent children from developing healthy immune systems. However, according to National Center for Biotechnology Information, researchers have systematically looked for and analysed large studies that recorded both vaccinations and allergies or asthma. They found no strong consistent link between vaccination and allergies.

An experienced TCM (traditional chinese medicine) doctor once told me she believed that immunization is the cause of kids' weaker immune system and falling sick often. This, she said, was not common at all a few decades ago.

On my part, I had to go with the scheduled immunization for my child as he needed to go school. However, I did delay his MMR jab as long as possible till he was just about to go school.

Edit: You can read more here on the camp that advocates immunization and the opposition.

#4 Allergy-proof your home 

According to the NaturalNews.com article, exposing your child early on to indoor environmental factors such as molds, smoke, dust mites, and formaldehyde in housing materials, can have a direct effect on blocking airways and can indirectly cause sensitivities to allergens. Being able to reduce exposure to air pollutants, reduces the likelihood of developing sensitivities or chronic allergic reactions.

Agree and disagree. Agree that reducing exposure to air pollutants like cigarette smoke and chemicals used in housing materials are essential for preventing allergies in children. Smoking during pregnancy or after is a big NO NO. Secondhand smoke has long been shown to increase the development of asthma and other chronic respiratory illnesses. Even if you do not smoke in the presence of your children, the smoke particles can linger on for hours to days and inhaling them will be detrimental to their respiratory system for sure. This is known as thirdhand smoke. It is best that you can quit smoking altogether.

On the other front, being exposed to molds, dust mites and pollen are unavoidable. They are everywhere and part of our lives. Much as we keep the house as clean as possible, I don't believe that "allergy-proofing" the house will prevent allergies in children. Yes, avoiding these will certainly help reduce their allergic condition IF they are already suffering from allergies. But avoiding them right from the start does not help in prevention in my opinion.

This is also something interesting that you may want to take note from the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology:
"The relationship between early life exposure to animals and the development of allergies and asthma is somewhat confusing. Previous evidence suggested that children exposed to animals early in life are more likely to develop allergies and asthma. More recent research seems to show that early exposure to animals (cats and dogs in particular) may actually protect children from developing these diseases. Newer research also suggests children raised on farms develop fewer allergies and asthma."

 #5 Taking Probiotics During Pregnancy & While Breastfeeding

This is something that I would like to add on that is not mentioned in the NaturalNews.com article. Probiotics are the good bacteria found in our digestive system. Bacteria living in the gut and the digestive tract are linked to our immune health. Thus it is important to balance the good bacteria (probiotics) with the bad to maintain a healthy gut.

Some studies have shown that taking probiotic supplements during pregnancy and breastfeeding may protect people from developing allergies later in life. Probiotics are generally known to be safe for pregnant women and children. This is something worth a try if you think your child is at risk of developing allergies and want to give them a head start.

I would also recommend you read AskDrSears: 5 Steps to Track and Prevent Your Child’s Allergies for more information and resources on children allergies.

American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology
National Center for Biotechnology Information

Thursday, 28 August 2014

How Much Do You Know About Sneezing?

I took this Sneeze Quiz from fitsugar.com and my score shows the deserving title of the Sneeze Queen :P Did any of these answers surprise you?

I have always felt that sneezing is a real workout, like this! And while the bright light is OK for me, I noticed that it does cause my son to sneeze at times.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Sneeze Quotes

“When God sneezed, I didn't know what to say” ~ Henry Youngman (English born American Comedian and Violinist, 1906-1998)

 “I used to wake up at 4 A.M. and start sneezing, sometimes for five hours. I tried to find out what sort of allergy I had but finally came to the conclusion that it must be an allergy to consciousness.” ~ James Thurber (American Writer, 1894-1961)

"Sneezing absorbs all the functions of the soul just as much as the [sexual] act, but we do not draw from it the same conclusions against the greatness of man, because it is involuntary; although we bring it about, we do so involuntarily. It is not for the sake of the thing in itself but for another end, and is therefore not a sign of man's weakness, or his subjection to this act." ~ Blaise Pascal (French scientist and philosopher, 1623–1662)

Just to add: This allergy poem might interest you too. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Yoga Approach To Healing Allergies

I have been practicing yoga for a few years. While I cannot attribute the improvement in my allergic rhinitis condition directly to yoga, I believe it has made my lifestyle more balanced. Yoga has given me the space to slow down, breathe deeply and focus. Focus being in the present, focus in NOW. This is very important to me as in the daily buzz, I tend to want to do things quickly and my mind is forever occupied with things, big and small, past and future.

 How does Yoga help in allergies? 

Relaxation to boost the immune system
 "Allergies are worsened by a stress reaction, which causes physiological responses, including the release of stress hormones and histamine, and triggers inflammation. Relaxation diminishes fight-or-flight response, and thereby reduces allergic symptoms." says Jeff Migdow, M.D., director of Prana Yoga Teacher Training through the Open Center in New York as well as a holistic physician at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Lenox, Massachusetts. (yoga journal)

Another doctor, Clifford W. Bassett, M.D., an allergist who is medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York, adds: "Clearly, stress adds an extra burden on the immune system—not only in allergies but in asthma and other illnesses. Yoga and postural exercises exert a relaxation response that may modify the negative effects of psychological stress on proper immune function." (yoga journal)

So to all those suffering from allergies, the message is clear. We need to slow down and relax so that our bodies will produce less stress hormones, resulting in lower inflammation and mucus production.

Which Yoga poses are helpful for allergies?

1. Should stand (Sarvangasana) or other inversions
Inversions can help to improve nasal drainage and clear your sinuses. However, it is not recommended to keep your head down for too long as it adds pressure on the nasal passages.

2. Plow pose (Halasana)
This pose is good for releasing the tension at the neck area, which can help in improving the nasal drainage.

3. Bridge pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) or backbends
Opens up the chest and lungs. Improves the lung capacity. Personally I like doing this pose as it helps to improve our posture.

4. Fish pose
Another great pose that opens up the chest and lungs.

5. Alternate nostril breathing (Nadi Shodhana Pranayama)
This is great to practice breathing deeply when your allergies are not acting up. But when you are already having the runny and stuffy nose, stay away from this. Trust me, I can never do this with my stuffy nose.

Having said the above, one must realize that Yoga does not offer immediate relief when you are already suffering from the allergic symptoms of sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes and stuffy nose. You will still need medication for very bad allergy flare up. But Yoga is a great stress management technique and I strongly believe that it will improve your health in one way or another over time. Namaste!

p/s: Here's another yoga related post from me on allergy relief . Also if you are keen to explore yoga further, you can read more here.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Physical Signs of Allergic Rhinitis

We are all aware of the usual allergic rhinitis symptoms like sneezing, itchiness, runny nose, blocked nose etc. But do you know that there are also some tell-tale physical signs which doctors will look out for as well? These are the 3 common ones:

Allergic Salute: The act of wiping / rubbing the nose in an upward manner with the palm or fingers to relieve itching congestion.

photo credit:  University of Minnesota

Nasal Crease: A line across the bridge of the nose caused by repeated upward rubbing of the nose by the palm of the hand (doing the allergic salute). Read more here.

photo credit: nosephotographs

Allergic Shiners: Dark eye circles due to pressure from blocked nasal passages on the small blood vessels. Read more here.

There is a comprehensive list of other physical signs of allergic rhinitis from pediatrics consultant 360. Great stuff!

As for myself, I have the allergic shiners and a little of the rabbit nose (frequent wrinkling of the nose). I have also seen 2 of my family members do the allergic salute at times.

What about you? Do you recognize any of these physical signs for yourself?

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Watching A Sneeze In Slow Motion

If you are an allergic rhinitis sufferer, sneezing is probably a daily affair or seasonal affair. We don't really think much about sneezing do we? Have you for a moment, considered the science behind sneezing?

This is a video on sneezing. It is nothing gross. Believe me, in fact it looks rather beautiful! This video by Science Friday is shot with high speed capture of the mucus and gas from human sneezing. Using high speed camera and fluid mechanics, Dr. Lydia Bourouiba and Dr. John Bush of MIT Applied Mathematics study the role of gas clouds during sneezing. Cool!

P.S.: This is also a reminder why we should always cover our mouth and nose when we are sneezing.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Qu-Chi Acupressure Band For Hay Fever And Allergic Rhinitis

I am always interested to learn about drug-free options for allergic rhinitis. Those of you who have been following my blog for some time know that I lean towards the natural way of treatment. That is not to say that I totally shun my antihistamine medication. I take it only when my allergic rhinitis is very severe and debilitating, with the natural remedies failing to work their magic. Thankfully, I have not taken them in a long time. So long that I can't even remember when was the last time I took it! That said, I still have the occasional sneezing fits and running nose, but these symptoms are bearable and go away on their own after awhile.

Recently, I came across the Qu-Chi acupressure band that is developed to work for hay fever and allergic rhinitis. It is a band that can be worn on either arm around the elbow. Designed and developed in the UK by a fully qualified acupuncture and acupressure practitioner, this product is registered with the Medicines Health Regulatory Agency (MRHA) as a Class 1 medical product.

So how does it work?
In short, the Qu-Chi is a point in the large intestine meridian that has been used by acupuncturists and practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. This point is useful in treating the nasal and eye symptoms of rhinitis. By wearing the Qu-Chi band, it stimulates the acupressure point which in turn can help ease breathing problems and sinus issues.

According to their website, these are the benefits of Qu-Chi acupressure band:

  • Drug Free, natural product
  • Can be used with other medication and even 24 hours a day. Can be used all year round too.
  • Does not cause drowsiness
  • Fast acting
  • Suitable for all ages (note: Do not use during pregnancy)

My thoughts
I did not use this product, but found it interesting by the way it is developed to work. It works in the principle of acupressure/acupuncture in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which I am a firm believer in. There are also some good reviews on it (more reviews at amazon.uk)  If I saw this product a few years ago when my allergic rhinitis condition was still horrible, I would definitely have given this a try. It is a light weighted product and given the inexpensive price tag (you can buy from Amazon), it is worth a try if hay fever or allergic rhinitis has been giving you a lot of misery.

My logic whenever I want to try something new is this: what can you lose? In this case, the band cost about the same or maybe even less than your antihistamine medicine. If it works, you can toss out your medicine for good (who likes to take medicine anyway??) If it doesn't, it is ok. I take it as spending a small amount to buy a chance for a natural relief of a permanent health issue.

The one thing to note with this product is that it is important you position the band correctly as it works based on the acupressure point. So if your band is mis-aligned, you may not find it effective. You can read here on how to position the Qu-Chi band.

If anyone has tried this before, I would love to hear your experience with this product. Feel free to get in touch with me or leave comments here.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Why Does Alcohol Worsen Your Allergies?

Many of you may have heard the saying that drinking alcohol is not good for allergies. But do you know why?

Why does alcohol worsens allergies?

1. Beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages contain histamine, which is produced by yeast and bacteria during the fermentation process. Now as we all know, histamine is the chemical that sets off allergy symptoms.*achoo*achoo*achoo!

2. Wine and beer also contain a group of sulfur-containing compounds known as sulfite, which can trigger asthma and other allergy-like symptoms.

3. According to ACCAI"alcoholic beverages can cause the blood vessels in the nose to enlarge temporarily and produce significant nasal congestion."

4. The dehydrating effects of alcohol can heighten the effects of allergic rhinitis. How so? When the body is dehydrated, histamine is increased. So there we go again with the histamine.

There have been studies conducted that showed that alcohol worsens allergies. In a study done in Sweden in 2005, scientists found that people who suffer from hay fever are more prone to experience sneezing and runny nose after a drink as compared to the general population. Red wine and white wine were found to be the most frequent triggers and women are more likely to be affected than men. Yet another study of thousands of women in 2008 found that alcohol consumption was associated with an increased risk of developing perennial allergic rhinitis.

So if you are suffering from hay fever or allergic rhinitis, it is best to drink in moderation and cut down alcoholic drinking during the months when your seasonal allergies tend to worsen. More so if you are a woman.

I am not a regular drinker. I drink beer or wine once in a while usually during celebratory occasions. I think the fact that I don't drink regularly has probably save me from more sneezing, itching and blocked nose!

Monday, 14 July 2014

The History of Hay Fever

I came across this very interesting article from BBC news on hay fever history and thought it might interest those of you suffering from it. Read full article here.

Some fascinating hay fever history tidbit:

  • Hay fever is discovered by John Bostock, a Liverpool-born London doctor, who suffered from catarrh - blockages of the sinus and a general feeling of heaviness and tiredness - in June every year since the age of 8.

  • In 1819, aged 46, Bostock presented a study called Case of a Periodical Affection of the Eyes and Chest. In this study, he laid out the symptoms of hay fever sufferers and some of the relief treatments he had tried such as bleeding, cold baths, taking opium and self-induced vomiting. Nothing had worked for him. (Yikes! Ain't you glad that we don't have such treatment in this modern day for hay fever?!)

  • Over the next 9 years, Bostock found 28 cases of hay fever for his extended research and published a second article in 1828, christening the condition "catarrhus aestivus" or "summer catarrh". By then, he strongly believed that hay fever was triggered by something that happened in the summer, despite not gaining support from the medical establishment.

  • In between his first and second study, an idea prevailed in the general public that hay fever is due to the smell from new hay, hence coining the term "hay fever."

  • However, Bostock didn't agree. He thought a recurring disease, aggravated by the summer heat, was to blame and he was right. His symptoms reduced tremendously that he "nearly escaped the disease" when he rented a clifftop house for 3 consecutive summers, enjoying total rest.

  • Sea air then became a fashionable remedy for all sorts of ailments and many followed Bostock's example. In 1827, The Times reported that the Duke of Devonshire was "afflicted with what is vulgarly called the Hay-fever, which annually drives him from London to some sea-port".

  • In 1859, the true cause of hay fever is finally diagnosed. British scientist Charles Blackley (another hay fever sufferer) sneezed violently after smelling a bouquet of bluegrass and became convinced that pollen is the cause. He thought the toxins in pollen were poisoning people.

  • It was only at the beginning of the 20th century that the concept of allergies is developed.

    Tuesday, 8 July 2014

    Natural Hay Fever Buster Juice

    It is Summer time now and many are into juicing to beat the heat. If you are also suffering from allergic rhinitis (Hay Fever), this juice recipe may help you combat your allergies.

    1 piece fresh Ginger (about thumb nail size)
    1 Apple
    1/2 Lemon (preferably organic as zest & peel is included in the juicing)

    Simply juice all ingredients and drink. Easy peasy!

    Best to drink every morning daily. It is preferred that you start doing this a few weeks before the allergy season kicks in and continue throughout the whole season. 

    This is by no means a miracle drink. But some people find it helpful for their allergies and its all natural, cheap and easy to make. No harm in trying :)

    Why is this juice helpful for those with hay fever? 
    1. Ginger is a natural antihistamine and decongestant. It also has warming properties which is beneficial in certain respiratory disorder. Ginger is anti-inflammatory and helps to lessen swelling of the mucous membrane.

    2. Apple contains quercetin which is a natural antihistamine.

    3. Lemon and lemon peel is high in vitamin C and also detoxing.

    Tuesday, 1 July 2014

    Tips On Driving When Having The Allergy Symptoms

    Recently, there are some articles about allergic rhinitis (hay fever) sufferers driving during the high pollen counts of the allergy season. According to Wall Street Journal, a study in Netherlands showed that allergy symptoms' effect on driving was comparable to having a blood-alcohol concentration nearing impaired levels! This is a rather alarming result.

    Here's another one. A survey has revealed that many motorists are unaware that some medications can impair our ability to drive safely. Figures show that one in six (17%) admit either ignoring warnings not to drive or not checking that label at all. This lack of awareness is also shocking. For allergic rhinitis sufferers, there are some antihistamine medication that could cause drowsiness. Older, first-generation antihistamines like piriton (chlorphenamine) cross the blood-brain barrier and inhibit one of the other functions of histamines, thus causing drowsiness. Newer generation of antihistamines are generally fine, but best to check the labels or with a health care professional when in doubt.

    So what can you do if you have a bad allergy day but needs to get around? Here are 7 tips:

    1. Get a family member to drive if you are heading out together

    2. Take public transport.

    3. Take non-drowsy antihistamine medication at least an hour prior to driving for the effect to kick in.

    4. Inhale some peppermint or eucalyptus essential oil before leaving to clear your stuffy nose. Better yet if you could diffuse it in your car.

    5. Bring plenty of tissues with you. Place them at easy to reach places in the car if you are driving.

    6. Try to wear something with pockets so that its easier for to store those half-used tissues. (at least that's what I do!)

    7. Lastly and most importantly, keep the car windows closed and use the air con if you suffer from pollen allergies.

    Thursday, 19 June 2014

    Is This How You Feel During An Allergic Rhinitis Attack?

    Yeah, these words pretty much sum up how I feel when I get an awful attack. Mike and Kate pretty much feels the same too when hay fever strikes. Check out their guest posts here and here

    But looking at things more positively, I hope after these feelings pass us by, you will cherish your "non-sneezy" moments even more and make the best use of it :) Because you never know when the allergens decide to stir trouble in your nose!

    Monday, 16 June 2014

    Doc Talk: Immunize Yourself Against Allergens

    Source: Mind Your Body, The Straits Times - 12 June 2014.

    This is a continuation from Doc Talk: The Flu that Isn't. In this write up, Dr Soh Jian Yee, an associate consultant at the division of paediatric allergy, immunology and rheumatology at National University Hospital talks about allergen immunotherapy. So what is allergen immunotherapy?

    "A treatment which desensitizes the body to an allergen over time...It involves giving the patient the allergens which cause the medical problem, starting with tiny doses and slowly increasing the doses over time... Immunotherapy alters the body's response to the allergens to ease the symptoms and inflammation."

    According to Dr Soh, immunotherapy has the following benefits:
    1. Its beneficial effects last much longer than conventional pharmacotherapy (drugs)

    2. If drugs fails to control the allergic symptoms, immunotherapy can be added to the treatment regimen

    3. Long term cost-effectiveness

    However, immunotherapy is not perfect. Why so?
    1. Requires loads of patience as one must complete the treatment course to enjoy its full benefits.

    2. Takes a longer time to work compared to antihistamines and intranasal steriods. Many patients see a significant response only after 3-6 months.

    All said, in my opinion, most doctors generally recommend immunotherapy only for severe cases of allergic rhinitis as this method requires much time and financial commitment from the patients, which not many can do so. This is where sublingual immunotherapy comes into the picture. The patient is given a drop or tablet containing small doses of the allergen extract under the tongue. This newer form of immunotherapy can be administered at home without medical supervision. Has anyone tried this method before?

    Tuesday, 10 June 2014

    Living the Life with Allergies (Guest Post- Kate)

    I am thankful for the presence of social media, which allowed me to make friends across the world. I would like to thank Kate, blogger of A Life of Allergies and Sneezing for taking part in this Q&A. Kate suffers from severe nasal allergies and is currently a grad school student in anatomy PhD program.

    Q1 Can you give us a background of your allergies?

    Kate: I started getting allergies when I was about 13 years old.  Before that I didn’t have any at all.  I now am allergic to: pretty much any animals with fur, cats, dogs, and horses being the worst.  Dust (dust mites, etc).  Feathers.  All kinds of pollen, like trees, weeds, grasses, even flowers.  Ragweed and sage seem to be the worst.  Mold, smoke, strong scents like perfumes, etc.  
    or something they use in some paper products, some detergents, and fabric softeners, milk.  Probably some other things too I can’t think of right now.  I have been allergy tested a few times.  I tried shots when I was about 18, for about a year but my allergies actually got a bit worse over that time.  My allergies have gotten worse over the years, except for the last 2 or 3 years, but this spring seems to be worse.  There really isn’t anyone in my family with allergies.  My aunt has mild hay fever but I think that’s it. I have allergies all year round, but winter isn’t as bad, and spring and fall are probably the worst.  My allergies can get so bad that I have to stay home and sometimes aren’t able to do anything at all.  At the worst I can sneeze over 50 times in a row, my eyes and nose run constantly, my nose and sinuses are ears are stuffed up and my eyes are swollen up, and it feels all itchy in that area.  I don’t really have asthma attacks anymore after I stopped drinking milk, but when my allergies are bad I can get kinda wheezy.

    Q2 What medications have you tried (& doesn’t work) and what are you currently taking now?

    Kate: I have tried so many, and they barely work.  Only Benadryl seems to really work, but it knocks me out and after I wake up am still very groggy.  I have tried:  allergra-d, Claritin-d, zyertec-d, Sudafed, clarinex, nasalcrom, flonase, nasocort, nasonex, singulair, and maybe one or 2 more over the years, but I’m not sure.

    Right now I am on: Zyertec-D, nasonex, and singulair.  I also take Sudafed and Benadryl sometimes.

    Q3 How do allergy affect your life/lifestyle and how do you cope with it?

    Kate: It affects me a lot.  I used to be very outgoing, but now am kinda shy and very embarrassed by my allergies.  They also keep me from being able to do many things I used to.  Being congested all the time messed up my singing voice, and I had to stop playing soccer because I was too allergic to the grass.  Some people’s houses I can’t go to because of pets, and sometimes I can’t go out because my allergies are too bad.  I also have to miss school sometimes and its slowing down my graduate work. I cope by trying to go out as much as I can, although I sometimes push it too much, or go out when there are too many allergens around and I end up making myself worse.

    Q4 How do your family respond to your allergy attack?

    Kate: They used to be pretty worried back in the first few years, but now they try to ignore it because they know I don’t like the attention.

    Q5 If you could use 3 single words to describe an allergy attack, what would they be? 

    Kate: Embarrassing, exhausting, interfering.

    Q6 Which is the most annoying symptom of your allergies you wish could just disappear?

    Kate: Sneezing.  I sneeze so much and for so long.  It interferes with conversations and can be bothersome to people, especially in quiet places.  It can be messy and it also tires me out.

    Q7 Have you tried any alternative healing / natural remedies / supplements for your allergies? If yes, which have you tried and what is your response

    Kate: I tried neti-pot but the water would never come out of the other nostril.  I found I have reactions to most essential oils.  The herbs I have tried either they didn’t work or I had an allergic reaction to them.  I tried acupuncture but that didn’t help at all.  Vitamins didn’t seem to do much.  Raw honey and apple vinegar didn’t do anything either.

    Q8 If no, which one of these alternative healing / natural remedies / supplements are you most willing to give it a try and why?

    Kate: I am willing to try pretty much anything to see if it will help.

    Q9 What is the best allergy advice you have ever received? 

    Kate: It has to do with taking showers.  I used to have such a hard time with them because I would sneeze constantly during them and my nose would run really badly.  It made it very hard to shower and shave my legs, etc.  I was told to try turning on the shower really hot, waiting for a while, then sit in the bathroom before I showered and wait till my sneezing slowed down.  It take a while, but when I do that, now I am not sneezing as much and my nose isn’t as runny in the shower so it makes it much easier. 

    Oh, and the other one, which is pretty obvious and I should have known it was back when I first got allergies, I thought as long as the cat or dog or whatever wasn’t in the same room I’d be ok.  About 2 years into having allergies, I was told that animal dander could linger even after the animal no longer lived in the house.  So then I was able to avoid many bad allergy attacks.

    In case you missed it, this is another Q&A on Living the Life with Allergies, with Mike Noblin.

    Friday, 6 June 2014

    Doc Talk: The Flu that Isn't

    Source: Mind Your Body, The Straits Times - 5 June 2014

    This is a good article from our local newspaper published yesterday, discussing about the lack of awareness of allergic rhinitis (AR). Indeed, when I first started having the symptoms of sneezing, running nose and itchy eyes on a regularly basis, I thought I had a recurrent flu. It is not easy to differentiate for early sufferers, even more so for kids. You can refer to this quick guide to help you differentiate.

    Dr Soh Jian Yi, an associate consultant at the division of paediatric allergy, immunology and rheumatology at National University Hospital said that the low rate of diagnosis for allergic rhinitis is likely due to lack of awareness. 

    "The symptoms are either ignored, attributed to frequent flu, asthma or even naughty behaviour."

    Allergic rhinitis can lead to the following:
    Discomfort and disturbed sleep
    Obstructive sleep apnoea
    Impairment of daily activities
    Learning and performance (be it in school or at work for adults)
    Decreased quality of life
    Chronic rhinosinusitis

    " But awareness and diagnosis of AR is only half the battle. The other half is to find the appropriate treatment for it..."

    Dr Soh will discuss about treatment for allergic rhinitis next week. Stay tuned!

    Note: I blanked out an ad in the newspaper cutting to keep the article clean looking :)

    Friday, 30 May 2014

    Living the Life with Allergies (Guest Post- Mike Noblin)

    I am very pleased to share with you this Q&A which Mike has gladly participate. Mike is my twitter friend and has been suffering from allergies for a long time. He is an ACE certified personal trainer and you can find him on twitter.  We hope you find this sharing useful!

    Q1 Can you give us a background of your allergies?

    Mike: I’m mildly allergic to dust, grass, and ragweed, but HIGHLY allergic to tree pollen.  I first started having allergic symptoms in my late teens (I’m 31 now).  As time has gone by, my allergies have gotten progressively worse each year.  I don’t know if global warming is to blame, but it seems that each spring is a little more miserable with higher pollen counts.  My allergies are by far the worst in the spring! I’m from TN so things start blooming (and I start sneezing) in February each year.  February until June is full of itchy, watery eyes, and insane, uncontrollable sneezing fits.

    Q2 What medications have you tried (& doesn’t work) and what are you currently taking now?

    Mike: I tried Claritin years ago when it first came out and got absolutely NO relief.  Zyrtec has worked decently for me in past years, but this year it’s only providing about 4-6 hours of relief.  I finally switched to Allegra a couple weeks ago and it’s working pretty well (I still start sneezing after about 8-10 hours though L )

    Q3 How do allergies affect your life/lifestyle and how do you cope with it?

    Mike: I try not to let it affect my lifestyle as much as I can. I love being outside, so usually I’ll just medicate as much as possible and bring lots of tissues J

    Q4 How do your family respond to your allergy attack?

    Mike: Some give me a hard time about my constant sneezing fits, but it’s all in good fun.  They’re so used to me sneezing all the time now, so it’s part of the background noise. J Luckily my wife is extremely patient and supportive. She even thinks my fits are cute (which is good because they happen often).

    Q5 If you could use 3 single words to describe an allergy attack, what would they be?


    Q6 Which is the most annoying symptom of your allergies you wish could just disappear?

    Mike: Obviously sneezing!!! It’s the most annoying symptom by far.  I feel my nose start to burn, and I try desperately not to let the first sneeze out. I know after the 1st one I’m in for a fit of 20-40 sneezes over the next few minutes.  I’ve had fits as long as one hour with over 200 sneezes.  Needless to say, I’m usually exhausted and laying down after that.  Itchy eyes would be 2nd most annoying, but I get pretty good relief with eye drops.

    Q7 Have you tried any alternative healing / natural remedies / supplements for your allergies? If yes, which have you tried and what is your response?

    Mike: The only natural remedy I’ve tried is local honey, but unfortunately I didn’t get any results from it.

    Q8 If no, which one of these alternative healing / natural remedies / supplements are you most willing to give it a try and why?

    Mike: I definitely want to try quercetin!  I’ve heard from you and read on your blog that it can be a great natural anti-histamine. 

    Q9 What is the best allergy advice you have ever received?

    Mike: The best allergy advice I’ve gotten so far is to stay indoors as much as possible between 6:00AM-10:00AM.  Pollen is usually highest during those hours.  Also, learning to take my antihistamines BEFORE my symptoms arrive (usually February 1st each year).

    Monday, 26 May 2014

    7 Tips for Protecting Your Eyes During the Hay Fever Season

    During the hay fever season, other than your nose wrecking havoc with the constant sneezing and mucus dripping, your eyes are likely another part of your body that gets affected. Itchy. Watery. Red.

    What can you do about it? Here are 7 tips to protect your eyes during the hay fever season:

    • Wear wrap around sunglasses to protect the eyes from pollen in the air. 
    Besides, you look more cool wearing them than having to squint your eyes in the bright sunshine. :)

    • Rinse your eyes regularly to get rid of pollen.

    • Wash your hands regularly to ensure they are pollen free.

    • Avoid touching your eyes and rubbing them is a big NO-NO. 
    Admittedly I know this can be quite challenging especially with your eyes itching. But rubbing them really does nothing for you other than easing the itch momentarily, only to have it feel itchier awhile later. Rubbing the eyes may also cause redness in them. You already look like a reindeer with the red nose from the constant wiping of mucus, you don't need the red eyes to match with it!

    • Refrain from wearing your contact lenses when you are suffering from the allergic symptoms. 
    I feel more discomfort in my eyes when I wear my lenses during my allergic rhinitis flare up and it will usually end up looking red. Spectacles is the way to go. Comfort first, glamour second. I'm a pretty practical person :)

    • For ladies, avoid heavy make-up around the eyes area. If possible, go make-up free around the eyes area when your hay fever symptoms appear. 
    The reason for this is two-fold. Firstly, your watery eyes will smudge your eye make-up and you end up looking like a panda. Secondly, some eye make-up contain fragrance, alcohol or other ingredients that may possibly irritate your eyes further. Again, I go with the principle of comfort first, glamour second.

    • To minimize coming into contact with pollen:
    a) Turn on the air con and shut the windows when you are driving.    
    b) Keep the doors and windows closed at home.                
    c) Change your clothes when coming home from outdoors and take a shower to prevent spreading of pollen within the house.                                                                                                              
    d) Avoid gardening work where possible.

    Monday, 19 May 2014

    Nettle & Peppermint Tea for Allergy Relief

    Nettle is known to be a natural antihistamine and used widely to fight allergy naturally. According to University of Maryland Medical Center:
    "One preliminary human study suggested that nettle capsules helped reduce sneezing and itching in people with hay fever. Researchers think that may be due to nettle's ability to reduce the amount of histamine the body produces in response to an allergen."

    Peppermint supports the upper respiratory system and helps to open up the airway. Great for decongesting that stuffy nose during an allergic rhinitis flare up. According to University of Maryland Medical Center:
    "Peppermint and its main active agent, menthol, are effective decongestants. Because menthol thins mucus, it is also a good expectorant, meaning that it helps loosen phlegm and breaks up coughs."

    So with this in mind, here is a simple tea that you can make at home for coping with your allergy symptoms this season. 

    Here's what you need:

    • For an 8-ounce serving, use 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs. 
    • Pour boiling water over your herbs, cover and let it steep for about 10 minutes. 
    • Add in sweetener if necessary. 
    • Strain and drink. Easy!

    You can buy these herbs in bulk from Mountain Rose Herbs for cost savings. Herbs sold by Mountain Rose Herbs are certified organic and certified Kosher

    For best results, drink several servings throughout the day. As with all natural supplements or herbal remedies, it is best to start consuming them ahead of the allergy season as the herbs work best as a preventative. But even if your allergies have already started, this tea can still help to bring some relief.

    According to Mountain Rose Herbs, nettle leaf may lower blood pressure due to its diuretic and hypotensive actions. Please consult your doctor if you have a medical condition before using. This post is for educational purpose only.

    Monday, 5 May 2014

    How to Make Elderberry Syrup to Fight the Cold and Flu

    Elderberry (Sambucus Nigra) contains high amount of vitamin C and flavonoids and is known to boost the immunity. It has been used as a natural remedy for many years to treat cold and flu as it can help shorten the duration of respiratory illnesses. Some evidence suggests that it may help reduce swelling in mucous membranes and help relieve nasal congestion. This could be useful for those suffering from allergies.

    I first started buying Sambucol (elderberry syrup) for my son as a natural remedy for cold and flu. But it does not come cheap, so I only gave him the syrup when he is down with the cold or flu. Recently, I did some research online and found that the elderberry syrup can be easily made at a much lower cost! With this affordable homemade elderberry syrup, he can drink it on a regular basis to boost his immune system. This is the recipe that I used to make the syrup.

    Homemade Elderberry Syrup Ingredients:
    • 1 cup dried organic elderberries*
    • 5 cups water
    • 1 cup raw honey (preferably organic)
    • 1 tsp cinnamon powder (optional)
    • 1/2 tsp cloves or cloves powder (optional)
    • 2 T fresh or dried ginger (optional)

    How to Make the Elderberry Syrup:
    • Pour water into saucepan and add elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves (do not add honey yet!)
    • Bring to a boil and then cover. Reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until the liquid has reduced by almost half. Remove from heat and let it cool.
    • Pour through a strainer or cheese cloth into a glass bowl. You can quash the berries in the strainer to get as much juice out of them as you can.
    • Discard the elderberries and let the liquid cool to lukewarm.
    • Add the honey in and stir well.
    • When the mixture is done, pour the syrup into a glass bottle for storage to be kept refrigerated.

    *For those residing outside of U.S.A or Canada, you can buy organic dried elderberries here

    I made one batch of this syrup recently and its not difficult to do at all! However, I omitted the optional items as am not sure how my son would like it as the Sambucol that he drank previously do not contain these ingredients. Moreover, for a first time making it, I preferred to keep simple :)

    The maintenance dose for kids is 1 tsp (5ml) daily and for adults is 2 tsp (10ml) daily. When you are down with a cold or flu, you can try to increase the dose to 2 tsp (10ml) twice daily for kids and 2 tsp (10ml) four times daily for adults.

    Have you ever taken elderberries or tried making your own elderberry syrup? Love to hear from you!

    Note: This post is for educational purposes only, and is based on my personal experience. Always consult your doctor before consuming any health remedies.