Surviving Allergy Season

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove – Pathways to Healing

Springtime in Georgia is beautiful, from the birds singing to the spectacular flowers and blooming trees, everything is coming alive once again.  But with this awakening of nature, many people also experience the “awakening” of seasonal allergies. The dense clouds of pine pollen hanging in the air, combined with a myriad of other unseen pollens, make many allergy sufferers want to hide inside until the season passes. So, what are allergies and is there anything we can do to prevent them and enjoy this time of year without suffering?

An allergy is an abnormally high sensitivity to a substance that is not typically harmful. An allergy is essentially an indication that something is out of balance in your body causing it to overreact with an immune response, such as itchy or watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, eczema, abdominal pain or bloating. Some common causes of allergies are pollens, certain foods, stress, dust mites, pet dander and air pollution.

In recent years there has been a significant increase in allergies and asthma, especially in children. The amount of people suffering with allergies in North America has gone from 10 percent in 1980 to 30 percent today. According to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America, 1 in 5 people now suffer from allergies. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology estimates the annual cost of allergies to the health care system and businesses in the U.S. to be $7.9 BILLION.

Why are we experiencing this dramatic increase in allergies? The simple answer is that most allergy sufferers’ immune systems are not as strong or efficient as they once were. Over 70 percent of your immune system is in your intestinal tract, and it is common to find an imbalance in the bacteria of the gut resulting from the use of medications, especially antibiotics. A 2010 study from the University of Marcos found that children given antibiotics during their first year of life were at a 66 percent increased risk for developing allergies. 

Another cause of increased allergies is inflammation, especially in the gut. Many of the foods commonly consumed by Americans are filled with chemicals and trans fats.  In addition, the antibiotics and hormones found in many of the meats we consume also cause the body to become inflamed. Chronic inflammation can cause the body to become over-reactive and hypersensitive, while also causing a decrease in healthy gut flora.

The good news is that there are things you can do to help reduce allergies naturally. As we head in to spring, consider taking some of these simple steps:

  • Use a neti pot. A neti pot cleanses and refreshes the nasal passages, thereby improving allergy symptoms. The pot is filled with purified water and a salt-based mixture. (Using water alone in the nasal passages can irritate the inside of your nostrils.)
  • Strengthen your immune system by eating good quality food, lots of vegetables, some fruit and some lean meats.
  •  Eat garlic.  Garlic is a natural antibiotic and helps to fight off viruses, infections and allergies. Using real cloves of garlic in your foods is more effective than taking it in supplement form and can offer a powerful boost to the immune system.
  • Increase Vitamin D. The optimal range for Vitamin D levels in our blood is between 50 and 100 ng/ml. Vitamin D is a modulator for the immune system and decreased levels of Vitamin D have been linked to autoimmune conditions.
  • When possible, reach for natural antihistamines and decongestants. There are several whole food supplements available that can help eliminate histamines, support liver function and loosen mucus without the side effects of most allergy medications.  Supplements that we use in our office with great success include Allerplex and Antronex.
  • Reach for lemons and limes. Both fruits have high levels of Vitamin C, which boosts the immune system and helps reduce allergies.  Drinking lemon/lime water also helps your body get rid of toxins.
  • Drink turmeric ginger tea. Together, turmeric and ginger have powerful anti-inflammatory properties and act as a natural painkiller to help alleviate allergy symptoms. Avoid chamomile tea if you are allergic to ragweed.
  • Drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water a day to stay adequately hydrated. Dehydration makes allergy symptoms even worse.
  • Change your air conditioner filters frequently during the pollen season.
  • When in your car, keep the ventilation system on re-circulate.
  • Experiment with essential oils. Peppermint oil can often unclog sinuses, discharge phlegm and offer relief to scratchy throats. Basil oil reduces the inflammatory response to allergens and helps detoxify the body of bacteria and viruses. Eucalyptus oil can open up the lungs and sinuses, thereby improving circulation and reducing allergy symptoms. Lemon oil supports the lymphatic system drainage and helps overcome respiratory conditions by boosting the immune system. Tea tree oil can destroy airborne pathogens that cause allergies. It also is an antiseptic agent with anti-inflammatory properties.

It is possible to reduce allergies naturally by taking a few simple steps toward strengthening the immune system and limiting overall exposure to environmental allergens.  Taking these steps can allow allergy sufferers to move beyond merely “surviving” this time of year, and bring them to a point where they can thrive and enjoy all spring has to offer.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Bee Pollen

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

We’ve all heard about the numerous health benefits of raw honey but the same honeybees responsible for honey actually produce something even more nutritious and beneficial to our health: bee pollen.

As bees buzz from flower to flower the pollen collected from various blossoms is mixed with a small dose of nectar from the bees’ salivary glands. This mixture is then placed in small “baskets” on their hind legs to be taken back to the hive as food for the colony. As these microscopic pollen particles accumulate on the legs, they begin looking like little balls of yellow fuzz. Beekeepers use special devices called “pollen traps” to collect this pollen as the field bees return to their hives.

Research has shown bee pollen to be one of nature’s most nourishing foods. Rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, lipids, fatty acids and enzymes, bee pollen acts as an antioxidant to help us fight free radicals. Bee pollen also contains antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties that stimulate our immune system, reduce inflammation, enhance energy and support the cardiovascular system. In fact, it has been reported that regular ingestion of bee pollen in the diet decreases low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and increases high-density lipoproteins (HDL), which helps normalize cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

In 1948, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a very important article on bee pollen in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. According to the article, there was a delay in the development of mammary tumors and some mice became tumor-free following ingestion of mice chow mixed with bee pollen. Additionally, the high concentration of RNA and DNA nucleic acids in bee pollen have been shown to help prevent the premature aging of cells and stimulate the growth of new skin cells. Bee pollen stimulates blood supply to skin cells and helps with detoxification. The result is healthier, younger looking skin that is less vulnerable to wrinkles.

Bee pollen may offer relief for allergy sufferers, as well. Utilizing a technique called desensitization, a person can ingest a small amount of the allergen (in this case bee pollen), to stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies that will eliminate the effects of allergy symptoms and reactions when exposed to the offending substance. It is advised to start taking bee pollen at least six weeks before allergy season begins and continue throughout the season for maximal benefit. 

Perhaps most intriguing, bee pollen can boost the energy of high-performance individuals, enhancing athletic performance and strength naturally. Here is what the Finnish coach Antii Lananaki had to say after his track team swept the Olympics in 1972, “Most of our athletes take bee pollen food supplements. Our studies and experience show it significantly improves their performance. There have been no negative results since we have been supplying pollen to our athletes.”

You can purchase bee pollen from a local beekeeper you trust (I buy mine from the local farmers market to make sure that the pollen is free from pesticides and that the bee colonies are not harmed or treated with chemicals). You can also find bee pollen in most health food stores.

Bee pollen pellets or granules can be swallowed alone, added to smoothies or sprinkled over salads. The granules can be blended or ground and mixed with honey, yogurt or food items of your choice. Pollen pellets can be added to warm water and left for two to three hours as they crack and release their nutritional value. You then can drink the liquid or mix with fruit or vegetable juice to gain awesome bee pollen benefits.

It is safe for most people to take bee pollen by mouth, however, there are some caveats. If you are allergic to bees or pollen, you should start slowly – taking just one teaspoon of pollen a day.  If you notice any itching, swelling, lightheadedness or shortness of breath after consuming bee pollen, stop taking it immediately. Additionally, women who are pregnant should ask their healthcare provider before using bee pollen, as it may stimulate ovarian function.

Grab your bee pollen now to boost your nutrient intake naturally as studies show it contains nearly all nutrients required by the human body to thrive.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. In addition, the practice is committed to being a valuable source of information so that people can learn how to live a healthy lifestyle and prevent future illness. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Himalayan Salt Lamps

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

himalayan_salt_lampHimalayan salt lamps are becoming more common these days. But what exactly are these large chunks of glowing pink rock?

Salt lamps, also known as rock salt lamps, are made from large chunks of Himalayan salt that have been hollowed out.  A light bulb is then placed inside the salt to emit light and heat. Deep mines in the western edge of the Himalayan Mountains are the only source of true pink Himalayan salt. Oftentimes, these lamps are purchased for the pleasant glow they emit, but they actually provide numerous health benefits, as well.

First and foremost, salt lamps can help remove contaminants and allergens from the air, which is helpful for those with seasonal allergies and asthma. While salt lamps may not completely “cure” these conditions, they can help to significantly reduce symptoms. The lamp also acts as a deodorizer, leaving you with fresher air to breathe inside.

How exactly does a salt lamp remove air contaminants? Water vapor in the air carries indoor air pollutants like mold, dust, pollen, cigarette smoke, pet dander and other allergens. Salt is hygroscopic, meaning it attracts water molecules to itself. Once the water vapor comes in contact with the salt lamp, pollutants remain trapped in the salt. Since the salt lamp is heated, the salt dries out and is able to continue the cycle of attracting water vapor and pollutants and releasing clean water vapor back into the air.

Salt lamps can also help reduce electromagnetic field radiation (EMF).  These days, many things around us release EMFs in the form of unhealthy positive ions, such as cell phones, computers and televisions. EMFs may be invisible to the naked eye but constant exposure is believed to increase stress and inflammation in the body, while causing side effects like fatigue and a weakened immune system. There have been numerous studies on the toxic effects of EMFs, and scientists have concluded: “chronic exposure to low-level radiation [from cell phones, for example] can cause dementia, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and a variety of cancers.”

Himalayan_Salt_LampOne way to neutralize electromagnetic field radiation is to increase your exposure to negative ions. Salt lamps are natural negative ionizers. When the gentle heat from the lamp warms the salt crystal, the salt emits a negative electrical charge, helping to counter the harmful positive ions from EMF radiation.

Himalayan salt lamps have been shown to help reduce anxiety symptoms. The warm, pinkish glow of salt lamps is calming and brings a happy presence into a room. The negative ions released by salt lamps are also believed to increase serotonin levels in the brain, boosting mood, increasing energy, and helping to relieve stress and depression. Many people find having a salt lamp in their bedroom produces a calming atmosphere that encourages sleep and focus.

Salt lamps can often be found at health food stores, and stores like Homegoods; Bed, Bath & Beyond; Whole Foods and Amazon. When purchasing a salt lamp, be sure to take into consideration the size of the room you are planning to use the lamp in. To effectively cleanse the air of a space, you need one pound of salt rock for every 16 square feet. You may need to use multiple salt lamps in larger, open rooms.

Keep salt lamps away from household moisture like showers, dishwashers, washing machines or window seals, because prolonged exposure to high humidity will cause the salt to melt. Always practice proper safety as well, keeping your lamp in a place where a child cannot pull or knock it down — salt lamps tend to be heavy! Make sure your light bulb is not too strong, which will cause the salt lamp to overheat. A night light sized bulb works just fine. You can check the heat of your lamp by touching the salt. The lamp should only be turned on while you are in the room or the house.IMG_9718

So, choose a room where you spend the most time, whether that is your bedroom, living room, kitchen, or home office, and try using a salt lamp.  Getting started is as easy as just plugging it in. Not only do salt lamps make a beautiful addition to your home or office, but your health may also enjoy a boost, as well.

Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.