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Ask the Herbalist -Allergies

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: I am going to ask a question that my Doctors donít seem to be able to answer.. I can no longer take any antibiotics that we have tried so far for infections. I am having bad reactions, to medications a rash that will cover my entire body. I also have had to go off my tegretol used for a major tick on the right side of my face. I ended up with very large hives from that. I am left at a loss as what to do.

     I am also having the same reactions to codeine that is used in most major pain relievers. I was told that maybe I needed to check on natural medications in replacement I donít know where to start looking. I would be so grateful if you could steer me in the right direction.

ANSWER: Unfortunately you do not mention what kind of infections or the location of these. As to the rash we suggest the herb Calendula. Boil a handful, let it cool and apply to the areas topically.  Several factors are at play with the tick. Stress, anxiety, fatigue, tension and even some medications may cause this. The herb Hyoscyamus (Black henbane) has been used, but I do not suggest it without supervision.  I do suggest Arnica, it  is used topically for a wide range of conditions, including bruises, sprains, muscle aches, wound healing, superficial phlebitis, rheumatic pain, inflammation from insect bites, and swelling due to fractures. Use it as a poultice or ointment. 

QUESTION: I started taking probiotics three weeks ago and have not been keeping a super clean diet.  The problem is that when I eat fruits or fresh veggies, I start sneezing and my throat starts to itch.  Help!  I used to suffer from allergies, but changed my diet and my life about two and a half years ago and they stopped altogether.  Have you come across this before?

ANSWER: Here's my sugg4estion. Buy organic, and if that is not possible, then buy local produce and fruits, from no more than 300 miles away from you. 

If this doesn't work for you, I suggest you see an allergist, but remember it is that time of year when the pollen count is usually high. Check with your local weather station.

QUESTION: Last spring I began taking Quercetin to help with my seasonal allergies.  I took the recommended does of 2 capsules a day, but after a week my intestines became sore and I had a lot of blood after bowel movements.  I thought at first I was taking too much Quercetin, so I started taking only 1 per day.  That still was too much for my system.  I went back to the health food store, and the person who worked there told me he had never had anyone who took Quercetin complain of those symptoms.  I quit taking them, and the symptoms went away.  Once I started taking them again, the symptoms returned.  I gave up and learned to live with the allergies.

Lately, because my stomach seemed bloated, I began taking Ginger Root.  Within 5 days I had the same symptoms as I had when taking the Quercetin.  I do not understand why this happens.  I have been taking probiotics for years, and last year started taking Marshmallow Root to help with my cystitis, and bladder infections.  These never bother me.  Do you think I am allergic to the Quercetin and the Ginger Root. 

ANSWER: While not the most common of allergies, some folks are allergic to Ginger.  Be on the lookout for plants from the same family like turmeric, and cardamom.  I suggest you avoid them all. 

As to Quercetin, some of its side effects include nausea, vomiting, hives, rashes, breathing problems, hives and stomach discomfort.  I suggest you avoid it also.   

If the Marshmallow root is working, continue with your plan. I always suggest that folks use extracts or tinctures they work better and faster. Just add 5 drops to an infusion of Green tea or Dandelion tea and drink 3xs day.


: I am a 40 year old African American male. About 1 1/2 years ago I developed a food allergy that I nor my allergist have been able to tackle. when I eat white bread products ( sandwiches, pizza, subs, hamburgers, some noodle products like won tons, bagels, donuts, etc) I break out in hives all over my body. the itching get severe until I take allegra; then it eventually subsides.  lately it seems that even if I take allegra before I eat any of these products it proves useless. I still have allergic reactions although I have the medicine in my system. do I need to increase the Allegra 180 dose I currently take or what other remedies can I consider?  I don’t find my allergist to be of much help.

ANSWER: It seems to me, you've answered your own question. Allergies are the body's way of rebelling against what we're doing to it. Your e-mail says, " when I eat white bread products ( sandwiches, pizza, subs, hamburgers, some noodle products like won tons, bagels, donuts, etc) I break out in hives all over my body."  Then the obvious answer is, DON'T EAT THOSE THINGS!!!   Your body is obviously reacting to the white flour. As an herbalist, you will NEVER hear me suggest MORE of a pharmaceutical medication which does little more than mask the symptoms. You have to change your eating habits. I know you don't want to hear that, but the fact is there and you're body is screaming it loud and clear to you. Believe me, make the sacrifice now and it will save you in the years to come.  There are herbs that may offer some relief of the symptoms, but if your body is reacting that violently, it is being poisoned, and all the herbs in the world won't help you if you continue to put that crap in your body. Sorry to be so blunt, but you'd be amazed at the letters I get from people in their 60s and 70s complaining about situations that are virtually hopeless because they refused to take corrective measures when they were younger. There is no value in the foods you named, so no reason to keep eating them. I know this is difficult, believe me. I went through the same thing and so did my husband. In the end, we decided our long term health was more important that white fluffy bread and egg noodles.

QUESTION: I have read some of the articles on the site but have not found any questions relating directly to my query. I suffer from sinus problems, and had an operation about 2 years ago to remove nasal polyps. I recovered my sense of taste and smell for about 2 months but it has now gone again.  I recently had to fast for 2 days to rid myself of a stomach bug and found in doing so that my sense of taste/smell was beginning to return.  Can you offer some advice as to why this might be, and how eating habits may affect loss of taste/smell

ANSWER: If your eating habits are affecting your sense of smell and taste, my first thought would be some sort of food allergy. You might want to check with your medical professional and get tested to see if you have any.  Also, infections can cause you to lose smell and taste as can antibiotics on occasion. Check for food allergies. The most common are wheat, corn and dairy products. You can test this yourself by eliminating one at a time from your diet totally and seeing how your body reacts.

QUESTION: I thought I would write you in case you might have some ideas on how to deal with a bizarre problem I have developed in the last 6 years or so.  For about 4-5 weeks in the summer, usually between mid July and the end of August, I develop a bizarre allergic reaction to what seems to be seasonal allergies- pollen, something outside. I have the usual itchy throat, sneezing fits from time to time, groggy feelings, etc.  However, the one thing that has been driving me crazy is what happens to my eyes. No matter what the situation- contacts, no contacts, no makeup, makeup, stay inside, go outside- nothing changes this.  My eyes get this weird thing where the insides of the lids shed tiny shreds of skin.  They do not disconnect completely , so they feel like I have something in my eye. Once they disconnect, they then work their way into the corner of the eye and come out.  They are literally long very narrow shreds of skin. However, at certain times in the period, the eyes will act similar to how I have perceived poison ivy to be- itch and itch, sometimes the whites will blister (if I itch them in sleep).  It is tortuous.  I eat a very natural diet, am usually fine the rest of the year (unless it is a rainy period with lots of outside mold and fungi growth), but this period in summer is really frustrating me.
        No one seems to know what it is and the average response from a doctor is to just wait it out.  I refuse to take drugs to alter it- and simple antihistamines will ease the other symptoms but the eyes just keep right on going with this stupid cycle.  My eyes check out fine the rest of the year, and I do not have these symptoms at all. We have cleared the house from any clue of mold, any allergens that we can, I am very careful not to touch my eyes, there is not much else we can do.  Especially if it is seasonal plant related.  I just want to learn about some kind of herbal remedies to ease my eyes through this weird period.   I eat a lot of fresh produce and juices to help cleanse my system, which helps a little, but I am at my wits end with this.  I have had itchy eyes during seasonal allergies for years, but this weird phenomenon of the lids is pretty standard every summer for the last 6 years or so.  Autumn frosts will often ease it up once the weeds have died back, but I do not want to waste my summer.  I know it has to be some kind of pollen or plant irritant, but I can not seem to get any answers after 6 years of searching.  Any ideas at all?

ANSWER: I couldn't venture a guess. I've certainly never heard of it, but you claim it's related to your seasonal allergies. You might try some local, unpasturized honey if you can find it. I've had it work wonders for me and my family and friends who suffer from allergies. But it must be local and must be raw. No pasteurization or treatment of any kind. As close to your home as you can find it. The bees in the area will take pollen from all the trees and plants to make their nectar and in those small doses, your body may be able to build up an immunity to whatever it is that's causing it. Sorry I couldn't be more help.

QUESTION: My daughter is 7 yrs. old and has had problems with post nasal drip since she
was 3. She is currently taking 5mg of Singulair/day at bedtime, and Nasacort spray (triamcinolone acetonide) twice a day. Without the medication she will have trouble sleeping due to persistent coughing episodes.  She has been tested for many allergies (approx. 30) with no positive allergy results. The doctors do not know what the root cause is, and are saying it is due to her genetic makeup.  We do not smoke, and have an ionizer in her room. We also have a dog, but again the allergic results came back negative.  Do you have any suggestions on the root cause or what herbs can be used to minimize this problem?

ANSWER: The first place I'm going to ask you to look is her diet. Is she eating anything with white flour in it? This would include unbleached flour. How about sugar? So many children suffer from allergies these days and it can often be traced back to diet. Change the diet, the problem goes away. Everything in the stores is full of this garbage and your daughter's body is trying to tell you that something you're putting in it is causing problems. Also dairy products. Wheat, corn and dairy products are the top allergy producers in young children.  Often parents look for something to stop the symptoms and offer some relief when all that's really needed is a change in the diet. My suggestion is that you look at those things first and see if that is an issue. You might be surprised. Children's systems are incredibly resilient and usually respond very quickly to such changes. She should be getting lots of fresh fruit, green vegetables every day and plenty of whole grains. Not white rice or pasta.

QUESTION: My 4 year old niece had a brain tumor removed which left her with no pituitary gland.   With the steroid meds and lack of this gland she is now up to weighing 60 lbs at 4 year old.   She itches all over.   The doc says he doesn’t think it was because of tumor or meds she is on.    We have come to the conclusion because her skin has stretch so much in a 3 month time that it is like a pregnancy and itches from stretching.  Any suggestions to relieve itching till she can taper off.  We now put lotion on her all the time.

ANSWER: I have to disagree with your doctor. If your daughter is on steroids, she could very well be experiencing an allergic reaction to it. Did he test her to see if it was a reaction?  I don't recommend mixing herbs and prescription meds. It can be very dangerous. I have an oil that I make for pregnant mothers to help with the itch that comes from skin stretching, but I would check an allergic reaction to the meds first. That's certainly what it sounds like to me.

My 15 year old son, Noah, has had a cough since Sat. 8/14 He had a fever for a couple of days.  I called the doctor on Tues, started giving him Robitussim DM then took him to the Doctors on Wed. & continued Robitussim with the intent to finish and start taking prescription of Promethazine if needed (have not taken).  Friday 8/20 he began to break out in hives.  So I stopped giving him the Robitussim.  Sat. @ 4 am the hives woke him & were pretty inflamed on legs, arms face a little puffy so I gave him one Benadryl
and some honey w/lemon for cough.  He slept after that @ 10hrs.  Was doing OK & just about 1hr ago 5pm the hives started up again.  I had given him two doses (2tsp ea.) of honey & lemon prior to that about 2 hr. apart.  I just gave him 2 Benadryl this time at 6pm.  He had this happen once before about 1 year ago and at that time we attributed the hives to new rugs at a friends house he was visiting (playroom rolling around & playing the day before) but not really sure what was cause.  Allergies run in his father's side of family though. My question is can I combine antihistamines like Benadryl with herbal remedies without harm/side effects?  I have some Quercetin in the house, or is something else better?  After researching on internet was considering getting B12 & Vitamin E to give him also.  What is too much and what is not good to combine?  Thank you so much for your time & expertise.

ANSWER:  So sorry about the lateness of the response. I've been out of the country. Is your son still suffering? First, I would get him on a quality vitamin. I like Carlson's ACES. It has A, C, E, and Selenium in it in the right amounts. Next, I would start building up his immune system. Teenagers are notoriously junk food eaters, but if you can eliminate as much processed foods, white flour, white sugar and artificial sweeteners from his diet as possible that will be a great start. I have an Immuni-Tea on the website www.allgoodegifts.com in the Apothecary that may be of some help to your son. Also a sore throat and a cough and cold formula.

QUESTION: I have a musty smell when I sneeze, nasal drip, very watery eyes, blurred vision at time, headaches between the eyes, ringing in the ears, dizziness and hives that make big welts. The hives come and go, mostly at night. I hope you can help me on this. I have asked a lot of people about this and they don't know. I went to my family Doctor and he just said to take Benadryl.  I'm sure it's something to do with the sinus but how do I get it cleared out.  THANK YOU SOOOOOOO MUCH. I started taking Quercetin+C and Fenu-Thyme from the health food store in our town but no change yet. I drink a lot of water daily. I do eat some fruit, brown rice, beans, Ezekiel bread, oatmeal, free range eggs, chicken, fish, veg.burgers, veg.of all kinds, cheese, almonds and almond butter. I use flaxseed oil on my salads.

You are having an allergic reaction to something, I'm not sure what. Your diet sounds ideal if that's the way you eat all the time. Can you narrow the outbreaks down to something specific or a location, or a situation, or something you've been exposed to? It certainly sounds like an allergy, but the specifics are what's important. It's hard to suggest anything without knowing more. I do have an Allergy Tea on my website at www.allgoodegifts.com in the Apothecary, but without eliminating the cause of the allergy, you would have to drink the tea forever, which I don't recommend!  Any other info you can provide would help. Try to observe what happens within 12 hours of an outbreak to see if you can pinpoint more carefully what's setting your system off. Your body is trying to cleanse itself of something. And I always say, better out than in, so getting rid of it through sneezing, dripping, diarrhea or whatever is better than plugging yourself up and letting it stay in there.

QUESTION: I am constantly suffering from a sore throat, sneezing and red itchy eyes.  Doctors say I have hayfever and post nasal drip. I am tired of taking antibiotics, I'm looking for a healthier realistic alternative through herbal treatment. Please note: my 2 year old has the same symptoms. Kindly help me I've been long suffering.

ANSWER: First I would take a look at your diet. Are you eating healthy? No processed foods, white flour, white sugar, processed foods or artificial sweeteners. You'd be surprised how many people think they suffer from allergies that are actually related to food. Stop the offending food, you stop the symptoms. It's your body trying to tell you that something is going in that shouldn't be in there. Next is the environment. Are you exposed to smoke, noxious fumes of any kind? This can also cause the symptoms you describe. If you are eating well and your environment is basically clean, the best herbs for your symptoms are Bee Pollen, Ephedra, Goldenseal, Burdock, Dandelion and Echinacea. Also, you should be taking a B complex and Vitamin C.

I have stinging, burning, scratchy feeling all over my body. I am using sarna lotion and zyrtec.
I have a bipolar illness and lots of anxiety. Also on klonapin, zoloft, lithium. Still very painful skin.

It sounds to me like you're having an allergic reaction to one of the many chemicals you're putting into your body. I would speak with your primary care physician and let them know of your reaction. It could be serious, so don't put it off. If your body is trying to tell you that something isn't working, listen to it!  Let me know if you get a diagnosis of the itching.

QUESTION:  Our son has us baffled.  He is 18 months old and has been sick with a stomach flu for 6 days.  On the night that he started to feel good, we notice that he has white wheals all over his fingers and feet.  After about an hour of no activity playing), they go away. But as soon as he gets up and plays he gets them
again.  We haven't had any new foods and no new cleaning products in the house.  He has been inside
alot the last few days because he has been sick.  His doctor feels that it is an allergic reaction
(allergy).  We just can't imagine from what?  Any suggestions?  They have him on allergy meds. and a
steroid to prevent spreading and swelling.

ANSWER: Your doctor thinks it's an allergic reaction, but he doesn't know to what?  What kind of allergy meds is he on? He could be having a reaction to the meds. You say he has the stomach flu. Perhaps something he ate is giving him an allergic reaction.  White Wheals?  Don't know what that is. I'd get your doctor to give you more information than "an allergic reaction" so you can treat it properly. Perhaps he needs to be tested for food allergies. Check with your health  practitioner.

I have read that some immune herbs are useful in addressing immune
overactivity (ie.allergic reactions). I am looking for leads on herbs to
investigate or any useful information regarding allergy treatment and
herbs. Could you please tell me a natural or herbal remedy for thrush? >>

ANSWER: I think you are talking about the medicinal mushrooms such as Maitake, Shitake and Reishi (Ganoderma's), they are immune amphoterics, harmonizing the immune system, lowering hyper response and elevating hypo response.