AUTUMN: SEASON OF BEAUTIFUL TRANSFORMATION (AND ANNOYING INFLAMMATION)

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Autumn in New England is breathtakingly beautiful as those of us lucky enough to live here know. The air is crisp & breezy. The sun is gentle again and it’s finally cool enough at night to sleep comfortably. Many of us are putting our gardens to bed for the Season & bringing in wood to keep us warm. I love this time of year. My Patients do, too. For many of them, however, it poses unique health challenges. Allergy symptoms can be exacerbated and Respiratory systems can become compromised with ensuing Infections. Over my 30 or so years of practice I’ve taught many Patients about the link between Allergies & Respiratory Infections. That knowledge has helped them to significantly reduce the effects of these Seasonal changes.

How do Seasonal Allergies increase the chances of Colds, Sinusitis, Bronchitis, Flus?

My theory is that the mucus produced in response to the allergens creates a petri-dish that literally gives microbes a medium to grow in. 

So, knowing that, what actions can you take to make this Fall your healthiest one yet?

The Allergens at this time of year are ragweed (until the 1st killing frost), dust, mold & pets.

In my practice, if ragweed is the only offender, we filter the air coming into the house (or at least the bedroom) to reduce exposure & add bioflavonoids, such as Quercetin, & Homeopathic dilutions of local weeds. If dust, mold or pets trigger symptoms we discuss reducing exposure by cleaning up the indoor environment. That might entail changing the filter on the furnace, removing carpets or super cleaning them, finding the source of mold & eliminating it, avoiding contact with piles of wet leaves, or brushing pets outdoors more often & covering their favorite sleeping spots with easy to wash fabrics. The bioflavonoids & Homeopathic drops (in this case those of dust mites, molds, pets) are helpful here as well. Rinsing nasal passages regularly with a Neti-Pot helps by reducing allergens on the surfaces of the mucus membranes & removing the mucus that provides the medium for growth of the microbes.

How do the bioflavonoids & Homeopathic drops work?

When we breathe in Allergens it triggers particular Immune cells called Mast Cells. Mast cells produce histamine which is responsible for the swelling of passages & the subsequent mucus production. In Patients with Seasonal Allergies, the Mast cells are overly sensitive to the least exposure to particulates (tiny particles) and release histamine at the slightest provocation. The bioflavonoids decrease this over-reactivity. The Homeopathic dilutions work very similarly to traditional allergy shots. They “desensitize” the Immune response.  And they are so much simpler to use than going to the Allergist repeatedly for testing and shots.  A few drops under the tongue several times a day is all that’s required. My Patients love this method. It works and it’s easy.

What else contributes to changes in Respiratory health that we see at this time of year?

It turns out that the very decrease in humidity that we look forward to in the Fall enhances the chance of getting a Respiratory infection. Why? Because a component of our Immune system, known as Immunoglobulin A (IgA), resides in mucus membranes such as the nose & throat. When those tissues get dry, the IgA cells aren’t able to work as well. That’s the reason behind humidifiers & using moisturizing methods such as saline nasal sprays &, my favorite, Saline Nasal Gel.

Another contributing factor to the increase in Respiratory symptoms at this time of year is that we now spend much more time indoors thereby increasing our exposure to those household allergens AND to each other’s “germs” both at home and at work. Children are back in school bringing community germs into the house & co-workers are having the same problem in their homes.

What can we do about increased exposure to one another's Respiratory infections beyond hand washing?

Herbal Medicine, Homeopathy & Diet provide very effective tools against these interpersonal Germ assaults.

Herbs such as Elderberry, Astragalus, Andrographis and others can strengthen the IgA response to help prevent URIs (upper respiratory infections). Echinacea, Goldenseal, Oregano, Ginger, Garlic and others can reduce the severity & duration of symptoms. Horseradish opens swollen nasal passages. Horehound and Tussilago reduce coughing. Guaifenesin can be used to keep the mucus thin enough that it doesn’t get clogged up in the sinuses leading to a sinus infection.

The Homeopathic remedy to keep on hand to treat the Flu is called “Oscillococcinum”.  It works wonders if it’s taken at the very first sign of symptoms.

My dietary advice probably won’t surprise you: eliminate Sugar & Junk food!  But did you know that 1 can of Coca Cola contains enough Sugar (44 grams) to depress your Immune Response by 50% (!) for a duration of 5 hours?  Our high sugar diet is a strong contributing factor to the inability to protect ourselves from infection.  Focus instead on whole foods such as green and orange vegetables (full of beta-carotene & vitamin A) and fresh fruits (vitamin C).  Try to avoid Dairy products:  they tend to thicken mucus. So, if you have a cold, avoid them until you’re better. Lots of water helps hydrate the mucus membranes, too.  And then there’s always Chicken Soup if you're not a vegetarian. This season of the year, it’s a good idea to make some up & keep it on hand in the freezer.

Most of all be good to yourselves.  Pamper yourselves and your families a little more.  Get plenty of rest.  Get away from the inevitable stress inducers as often as you can.  Take little meditation breaks.  Schedule time to do the things you enjoy.

Treat yourselves to some well-sourced whole foods, organic whenever possible.  It does cost a little more but is cheaper than illness in the long run.  

Do things that are good for the soul:  volunteer if you can, make a point of going out of your way to do a little something nice for someone every day, take in the beautiful Autumn scenery!  Participation in and Appreciation of Nature, in all its forms, is the ultimate meditation.

AND, CERTAINLY, COME IN & SEE ME IF YOU FEEL YOU NEED ASSISTANCE with the change in seasons and Immunity.

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OUR HEALTHY & EDIBLE/POTABLE CONCLUSION

As always, we like to leave you with a little something tasty.  This week it's an invigorating, Immune-boosting herbal tea that wards off Colds & Flus.  Various versions of this recipe have worked for me and I'm sure many of you have tried something similar as well.  Whether or not you've had the pleasure, I urge you to give this a try at the first sign of those hallmark scratchy, stuffy symptoms that give you pause.  Each of these simple ingredients taken separately have well-known health giving properties.  When combined in this pleasurably hot decoction, the results say "Aahhhh!

three ingredient dragon slayer ginger tea

1) Ginger Root: about 2″ portion of root. Shave off outer skin with the back of a teaspoon and slice into thin rounds about the thickness of a quarter. If that’s too much work, forget peeling and leave the skin on.

2) Raw Honey: to taste but at least 2 overflowing tablespoons. You can add more honey to taste.

3) Organic Lemons:  juice of 2 full lemons. If you are really feeling crappy, buy the organic lemon juice at your local health food store but fresh is really best.

Boil about a 1/2 quart of water or enough to fill a medium pot 3/4 full. Turn off the heat and drop in the raw ginger and cover pot and steep for 15 minutes. Add lemon and honey to the pot AFTER you are finished simmering ginger and after the liquid cools to lukewarm temp but still hot enough to dissolve the honey. Strain it into your cup or just pour it off leaving the ginger behind. When you want more, just heat it back up-I leave the pot on the stove all day and heat up when needed so I only need to make it once a day. Sometimes I’ll stir in a teaspoon of cinnamon which is an effective antiviral and antibiotic and can help relieve a cough and lower fever. Note: if you are making a single cup, just pour the steeped liquid into a cup, squeeze 1 lemon in and add honey to taste.

                                                                                                             --- Courtesy:  EXPAND YOUR CONSCIOUSNESS 2015

 

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