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Katja’s Korner: What’s the difference between allergy medication and natural remedies? (Sunday, April 19 – MIT / Saturday, April 25 – BSB)

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So, what’s the difference between allergy medication and natural remedies? Well…

When you have allergy symptoms, that’s a message that your body is in a stress-state. At that point, your immune system is dealing with more than it has resources to fight. You don’t realize it, but at that point, you’re already fighting off a flu, strep throat, cocoa pebbles, pizza, and smog – your immune system handles those and you don’t get symptoms. But now your body is overworked, and along comes some pollen. The body tries to respond, but there are no immune resources left. It’s time to panic! Your immune system responds “irrationally”, producing too much mucous, for example, and you reach for the Kleenex.

Now think of other things that respond irrationally. Think of it like a person who is overtired and overstressed, and acting irrationally. When you take Claritin, you’re essentially punching this irrational person in the face! The person is still stressed out, but now they’re also semi-unconscious! It’s the same in your body – the immune system is still out of resources, but now it’s also semi-unconscious. You don’t have symptoms anymore, but your entire body enters a suppressed state, and you’re less able to protect yourself from pathogens and other toxins in the environment.

So instead, let’s take that irrational person: make them a cup of tea. Give them a nice hot bath. Tell them things will be fine. Let them vent a little. Give them a nap. Help them do the dishes. Now they feel better about their situation, they’re calmer, they’re healthier. It’s just like that for your immune system: instead of suppressing the symptoms and immune function, let’s build the system up with good nutrition (foods your great grandmother ate) and with some good supportive herbs, and the immune system will be much better able to protect you from a little pollen, without overreacting.

Want to learn more? On Saturday, April 25th, Katja will be teaching a class on Herbal Medicine for Seasonal Allergies. 4:30-6:30 pm, at the Boston School of Boabom

Katja Swift, BSB (Boabom North)