Dr. Syra Madad is an internationally recognized public health leader and epidemiologist in infectious disease and special pathogen preparedness and response. She is Senior Director, System-wide Special Pathogens Program at New York City Health and Hospitals, the nation’s largest municipal healthcare delivery system overseeing special pathogen preparedness and response efforts across 11 acute care hospitals in addition to post-acute/long-term care facilities and ambulatory care sites.
Dr. Madad’s work focuses on the preparedness for, response to and recovery from infectious disease outbreaks with an emphasis on health care and public health biopreparedness. Dr. Madad has led multiple outbreak responses including Ebola, Zika, Measles, candida auris, and recently, COVID19. Dr. Madad has over 50 publications, and has been a guest speaker at over 70 scientific and medical conferences around the world.
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Jillian Smith, RDN, is a registered dietitian with a special focus in functional medicine for the gut. She is the lead dietitian for GutPersonal, whose unique, personalized approach to wellness involves customized supplements, gut testing, and health coaching to help you achieve lasting relief. Her passion is to uncover the root cause of gut issues and get rid of symptoms — for good. For years Jillian bounced through doctor appointments, completing lab work and other tests, just to be told that everything looked “normal”. Through the right testing, proper nutrition, personalized lifestyle, and supplement interventions, she now helps clients heal their gut and experience life symptom-free.
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The design of the human body is amazing, and the immune system never ceases to blow me away. Its primary job is to scan the environment and tolerate. It is constantly scanning, for our protection. It then decides what it wants to tolerate, and what necessitates an attack back. It’s a beautifully protective design.
Mold, pollen, trees, grasses – these are not new things to the human body. We have always lived in community with our natural world. So what is the deal with seasonal allergies? Why are so many people struggling, and getting worse and worse from year to year?
It goes back to what your immune system is tolerating.
We are exposed to a myriad of foreign substances every day. Yes, we have the natural world. Yes, we have viruses and pathogens the body is protecting against. But now we have outdoor air pollution, synthetic fragrances in everything indoors, pharmaceuticals, medications and supplements with fillers our body has to figure out what to do with, pesticides on our food, food that isn’t really food, and all manner of chemical/toxin exposures from beauty products and antibacterial soaps and sanitizers that disrupts the microbial balance. Whew!
We are overexposed to foreign man-made substances and underexposed to the natural world. We don’t get nature time, play in the dirt, or live in close proximity to a variety of animals. We have a decline in vaginal births and breastfeeding, which decreases microbial diversity as a result.
Most of your immune cells live in the gut. So any damage to the gut impacts the way the immune system is able to function optimally, but a failure to function optimally… creates more damage to the gut. It’s extremely cyclical.
It’s no wonder you go from living and tolerating all manner of foods, substances, allergens… then one day in your 30s or 40s you realize you have an abundance of skin issues, digestive problems, food reactions, and allergies gone wild! The allergy medicine that you used to be able to use with no problems seems not to work as well, and you experience brain fog and confusion when you take it.
It is all connected.
The good news is we can restore immune health. We can restore nutrients, and we can support our body’s desire to be in balance.
But we have to be able to look beyond the presenting symptoms and question what is driving them.
Taking an allergy pill will not remove the reason your immune system is creating a histamine response. Blocking histamine receptors doesn’t block your body’s need to protect you through the release of histamines. So it only works for so long, and as always, your body creates a compensatory response, at the expense of increasing risk of cognitive decline and glioma (well-documented side effects of long-term use of antihistamines).
So what do I recommend?
I love using quercetin for supporting the body at the root. Quercetin is a flavanoid naturally found in apples, blueberries, and kale. It helps the immune system respond to outside threats, and can act as a natural antihistamine by stabilizing the release of histamines. But the benefits go beyond symptom relief. It may even have anti-inflammatory effects, as well as help promote healing to the intestinal lining by creating a tighter junction and reducing likelihood of enhanced intestinal permeability. It’s a two-for-one value! To get started, I really like this brand, one to two capsules a day. Give it two weeks to take effect. When it is combined with bromelain, like the version I recommend, absorption is enhanced. QBC Plex by Solaray is another great option.
For kids, I really love Snifflex by Creekside Naturals. It’s inexpensive and works. Other options are D Hist for adults or D Hist Jr by Ortho Molecular Products, but those are typically more expensive, and if you have more than one child with allergies, it really adds up!
Boswellia is derived from frankincense, and it can reduce allergy and even asthma symptoms (clinically studied to reduce symptoms in 70% of those studied). There is much research available on Boswellia as an anti-inflammatory alternative to NSAIDs, which do quite a bit of damage to the gut by increasing enhanced intestinal permeability and breaking down the mucosal intestinal barrier (which we need for protection). Taking 300 mg, 3 times a day is a beneficial dose for reducing asthma-like symptoms.
Two other options to try are Stinging Nettle, 500 mg, 2 times a day, or Butterbur, 100 mg, 2 times a day (which can also help alleviate migraines as well).
As always, this information is used for educational purposes. Talk to your practitioner before you start any new supplements, especially if you are on other medications. Please do your own research. Instead of asking “Dr. Google,” I like to do a search such as “Butterbur Pubmed” to see what kind of published research is available. We live in an incredible era with published research available to all, so don’t buy the medieval dialogue to “leave the research to the experts.” That language is best left in the Middle Ages, and has no place in the modern, educated society.
I did not reverse chronic disease dynamics in my family by simply listening to the experts and nodding my head. I played an active role in my healing journey and that of my children, and I was thankful for the experts who partnered with me along the way and encouraged me to research on my own as well. If a practitioner is unwilling to work with you or laughs at your research (yes, this has happened to me), then it’s time to find someone new.
The last thing I will mention for seasonal relief is homeopathy. To be fair, I don’t have as much training in homeopathy as I do in nutrients and supplements using nutrients from food. But homeopathy has been my family secret for five years now, and it never fails in symptom relief. The two that I’ve used successfully are Boiron Histaminum Hydrochloricum 30c pellets and Rhinallergy Tablets. Pellets are great, because you can just drop a few of them in your mouth and let dissolve under your tongue. The tablets are a little trickier to drop into your mouth without touching the outside, which can take away some of the benefits. Homeopathy is great, because it’s heavily diluted and safe for a wide array of ages, and I never have side effects other than relief. Because of the increase of antibiotic resistance, homeopathy is gaining more favor from many traditional practicing physicians, though more study needs to be done and it still may be viewed as “quackery pseudoscience” for some practitioners.
Please remember that chronic stress increases the release of stress hormones and will put your body in a vulnerable position to fight back against invaders. When stressed, everything will look like an attacker and your body will respond accordingly. Your body’s job is to protect you, and it is always on your side, even if it doesn’t look like it.
Finally, if reading this has made you realize that it is time to take your health in your own hands, I would love to help you walk through that empowering journey. Contact me and let’s see what we can learn together!