~ April 2005 - Seasonal Allergies and Asthma
Contents . . .
- Help for Seasonal Allergy Sufferers
If you suffer from hay fever nobody needs to tell you when Spring arrives. As many as 25% of Americans suffer from hayfever each Spring.
Hayfever or seasonal allergic rhinitis is an excessive-histamine producing immune response to the wind-born pollen being produced by blossoming trees and grasses. In reality hayfever is only one of a broad variety of allergies people may experience, all of which share a common mechanism. In other words, while it is a mystery why one person begins to sniffle or wheeze when the cottonwoods bloom and another does so when the cat jumps into their lap, it is the same immune system overreaction that causes both.
When an allergy sufferer comes in contact with the allergen to which they have a sensitivity, be it cottonwood or cat, the immune system attacks it with an antibody known as IgE (immunoglobulin E). IgE binds itself to the allergen (also known as the antigen) and then binds with certain types of white blood cells (mast cells and basophils). These cells react by releasing histamine, a protein that causes the swelling and inflammation that is the body's first line of defense against any invading microorganism.
In the case of hayfever, however, the invader is actually harmless and it is the immune system reaction itself that is the problem, the source of the irritating symptoms we know as hayfever.
Traditionally, medical treatment of hayfever has relied on antihistamine drugs. These drugs provide symptom relief by blocking the action of histamine.
Histamine, however, also functions in the brain to maintain alertness, so drowsiness is a common and disconcerting side effect of antihistamine drugs. More recently, non-sedating hayfever medication has come into common use and is now even available over the counter. However, these drugs have possible serious side effects such as nausea, vomiting, indigestion, weight gain, headache, fatigue, nervousness, and heart attack.
A natural, preventive approach seeks to provide relief to sufferers of hayfever and other allergies without the drowsiness of traditional antihistamines or the serious potential side effects of the non-sedating drugs. Here are some herbal, dietary supplement strategies that may be effective, either individually or in combination, to control hayfever symptoms without side effects.
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- Natural Approaches to Treating Asthma
Asthma, a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a reversible airway obstruction not caused by any other disease. It is characterized by an increased responsiveness of the airways (i.e., the bronchial tubes close). With proper care, there is no need for asthma to become a permanent debilitating condition.
The common symptoms of asthma include difficulty in breathing, coughing, wheezing, and the use of accessory muscles to facilitate breathing; apprehension; fast heart rate (up to 120 beats a minute); flared nostrils and increased symptoms of respiratory distress. Serious attacks include a feeling of tightness in the chest with thick and tenacious production of mucus. The underlying mechanisms, which bring about the sudden attacks of wheezing, are not fully understood.
Asthma affects approximately 4% of the American population (about 9 million people) with up to 7% of Americans experiencing asthma at one time or another during their lifetimes. Asthma occurs most frequently in children and young adults, and fortunately, 50 to 70% of children outgrow the disease. Asthma is the most common cause of school absence and hospital admission in children.
Factors that have been confirmed to contribute to asthma are genetic predisposition, viral respiratory infection, emotional upset, inhalation of cold air, fumes from fresh paint, tobacco smoke, chemicals, and other airborne irritants. The exposure to specific allergens (foods, liquids, or fabrics), and such nonspecific factors as change in temperature can also cause symptoms. A family history of asthma or allergies, such as eczema, appears in about half of all asthmatics.
Asthmatics can improve their health and suppress their asthma by careful elimination testing to learn their asthma "triggers," by improving their surroundings (home and work environment), and by applying this information to adopt a different lifestyle to minimize the potential for asthma attacks. Particular care should be taken to avoid any foods that are known to cause an allergic reaction possibly triggering an asthma attack. A goal of reducing the need for prescription drugs by developing a plan to substitute nutritional supplements should be undertaken with the assistance of a qualified physician. Meditation techniques offer a simple, effective method of circumventing an asthma attack before it begins or reducing symptoms during an asthmatic episode.
With careful elimination testing under the care of a physician, a workable combination of botanicals and nutritional supplements can be developed that will support a better control of asthma. A physician must carefully monitor any prescription-drug elimination technique.
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- Rosmarinic Acid Provides Natural Allergy Relief
By John Colman
The latter part of the twentieth century has seen an explosion in the incidence of airborne allergies. A growing portion of the world's population now suffers from the sneezing and coughing associated with allergies. Although increased air pollution, weakened immune systems, sick building syndrome, and other theories have sought to explain the growing number of allergy sufferers, epidemiological studies have failed to make a compelling connection to any specific new allergens in the environment. One thing, however, is certain: the increase in allergy sufferers has accelerated, especially in the last 20 years.
Understanding Upper-Airway Allergies
Upper-airway allergies (allergic rhinitis) are a symptom complex of hay fever with seasonal or perennial sneezing, and may include nasal congestion, conjunctivitis (inflammation of the eye), or pruritis (itching).1,2 This complex can be divided into hay fever, an acute seasonal form, and perennial rhinitis, whose symptoms last throughout the year. Seasonal allergic rhinitis is usually caused by allergens such as tree pollens in the spring, grass pollens in the summer, and weed pollens in the fall. Perennial rhinitis is typically caused by allergens such as house dust mites, feathers, animal dander, and fungi.3
The annual costs of allergy treatment worldwide have been estimated to be approximately $7 billion. While traditional drug treatments have steadily improved, alternative herbal products and vitamins have grown in popularity and now account for about one sixth of the total allergy medication market. Although natural remedies have been used for centuries to treat allergies, controlled human studies of their effects in treating allergic rhinitis have been virtually nonexistent.4
Allergic rhinitis is characterized by immune responder cell proliferation in the bloodstream and nasal fluids. Neutrophils, polymorphonuclear leukocytes, eosino-phils, and T cells are all activated in allergies and proliferate rapidly in the blood and nasal fluids due to the action of the inflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-1 beta, IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, and IL-8. During bouts of allergy and asthma, higher levels of chemoattractants such as histamine and eotaxin draw eosinophils and other immune cells into the airways and nasal passages.5 The primary cause of discomfort in allergies is the congestion, fluid outpouring, and swelling in the upper airways caused by this massive inflow of responder cells to such a small area of the body, which shuts off the free flow of air to the lungs.
Among natural compounds, rosmarinic acid and luteolin are the best choices for treating seasonal allergies, perennial allergies, and asthma. Rosmarinic acid is the only nutraceutical shown to be effective in treating seasonal rhinitis in humans. In numerous animal and human cell studies, luteolin has been shown to be effective in suppressing allergic inflammation. At least one natural source—perilla leaf extract—contains significant amounts of both compounds. This holds great promise for allergy sufferers around the world, as these products have been demonstrated to act as antihistamines while killing off excess allergy-activated responder cells, the real root cause of suffering in allergic conditions.
This article explains the biological mechanisms that underly allergies and asthma, and covers how rosmarinic acid and luteolin work to provide relief.
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- Pycnogenol® Shows Effectiveness in Management of Childhood Asthma
HOBOKEN, NJ -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 31-01-2005 -- A new clinical study found children and teenagers with mild to moderate asthma who supplemented with French maritime pine bark extract Pycnogenol® (pic-noj-en-all) experienced improvement in pulmonary function and a significant decrease in asthma symptoms.
The double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the November/December issue of the Journal of Asthma found that 60 children aged six to 18 years old were able to significantly reduce or discontinue their use of rescue inhalers with Pycnogenol® more often than the placebo group. Study participants who supplemented with Pycnogenol® showed a significant reduction of inflammatory mediators (leukotrienes), which cause inflammation and bronchi constriction commonly associated with asthma.
"Pycnogenol®'s antioxidant activity and powerful anti-inflammatory properties work to soothe the irritation that cause bronchi to constrict and swell, making breathing difficult," said Benjamin Lau, Ph.D., School of Medicine, Loma Linda University and one of the authors of the study. "Treatment compliance is an ongoing problem among the four to five million children under the age of 18 suffering from asthma. This study demonstrates help for asthmatic children through a nutritional approach as compared to sole reliance on oral medication and rescue inhalers."
Asthmatics experience periods of wheezy breathing and breathlessness with intervals of relative or complete freedom from symptoms. Antigenic substances such as pollen and animal hair can obstruct airways, as well as chemical irritants like tobacco, smoke, dust and air pollution. Even cold air and exercise can trigger asthmatic episodes.
Dr. Lau tested Pycnogenol®'s effectiveness based on four parameters: the ability to breathe, the asthma severity symptoms, the frequency of rescue inhaler usage and the quantity of inflammatory molecules in the child's body. Breathing improved after only one month and continued with further treatment. The severity of asthma symptoms also decreased the longer participants supplemented with Pycnogenol®. Likewise, Pycnogenol® reduced leukotriene values after one month and further decreased them throughout the three-month study. Pycnogenol® dramatically reduced and in several cases eliminated the children's dependence on a rescue inhaler, which is used to rapidly dilate the bronchi during an asthma "attack."
"Previous studies have shown Pycnogenol® to be effective in decreasing asthma symptoms among adults. These recent results further demonstrate the efficacy of Pycnogenol® and position this natural antioxidant as a key player in the management of mild to moderate childhood asthma," said Lau.
Pycnogenol® is a natural plant extract originating from the bark of the Maritime pine that grows along the coast of southwest France. Its unique combination of procyanidins, bioflavonoids and organic acids enhances overall circulation and offers extensive natural health benefits to individuals suffering from inflammation. The extract has been widely studied for the past thirty-five years and has more than 130 published studies and review articles ensuring safety and efficacy as an ingredient. Pycnogenol® brand products are available in over 140 dietary supplements, multi-vitamins and health formulas nationwide. For more information visit www.pycnogenol.com.
Natural Health Science Inc., (NHS) based in Hoboken, New Jersey, is the North American distributor for Pycnogenol® (pic-noj-en-all) brand French Maritime Pine Bark Extract on behalf of Horphag Research. Pycnogenol® is a registered trademark of Horphag Research Ltd., Guernsey, and its applications are protected by U.S. patents #4,698,360 / #5,720,956 / #6,372.266 and other international patents. NHS has the exclusive rights to market and sell Pycnogenol® and benefits from over thirty years of scientific research assuring the safety and efficacy of Pycnogenol® as a dietary supplement. For more information about Pycnogenol® visit our web site at www.pycnogenol.com.
Contact: John Digles email@example.com MWW Group 312-853-3131 Elizabeth Elegant firstname.lastname@example.org MWW Group 312-853-3131.
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- Protocols: Allergies
Allergies are abnormal immune reactions to specific agents known as antigens or allergens. Examples of common allergens are foods, drugs, pollens, dust mites, mold spores, animal dander, feathers, and insect venoms, as well as other substances which non-allergic people find relatively non-dangerous with usual exposure. Allergies may develop when an otherwise innocent substance has significant contact with an already inflamed surface (sensitization), such as from a viral infection or exposure to irritants, and becomes involved in the immune response.
Thereafter, repeated exposure to such a substance may evoke an allergic response with the release of histamine and a variety of other pro-inflammatory substances, including enzymes, leukotrienes, and interleukins, and the creation of damaging free radicals. The multiplicity of these pro-inflammatory substances explains why single medications such as antihistamines often fail to completely control symptoms.
TYPES OF REACTIONS
Allergic reactions may involve any part of the body, but they typically involve the body surfaces that serve as exposure points and gateways. Reactions include hay fever, allergic rhinitis, allergic sinusitis, allergic conjunctivitis, itchy throat, itchy ears, plugged-up ears, asthma, hives, giant hives (angioedema), allergic GI symptoms, and various types of allergic dermatitis and rashes. Headaches, dizziness, fatigue, joint and muscle pains, and many other symptoms can also be allergic in nature.
The most severe life-threatening reaction is anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock. This may include any of the above symptoms to an extreme degree plus vascular collapse or swelling sufficient to occlude airways, including the mouth and throat. Such a severe reaction is an absolute medical emergency and requires prompt emergency care.
SOME THERAPEUTIC OPTIONS
Essential Fatty Acids. The average American diet contains ten times more dangerous omega-6 fatty acids compared to omega-3 fatty acids. This alters the cell membrane phospholipids and increases the likelihood of inflammatory responses in atopic (allergic) diseases. A study by Kankaanpaa et al. (1999) concluded that careful manipulation of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) may play a key role in the successful management of inflammation occurring in atopic (allergic) diseases.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). CoQ10 can become seriously depleted in many forms of degenerative disease and a study showed that 14 out of 36 patients with diverse allergic conditions had CoQ10 levels equal to a group of gravely ill cardiac patients (Ye et al. 1988).
Vitamin E. Leukotrienes (LT) are lipid membrane-derived compounds generated by the metabolism of arachidonic acid by the enzyme lipoxygenase found in leukocytes and other cells. In a manner somewhat analogous to histamine, leuko-trienes have a number of undesirable allergic and inflammatory effects, including smooth muscle contraction; vaso-constriction; vasodilatation and increased blood vessel permeability; simulation of mucus secretion; and increased airway hyporeactivity.
Centanni et al. (2001) considered the role vitamin E plays in treating asthma and allergies by modifying the leukotriene pathway with vitamin E. Vitamin E in a concentration-dependent manner inhibited the receptor-mediated activation of neutrophils which, in an asthmatic, results in the synthesis of leukotrienes. The study indicated that vitamin E may suppress leukotriene pathways, making it potentially useful in the treatment of asthma/allergic patients. Four types of vitamin E occur in nature. Since each of these agents seems to have unique functions, a supplement containing a mixture of these naturally occurring compounds called Gamma E Tocopherol/Tocotrienols is available.
Flavonoids. Certain flavonoids, particularly rutin and quercetin, have anti-allergy effects (Fanning et al. 1983) and team up well with vitamin C, as do the oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPC) found in grape seed extract. Proanthocyanidins (grapeseed extract) may be taken (100 mg) one to three times a day. Bucca et al. (1990) found that compared to a placebo, 2 grams of vitamin C improved pulmonary function 1 hour after taking. Featon et al. (2000) found a sevenfold increase in bronchial hyperreactivity among those with the lowest intake of vitamin C. The most effective form of quercetin is a patented water-soluble version that is available from only a few supplement companies in the United States.
Alpha-Lipoic Acid. Alpha-lipoic acid (LA) has been called the universal antioxidant because of its broad-spectrum effects in the body. LA not only works independently as an antioxidant, but it also works synergistically with other antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, glutathione, and CoQ10, helping to recycle their biologic actions in the body.
N-Acetyl-Cysteine. Glutathione (GSH) is a naturally occurring tripeptide that protects every cell from toxic free radicals. It contains the three amino acids glycine, glutamic acid, and cysteine. N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) is an acetylated ester of the amino acid, cysteine. For many years, NAC has been used in the treatment of bronchitis and other lung conditions as an expectorant or mucous thinner as well as for its anti-inflammatory effects.
Magnesium. Stress plays a major role in allergic reactions. Magnesium plays an important role in managing all forms of stress, whether the stress is physical, emotional, or the result of injury/trauma (Seelig 1994). As magnesium levels decline, the incidence of allergies and asthma increases (Hijazi et al. 2000).
Ginkgo Biloba. An ingredient from ginkgo has been shown to have a positive effect on asthma (Mahmoud et al. 2000) and significantly reduces airway hyporeactivity. In another study, the authors concluded that ginkgo was an effective drug for relieving airway inflammation (Li et al. 1997).
Cordyceps Sinensis. The Chinese medicinal fungus Cordyceps sinensis is said to have once been reserved for use only by the Emperor. It has long been used in Chinese medicine for the treatment of respiratory problems as well as heart, liver, and kidney dysfunction and as a longevity-promoting agent (Zhu et al. 1998). C. sinensis has been used for the treatment of allergic rhinitis and asthma. This was due to both its action as a smooth muscle relaxant (bronchodilator) and also from its action in reducing airway reactivity and inflammation.
Nettle. Extracts from the stinging nettle leaf has been reported to have anti-allergy properties. Stinging nettle leaf extracts are particularly useful when combined with quercetin (preferably water-soluble quercetin) and vitamin C, and have been found to be useful in patients who are intolerant to antihistamines or fail to respond to them.
Pantothenic Acid (vitamin B5). Carmen Fusco is a registered nurse and college professor in New York City who treats patients using alternative therapies. Professor Fusco recommends 300-500mg 2 times a day of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) in the form of calcium pantothenate. Pantothenic acid helps both the adrenals and the thymus gland in the fight against allergies. Fusco also suggests Drenamin, which helps most allergies, and Antronex, which contains an antihistamine produced by the liver to alleviate nasal allergies. Stress often precipitates allergies so any nutrient such as vitamins B5 and C that help buffer stress will help against allergies.
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- Featured Product: - Rosmarinic Acid Extract - Allergies are characterized by the excess proliferation of immune responder cells in the bloodstream and nasal fluids. This enormous influx of responder cells to the airways and nasal passages produces the congestion, fluid outpouring and swelling that allergy sufferers find so debilitating.
While traditional antihistamines lessen some of these symptoms by preventing the release of histamine from mast cells or blocking histamine receptor sites, they do nothing to prevent the excess activation or proliferation of immune responder cells.
Rosmarinic acid extract is a new alternative to painful allergy shots and pills that provide only partial relief from allergic symptoms. Rosmarinic acid, a plant polyphenol derived from rosemary leaf, provides effective, temporary relief of allergy symptoms. Unlike antihistamines, rosmarinic acid both prevents the activation of immune responder cells and kills excess allergy-activated immune cells.
The Rosmarinic Acid Extract formula also contains perilla leaf extract. In a landmark study, scientists demonstrated that perilla leaf enriched with rosmarinic acid provided significant relief from seasonal allergies by inhibiting polymorphonuclear leukocyte infiltration into the nostrils.
In addition, the Rosmarinic Acid Extract formula includes luteolin, another plant flavonoid that has been shown to maintain normal respiratory function and healthy fluid balance.
With ingredients that both act as antihistamines and restrict the activation and proliferation of allergy-related responder cells, Rosmarinic Acid Extract stops allergy miseries at their source.
Serving Size: 1 capsule
Servings Per Container: 60
Amount Per Serving:
- Rosmarinic acid (from Rosmarinus officinalis leaf extract) - 100mg
- Luteolin [from perilla leaf extract (Perilla frutescens)] - 4mg Perilla leaf 4:1 extract (Perilla frutescens) - 50mg
Other ingredients: rice flour, gelatin, maltodextrin, magnesium stearate
Dosage and Use: Take one to two capsules in the morning after a meal or as directed by a healthcare practitioner
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