Seasonal allergies used to be a temporary nuisance you had to deal with a couple times a year. But last year, new research emerged showing that the treatment many people rely on for relief may be causing permanent damage to their brains…potentially leading to dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine found that anticholinergic drugs (which include the common allergy medication Benadryl) affect the brain in several concerning ways.
The study looked at 451 participants with an average age of 73. Among the group, 13 percent were currently taking at least one anticholinergic medication. During the study, the group underwent PET scans to measure brain metabolism and MRI scans to assess brain structure.
Tests revealed that people taking anticholinergic drugs performed worse on short-term memory, verbal reasoning, planning, and problem-solving tests. Scans also showed reduced brain size in the anticholinergic group. Additionally, subjects taking anticholinergic drugs had impaired glucose metabolism, which directly impacts brain function—particularly in the hippocampus (the section of the brain linked with memory, which is one of the first areas affected by Alzheimer’s disease).
And to make matters worse, another study at the Indiana University Center for Aging Research found that anticholinergic drugs caused cognitive issues when taken continuously for as little as 60 days. (Which is pretty common during the height of spring and fall allergy seasons.)
So it seems these “instant relief” medications are doing more harm than good in the long run.
The good news is, there are much safer—and more effective—ways to manage your allergy symptoms. In fact, with a few key steps, you may be able to eliminate them altogether.
The problem is more than just dander and dust
When most people think about allergies, they focus on the environmental factors that trigger their symptoms—pollens, animal dander, dust, etc.
And yes, clearing your environment of all of these things as best you can is obviously important if you suffer from severe allergies.
But it’s also only half of a much bigger picture.
A true cure for hay fever requires turning the focus inward. I call it “cleansing your internal environment.” Because if your internal environment is tidy, then the external factors that fuel your allergies—pollens, dander, or anything for that matter—just won’t trigger the same reactions.
Think of it as allergy-proofing your body—against runny noses, itchy eyes, scratchy throat, headaches, and every tell-tale symptom in between. Without prescription drugs.
And without locking yourself inside until winter.
Yes, it can be done. You just have to make a few changes.
The secret to combating allergies—clean up your diet before cleaning your home
The first and foremost priority is cleaning up your diet. This includes eliminating any foods that contain yeast and can contribute to Candida overgrowth.
The fact is that yeast is more than a “female” problem. Common factors—including antibiotic use and a heavily-processed, high-sugar diet—can contribute to bacterial imbalances. And this paves the way to Candida colonization in your gut.
Yeast overgrowth compromises your digestive tract’s integrity, weakening the walls of your gut and causing “leaks.” This allows food particles, yeast, and other toxins to permeate your gut’s lining and trigger systemic reactions.
It also undermines your immune system and can train your body to be hypervigilant toward all kinds of substances it may not have even responded to before.
In short, Candida can actually create allergies where there were none. And it can make existing allergies worse.
Dealing with yeast overgrowth requires eliminating yeast-promoting foods from your diet. This includes sugar or any food that converts into sugar in your body, like white bread, pasta, potatoes, etc. (But let’s face it—you shouldn’t be eating any of these things anyway.)
Cheese and fermented foods also fall into this category, as well as any other foods that contain yeast. (I recommend looking online to find a complete list—unfortunately, it would be way too long to include here.)
Still, some general rules of thumb always apply.
Here’s a quick list you can use as a guide:
- Fruit or fruit juice
- Simple carbohydrates and starches
- Fermented foods
- Smoked meats or fish
If anything on your plate falls into one of these categories, get rid of it. It could be making your allergies worse.
The cheap, reliable strategy to reboot your system
In addition to eliminating yeast-promoting foods, you also have to identify any underlying food sensitivities you might have.
The easiest way to do this is to track down a company that can do it for you. There are many of them on the market—and a lot don’t even require a visit to a doctor’s office. The one I use in my practice is the ALCAT test. I’ve used it for years with great results.
If your doctor doesn’t offer a test like this or if you simply can’t afford one, then the next best thing is a food elimination strategy. It’s cheap and it’s reliable.
But fair warning—it’s not easy.
You’ll need to avoid certain groups of foods, several at a time, for three weeks each. Then, you can add one food back from each category every five days.
The general categories of foods include anything containing dairy, wheat, corn, chocolate and caffeine, and salicylates. But while this may look straightforward at first, it can actually be pretty tricky.
Each category of food contains many, many different food items. These common allergens are especially abundant in processed foods. And often times, they’re hiding in plain sight under different names on the ingredients list.
In fact, you’ll even find these allergens in some non-food items, (like corn in band-aids, for example.)
You’ll want to keep a food diary along with a log of how you feel and any symptoms that might crop up as you re-introduce each allergen. When all is said and done, this process may take up to six months to complete.
At that point, you’ll be ready to move onto the second phase of my allergy cure—nutritional supplementation.
Five critical fungus-fighters
My allergy supplement protocol has two different arms—one designed to take on yeast and the candida. And then specific nutrients to deal with the allergy symptoms themselves.
Let’s start with the anti-Candida supplements first.
Probiotics. The only way to get proper balance restored to your gut is to take a high-quality probiotic—one that contains multiple strains along with a prebiotic. If you’re trying to snuff out yeast overgrowth, I would recommend up to five capsules twice per day for two days, and then two capsules twice per day for three months.
Grapefruit seed extract. This is one of the flavonoids in grapefruit that helps break down the Candida cell wall. I recommend 200 mg three times per day.
Caprylic acid. This is a naturally occurring medium chain fatty acid used to fight fungal overgrowth. I recommend 100 mg three times per day.
Garlic. The allicin or sulfur based component of garlic is a well-known anti-fungal. I recommend 240 mg three times per day.
Olive leaf extract. The active ingredient here is oleuropein, which interferes with the production of amino acids essential to fungi formation. I recommend 500 mg three times per day.
Obviously, the goal here is to get a handle on Candida overgrowth without relying on prescription drugs. But at the end of the day, that isn’t always practical. And when you’re fighting a fungal infection, nutritional supplements may not be enough.
In that case, you should work with your doctor to develop a more aggressive strategy. This could include taking a course of anti-fungal medication like nystatin, ketoconazole, or fluconazole.
Symptom relief with ZERO side effects
When it comes to supplements for combating allergy symptoms, you’ve got quite a few to choose from. Here are the ones I find myself recommending the most:
French maritime pine bark extract (Pycnogenol®). You’ve heard me mention this one before. And among other impressive benefits, clinical research shows that pine bark extract can help reduce—and even eliminate—the symptoms of allergies and asthma. I recommend 100 mg twice per day.
Vitamin C. Since we’re one of the only mammals that can’t generate our own vitamin C, we have to take it orally. An ideal dose for allergy relief is about 1,000 mg, three times per day.
Vitamin D. From what I’ve seen in my practice, getting an adequate dose of vitamin D can make a big difference in allergy and asthma symptoms. I recommend at least 5,000 IU per day of vitamin D3 (the active form of the nutrient).
Vitamin A. This is one of the best anti-inflammatory nutrients on the market, mostly because of the help that it offers your immune system. It works particularly well in the mucous membranes of the gastrointestinal tract.
I recommend 10,000 IU three times per day.
Pantethine. This is a member of the B complex of vitamins. It’s necessary for the production of Coenzyme A, which in turn helps to produce adrenal steroids—part of your body’s natural allergy defense. Just note that pantethine produces twice as much coenzyme A in the body than pantothenic acid—so don’t confuse the two.
I recommend 300 mg per day.
Quercetin. This is nature’s anti-histamine and it comes from the rinds of citrus fruits. I recommend 1,000 mg, three times per day.
Fish oil. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil suppress inflammation. An ideal dose for allergy relief is 3,000 mg of EPA/DHA per day.
And there you have it. A multi-tiered supplement protocol for lasting allergy relief.
It may seem like a lot, but I think anyone who’s suffered through seasonal allergies would agree that it’s well worth it, if it means they get the relief they need, without side effects or long-term risks. Plus, many of these nutrients are ones you should be taking on a daily basis anyway.
Remember, lasting results don’t come overnight
By correcting your diet and taking a few nutrients, you can cure—yes, I said cure—your allergies. So I encourage you to at least give it a shot this year.
Even if you don’t get rid of your symptoms completely, you will absolutely see drastic improvements. And you’ll be a whole lot healthier to boot.
But now for the fine print: This strategy takes several months to actually cure your symptoms. (Though most people will see dramatic changes in just a few weeks.)
Again, I recognize that this strategy isn’t necessarily as easy as popping a pill. But nothing in life that has lasting results ever is.
More hidden hay fever triggers lurking in your kitchen
Steering clear of irritants is important, but not always so easy. If you’re sensitive to ragweed and mold, for instance, certain foods might cause similar sniffling, sneezing, and itchiness. Surprised? Most people are…
But the fact is, certain foods are genetically related “cousins” to allergens like ragweed, grasses, or trees.
And I’m not talking about genetic modifications here; these plants are simply in the same species, so your body can have a similar sort of reaction to them. For example:
If you’re sensitive to ragweed, your immune system may react to foods like corn, tomatoes, melon, apples, peaches, pears, apricots, cherries, berries, plums, bananas, cucumbers, squash, or chamomile tea.
During spring allergy season, when trees and grasses release their pollen, foods like apple, pear, kiwi, cherry, parsley, peach, carrots, and even some nuts (almonds or walnuts) can trigger an allergic reaction.
If you’re allergic to mold—which is a common allergen in fall and winter, in leaves and in damp, dark spaces like basements—it’s best to avoid foods that have been fermented or contain mold, fungi, or yeast—like cheese, sour cream, mushrooms, beer or wine, and vinegar-based foods like salad dressings. (This step will do double-duty in helping you avoid Candida overgrowth, as well.)
Keep in mind, not everyone has this type of cross-reaction with foods…but if you’re battling a seasonal allergy, think about the foods you’re eating, and try cutting back on or eliminating the foods listed above to see if it makes a difference for you.
Discover your hidden food sensitivities
The Alcat Test measures cellular reactions to over 450 varying substances including:
- Medicinal herbs
- Chemical substances
Find a local provider to administer the test or order a self-test kit to check for food intolerances in the comfort of your home by visiting:
To learn more about the ALCAT Test and the effects of food sensitivities on the body, check out:
“Common over-the-counter drugs can hurt your brain,” CNN (www.cnn.com), 4/18/16