pollen

  1. Botox injections for allergy relief

    Poisoning your nose isn't the best way to beat allergies

    Pop an allergy pill, and the sniffles and sneezes might stop... for a little while, anyway.

    But since those meds attack the symptoms instead of the cause, the allergies always come back -- often with a vengeance, as anyone who takes them already knows.

    So I get why people with allergies are always looking for something stronger than Claritin or Zyrtec -- I just don't think Botox injections are the answer they're looking for, even if it might be marketed that way soon enough.

    That's right -- Botox injections. The famous nerve poison commonly used to temporarily smooth over wrinkles is now being tested for allergies. Instead of Botox injections, this one is rubbed on the nose. The theory is that it will sink in and freeze the nerves that react to allergens.

    If those nerves lock up the way wrinkles do, the wheezing, sneezing, coughs, and sniffles could get a little better.

    For a little while anyway.

    But just like Botox injections can only remove wrinkles temporarily, they won't provide lasting allergy relief either. In fact, the allergies are guaranteed to come back once the Botox wears off.

    It might take months instead of the hours it takes for an allergy pill to wear off, but they'll come back. And that'll leave you with a choice: more Botox, or more allergy pills. Either way it's a temporary fix... and either way you'll face a risk of side effects every time.

    So let me offer you a better choice -- a lasting and even permanent cure for seasonal allergies: Homeopathic allergy remedies that can desensitize you to the pollens that cause your symptoms.

    The exact remedy that will work best for you will depend on the cause of your symptoms, but I've found that allium cepa and/or nux vomica can help with the classic hay fever signs such as sneezing and a runny nose. For allergies that strike more in the eyes, I recommend a homeopathic remedy made from the eyebright plant, called euphrasia.

    In addition, there's a natural supplement that has shown in studies to be as effective as powerful allergy drugs. It's called butterbur, and you can find it in most vitamin stores, health food shops, or online.

  2. The worst allergy season ever is here

    Allergy season is here -- and it's here with a vengeance.

    I've had patients who never had allergies before start experiencing them this year for the first time -- and if you've got the sniffles yourself, you already know exactly what they're going through.

    Thanks to a mild winter in most of the country, pollen was out in force earlier than ever -- and new CDC numbers show just how much we're suffering.

    In March, close to 20 percent of people surveyed by the agency reported allergy symptoms. That compares to less than 15 percent in 2010 and 16.5 percent in 2011.

    The numbers were so high the agency said they matched what we normally see this month, in May.

    And in April, the allergy reports were up about 10 percent over the previous year.

    Those numbers confirm what I've seen in my practice, as more people show up with allergies than ever before -- including many who say they've never had so much as a sniffle in the past.

    But let's face reality here. Most people don't even bother telling their doctors about allergies. It's just too easy to go to the store and pick up an over-the-counter antihistamine.

    Plenty of people take them, and some even swear by them. But they're expensive, don't work for everyone, and come with a potential for side effects ranging from dry mouth to drowsiness.

    There are much better ways to beat allergies for good and help you breathe easy all year long. Here at my Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine, for example, we use homeopathic remedies to desensitize people to the pollens causing their symptoms.

    It's so much easier -- not to mention safer -- than allergy shots.

    The homeopathic remedies allium cepa and/or nux vomica can help with the classic hay fever symptoms, such as sneezing and runny nose. For symptoms more in your eyes, I recommend a homeopathic remedy made from the eyebright plant, called euphrasia.

    In addition, butterbur supplements have shown in studies to be as effective as some of the top-selling over-the-counter allergy remedies, but at a fraction of the price.

  3. Why you should never buy honey from the supermarket

    You might think the most difficult part of choosing honey is deciding between a little plastic bear and big glass jar. Turns out the decision's a lot more difficult than that -- because just about all the honey in your supermarket is barely even honey at all.

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