Seasonal allergies are a sign that your body needs help


If you think the stuffy nose, red eyes, and the itch that comes with springtime is normal, I am here to tell you it is not. Although hay fever may be common, it’s not a healthy response. Instead, it’s your body ‘overreacting’ to something that it normally should be able to handle. Hay fever is an abnormal response made by your body’s immune system to a substance that is has perceived to be harmful. When you are exposed to this perceived allergen, your immune system will release histamines, thereby causing inflammation of the lining in your nose, sinuses, eyes, and lungs.  The symptoms you experience, like sneezing and congestion, are the result of this attack. Your body is doing what it thinks it must do to get rid of an invader like a virus, bacteria, or fungus, but this is not an invader, it is only pollen or grass!


Although antihistamines can help relieve your symptoms, they will not stop the hay fever from happening day in and out while you are in allergy season. Instead, if you fix the underlying problem, like an overburdened liver, or a compromised immune system, then the hay fever will no longer be a problem. It is important to try to find out why your body is responding this way, in order to clear your seasonal allergies for good. I am telling you that this is possible; I have many patients who have cleared their hay fever.


You can start by modifying simple lifestyle factors to help reduce your hay fever. Sometimes there can be an underlying food intolerances or sensitivities that are hindering the immune system.  By eliminating certain foods, you may be able to reduce the immune system irritations and lessen your seasonal allergy symptoms. Ensuring you are eating a diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods, especially anti-oxidant rich fruits such as berries and cherries, can help to modify the body’s inflammatory response.

Reducing stress will also help to reduce seasonal allergies. Consider whether stress is playing a big part in your life right now and if so, take steps to reduce it. It is common for long-standing allergies to lessen or even resolve when people switch jobs, leave a bad relationship or otherwise eliminate a source of stress. If you want some tips to help reduce stress, click on the following link:   


Knowing the time of year your allergies are worse can help you pinpoint what is causing them and help you manage them better. If you know that you have an allergy to pollen, for example, begin a prevention program 1-2 months before the pollen season arrives. If your allergies are worse near the end of summer, mold might be your main culprit. Ensuring that your living spaces are free of molds would therefore be particularly important. If you have allergies to dust mites you would have to ‘allergy proof’ your home by doing things like eliminating carpets, using allergenic covers for beds and pillows, and use a HEPA filter air purifier.

Certain herbs, vitamins and nutrients can also help reduce your symptoms. If you need some relief, I have outlined a few suggestions you could try:


  • Nettle – this herb can help to reduce the histamine-related inflammatory responses that lead to increased congestion and irritation. You can get this in tea, pill or liquid form.

  • Quercetin – this is a bioflavonoid which works to increase immunity, thereby decreasing allergy symptoms by reducing histamine release.  It is found in foods like broccoli, asparagus, kale, bell peppers, onions, apples, and citrus fruits, as well as green tea.  You can also buy it in pill form.

  • Bromelain – this is found in pineapples, is an anti-inflammatory, and aids in the absorption of Quercetin. Therefore, it is best to find a supplement that contains the two together.

  • Vitamin C is needed for antibody production and has natural antihistamine properties. You can get this from citrus fruit or in pill or powder form.


There are numerous different therapies, those I have mentioned above as well as others, that can help.  Working one on one with a Naturopathic Doctor can help you discover what your underlying issues are and to find the therapies that work best for you. Together, I can help move you towards a summer where you can enjoy the great outdoors without the hassles of hay fever!


Yours in Health,


Dr. Tanya O'Brien, ND

Simple Steps to Help Decrease Anxiety and Stress


Stress can be overwhelming and with the current state of the world, in shock and disbelief of how far the COVID-19 virus has spread and how much damage it has done (physically, mentally, economically and emotionally), it’s no wonder people are on edge. Now that we have accepted that this reality is indeed part of our daily lives, it seems we are slowly switching from shock mode into acceptance mode and we can finally take the time to get our bearings.


This social distancing is hard to accept and live with as most of us live a very connected life, filled with hugs, handshakes and gatherings with friends and family. Being cut off from our normal life, most days are now filled with a combination of anxiety, sadness, appreciation, gratitude, disillusion, and maybe hope.  Physical energy is changeable and frustrating, with so many people asking, “with this extra time at home, why am I not feeling more rested and therefore more energetic”.  The unknown can be exhausting.  We have had people tell us that they actually do not have enough energy or intention to take basic care of themselves right now.  Showering, eating and even taking supplements that are already out and on the table can feel overwhelming.


Our message to you is this, let’s all take a big breath, give ourselves a break, and accept that its ok to not be ok right now.  Many of us are grieving.


Our hope is to offer a beacon and some suggestions to help keep us all moving in a positive direction.  Sometimes a positive direction is Netflix and a bathrobe.  It’s all ok.  We are truly in this together and right now, for this moment, here at HFL, we are doing ok, and happy to help others through this.


Let’s start with the basics:


  • Break out a writing book to be a daily guide, schedule, reminders, inspiration, accounting, to do list, ideas, goals, journal of events.

    • Write some headings on a few pages: My Nutritional Goals.  My Household Goals.  My Exercise Goals. My Fun Goals.  My Work Goals. And anything else that comes to your mind.  Have a page dedicated for each person in your house and ask them what their goals are using some of your headings as a guide.

  • Before bed each night, make a rough plan in your book for the events and meals for the next day.  In the morning make a specific plan for food prep and time of eating. Follow a schedule, it can be ridged or flexible, but the schedule will give you something to look forward to and help bring some normalcy back into your life.

  • Take the time to deep breath.  Studies have shown that deep breathing not only reduces your heart rate but also lowers anxiety.  One method to follow is to take a deep inhale through your nose (or mouth if needed) allowing your belly to rise for a count of 4. Then hold the breath for a count of 4 and then exhaling for a count of 6.  You should feel less tense and more grounded after only 10 deep breaths.

  • Start taking your nutritional supplements and make sure you have a good idea of how to use them daily.  Each morning set out the supplements for yourself and the people in your household (partner, parent, children). You can place the supplements for each person in a small teacup or bowl.  And because this is about intention and good energy, take this time to think of these people you love and what your hopes and wishes are for them for this day.  It’s like a prayer and it can warm your heart.

  • Delegate chores for household members and make them be known each day/week.

  • Take turns picking a quote of the day and place it somewhere visible in the house, i.e. on your black board or on the fridge.  Even young kids can get into this. Be creative and have fun with this.

  • Lastly turn off the news or at least turn it down. We are all for being in the know but during this pandemic, the sheer amount of negative and anxiety inducing information is overwhelming. Avoid having your phone/ipad be the first and last thing you see before and after sleep.

  • Be mindful of your thinking.  Of course, this is a time of worry for ourselves, our loved ones and our community.  Be cautious of letting your mind spin, spending too much time each day with circular thinking and worry.  Allow yourself time to name what is upsetting to you, perhaps write it down, or say it to yourself.  Then one by one, release the worries using imagery of letting the worries go away from you in clouds, balloons or being shelved in a box.  Try to stay in the present moment and focus on things that you can control as opposed to too much time spent on things we can not.


We hope these steps can help decrease your stress and anxiety. We are all in this together.  For more information, you can visit our website or email us. If you would like to book an on line appointment please contact us.


Yours in Health,


Dr. Kathleen Mercer, BSc, ND & Dr. Tanya O'Brien, BSc, ND


Health for life – A natural approach to your families health care