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An allergy is the exaggerated response of the immune system to a foreign substance, or allergen. These substances can range from pollens or molds to particular foods, chemical additives, drugs, animal dander and many additional irritants. When a person first comes into contact with an allergen, the immune system responds by creating specific defense molecules called antibodies. If a person is sensitive to an allergen, the antibodies activate, or "put on alert", specialized immune cells called mast cells. On subsequent contact with the allergen, the mast cells react by releasing histamine, a defensive substance that causes trashes or swelling of the skin or mucous membranes, as well as narrowing or inflammation of the airways. Natural medicine offers numerous techniques for reducing the body's allergic overreaction.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C is considered to be a natural antihistamine because it inhibits the release of histamine by mast cells. Good sources of vitamin C include red bell peppers, kale, kiwifruit, orange or grapefruit juice, broccoli, argula, cauliflower, papaya and strawberries.

What can you do
The surest way to prevent an allergic reaction is to stay away from the allergen in question. This is possible for some types of allergies, such as foods, but other allergens, such as pollen, may be impossible to avoid. A number of remedies moderate the immune response and help to prevent allergic reactions. Treatments can also be applied externally to the skin for symptomatic relief of itching or rashes.

Reduce dairy intake
In allergy, sufferers, dairy products can inhibit breathing and increase mucus. Try to cut down on the amount of dairy products in your diet, especially is you have asthma.

Sweat bath
Raising your body temperature in a hot bath has a fever like effect, helping to purge the body of toxins. Fill a tub with hot water (about 97 deg F). immerse yourself completely, leaving only your mouth and nose above the surface. Over the next 30 minutes, add hot water from time to time until the temperature reaches about 100-102 deg F. periodically rub your body with a brush. Afterward, take a cold shower, lie in bed and drink plenty of fluids.
Warning: if you have heart or circulatory problems, are taking cortisone or are pregnant, take this bath only under medical supervision.

Help from cayenne pepper
Cayenne pepper contains an anti-inflammatory substance called capsaicin, which may help relieve allergies. Sprinkle liberal amounts of cayenne pepper on your food for a few days.

Extra tip : If you are susceptible to allergies, regularly cleanse the body of allergens and toxins with a juice fast. Drink nothing but preservative free herb and vegetable juices for 2-5 days. This will help flush out waste products and stimulate healing.

Natural healing techniques

Homeopathic treatments can readjust the immune system and alleviate symptoms of allergies. Specific remedies include Apis mellificia in a potency of 10X and Rhus toxicodendron 6X for inflammatory skin rashes and Sabadilla 4X for hay fever.
Warning: homeopathic remedies should be administered under the close supervision of a professional because they sometimes cause an initial flare-up of symptoms.

Acupuncture has been touted as an extremely helpful technique in restoring the immune system and thus relieving allergies.

As soon as you begin having an allergic reaction, apply firm pressure to the center of the webbing of your hand, between your thumb and index finger. Take some slow, deep breaths. Maintain this constant, steady pressure for a minimum of 2 min., and then apply the same simple technique on your other hand.

To heal skin reactions

Herbal extracts
Various plants or herbal extracts can be added to bathwater or applied via compresses to relieve allergic skin reactions. For instance, oak bark or witch hazel extracts are effective against oozing eczema and other skin inflammations. Burning and itching rashes are quickly relieved by adding bran or oatmeal to baths.

Chamomile compress
Soak a compress in chamomile, which is thought to have anti-inflammatory agents, and apply to skin to alleviate swelling.

Climate therapy
Take relaxing breaks by the ocean or up in the mountains to promote healing and provide relief from allergy related skin complaints.