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Fighting Allergies Naturally

Janis Covey

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Here comes the warm weather!  But with the increase in temperatures comes an increase in pollen, and therefore, seasonal allergies.  There are numerous medications on the market, such as anti-histamines, to deal with the symptoms, but they come with a slew of side effects.  These can include dehydration, sleepiness and constipation.  There are several ways to relieve allergy symptoms before you need to reach for that medication.

Shower before Bed:  Think of your hair as a sponge.  It is absorbing pollen, dust and other allergens all day.  When you lay your head on your pillow, you transfer those allergens to it, and then as you sleep and turn, you are inhaling them.  Have you ever woken up stuffy with swollen allergy eyes?  This is probably why.

Avoid Fragrances:  We aren’t just talking about perfume but any product containing synthetic fragrance.  The term fragrance on a label is a catch-all.  Fragrances can be made up of thousands of different chemicals and many of them are known allergens.  Instead, reach for products that are unscented or scented with essential oils.

Avoid Spicy Foods:  Spicy foods activate the immune system.  Opting for a blander diet will prevent immune activation.

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Foods to Avoid: Tomatoes, I know this is hard to hear.  Tomatoes are a summer staple, but tomatoes contain histamines, and histamines trigger an allergic response.  Another food to avoid is dairy.  Dairy thickens mucus and makes it harder to clear.  We all hear how bad sugar is for us.  Unfortunately, sugar can be added to the list of foods to avoid, because it also worsens allergies.  Sugar causes inflammation which is an important player in the allergic response.  Decreasing the body’s inflammation helps keep allergies in check.

Drink Green Tea:  Japanese researchers found that EGCG, the abundant anti-oxidant compound in green tea, helps stop your body from mounting an immune response to a variety of allergens including pollen, dust, pet dander and dust.

Eat Onions, Peppers, Berries and Parsley:  All these foods are high in quercetin.  Quercetin is a natural compound found to reduce histamine reactions.  Histamines are a major player in the body’s allergic response.

Eat Pineapple:  Pineapple contains the anti-inflammatory enzyme bromelain.  Bromelain thins mucus and makes it easier to clear.  There are some studies showing that pineapple is as effective as over the counter cough suppressants and mucolytics.

Add Turmeric:  Turmeric contains quercetin which helps reduce the body’s response to histamine.  It also contains curcumin which is a powerful anti-inflammatory.

Have any other tips for naturally fighting allergy season?  Let us know in the comments. 

Eczema: A Very Personal Struggle

Janis Covey

Baby Cameron

Considering how my daughter’s battle with eczema prompted my journey into clean skin care and later to develop my own skin care line, it’s only fitting that I write a blog about it. 

Rewind to April 2010, my youngest daughter was just three months old and suffering from irritating eczema.  Many trips to the pediatrician resulted with steroid creams and no answers.  Since her mom, me 😊, has a doctorate in pharmacy and is a compounding pharmacist, I felt I needed to find a better solution.  So, the research began.

Although eczema can be caused by several different factors, the two most common seem to be an overreactive immune system and a specific gene mutation.

Let’s start with an over-reactive immune system.  When an over-reactive immune system responds to a “threat”, it creates inflammation.  There are numerous perceived threats that the immune system can react to and no two people’s trigger is the same.  Some common triggers are:

  • Soaps
  • Household cleaners
  • Fragrances (this differs from essential oils, but essential oils can sometimes be a trigger as well)
  • Clothes made with wool or polyester
  • Isothiazolinones (a preservative agent used in personal and hair care products)
  • Cigarette or Cigar Smoke
  • Cocamidopropyl betaine (thickening agent in lotions and cosmetics, foam booster in shampoo)
  • Paraphenylene-diamine (used in hair dyes, henna and temporary tattoos)

Also, research has shown that some people with eczema have a specific gene mutation.  This gene is responsible for producing a protein called Filaggrin.  Filaggrin is responsible to maintaining our body’s protective barrier on the top layer of our skin.  Lack of Filaggrin causes loss of moisture from the skin which allows bacteria and viruses to enter.  This explains why many people with eczema have very dry skin that is prone to infection.

Proteomic analysis of filaggrin deficiency identifies molecular signatures characteristic of atopic eczema.  

Health-related quality of life in adult dermatitis patients stratified by filaggrin genotype.

So, back to 2010 and my daughter’s own struggle with eczema.  As I learned more about eczema and its triggers, I began to look more closely at the products my family was using at that time.  One thing that particularly struck me was the prevalent use of alcohol in lotions, even in natural and organic products.  Now, do not get me wrong, I understand why it is used.  Alcohol is a great preservative and can be an organic ingredient, but when you are suffering with eczema, slathering on a product made with alcohol tends to aggravate eczema patches and not help to nourish and soothe them.  

To start, I decided I needed something more of a balm consistency, something thick and protective, free of water and alcohol, and full of nourishing ingredients to help the skin heal.  The first balms I created were good, but didn't create the long lasting barrier I was hoping for.  That’s when the idea of a lotion bar became evident.  It was perfect, giving the skin all the nourishing ingredients of a balm and using none of the ingredients I was trying to avoid such as alcohol.  And, the best part was the addition of Candelilla wax to create the bar's consistency.  Candelilla wax created the protective skin barrier I was looking to replace.  Now, I needed to help prevent infection.  That’s when I really started researching essential oils and decided upon grapefruit essential oil.  Grapefruit has been shown to inhibit growth of both bacteria and fungus and has soothing effects.

Prevention of polymicrobial biofilms composed of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and pathogenic fungi by essential oils from selected Citrus species.  

The Composition, Antioxidant and Antibacterial Activities of Cold-Pressed and Distilled EssentialOils of Citrus paradisi and Citrus grandis (L.) Osbeck. 

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The difference in my daughter’s eczema with in the first couple of applications was amazing.  Even her pediatrician couldn’t get over how great her skin looked.  Even better, she was healing without the use of medications and the bar was immediately soothing. 

I offered the grapefruit lotion bar to friends and family whose children also suffered with eczema, and low and behold, their children experienced the same outcome.  And this became the beginning of what is now Kosmatology.

* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease. *

Pineapple Perfection

Janis Covey

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Who doesn’t think of a warm tropical island when thinking of pineapples? Even though pineapples have no actual resemblance to pines or apples, they are still worth considering for things other than the fact that it can be delicious. Pineapples are one of America’s favorite tropical fruits but that isn’t the only claim to fame for this wonder fruit.

Pineapples are part of the Bromeliaceae family and is the only edible fruit that comes from this family. It is the enzyme bromelain that gives pineapple its anti-inflammatory properties which have been associated with reduction in swelling, bruising, and muscle pain. It is thought that the activity of bromelain in the body, along with its interaction with the body’s immune system, is what is responsible for the anti-inflammatory properties. The exact science behind how this happens is still being worked out, but it doesn’t mean you can’t reap the benefits.

Bromelain isn’t the only thing pineapples have to offer. Pineapples are high in Vitamin C which has been found to be helpful for immune system function. Considering most of the human body is made up of water, the fact that Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant makes it a breeze for the body to use. In addition to Vitamin C, pineapples have been found to be a good source of manganese and thiamin, both which play an important role in helping the body fight free radicals.

These are only some of the amazing abilities of this fruit, and science is still working on harvesting and utilizing these abilities. Pineapples have been on the scene for many centuries and even though it’s role is ever changing, it always prevails. 

Here's one of my fav ways to incorporate Pineapple into my diet

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Pineapple Salad:

  • 1 package (10 ounces) romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup cubed fresh pineapple
  • 1 can mandarin oranges
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/3 cup flaked coconut toasted
  • 2 green onions chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper
  1. Chop the romaine lettuce
  2. Chop the red bell pepper and onions 
  3. Add pineapple and oranges
  4. Add coconut and almond slivers

I like to dress it with red wine vinegar, olive oil, himalyan salt and a little bit of honey.

Enjoy!