Cat Allergies!

shmooey(7B Seattle)April 7, 2009

I was wondering if anyone had any ideas on how to control pet allergies? I have two cats in a small apartment and am quite allergic to them. Most of the time my nasal passages are quite inflamed, and i have a very hard time breathing through my nose.

Does anyone have any advice on what to do, to reduce sensitivities to allergic substances, or even natural antihistamines ? Im afraid of eventually being stuck with nasal polyps!

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Catnip. Put it in the cat carrier, when the cats go in to get the catnip, lock them in, and then adopt them out.

Just kidding (sorta) - I have had allergies for most of my life. Things that help to varying degrees: neti pot (nasal saline irrigation), HEPA air filters, echinacea, quercetin (from apples and onions), garlic, anthocyanins (most plant foods that are purple/blue/red).

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 12:12PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Getting a less allergy inducing pet would be the first plan of action. Secon is sanitation, wash the cats regularly (and this is not just so you will want to get rid of them). Just a normal filter will do a whole lot, and a HEPA filter is a good idea too. Dust regularly with an electrostatic duster that traps the dust, vacuum regularly, Irrigate your sinuses to get the dust out more rapidly, keep plenty of tissues around and try blowing your nose more often. Open the windows and run a box fan, Try to keep the cats in one room if you can.

Develop a taste for Wasabii and chilipeppers, the increased mucus response will help your body to flush the dander from your nasal passages.

apollog, could you link to a study that supports any of the four plants you listed for allergy symptom reduction?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 12:19PM
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shmooey(7B Seattle)

Getting rid of the cats, while an obvious solution- is absolutely not possible. I am extremely attached to them, and they are rather young- so unless something bad happens- they will probably be around for quite a while.

Brendan- you are probably spot on that just keeping the dander out of the house as much as possible is the next step. I started to bathe the cats once a week or so, but anymore its not warm enough out for them to dry off in a reasonable amount of time.

Having no central air system, a filter of that sort isn't possible, but i do open the windows anytime its above 45 degrees. I think a big problem is just living in a tiny space- I never had these problems even with three cats, when i lived in my parents home growing up. Hopefully once i move to a permanent living situation i can have off-limit rooms from the cats.

Does anyone have personal experience with taking nettles or ephedra (can you even buy it anymore?) for allergies?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 12:40PM
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If you do a Pubmed search on "quercetin histamine" you will get 93 results. Some are not relevant, or only tangentially relevant, but there is fair amount of research showing that quercetin and related compounds stabilize mast cells and reduce their tendency to drop packets of histamine, serotonin, and other inflammatory mediators. I would compare quercetin with cromolyn in terms of its effectiveness - doesn't work right away, not as strong as a nasal steroid spray, but it can make a difference. One abstract on quercetin and other related compounds is below.

As far as echinacea goes, that is mostly my personal experience - when I take it daily, my allergies subside. When I stop taking it, I'm fine for a few weeks or months, and then tend to have a big flair of allergic symptoms.

The echinacea research is dominated by studies looking at whether it reduces the symptoms of a cold (a worthwhile topic), but I think the key is the research on how echinacea is a strong agonist of the CB2 receptor - the endogenous cannabinoid receptor. CB2 is peripheral, linked to the immune system, while CB1 receptors are primarily in the nervous system. Various CB2 agonists have been shown to reduce immune activation. Not proof per se, but a mechanism that may explain what I have experienced.

Will have to get back with you later on the others - too much stuff going on here this afternoon.

Here is a link that might be useful: Flavonoids inhibit histamine release and expression of proinflammatory cytokines in mast cells.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 1:12PM
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Ephedra does not help with the allergy itself. It opens up the nasal passages, which can sometimes be helpful, but the redness, itching, and inflammation are still there.

I haven't used nettles much, but there is a new article on them that is of below.

Here is a link that might be useful: ettle extract (Urtica dioica) affects key receptors and enzymes associated with allergic rhinitis.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 1:21PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

ShmooeyThere are stand alone air filters. Don;t get one of those Ionic breeze deals, they don't move much air but may be harmful to your health.

apollog I'm going to chock that up to confirmation bias and placebo effect on the part of the Echinacea.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 5:14PM
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>> apollog I'm going to chock that up to confirmation bias and placebo effect on the part of the Echinacea.

Go right ahead - I was expecting you to do exactly that. Herbalists have been saying that echinacea helps with colds for a long time, and that has been shown to be the case. But you won't accept that possibility as real until there are piles and piles of studies.

Your approach to living in a world with incomplete information is to minimize type 1 error (false positives), and as a result, you maximize type 2 error (false negatives). You are so afraid of believing something that is not true, that you fail to recognize many things that are true.

From wikipedia:

Type I error

Type I error, also known as an "error of the first kind", an α error, or a "false positive": the error of rejecting a null hypothesis when it is actually true. Plainly speaking, it occurs when we are observing a difference when in truth there is none. Type I error can be viewed as the error of excessive credulity.

Type II error

Type II error, also known as an "error of the second kind", a β error, or a "false negative": the error of failing to reject a null hypothesis when it is in fact not true. In other words, this is the error of failing to observe a difference when in truth there is one. Type II error can be viewed as the error of excessive skepticism.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cat Allergies and Echinacea

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 10:02AM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

That is absolutely right on the error types. Type two errors are easily reversed, type one, not so much.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 12:34PM
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A couple of things for pet dander or other allergies:

1) This one comes from Rosemary Gladstar & I've used it for several years & adore it: Take equal parts garlic & ginger & juice them (that alone will clear out your sinuses), then add 1/4 c honey to each cup combined juice, warm just enough to blend well. Seal well & BURY it-- really-- for 17 days. Dig it up & rebottle. Take 1 tsp as desired. I use about a lb of each herb & also use it as a marinade, salad dressing base, etc. Used consistently, it obliterates allergies as well as significantly reduce the number of respiratory ailments I get a year.

2) We have found that a salt lamp on in the evenings in the room we most occupy reduces the amount of floating dander (& static electricity) & really makes the air feel "cleaner"

3) Diet high in dark green vegetables, low in sugar & "whites" -- flour, dairy, etc. Maintain regular protein levels, but cut out ALL red meat & pork.

4) Keep a clean house. Almost impossible with kids, cats, dogs, etc., but the less crap on the floor, the less surface area for dust & dander. Instead of commercial cleaners go back to the basics with baking soda & vinegar-- add essential oils like frankincense, lemon, grapefruit, tea tree & thyme (very little thyme) for anti-bacterial/ anti-fungal help.

5) Keep the cats off of all your bedding or do lots & lots of laundry. & oddly enough, keep them away from your shoes, too. A lot more comes in through our feet than we're aware of.

6) nettle, red clover, cleavers & dandelion in a raspberry leaf base makes a nice cleansing & fortifying tea. You can add other herbs for medicinal or flavor effect. Try each base herb individually first to make sure you are not sensitive to it.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 11:40PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Salt lamps don't actually do anything (well they make light). The Himalayan salt is identical to the rock salt they mine but its got an iron oxide impurity. They are pretty, but really unless your lamp is at 3600C its unlikely that anything is wafting off to purify the air.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 3:39AM
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I didn't read all the responses so some of these could be a little redundant but i have a few ideas. for one, you want to help your body do better with allergens. there are a few anti inflammatories/antihistamines you could take that are natrual. one is tumeric, the other is called quercetin. it is found in apple skins. that may help your body, along with a muti vitamin and proper diet. aside from that, i know that minimizing the allergens in your apt will help. you can wash your cats well and often, along with routine combing. if you can afford it i would absolutely buy a hepa vacuum and a hepa air purifier. this will definitely get rid of all the dander and proteins that are causing your symptoms. i think they also have protein denaturing sprays that can break down the allergic proteins found in pet saliva and dander(dead skin cells). hope this helps

Here is a link that might be useful: hepa filter reviews

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 2:33PM
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Not to be mean, but get rid of them. My boyfriend has 2 cats in his apartment. He had them when I moved in a year and a half ago. I found I am very allergic. I didn't feel right asking him to get rid of them, so I dealt with them. I have allergies year round now and I have nasal polyps. My sense of smell is fading too. My boyfriend won't get rid of them still! LOL Learn from my stupidity.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 1:21AM
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