Agony from Allergies? Naturopathic Resolutions to Overcome Your Seasonal Suffering
As the weather warms, our senses are flooded with the beauty of an awakening world. For many, this equals an immune system overload as their Seasonal Allergies kick in, seemingly overnight. These symptoms are vast in their effect, and a growing health concern. Almost one-third of the industrialized world suffers from Allergies, while one-fifth of North Americans are affected by Hay fever alone. Asthma is diagnosed in one-tenth of North Americans, while Food Allergies have been self-reported by 2.5 million Canadians & 15 million Americans.
Allergies are an overreaction to a normal immune response. Your immunity is a powerful, intricate system that protects you, by combating those causing sickness or infection, such as bacteria & viruses while also repairing cancer cells. When other substances enter your body, whether the environment or food, a hyperactive immunity will cause an allergic reaction. People with Allergies have hyperactive immune systems that produce exaggerated responses to something a healthy person would not react to. It is important to understand that having Allergies means your immunity is not healthy.
What is an Allergen?
An allergen is anything that can trigger an aggressive immune response, wherein the body thinks it’s fighting an offender, that is usually harmless. Allergens may be introduced by eating, breathing or touching.
Types of Allergens include:
• Animal Fur & Dander (Cats, Dogs, Wool)
• Drugs (Penicillin)
• Dust mites
• Mold, Yeast, Fungi
• Pollen, Grass, Weeds, Trees
• Latex, Wood, Metals
• Insect venom (Wasps, Bees, Mosquitos)
• Foods (Dairy, Egg, Soy, Legumes, Gluten, Corn, Nuts, Seeds, Seafood, Fruits)
Who is at Risk for Allergies?
As seen above, allergies are a growing health concern. You may be symptom free for years, and develop allergies later in life, even though your diet and lifestyle hasn’t changed.
You may be at Risk for Allergies if you:
• Are a child with allergic parents
• Have family members with any form of allergy (asthma, hay fever, hives, eczema or migraine headaches)
• Have any form of allergy yourself, as the disease can manifest in another form when suppressed with drugs (e.g. eczema with cortisone cream as a baby may become asthma in a child and with steroid inhalers may develop hay fever, hives, migraines later in life)
• Atopic patients are those predisposed to allergy
What are Typical Allergic Symptoms?
Allergic reactions can manifest in any and many ways, and there is individual variability depending on genetics. Body parts expressing allergic reaction include Lungs, Skin, Eyes, Nose and GI Tract, manifesting as Anaphylaxis, Asthma, Eczema (Dermatitis), Hay Fever (Seasonal Rhinitis) & Hives (Urticaria) Symptoms (See Below).
Other Allergic Symptoms:
These symptoms are common, but are not usually recognized as allergic symptoms, as they may be due to Food Allergies:
• Digestive Disturbances (Diarrhea, Constipation, Gas, Bloating, Ulcers And Cramps)
• Mental Afflictions (Mood Swings, Anxiety, Depression, Food Cravings, Poor Concentration, Fatigue & Hyperactivity)
• Hay Fever Type Symptoms
• Canker Sores
• Muscular or Joint Aches
• Excess Water Retention & Weight Gain
• Dark Circles or Puffiness under the Eyes
• Chronically Swollen Glands
What are Common Allergic Conditions?
Although these are common allergic conditions, it is critical to realize that an allergic reaction can affect any and every part of the body.
The most scary allergic reaction, that’s often life-threatening. It affects the whole body as it severely expands all blood vessels, crashing blood pressure, cutting off blood flow to all organs.
Typically foods, medications or insect bites causing:
• Hives occur in ~90% cases
• Swelling of throat & tongue
• Wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing
• Runny or stuffy nose, itchy eyes, sinus congestion
• Stomachache, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting
• Lightheadedness, Dizziness, loss of consciousness, shock
Inflammation, hyper reactivity & narrowing of airways causes:
• Difficulty breathing
• Shortness of breath
• Chest tightness
• May be triggered by heat, exercise, full stomach
Can occur at any age, commonly seen in infants & children
Intricate inflammatory process causes:
• Dry skin
• Itchy skin (mild to intolerable)
• Severe: Oozing, cracking, discolouration & thickening of skin (alligator)
• May lead to skin infection as scratching introduces bacteria
• Rash may occur anywhere, typically creases, face, arms, legs, torso
Hay fever (Allergic Rhinitis)
Most common allergic reaction. Inflammation of sinus, eyes, ears, nose and throat causes:
• Seasonal caused by pollen, grass, trees
• Year round reactions caused by mould, animal dander, dust mite
• Post-nasal drip (constant clearing throat)
• Sinus congestion or headache
• Runny or Stuffy nose
• Itchy eyes, ears, nose, throat
Hives are a dramatic allergic reaction to food, medication or a virus, and may be transient. Chronic hives that come and go over months may be due to an autoimmune disorder.
• Welts or raised, red, itchy skin
• Intolerable itchiness
• Usually no scarring after they resolve
• Swelling of face, lips, hands & feet may also occur
• Welts may come and go, with episodes increasing in duration & severity
Other Allergic Conditions:
• Migraine Headaches
• Recurrent Infections
• Chronic Fatigue
Side Effects of Drug Treatments
Drug treatments include Antihistamines (Benadryl, Reactine, Aerius), Steroid Nasal Sprays (Nasonex / Flonase) and Decongestants. Although these provide magical relief, they are ridden with side effects, putting you at risk of addiction & adaptation (the issue of the body adapting so the drug no longer works).
Antihistamine Side Effects:
- Dry Mouth
- Nausea & Vomiting
- Difficult Urination
- Blurred Vision
Nasal Decongestant Side Effects:
- Sneezing & Sinus Irritation
- Dry Nasal Passages
- Stinging & Burning
- Fast Heartbeat
- High Blood Pressure
- Worse Congestion After Stopping Use
Steroid Nasal Spray Side Effects:
- Sore Throat, Dryness, Irritation
- Stuffy Nose & Dryness
- Bloody Phlegm
- Muscle/Joint Pain
Treat the Cause
When you put your hand on the stove, the reason why you feel the pain/symptoms is to signal you to REMOVE YOUR HAND, not to take a painkiller so you don’t have to feel the pain/symptoms! Pain & Symptoms are the body’s way of telling you there is something wrong. We are remiss to suppress or ignore these clues. As above, you now know that the body can complain in MANY ways.
The critical part of treating the cause is to remove the allergenic load off the immune system. It would seem logical to minimize exposure to the allergenic issue, whether dust, animals, pollen, grass, trees etc. However, you cannot live in a bubble with a vacuum in hand constantly, without your furry baby! What you can change is the allergenic load you consume. By removing the Food Allergies from your diet, you will take the burden off your immune system and allow it to become stronger and less irritated.
There are general considerations in nutrition in our efforts to minimize allergic reactions. We can achieve biochemical changes to decrease inflammation & histamine, improving anti-allergenic chemicals in the body with some nutritional changes.
AVOID High Tryptophan Foods as it increases Histamine Production
- Soy, Tofu, Tempeh
- Beef, Lamb, Pork
- Chicken, Turkey
- Lentils & Beans
AVOID High Histamine Foods
- Alcohol: Wine, Champagne, Beer
- Fermented Foods: Vinegar, Soy Sauce, Kefir, Yogurt, Kombucha, Sauerkraut, Kimchi
- Vinegar Foods: Pickles, Olives, Horseradish, Mustard, Ketchup, Mayonnaise
- Cured Meats: Salami, Pepperoni, Bacon, Ham, Luncheon Meats, Hot Dogs
AVOID Inflammatory Foods
- Fatty Animal Meats: Grain Fed Beef, Pork, Lamb EAT: Wild or Grass Fed Meats
- Sugar, Processed Flour, Fried Foods, Artificial Additives, Colors, Sweeteners, Dairy
- Your Specific Food Allergies
INCREASE Essential Fatty Acid Foods
- Fish: Mackerel, Herring, Salmon, Tuna, White Fish, Sardines, Anchovies WILD is BEST; AVOID FARM-RAISED
- Nuts & Seeds: Walnuts, Chia Seeds, Flax Seeds, Hemp Seeds, Brazil Nuts, Hazelnuts, Cashews
- Fats: Hemp Oil, Walnut Oil, Flax Oil, Egg Yolks
- Dark Leafy Greens
INCREASE Antioxidant Foods
Vegetables: Red, Green & Yellow Vegetables, Dark Leafy Greens, Cilantro, Artichoke
Fruits: Blueberries, Cranberries, Elderberries, Blackberries
Supplements: Quercetin, Vitamin C, Boswellia, Lutein, Resveratrol, Zeaxathin, Turmeric, Calcium D-Glucarate, Picrorhiza kurroa, Alpha-Lipoic Acid, Pycnogenol, N-Acetyl Cysteine, Good Bacteria (Probiotics)
INCREASE Anti-Allergenic Foods
- Quercitin: Onions, Peppers, Berries, Parsley
- Vitamin C: Kiwi
- Bromelain: Pineapple
- Papain: Papaya
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids: See Essential Fatty Acids Above
- Probiotics (See below)
- Detoxification Organ, Vulnerable to Toxic Environment
- Support Liver Function
- Reduce Toxic Chemicals, Stimulants (Caffeine) & Depressants (Alcohol)
- Increase Water to Help Flush Out Toxins
- Nutrients to Support Liver Function as in Milk Thistle, Turmeric, Calcium D-Glucarate, Picrorhiza kurroa, Alpha-Lipoic Acid, Pycnogenol, N-Acetyl Cysteine
- Ensure Regular Bowel Movements,
- If Present, Address Constipation Without Laxatives
- Increase Good Bacteria (Probiotics)
- HUMAN Strain Only Provides Long Term Effect as Dairy or Vegetable Forms are Rejected within 48 hours
- 30+ Billion Count For Efficient Repopulation of Good Bacteria
- MULTIPLE Strains (10 is Best) as Bowel Environment Complex and Intricate
- ACID RESISTANT Capsules to Protect Probiotics From Stomach Acid & Safe Delivery to Intestines
Adrenal (Stress) Glands
Life without stress is certainly not reality for most of us! Continual stress (whether from life, environment or diet) overworks the adrenal glands, which floods the body with the stress hormone cortisol. Since cortisol is integral in regulating your immunity, you are more likely to manifest allergies when under chronic stress because of your weakened adrenal glands.
Improving adrenal function can prevent or treat allergies. There are many adrenal support formulations on the market, so make sure you choose one with everything the body needs to support your adrenals, including Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) as well as other B Vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B6 as Pyridoxal-5-Phosphate, B9 Folate, B12 as Hydroxocobalamin), as well as Zinc for your immunity, & Chromium polynicotinate for blood sugar regulation and to prevent stress belly fat. Improved coping and recovery from physiological stressors require Siberian ginseng, Ashwagandha, Korean ginseng, Maca, Rhodiola and critical vitamins & minerals required for healthy stress hormone & brain chemical balance.
For healthy, balanced adrenal (stress gland) function, find a potent, adaptogenic formulation with the full spectrum of nutrients and botanicals. All stages of acute and chronic stress may be addressed by the botanical adaptogens included supporting the body’s adaptability to stress, preventing stress-related weight gain, improving mental and emotional well-being as well as enhancing physical & mental endurance.
There are various immune dysfunctions, and different types can occur in the same person (Weak Immune, Overactive Immune & Hyperactive Immune). Allergies relate to a more hyperactive immunity, irritated, but can become weakened over time.
When choosing immune support for Allergies, it is critical to include support for the adrenals, antioxidants, and various immune stimulating and immune-modulating botanicals & nutrients. Standardized extracts of both Echinaceas, Astragalus, Goldenseal, North American Ginseng, Elderberry, Olive Leaf, Thyme, Ginger as well as N-Acetyl Cysteine and Beta-carotene work to dramatically respond to immune attack.
The best part of a naturopathic approach to Allergies is that when you treat the cause, you can improve & resolve the symptoms overall. As major dietary changes take time for effect, you can use supplementation to reduce histamine release & inflammation, while strengthening bowel, liver and adrenal function, as they help to treat the symptoms and the underlying causes.
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