Allergies stem from a long period of hyperactivity in the immune system. It’s the body’s way of expressing unease; usually in the form of inflammation, discomfort, migraines, gas, bloating, and more severely, anaphylaxis. For those people who have them…hate them! Whether it be seasonal allergies or food allergies, the level of discomfort hinders our daily lifestyles. It’s the body’s response to foreign substances that “might” pose a threat to our health. Although, in my opinion, an allergic response is an unhealthy form immune response, it can be managed.
All experience allergies at different levels of severity. These are caused by various types of allergic responses expressed physiologically due to different immune proteins. In naturopathy, we classify them as insensitivity, intolerance, and anaphylaxis.
Insensitivity - is usually expressed in the form of hives, headaches, migraines, bloating, or gas
Intolerance - is usually expressed in the form of rashes, diarrhea, dizziness, vertigo, fainting, or even vomiting.
Anaphylaxis - is the most severe of them all, where hospitalization is required due to closing of the airway primarily, and swelling of mucous membranes.
Allergies usually have an underlying cause that started in the past or it could be from an acute trigger that started recently (it could stem from a gene shutting off or turning on, still a debate). I find that most allergies start from the gut and not initially environmentally provoked. Our GI tract is constantly introduced or bombarded with new food items on a daily basis and if our digestive system is one, premature or under developed, or two, unhealthy, these food items can enter our system without the control we normally have and cause an immune response to react to the foreign substance in our blood stream.
Allergies, is an immune response, a warning, red flag, to warn the body that there is an intruder! However, can be managed, and now, possibly eliminated through natural means.
Here are a few tips to start your road to minimizing allergies:
1) Try the elimination diet - elimination diet is really stripping your diet to the bare essentials for a period of time to offset the inflammatory response (“put out the fire; without adding more fuel (allergen) to it”). Time will help to decrease the symptoms and give your body time to heal. This diet can be done from 2-3 weeks to several months. Then a reintroduction period of the potential allergic foods and observe if there is an allergic response or no response.
2) Try supplements -
Quercetin - it’s a type of bioflavonoid from red, orange, and yellow vegetables and fruit and the pith of citrus fruits. It can help in the symptomatic relief of allergies, both dietary and environmental.
Curcumin - or Tumeric has been shown to be a powerful anti-inflammatory and can help in the symptomatic relief and treatment of allergies
L-Glutamine - it’s an amino acid used by intestinal cells as food. This will help with the integrity of gut and increase the efficiency of absorption of food.
Probiotics - has been shown to be beneficial in the breakdown of food and create a selective absorption system to minimize potential immune attack on unwanted absorption particles which may cause an allergic response.
Omega 3s - Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) - specifically Omega 3s have been shown to have anti-inflammatory benefits and can minimize swelling and flare-ups on skin conditions. Furthermore, it can balance the Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio and lessen inflammatory responses when the body encounters allergic substances. A balance of T Helper cell ratios has been linked to decreasing PRO-inflammatory responses when one is subjected to an allergen.
Food quality has decreased globally and the increase in chemical use has done a great deal of damage to our bodies and our ecosystems. We are in a shift in how our bodies respond to the outside world and therefore, there will be an increase in allergies over time. We all hate allergies, but we need them…to protect us from foreign substances. We just need to manage and treat it properly. Hopefully, we all can be aware of our food, our environment, and strengthen our immune systems so that we can combat the ever changing world and create a better health & wellness for ourselves and our families.