Every year thousands of people are affected by allergies. Whether it be seasonal allergies, animal hair, or foods, no one enjoys allergy symptoms. As common as they are however, most people don’t really know why they have allergies in the first place. It’s a misconception in society that allergies “just happen” and are a natural part of life. The fact of the matter is our bodies aren’t designed to have allergies. Allergies are the result of a compromised immune system. Today’s blog however, will focus more on treating allergies rather than explain in great detail what happens to the body when we have allergies, that will be for another blog. For those with seasonal allergies, pay particular attention because the key to avoiding strong allergy symptoms is preparing the body long before spring time comes.
Some basics of allergy development should be addressed before moving forward. Very basically, allergies develop due to a compromised immune system. When the immune system is weak/compromised, immune cells are created incorrectly. Additionally, the body may not be able to monitor immune cells effectively. A weak immune system can be caused from excess cortisol in the bloodstream due to constant stress, chronic inflammation, excess use of antibiotics, and an imbalance of macrobiotics in the intestine. Whatever the reason may be, incorrectly produced immune cells can’t always recognize certain things including harmless foreign substances. It should be made very clear that pollen, animal hair, foods, etc. do no harm to the body; they aren’t dangerous. When weak immune cells come in contact with a certain object (pollen, hair, etc) they may think it’s something dangerous. Perhaps the best way to illustrate this is to think of someone on strong medication or someone who is drunk. Most of the time a medicated or drunk person can’t recognize what’s really happening around them and sometimes think family or friends are going to harm them. In a similar manner, we could say incorrectly made immune cells are “drugged” and can’t recognize what’s really happening. They then see harmless substances as dangerous to the body. Consequently, in this condition the cells will tag an object as an allergen (something we are allergic to).
Once an allergen is tagged as such, we have allergy symptoms anytime we come in contact with that particular substance. This tag activates an immune response which attacks the exposed area. Symptoms range from mild to severe, but the bottom line is the allergy came about because of a poor immune system. However, we don’t have to be plagued with allergies forever. The following are steps we can take now to treat allergies and reduce or eliminate symptoms all together. As allergies are a result of a poor immune system many of these steps are directly linked to improving immune health.
Allergies cause a great deal of stress on an individual, and for good reason. They can keep us from doing simple things such as enjoying good food or simply taking a walk outside. Ironically, the stress we feel from allergies actually make the symptoms worse. When we’re stressed the body produces a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol causes the immune system to give up its energy to the muscles and brain. Additionally it blocks the thymus gland (an extremely important part of the immune system) from doing its job. An overproduction of cortisol, which occurs when we are constantly or consistently stressed, is detrimental to immune health. This is huge factor that causes immune cells to be produced incorrectly. More people are chronically stressed than they realize, which causes allergy symptoms to be worse and to worsen with time.
Controlling chronic stress is crucial to treating allergies or any kind of health condition. In past blogs we’ve gone into more detail on what happens to the body during chronic stress and how to alleviate it. Additionally, we have a Stress protocol to help those struggling with stress and anxiety to find relief.
Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition
What we eat affects every aspect of our health, allergies are no different. Cells need the right tools to function correctly and make repairs and corrections in our bodies. The right kind of nutrition provide cells with these tools. When treating allergies and increasing immune strength, we want foods rich in nutrients. We especially want foods with Vitamin C, antioxidants, and with anti-inflammatory properties. A few great choices to add to your diet now are Kale, watercress, collards, spinach, Bok choy, and Swiss chard. Berries are also essential and should be eaten daily. Pineapple and papaya also provide vital nutrients and vitamins. A more comprehensive list of immune promoting foods can be found here and anti-inflammatory foods here.
It’s important to take a moment to talk about anti-inflammatory foods. Some natural treatments of allergies involve eating foods with anti-inflammatory properties. Since many allergic reactions involve an inflammatory response, it’s not surprising this shows results. A common method is taking a spoonful of turmeric a day during allergy season, usually in a glass of water. This method is effective in relieving many symptoms, however, it doesn’t address the root cause. It simply reduces symptoms. Nutrition as a whole and other aspects (such as stress) must be addressed. Otherwise we only masking our symptoms and fooling ourselves.
Probiotics are also important to consume. In the digestive tract we have intestinal flora, which are important good bacteria that help our overall health and aid the immune system. Probiotics help keep these bacteria populations healthy. Example of probiotics are yogurts (with no added sugar or flavorings) and kefir.
Remember that what we eat today, becomes part of our liver or eyes tomorrow. Even junk food is absorbed and becomes part of us. Junk food leads to inflammation and other problems. Additionally, skipping meals does has the same negative effects.
Important note: If you are allergic to any of these foods do NOT eat them. If you think a food allergy is disappearing, only test it out by first sniffing and handling the food. If there are no reactions only take a nibble of the food and wait 24 hours before taking a little bit more. Increase the portion you take little by little even if there aren’t any symptoms. Stop taking the food if there are reactions and continue to make lifestyle changes before trying again.
Reducing and eliminating allergies from our lives can take time, depending on the severity of the allergy and the health of the individual. When allergy season rolls around it may be good to have some medication around. However, we recommend NOT buying your common over the counter prescription. Most allergy medications are simply suppressants, meaning they hide the symptoms, but don’t do anything to treat the root cause. This is why allergy medicines need to be taken regularly and year after year, often needing more expensive brands as allergy symptoms grow worse.
We recommend natural allergy medicines that are plant based, since these work with the body. In the case of severe non-seasonal allergies, keep medication on hand for emergencies. Remember that many allergy medicines block neurotransmitters in the brain and affects receptors and connectivity. We need to change our lifestyle and decrease doses taken as allergy improve.
Increasing exposure to the allergen
As the immune system’s strength increases and new immune cells are created, it’s important to gradually increase exposure to the allergen. This is important because our cells need to rewrite how they react to an allergen, or in other words, “untag” it. This process may take some time, so don’t get discouraged if allergy symptoms aren’t reduced or eliminated after a few weeks. It can take some time to rewrite what the body has deemed “dangerous”. This all depends on the changes we are making in our lifestyle. Here are some tips for seasonal and food allergies.
- For seasonal allergies: Begin adding bee pollen to smoothies, drinks, etc or take orally. Start with 2-3 grains and gradually increase to about a tablespoon. Bee pollen can be found at whole foods stores.
- Food allergies: Only after increasing the immune system’s strength and addressing stress, take little by little. Test it out by first sniffing, then handling the food. If there are no reactions only take a nibble and wait 24 hours before taking another nibble. Increase the portion you take little by little even if there aren’t any symptoms.
No matter what the allergen is the principle remains the same- gradual increase of exposure. However, if you are allergic to something you rarely come in contact with (such as a certain medication), it’s best to not do this step since the likelihood of being able to gradually expose yourself is slim. In these cases avoid them and take measures to increase immune health to avoid developing other allergies or illnesses.
Other important tips:
- Drink 8-10 glasses of water daily
- Keep a clean environment
- Use our Immune System Protocol
- Use air filters
- Exercise regularly
- Get enough sleep. That means 7-8 hours for adults and 9-10 for children
- Eat 5 times a day and avoid having dinner past 7pm (or 4 hours before going to bed)
A few more notes for seasonal allergies
In addition to the above steps, the following are tips to help relieve or avoid symptoms during allergy season.
- Take a warm shower or bath daily
- Wash clothes regularly
- Drink a glass of water with 3 teaspoons of turmeric mixed in when symptoms are stronger
Whether we’re dealing with allergies or any other illness or condition, increasing immune strength is vital. Remember the body and mind are divinely designed to be able to heal themselves. When we give them the right tools and environment they can do so, one day at a time.