Stuffy nose, sore throat, watery and itchy eyes. Just when we thought this year was going to be “the year” with no allergies, they seem to be worse than ever.
Well, you’re not fighting this battle alone. More than one in six Canadians suffer from hay fever, or seasonal allergic rhinitis. A survey commissioned by Johnson & Johnson found that Ontario suffered the highest rates of seasonal allergies while Atlantic Canada was at the bottom of the list.
An allergy is a powerful immune response to an allergen (eg. animal dander, tree pollen, ragweed, dust, etc.), which causes the body to react to the perceived threat entirely out of proportion by triggering a production of allergen-specific antibodies. When produced, these antibodies migrate to mast cells which line the nose, eyes and lungs and release chemicals called histamines which then irritate the lining. With this response brings the notorious symptoms of a running nose and streaming eyes of hay fever.
What Can You Do?
1. Heal Your Gut
Immune system recovery, restoration of intestinal integrity and healthy flora are the most important and most effective strategy. Probiotics are an essential, if not the MOST essential, pillars of health. Accordingly, research has proven them to be especially beneficial for those who suffer from acute or chronic allergies. A study performed by the Department of Immunology concluded that the use of the probiotic strand, lactobacillus, aided in the management of allergies and reduced the incidence of atopic eczema (common skin condition that is often a result of underlying allergies). A study, which used mice, found that a common gut bacteria called Clostridia helps prevent sensitization to food allergens. In fact, immune responses to food allergens were reversed once Clostridia bacteria were put back into the mice. Using genetic analysis, the researchers determined that Clostridia instructs immune cells to produce a signaling molecule called interleukin-22 (IL-22), which is known to reduce the permeability of the lining in your intestines. In other words, it helps prevent leaky gut syndrome—a condition that allows allergens to enter your bloodstream, thereby producing an immune response. The researchers suggest this discovery may eventually lead to probiotic therapies to treat food allergies.
2. Get a Little Sweeter
Raw, local honey is not only delicious, but it can reduce or eliminate allergies all together! Choose any raw and local honey that is harvested nearby to ensure that the same sort of plants are blooming at roughly the same time. Honey that is raw will still contain all the living enzymes needed to protect your body from a histamine overdose. You may also choose to skip the honey and go right to the source by using pollen on its own instead. A very small number of people will have a reaction to this powerful remedy so it is important to start with just a grain at first. If you don’t have a problem then you can generally use ½-1 tsp of pollen daily. Try adding pollen to shakes or simply taking a spoonful.
3. Clean Up Your Dietary Habits
There are many common foods which create inflammation or sensitivities in the body, which in turn, compromises the immune system and makes you more susceptible to allergies. Cleaning up the diet is essential when attempting to strengthen the body's terrain. We have a great low glycemic meal plan that can be found here.
4. Listen to Mother Nature
She has out-done herself again and provided you with a natural substances to combat allergies. There are many natural remedies out that that have been proven effective. Aside from the essential trifecta to maintain a healthy terrain (probiotic, fish oil and vitamin D3), a basic allergy "care package" may involve Vitamin C (Progressive does a nice formula "Vitamin C Complex" which has some other nutrients such as quercetin to assist in the histamine response) and a homeopathic remedy such as Unda's Allergiplex. This is a fabulous little remedy that may be taken acutely, 1 tablet a day, or chronically as a preventative with a "Sunday dose" (one tablet a week).
5. Brush Away the Stress
Stress also plays a major role in allergies by dysregulating immune functions and by weakening adrenal response. Stress can also directly influence our digestive function, which can be a core factor in allergies. Chronic stress may lead to a reduction of hydrochloric acid output ) and digestive enzyme function, so that we do not break down our food properly. Absorption of larger food molecules into the blood may lead to increased antibody responses and subsequent allergies. Furthermore, the effects of stress on our immune system can lead to an increase in infections, which contribute to both environmental and food allergies. According to a study carried out by the Ohio State University-Columbus, stress may cause more severe and longer lasting allergy attacks. Try calming the nerves with some deep breathing and throw in some vitamin C which will not only support your adrenal glands, which controls the stress hormone cortisol, but it will also reduces the histamine response which causes allergy flare-ups. If you're having a tough time managing your stress, try discussing the myriad of natural options available with a natural practitioner.
Support your body’s natural cleansing system by drinking a minimum of 8 glasses of water per day.
Time to kick those allergies to the curb!