Why Do We Get Allergies?
Allergies are your body’s reaction to things it considers “foreign.” They are also a sign that your immune system is working overtime, or is already under stress. When your body comes in contact with foreign material (allergens such as pollen, pet dander, etc.), your plasma cells release an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE). These antibodies attach to the surface of your mast cells.
Your surface tissues (like your skin and mucous membranes in the sinus cavity/nose, etc.) have a large number of mast cells. These help mediate inflammatory responses by releasing several substances, one of which is histamine. When your body comes in contact with that same allergen in subsequent encounters, the mast cells become activated and release histamine, among other chemical mediators, which cause your “histamine reaction.” This can include sneezing, runny nose, cough, itchy eyes, sore throat, itchy skin, etc. Every person reacts differently to different allergens, and allergies can develop (or dissipate) at any time.
Another cause of allergies is Leaky Gut Syndrome. Leaky Gut Syndrome is a condition that occurs when gaps form between the cells of that make up the lining of the intestinal wall. The gaps allow substances that should stay in the intestine to escape into the bloodstream. These substances include bacteria, metabolic waste, and undigested food. This flow of toxic substances into the bloodstream increases inflammation in the body, thus contributing to an increase in allergic reactions.
Natural Treatments for Allergies
According to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, the products with the highest revenue in 2016 were for upper respiratory/allergy medications (over 8 million dollars). However, there are many natural alternatives to taking these drugs on a daily basis.
Eating Right: When you eat foods that are inflammatory to the gut, it increases your risk for allergies. 80% of your immune system lies in the gut. We have already discussed how allergies are generally an immune issue, so it is easy to see how extra stress on the digestive system can increase your risk for allergies. The top pro-inflammatory foods include wheat, cow dairy products, non-organic produce, sugar, and genetically modified foods. Increase your intake of fresh, locally grown produce (especially veggies), and avoid processed foods and non-free range/grass fed meat sources. Include fermented foods, or take a quality probiotic (like Prosynbiotic, Zymex, or Gut Flora Complex) to increase gut flora and promote a healthy gut ecosystem. Bowel cleansing products can also be of assisstance.
Decreasing Overall Inflammation: Through Nutrition Response Testing, heavy metals, chemicals, food intolerance, digestive weaknesses, etc. can be detected. These things throw your body into a pro-inflammatory state making you more susceptible to environmental allergies. Ridding your body of these stressors will increase your immunity and lower incidences of allergies.
Flushing the Nasal Cavity: Using tools like a neti-pot can help removes allergens from the nasal cavity, reducing the histamine response. Using this on a daily basis flushes out irritants, helping you breathe a little easier.