What is an Allergy?
To understand this we need to look at the definition of what an Allergy actually means.
The definition of an allergy from the oxford dictionary is a “damaging immune response by the body to a substance, especially a particular food, pollen, fur, or dust, to which the body has become hypersensitive”
An allergy occurs when the immune system reacts to an allergen and mistakenly interprets the allergen as a threat to the body and mounts a strong immune defence against it. This is known as a hypersensitivity reaction. It is not a sign of a weak immune system but rather a sign of an over-reactive immune system. Simply “boosting” the immune system will not work to solve an allergy problem.
Symptoms of an Allergy
During an allergic reaction, the body immediately begins producing antibodies. These antibodies release chemicals such as histamine designed to protect the body from the allergen. It is this histamine that causes our body to feel the symptoms of an allergy such as:
- Runny and stuffy nose
- Red and watery eyes
- Swelling of the face and hands
- Abdominal pain
What is Histamine?
Histamine is an important chemical in the body that is involved in immune, allergy and inflammation pathways. Histamine is a type of biologically active amine and is known to cause changes in the body. Histamine is stored and produced in many different cells within the body, however one of the main cells associated with histamine and its production are mast cells, an immune system cell that makes up part of our innate immune system. Mast cells produce and store histamine inside their cell walls, and then release it in response to certain stimuli, like an allergenic substance (e.g. foods, pollens, etc.).
Can a Naturopath help with Allergies?
Yes. A Naturopath will ask you in-depth questions about your allergies. From your diet and digestive system to lifestyle and environment.
To start with we determine what food sensitivities you might have. Often, people do not even recognize that they have food sensitivities. Typically, food sensitivities occur to foods that people tend to eat repeatedly such as dairy, wheat and sugar.
Introducing a therapeutic nutrition plan can often prove to be the best natural way to decrease seasonal allergies and improvement can be seen within days.
The research suggests that a practitioner prescribed probiotic supplement, along with the addition of prebiotic foods may help create a more healthy and diverse microbiome, which in turn helps to calm an immune system response and decrease allergy symptoms. Understanding the role of the microbiome in helping balance immune function is essential.
Supporting gut function is vital and increasing beneficial bacteria is key. The gut is in a delicate balance between numerous strains of beneficial probiotic bacteria and often this balance is upset by the modern diet of refined foods, excess sugar, protein and the excessive use of antibiotics. Several studies have shown that people who have increased levels of Clostridium difficile (an opportunistic bacteria commonly found after antibiotic use) have increased rates of allergies such as allergic rhinitis. People who have higher levels of healthy bifido bacteria have lower rates of allergies. Other studies have shown that mothers or babies who receive lactobacillus bacteria during infancy have lower rates of allergic diseases like eczema or asthma. Babies who are not breast-fed also have higher rates of allergies, especially to formula milk.
So an important factor to consider is the inner ecology of the digestive system first.
Treating the underlying causes of allergic reaction by supporting the body’s inherent healing capability is also very important to consider. The cause may actually be in your environment, such as a cleaning product or hair shampoo, or from a type of grass you come into contact with.
How do you treat Allergies without Conventional Medicine?
Foods that Help to Reduce Histamine
- Vegetables: broccoli, rocket, asparagus, Brussels, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, fennel, garlic, kale, onions
- Fruits: apples, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, mangoes and pineapples
- Dairy-free substitutes such as coconut milk and almond milk
- Gluten-free grains such as rice and quinoa
But there is also food that can stop our body from producing sufficient amounts of natural anti-histamine. These foods should be avoided:
- Tea, including black, green and yerba mate
- Alcohol- especially red wine. Red wine actually has natural histamines in it and can increase your allergy response
- Energy drinks
Herbal Medicine for Allergy Relief
There are numerous herbs that act as natural antihistamine and can help reduce allergy symptoms without the side effects associated with OTC medication.
Some of these herbs are:
- Albizia (Albizia lebbeck)
Relieves and reduces the symptoms of allergies such as itchy eyes and runny nose resulting from hay fever or sinusitis. This herb helps to relive eczema and dermatitis an allergic skin condition naturally. Albizia has also been shown to be useful as a prophylactic in asthma where an allergy is a dominant cause.
- Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis)
Studied and shown for its effectiveness to relieve irritation when allergy symptoms are in the eyes.
- Nettles (Urtica dioca)
Taken through tea or tincture form has been shown to inhibit pro-inflammatory pathways associated with allergic rhinitis.
- Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Is also an effective, natural antihistamine.
Nutritional Supplements to get rid of Allergies Naturally
There are a number of nutritional supplements that may offer allergy relief:
You will find this in onions (also a prebiotic!), shallots, and citrus fruits.
It’s also a natural antioxidant with a number of anti-allergy properties including inhibition of histamine release and decrease of pro-inflammatory chemicals.
- NAC (N-acetyl cysteine)
It’s an antioxidant that supports the break up of mucus so it’s great for making it an effective tool to help clear congestion.
Helps to down regulate the inflammation in the GUT by stimulating the protective stress response in the GUT cells.
If you are suffering from allergies, you should contact our clinic and make time to consult with our Naturopath.