Allergies occur when your immune system over-reacts to substances called allergens. Allergens include pollen, pet dander, mold, dust mites, foods (e.g., wheat, peanut, milk), latex, and drugs.
Hay fever, allergic rhinitis, chronic sinusitis or atopic rhinitis are all related to allergies.
One in five people suffer ill health because of allergies and sensitivities.
What Causes Allergies?
What Are the Risk Factors?
What Are the Symptoms?
How Are They Diagnosed?
Can Allergies Be Prevented?
What Should You Do Next?
People with allergies have an inherited (genetic) predisposition for developing hypersensitivity to inhaled and ingested substances (allergens) that are harmless to other people.
A healthy immune system is balanced between the activity of 2 types of white blood cells, called Th1 and Th2.
- Genetic or environmental factors can cause a Th2 dominated response to develop which can lead to allergies.
- The use of immunizations and antibiotic therapies and increased pollution leads to Th2 dominance.
- Once an imbalance in T cells develops, it tends to be continued by production of chemicals (cytokines) that keep the imbalance in place.
- Family or personal history of asthma, eczema, hay fever, or hives.
- The total environmental load of toxic substances (environmental pollutants, chemicals, etc.) that we are exposed to in our lifetime reduces our immune function and leads to an increase in or aggravation of symptoms.
- Chronic ingestion of allergenic foods (“food allergies”) weakens our immune function and leads to an increase in or aggravation or symptoms. Dietary sensitivities create a state of hypersensitivity and congestion of the mucus membranes. This congestion decreases the immune function of these tissues.
- Histamines, the naturally-occurring chemicals that are involved in allergic reactions, are present in many foods as well as the pollens of trees, grasses, and weeds.
- Intake of saturated fat (meat, dairy) and refined foods (sugar, white flour) enhance the inflammatory reaction which is created by histamines.
- Chronic stress in any form is detrimental to the immune system. Forms of stress include mental/emotional stress, inadequate nutrition, chronic viral, bacterial, parasitic, or fungal infections, and repeated exposures to antigens in foods, chemicals, pollens and molds. Chronic stress decreases the Th1 response and increases the Th2 response.
- Not having been breast-fed may increase the risk of allergies.
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Itchy nose, eyes and roof of mouth
- Stuffy nose
- Pressure in the nose and cheeks
- Ear fullness and popping or itching
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Sore throat
- Medical history
- Family history
- Physical examination of ears, nose, throat, sinuses, and lungs
- Skin scratch allergy tests
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Quantitative IgE level
- Serum allergy testing (IgG)
- Serum allergy testing (IgE)
- Avoidance: The preferred treatment is to eliminate the allergen.
- Allergen immunotherapy: Weekly or biweekly allergy shots for desensitization. Must be continued year-round.
(antihistamines, decongestants, cromolyn sodium, nasal steroid sprays, eye drops)
- Drawbacks of medications:
- Do not treat the cause of allergies, but only the symptoms.
- Most allergy medications are associated with a significant worsening of allergic symptoms when they are stopped.
- Associated with significant side-effects such as fatigue, dry mouth, high blood pressure.
- Drawbacks of medications:
Reduce Exposure to Allergens
The most effective treatment for allergies is to reduce your exposure. There are several ways to do this:
- Drink enough water.
- Identify and eliminate aggravating factors including food dyes, colorings, preservatives, additives, and food allergies.
- Avoid dietary sources of arachidonic acid (found in animal products) which contribute to the inflammation.
- Consume anti-inflammatory essential fatty acids (Omega 3’s) in the form of fatty fish, walnuts, flax seeds, cod liver oil, fish oil, and flax seed oil.
Not everyone will need to apply all of these treatments. Consult a nutritionally oriented physician to help specialize treatment for you including selection of nutrients and their doses.
Nutritional Substances that Address Th1/Th2 Balance
Other nutrients useful in the treatment of allergies
- Quercetin, a bioflavonoid
- N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)
- Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
- Selenium, carotenes, vitamin E
- Bromelain, a plant-derived enzyme
Herbs such as Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), Hawthorne Berry (Crataegus oxyacantha), and Nettle Leaf (Urtica dioica) may be used in the treatment of allergies, depending on the person’s specific allergy symptoms..
Allium cepa, Silicea, Hepar sulf, and Kali bic are but a few single remedies used in the acute and chronic treatment of rhinitis.
Supplement Quality Is Important
Our intention when we use nutritional and botanical supplements is for these treatments to have a physiological effect and clinical benefit, meaning that they are effective and your health improves.
The quality of nutritional supplements in the general marketplace is suspect. In order to get the maximum benefit to your health, be sure you purchase the highest quality nutritional supplements.
Allergies are difficult to prevent because it is so hard to avoid exposure to allergens. However, efforts to address the modifiable risk factors (listed above) should minimize the development of allergies.
The doctors at The Connecticut Center for Health are very experienced in the treatment of allergies. If you have (or suspect you have) allergy symptoms and want to learn more about natural treatments for this condition, we recommend that you contact one of our clinics for a free consultation about allergies or to schedule an appointment.
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