Are Allergies Driving You Crazy?

Updated: Mar 21

More than 20% of Australians struggle with health issues related to allergic symptoms. Usually, these symptoms are not isolated, and you are bound to have a combination. If you have allergic rhinitis or hayfever, for example, you more than likely also have allergy related asthma.

Typical allergy symptoms can include :

  • Itchy eyes and runny nose,

  • Sneezing fits,

  • Eczema, hives and itchy skin rashes

  • Tightness in chest and inability to breath due to bronchial constriction, such as in asthma and anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening.



Allergies are more common than we'd like.


There are several reasons why people experience allergies. A study published in 2017 identified that allergic disease starts in your genes! Parents can pass the potential to develop allergies on to their children. But whether or not this genetic information gets passed on is influenced by nutrition (whether or not mum or dad were nutritionally deficient at the time of conception based on their diet and other influences throughout their lifetime and of course mums nutritional status during her pregnancy, particularly related to essential fatty acids).

The study also showed that maternal stress during pregnancy played a role (due to the influence of the stress hormone cortisol on nutritional status and gut bacteria), whether the child was breastfed or bottle fed, and the timing of introduction of solids and allergy prone foods.

Of most interest to me was the influence of the environment on allergic disease, and this includes factors like nutritionally depleted soils, increased food processing and toxic pollutants, as well as whether or not we have been exposed to toxins in the home (such as cigarette smoke, pet hair and dust mites and petrochemicals such as in cleaning products) and infections in our lifetime such as mould and certain harmful bacteria (which can knock out certain beneficial bacteria in the gut).

There is such a strong link between the rate of allergic diseases in Australia and worsening environmental factors that the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology has predicted that by 2050, the number of people dealing with allergies will rise to 70%, that's over 7 million people!



While there are lots of medications available to manage allergy symptoms, what about the side effects ?


Commonly people use over-the-counter medications to manage their allergy symptoms but find when the medication wears off the allergies return so thus end up needing to dose daily. As long as they use their medication daily the symptoms are controlled, but what about the side effects? And when used daily for many years, these minor symptoms can easily add to daily physical health burdens. Potential side effects include :


Antihistamines: Drowsiness, dry mouth, irritability


Decongestants: Insomnia, Anxiety, High blood pressure


Corticosteroids: Dryness, burning, headaches


How can a naturopath help ?

Naturopathically my aim is always to understand what is contributing to allergies in the individual based not just on their current but also their personal and health history.

I want to know things like :

  • What medications you use and how long you have been using them.

  • What your diet is like, on the lookout for any common allergy triggers concerning histamine-producing foods.

  • What job you have and whether you have been exposed to chemicals in your lifetime.

  • Daily lifestyle habits like chlorine swimming or overuse of cleaning products and synthetic fragrances like perfumes and air fresheners,

  • A review of the home environment, such as pets and possible mould exposure.

A wholistic approach to allergies would be using herbal and nutritional remedies for symptomatic relief and identifying potential triggers and limiting exposure (lifestyle and dietary changes), and helping the immune system better regulate its response to triggers.

Some of my favourite natural therapy solutions :

  • Nigella sativa or Black Seed oil. I prescribe a clinically researched and standardised herbal compound (high thymoquinone) that has been shown to reduce histamine release in the gut, making it useful for food allergies and has also been shown to be anti fungal and creating healthy balance in the gut microbiome, helpful in treating candida and effects of mould exposure. Nigella extract is very effective for reducing symptoms related to hayfever and allergic rhinitis, as well as itching skin and eczema.

  • Quercetin and Rutin are plant based flavonoid compounds known to have antioxidant, respiratory anti inflammatory and cellular protective benefits. These compounds also help the immune system regulate better, so it’s not so hypersensitive by stabilising mast -cells which is the very beginning of the allergic cascade. In animal studies, Quercetin has been shown to reduce smooth muscle constriction in the airways preventing asthma. It has also been shown to exert a positive effect on intestinal mucous membranes, strengthening the gut barrier and limiting histamine exposure.

  • Vitamin A supports the normal health and function of mucous membranes, which should be sticky, wet and full of IgA immune cells, our first line of immune defence, lining all our body openings from our mouth to our eyes and nose, our gut and respiratory system and also our urinary tract.

  • Buteyko Breathing Technique is a proven set of breathing exercises focused on nasal breathing that intentionally resets the respiratory rate to a healthy combination of light, slow and deep breaths activating the full capacity of the respiratory organs. Many individuals with long term allergic disease have dealt with chronically blocked noses which leads to a lifetime habit of mouth breathing which in turn continues the cycle of allergy exposure and symptoms (the nose filters out up to 75% of airborne pollen, dust, mould and bacteria - you are gulping in excessive amounts through the mouth if you aren't using your nose to breathe).

Most clients who complete a five session Buteyko Breathing retraining experience significant relief in their allergic symptoms. Less sneezing, less hay fever, more tolerant gut, and reduction in skin inflammation. You can book a Buteyko Breathing Course here: https://p.bttr.to/3Iqizq9

Its not all bad !


Hypersensitivity reactions are a sign that your body is struggling to bring about balance and repair itself. Continued use of medications may temporarily relieve symptoms, but it is helpful to identify the cause to prevent occurrence. If you are interested in supporting your immune system naturally, speak to me about helping you create a targeted and individualised Wellness Blueprint like this one: https://www.wellnessadvice.com.au/your-health-blueprint Don't let allergies ruin your life; improved wellbeing is always within reach!

References:

  1. Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology & Allergy Inc. (2017) Allergy & Immune Diseases in Australia: Report, 2013. Available at: https://www.allergy.org.au/ascia-reports/allergy-and-immune-diseases-in-australia-2013

  2. ASCIA Clinical Update Allergic Rhinitis - Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA)

  3. Yang SN, Hsieh CC Kuo HF, et al. The Effects of Environmental Toxins on Allergic Inflammation. Allergy Asthma Immunol Res. 2014 November;6(6):478-484

  4. Kimber I, Pieters R. Household chemicals, immune function and allergy: A commentary. Journal of immunotoxicology. 2013; 10(2): 169-172

  5. Guillams TG. Nasal Allergies: Natural Approaches for the Prevention and Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis. The Standard. 2007; 8(1): 1-8 6. Rybacki JJ, Long JW.

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  9. The medical effects of mold exposure. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2006 Feb;117(2):326-33. Review. Erratum in: J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014 Nov;134(5):1217. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2006 Jun;117(6):1373. PubMed PMID: 16514772.Mendell MJ, Mirer AG, Cheung K, Tong M , Douwes J.

  10. Respiratory and allergic health effects of dampness, mold, and dampness-related agents: a review of the epidemiologic evidence. Environ Health Perspect. 2011

  11. Finn DF, Walsh JJ. Twenty-first century mast cell stabilizers. Br J Pharmacol. 2013 Sep;170(1):23-37. doi: 10.1111/bph.12138. Review. PubMed PMID: 23441583; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3764846.

  12. Neerven RJJV, Savelkoul H. Nutrition and Allergic Diseases. Nutrients. 2017 Jul 17;9(7). pii: E762. doi: 10.3390/nu9070762. PubMed PMID: 28714911.

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