When seasonal allergies flare, do you reach for antihistamines that leave you feeling groggy and edgy? If so, you are among the 26 million people who suffer from airborne allergies caused by grasses, trees, and molds.
When we first moved to Texas, it seemed like everyone was suffering from “cedar fever.” We were told, “just wait, you live here long enough and you’ll develop an allergy to cedar.” Well, we lived there twelve years and never did. Why didn’t we and why do others suffer so much?
Your Immunity vs My Immunity
Due to environmental challenges early in life, many individuals never develop a normal immune response and are prone to allergic reactions throughout their life. Others encounter some sort of immune “insult” during their life and that throws their immune system out of wack.
Genetics can play a role in this as well. If you have inflammation genes (which we all have) that are “broken” and stuck in the “on” position, you will crank out more inflammation than someone else. That means your body is already in a heightened state of inflammation and it overreacts to exposer to an allergen.
Interestingly enough, I grew up in Northern California in the middle of a walnut orchard. I never had allergies to the walnut pollen, my Mom didn’t either, but my Dad suffered terribly. Allergies can occur when the immune system is mal-coordinated, due to some bodily stressor that interfered with the maturity and development of the immune system. Who knows what each of us has been exposed to since birth.
One of the most common reasons we may develop a mal-coordinated immune system is our gut microflora was damaged. Our gut microflora is responsible for 70% of our innate immune system. Our innate immune system is our “first responder” when an allergen enters the body.
This natural makeup should help the body recognize between safe environmental particles (pollen, dust, weeds, etc.) and unsafe environmental particles (bad bacteria, bad yeast, and viruses). When our microflora is damaged when we are young, possibly by antibiotics, poor food choices, exposure to damaging environmental toxins such as heavy metals, this can create a mal-coordination of the immune system so that it is oversensitive to these environmental particles.
Why Does Pollen Make Us Sneeze and Wheeze?
Here is the cascade of events that leads to that annoying allergy response of, sneezing, runny nose, watery and burning eyes, and throat irritation.
- Pollen enters the eyes, nose, and throat, sensitizing the immune system
- Specific antibodies to the allergen are produced
- Antibodies attach to the mast cells found in these tissues
- Pollen enters the body again, attaches to antibodies, causing histamine and other chemicals to be released by the mast cells.
- Allergic reaction is triggered and all those pesky symptoms show up
Pollen levels tend to be highest between 5 am-10 am, so avoiding outside exposure during those times can be helpful (there goes your morning walk 🙁
Depending on where you live, you can have pollen counts starting to rise as early as February and carry on through the summer months as grasses and trees bloom.
What Can You Do?
Since 70% of your immune system lies in your gut, this is the most important place to start, by healing your gut. Many of us do not realize we have dysbiosis of the gut, we assume that belching, bloating, heartburn, gas, diarrhea or constipation are just something we have to live with. These are body signs that you have disrupted digestion and gut dysbiosis.
I’ve written a lot about digestion because it truly is the pathway to health. If you have heartburn, that is the first stage of digestion that is off. Here is an article I wrote on how to get rid of heartburn without more pills How To Get Rid of Heartburn
An anti-inflammatory diet can also help heal your gut. Grab my list of anti-inflammatory foods here Anti-Inflammatory Foods and start incorporating more of these into your diet. Include “fermented” foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha to help feed the good bacteria in your gut. Avoid pro-inflammatory foods such as food fried in vegetable oils, fast food, sugary foods, and refined carbohydrates from grains.
Lowering inflammation is the number one goal when trying to help the body cope with allergens. These are some of the top suggestions for supplements for doing just that. Interestingly, many of these are protective against COVID-19 as well!
- Quercitin – this is in the “flavonoid” family which includes berries, black tea, grapes, onions etc. Along with eating these foods, you can supplement with 200-400mg daily.
- Probiotics – it’s good to rotate brands for different strains. We have thousands of different bacteria that live in our gut so adding in a variety of probiotics can help with the diversity. Take 1-2 daily.
- MSM, methylsulfonylmethane (or dimethyl sulfone or DMSO2) -can help to reduce inflammation and decrease the release of cytokines and prostaglandins, this supplement can be useful for managing allergic reactions. The side benefit, being that’s it’s an anti-inflammatory, you may see results with any “itis’s” such as arthritis. Start with 750-800mg 3 times daily. Make sure you purchase the form mentioned above. You can buy it in powder form to mix in water or capsules. Safety studies show you can take up to six grams daily with no side effects.
- Bromelain- this is an enzyme that’s been extracted from pineapple. It has also been shown to increase the effectiveness of Quercitin. Start with 500mg two times daily between meals.
- Vitamin C – this is a natural antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, and immune booster. Take 1,000mg three times daily.
- Nasal Irrigation – Using a Neti pot is a simple and effective way to irrigate the nasal passages and remove the pollen spores. Only use distilled water as tap water can have many contaminants.
The goal is to lower inflammation and boost your immune support during allergy season. Give your body the tools to do the job when those allergens enter the body. The best time to start an “anti-allergy” program is before allergy season! The side benefit, is you’re giving your body some wonderful healing nutrients the whole year long.
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Season Allergies? These 6 Foods May Help, May 18th 2021, Greenmed Research group, www.greenmedinfo.com
MSM Supplements Improve Joints, Allergies and Gut Health, Jillian Levy CHHC, September 26, 2019, https://draxe.com/nutrition/msm-supplement/
5 Tactics for Surviving Spring Allergy Season, Dr. Mercola, April 1, 2016, https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/04/11/surviving-spring-allergy-season.aspx
Seasonal Allergies, Symptoms, Causes and Natural Support Strategies, Dr. Jockers, https://drjockers.com/seasonal-allergies/