Allergies are very common. Worldwide, 10-30% of the population are affected by various allergies. Though pollen allergies are quite widespread, 12 million people in USA have allergies unrelated to pollen (NIH). When we think about allergies, runny nose, congestion, skin rashes come to mind. At the same time, allergies are very diverse in their presentation and can be to many different substances (natural and chemical).
What is an allergy? It is a reaction of the body’s immune system to the substances the body should not normally mount an alarming response to.
There are a few types of allergic reactions.
Type I reactions (usually itching, hives, swelling, sneezing, runny noise) involve immunoglobulin E (IgE)–mediated release of histamine and other mediators from mast cells and basophils. That is why for this type of reaction, many people take anti-histamine over the counter medications (such as Benadryl) and other type of allergy medications. There are also types II, III and Type IV reactions. For example, in type IV reactions, the body has a delayed response mediated more by T cells (a type of immune cells), such as nickel allergy, or contact dermatitis.
Chronic allergies, especially involving nasal passages or skin, can be very aggravating and upsetting. A person either feels that they have to be on pharmaceutical medications of the rest of their life to ease the symptoms or just suffer through the inconveniences of the reactions of the body to allergens without any assistance from medical community.
“It is peculiar that allergies can be secondary to many other chronic conditions, meaning that a person may have developed allergies due to another imbalance in the body, and as consequence, started developing allergic symptoms. This list includes but not limited to:
- Adrenal insufficiency
- Candida related complex
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Hypochlorhydria (lack of hydrochloric acid in the stomach)
- Migraine headaches
- Nutrient utilization difficulties including zinc, vitamin C, potassium and others.
- Cardiac arrhythmias and mental illness have been linked to allergies.”
Every year we learn more about allergies and how they are connected to our genetics, nutrition and lifestyle. Addressing digestive system, adrenals, improving detoxification functions in the body, limiting toxic overload, improving the hormonal balance, and identifying inflammatory foods can help many people combat their chronic allergies.
For naturopathic doctors identifying the cause of the imbalance in the body that predisposes one to allergies is one of the primary roles. Sometimes it requires additional advanced testing even though standard allergy testing (RAST test, for example) has been completed already.
Naturopathic doctors have a variety of different tools for allergies. There are a number of homeopathic and herbal formulations that can decrease nasal congestion and improve breathing through the mouth – this way allowing for more oxygen to the tissues and better sleep. Sometimes nasal congestion can be caused by eating certain inflammatory foods (thus, individual food sensitivity and food intolerance testing, such as Carroll testing).
As there are a number of herbal formulations that can be helpful to address nasal congestion and chronic runny nose, one particular herb comes to mind – Stinging Nettles (Utrica Dioca). As stringing properties of nettles can be removed by cooking, it is best to use freeze dried fresh preparations of the herb. (see the research study)
“Allergies are part of the modern life style but people afflicted with them do not have to suffer in silence. Natural medicine with all its tools can help improve every-day living and decrease the immune response, thus, prevent the allergies in the future.”
See a video about Natural Treatment of Allergies by Dr. Masha. N.D.