by Shannon Rivera
If you are an allergy sufferer you probably have a stock of Claritin, Benadryl, eye drops, nasal decongestant spray and other antihistamines on hand at all times. Allergy symptoms can show up as allergic rhinitis (runny nose, congestion, cough, watery and
itchy eyes), asthma (shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing) or even eczema. Most allergy sufferers succumb to this fact of life with allergies without a second thought. However, over-the-counter allergy medications are only temporarily relieving symptoms. They are not addressing the actual “cause” of the allergy symptoms. In fact, allergy symptoms are mostly due to an over-reactive, out of balance immune system largely influenced by nutrition (1). But what causes this over re-action in the first place? It all starts in the gut.
You may have heard of leaky gut, but just in case you haven’t, read on.
Leaky gut, or increased intestinal permeability, happens when the barrier of the gut lining (your intestines) becomes more permeable than it should be allowing things like bacteria, undigested proteins from foods, and viruses (allergens) to leak through from the intestines into the bloodstream. The gut lining is designed to be able to absorb nutrients, vitamins and minerals, fight off harmful bacteria and viruses, and to keep inside the gut things that do not belong floating around in the body. The intestinal barrier is designed like a zipper and when it comes into consistent contact with irritants and allergens the zipper starts to open along various parts of the intestinal lining, allowing larger particles and bacteria to enter the bloodstream. This becomes a problem because your immune system recognizes these particles as foreign and as a threat to the body, causing an immune reaction and inflammation (2).
If you have bloating, gas, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea or belly pain it’s a good sign you may have leaky gut. But, many people with leaky gut have no digestive symptoms at all. In fact, their body will have different responses to increased intestinal permeability such as allergy symptoms, autoimmune disease, joint pain, headaches, and arthritis to name a few.
What causes leaky gut?
Some of the most common things that destroys the integrity of the gut lining are
- medications including over-the-counter (ibuprofen, Zantac, and Nexium)
On a side note, having leaky gut makes way for increased likelihood of food sensitivities.
The Immune system
Over 70 percent of the immune system is located in the gut which includes the beneficial gut bacteria that help develop the immune system and keep it in check. Eating the wrong foods, exposure to over the counter medications & antibiotics, and not eating enough fiber are just a few of the things that can cause an imbalance in the microbes that live in your gut (2).
So, what’s the solution?
Repair your gut lining and boost your immune system and the best way to start is through nutrition. Yes, your food can either cause you misery OR it can heal you!
- Stop eating inflammatory foods like gluten (wheat, rye, barley products), grains, processed foods and industrial vegetable oils, corn, soy, and alcohol.
- Eliminate Sugar wreaks havoc on the immune system by decreasing the activity of neutrophils. Neutrophils are the most abundant white blood cell in the body and are first on the scene to fight infections. That effect can last for as long as five hours!
- Stop eating dairy. Dairy is known to be highly allergenic for some people causing inflammation and increase in mucous production.
- Start eating lots of plant foods. They are full of phytonutrients which are anti-inflammatory. They are also full of fiber.
- Start eating healing foods like bone broth which has amino acids and other minerals that are healing to the gut.
- Start eating fermented and cultured foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, and drinks like apple cider vinegar, kombucha and kefir (kombucha and kefir both can contain a lot of sugar, so read your labels).
- Use more garlic, ginger, raw honey and lemon to boost the immune system
- Add more healthy fats like coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, chia and flax seeds, avocado, and fatty cold water fish like Alaskan salmon. Fats help to absorb the fat-soluble nutrients needed to support your immune system.
Natural remedies for allergies
- Quercetin has anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties. Too much histamine is what causes a runny nose, sneezing, itchy watery eyes, etc. Apples. Peppers. Red wine. Dark cherries and berries (blueberries, bilberries, blackberries and others) Tomatoes. Cruciferous veggies, including broccoli, cabbage, and sprouts. Leafy green veggies, including spinach, kale. Citrus fruits. are a few of the best quercetin containing foods (4)
- Stinging Nettles. anti-inflammatory and can halt symptoms of hay fever if taken when symptoms first appear. Stinging nettles is great in tea form or as a supplement (5)
- Get adequate sleep. Lack of sleep and/or poor quality sleep causes inflammation in the body, confuses the hormones that are related to hunger and weight gain and depletes the immune system by disrupting the gut barrier (3)
- Start probiotics to increase the diversity of your gut microbes and build up your immune system.
Essential Oil Remedies
- Diffuse peppermint oil to help with nasal congestion
- Basil oil is anti-inflammatory in response to allergy allergens. Consume by adding one drop to soup or salad dressing. Externally use 2-3 drops Basil oil and equal amount of coconut oil and rub on chest, back or neck (6)
- Eucalyptus oil. Like peppermint, you can add several drops to your diffuser. You can also make your own “Vicks Vaporub” by adding a couple of drops to a little coconut oil and rub on chest, back and bottoms of the feet.
Allergy symptoms can be more than an inconvenience but can also lead to severe life-threatening allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) so they are not to be taken lightly. NO One likes feeling miserable or being a slave to over-the-counter meds. So take some steps to improve your quality of life, breathe better, and get rid of your forced relationship with your allergy meds!
More Food For Your Brain
- Dairy products and inflammation: A review of the clinical evidence. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10408398.2014.967385
- 7 Takeaways About Dairy from My Book Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? http://drhyman.com/blog/2018/03/02/7-takeaways-dairy-book-food-heck-eat/
- 7 Proven Benefits of Quercetin (#1 is Incredible). https://draxe.com/quercetin/
- 5 Proven, Remarkable Stinging Nettle Benefits. https://draxe.com/stinging-nettle/
- Top 5 Essential Oils for Allergies & DIY Vapor Rub – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ry7SJYpZ4bw
Natural Home Remedies for Allergies. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4Kmmnp5qbY
Top 5 Essential Oils for Allergies. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ry7SJYpZ4bw
Also, check out this article on Stinging Nettle from Morningchores.com