naturopathy for allergies
What are allergies?
Allergies are when your body reacts to normally harmless substances. White blood cells or antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE) react to the trigger or allergen causing an immediate release of histamine and a reaction follows within minutes or hours such as breathing problems, a skin rash, or in serious cases death.
An IgE blood test and a pinprick test can help indicate allergies.
However, not all reactions are caused by allergies. Many are caused by intolerances and sensitivities and these do not show up in pinprick or IgE blood tests.
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When looking for allergy relief I mentioned that the way to treat allergies and intolerances is with the Functional Medicine “Four Rs”: REMOVE REPLACE REPAIR REBALANCE Let me explain in a bit more detail what this entails: Firstly, we want to remove anything that is...read more
What is the difference between an allergy, an intolerance and a sensitivity?
Intolerances and sensitivities are IgG reactions rather than IgE. They start several hours or days after exposure to the allergen. For this reason, it can be difficult pinpointing what the cause of your reaction is (can you recall what you ate nine meals ago?). An IgG blood test may indicate if you have any IgG reactions. IgE and IgG tests are two completely different tests.
IgA antibodies are also present in mucus membrane secretions. These are found in the nose, sinuses, lungs, vagina and in your gut. A form of IgA called Secretory IgA (SIgA) forms a sticky, protective lining of mucus and your first-line of defence against parasites, bacteria, viruses, fungi and toxins. These invading pathogens get trapped in the mucus and neutralised. A lack of SigA disables your first line of defence and pathogens can survive and cause problems.1
The link between eczema, asthma, allergies and your gut…
If you have eczema it is likely you also have allergies, and if you have both eczema and allergies you may also develop asthma. They are all linked by your gut health.
Allergies have become pandemic. Since your gut houses 80% of your immune cells it makes sense that your gut health reflects your overall health and immunity.
If you diet is high in sugar and processed foods this causes inflammation and makes you acidic. Pathogens, parasites, fungi and pathogenic bacteria thrive in acidic environments and high sugar diets. Furthermore, sugar and processed foods damage your beneficial bacteria. The result is you can no longer fully digest your food, so undigested particles of food are left to ferment in your stomach and feed pathogens. This leads to leaky gut, when undigested particles of food pass through your gut into your blood stream, stimulating an immune response and consequent allergy symptoms. Leaky gut accounts for at least 50% of all chronic health complaints and auto-immune diseases, including allergies, asthma and eczema.2 Leaky gut compromises your overall health and if unaddressed will lead to more serious health problems.
Allergens come from three main sources:
- Outdoor (diesel fumes, pollens)
- Indoor (chemicals in your furniture, carpets, cleaning products and cosmetics)
- Internal (leaky gut and dysbiosis leading to infection by parasites, pathological bacteria, Candidiasis …)
What causes leaky gut?
Digestive problems, dysbiosis, a poor diet, chronic stress, too much alcohol (alcohol increases the permeability of the intestinal lining leading to leaky gut)6, a diet high in sugar and grains and your toxic load all damage your gut.
So do environmental toxins such as chlorine in your tap water, fluoride in your toothpaste, mercury fillings, pesticides and antibiotics in your foods (if you don’t buy organic). Drugs such as aspirin, NSAIDs, the contraceptive pill and antibiotics also damage your gut microbiome.
Symptoms of allergies and intolerances are numerous
- Brain Fog
- Hormonal problems
- Joint pain
- Mood swings
- Skin rashes like eczema, rosacea and acne
- sore throat
- Stuffy nose or rhinitis
- Tummy aches
- Weight gain
What should you do if you have allergic reactions?
If your allergy is severe you need immediate medical treatment since you might suffer from anaphylactic shock. If you carry an EpiPen you should use this. If you break out in painful hives take the antihistamines your doctor prescribes.
In the long-term however, you want to understand the root-cause of your allergies and start to heal your gut. As Dr. Leo Galland states in his book ‘The Allergy Solution’ “The secrets to reversing allergy are on the inside of you, not on the outside.”5 The best approach is the functional medicine four steps of healing:
- REMOVE food, drink, toxins and pathological bacteria that are damaging your gut
- REPLACE with healthy foods which support gut repair and calm inflammation
- REPAIR using targeted supplements
- REBALANCE with probiotics, digestive enzymes and other supplements
Look out for more information on these steps in future blogs
Which lab tests are best?
- If you have allergies, I recommend GI Effects by Genova Labs in order to obtain a comprehensive picture of your gut health. This indicates if you have parasites, pathological bacteria, whether you have sufficient upper and lower gut beneficial bacteria and much more
- To test for leaky gut, you can do the Intestinal Permeability test by Genova
- To check for bacterial growth in your small intestine the SIBO test can be done. I tend to do this test only if the GI Effects have not indicated the root cause
- Cyrex run allergy and intolerance tests
How could functional medicine help you?
Get in touch to set up a time to discuss your situation on Skype. I offer a free 20 minute chat so you can find out more about naturopathy and whether it might be the right approach for you.
References + Reading
- GAPS, Gut and Psychology Syndrome, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MD, Medinform 2010, page 28
- The Allergy Solutions, Dr. Leo Galland, Hay House, 2016 (page xviii)
- The Allergy Solutions, Dr. Leo Galland, Hay House, 2016 (page 14)
© TARA ALEX ZENKER • CREATED BY KERI WILLIAMS
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