Do you dread spring while everyone else is counting the days until sunshine? Are you overdosing on over-the-counter allergy medications just to make your symptoms tolerable? With our New England spring in full effect, you cannot be outside without hearing someone complain about their allergies. Everyone seems to be sneezing and sniffling this time of year, but why are allergies more common nowadays than ever before?
What are Allergies?
Ever wonder why most people cannot tell if they have a cold or allergies? Itching eyes, congestion/stuffy nose, sneezing, and fatigue are all common symptoms of both allergies and a common cold. Why it that? Most people do not realize that allergies are actually an overactive immune system response. Your immune system responses to an intruder or foreign agent in the body by attacking it with antibodies kinda like Pac Man when the ghosts appear. A healthy body should recognize when it needs to go into attack mode. When a body has a healthy immune system, it will be able to differentiate between a problematic intruder versus something that will not harm the body (ie. Pollen, dust, etc.) When a body can not differentiate between dust and a pathogenic bacteria, we now have an unnecessary immune system attack; thus, an allergic (immune system) response.
Why are Allergies so common?
There are many theories about why allergies are so common nowadays. As my patients will tell you, I love to remind everyone how amazing our bodies are and how everything in our body has a purpose. Our immune system is no different. I believe that our problem is not our immune system but the environment we put ourselves in. We have become so out of sync with “normal” health due to our lack of good nutrition, proper movement, and childhood germ exposure that we are not allowing our bodies to naturally build our immune systems in childhood and keep our immune system healthy as an adult. Most importantly, a baby needs to build an immune system through contact with germs and of course through nutrition (ie. Breast Milk). A young immune system needs to be exposed to pathogens to know how to respond to it as an adult. Unfortunately, many parents I meet are “germaphobes” and don’t let their children come in contact with anything remotely “dirty.” Also, I am amazed by how many people carry around antibacterial soaps in their purses. We are so afraid of germs, thank you media and movies, that our immune systems do not know what they are supposed to react to anymore. This is why allergies are way too common!
The Cure for Seasonal Allergies:
Because allergy symptoms occur due to an overactive immune system, the best defense is to create a healthier immune environment. We can accomplish this through diet and avoiding allergy causing toxins. Basically, my tips for preventing allergies are very similar to “boosting your immune system” but with a few allergies fighting tips as well.
Here are Dr. Jamie’s 9 Tips on How to Alleviate Allergy Symptoms Naturally:
- Take Digestive Proteolytic Enzymes during flare-ups: Digestive Enzymes help your body breakdown the food you ingest. Here’s the thing… an allergic response is usually due to a protein that the body cannot breakdown. Enzymes such as trypsin and chymotrypsin help aid protein digestion but also help with allergies when taken on an empty stomach. You can find them at a local Natural Foods store in a digestive enzyme supplement. Look for trypsin and/or chymotrypsin in the ingredients.
- Throw out your antibacterial soaps and lotions: Did you know that your body has more bacterial colonies in it than organ mass? Yup, sorry Germaphobes! Don’t fret though! These aren’t “bad guys”; they are actually “good guys.” They create a symbiotic relationship that aids us in digestion, vitamin production, and of course are our first line of defense for invaders. By using too many products with antibacterials (and of course consuming antibiotics), we are wiping clean our pro-health friends! Check out this article on a study that was done on children with allergies who are exposed to antibacterial products!
- Supplement with Probiotics for your immune system: As stated above, our body’s first line of defense is actually the “good” bacterial colonies that line your digestive tract and skin. Because of the overuse of antibiotics whether taken medicinally or found in our meats, our bodies are seriously lacking this important symbiotic “good” bacteria. If you were on antibiotics as a child or have not been eating “antibiotic-free” meats, you must take a probiotic supplement.
- Optimize your Vitamin D levels: Vitamin D is essential building block for a healthy immune system. The best way to get this vitamin is by proper sunlight. Unfortunately, parents are so afraid of skin cancer that they drench their children in sunblock which blocks your body’s absorption of Vitamin D. If you do not spend time outside, you must supplement with this vitamin. I absolutely recommend supplementing with this Vitamin especially in the winter. Check out my products page to learn what probiotics I take every day.
- Stop getting the flu vaccine… yeah I said it. I have many issues with the Flu vaccine from the statistically poor results to the massive politics behind it. I feel badly for the many people I meet who get the vaccine and still get horribly sick. Disclaimer: if getting the vaccine is your thing, and you feel that it helps you, go for it… it’s your body. I don’t get the flu and I have never gotten the vaccine. Whether you believe me or not, a study published in the Journal of Virology demonstrates that the children that annual receive flu vaccines have less healthy antibodies to protect them against a variety of flu strains than unvaccinated children. The less antibodies one has the less responsive their immune system is. The problem with vaccines is that naturally a foreign agent enters our body through our nose or mouth not straight into our blood. We are skipping an important step in building the immune system.
- Avoid Immune Destroying foods: Dairy, wheat/gluten, and GMO soy have all clinically demonstrated to weaken a healthy immune system. Dairy is a big culprit for exacerbating allergies. Don’t believe me: Avoid these foods and watch your allergies, immune system and whole body change.
- Eat raw organic local honey: Bees make honey out of pollen. Pollen is a culprit for a “seasonal” allergic reaction in most people. It would make sense that exposing your immune system to this natural super food through ingestion would help alleviate an overactive immune response. A cool honey fact: Honey is the only food that never goes bad! Stock up on a good quality one and make sure it’s local! (Pollen from California won’t help your body recognize New England pollen right?)
- Follow my tips for boosting your immune system naturally!
- Get adjusted! Chiropractic adjustments can help alleviate allergy sensitivity by promoting a better immune system. Many of my patients have found that their chiropractic adjustments have helped to alleviate their seasonal allergies. Gotta love a healthy nervous system! Check out my blog on Chiropractic and the Immune System.
Hope you enjoy my 9 Tips for Allergy Relief! Now, get out there and enjoy the sunshine!