It's that time of year again--Spring allergy season--and like countless Americans, if you experience a worsening of any of the following symptoms this time of year:
-itchy and/or red eyes,
-skin rash or itching,
-asthma or difficulty breathing,
...then you might just have seasonal allergies.
What causes allergies in the first place?
Allergies are not caused by some foreign bacteria or virus that we catch or pollen attacking our bodies (although it may feel that way sometimes). The truth is, an allergy is actually an over-reactive state of our own immune system. Those swollen sinuses, buckets of buggers, and itches everywhere are our own body's reaction to otherwise harmless external stimulants (called allergens). That's right...your own body is making you miserable.
Why is this happening?
The answer is quite simple. Your body is in a state of stress, which is disrupting how the immune system is supposed to normally function. Consider this example: Imagine a busy intersection in a city. When operating normally, cars move to and fro in a ordered manner. Now imagine what would happen if the stoplights all broke...utter chaos. That is the effect that stress can have on our immune system. Cortisol, our body's #1 stress hormone, suppresses our immune system and can cause major immune dysfunction. Chronic stress and leaky gut (which we will talk about in a sec) are at the root of why your body is behaving the way it is.
Why treat symptoms, when you can treat their source?
The typical Western approach to allergies focuses on reducing symptoms using a combination of anti-histamines and decongestants, and also suppressing the immune system using steroids or other immuno-suppressant drugs. The Western model does not look at the root cause of the allergies--a malfunctioning immune system. In fact, in attempting to suppress the immune system, Western treatment is pouring more gasoline onto the fire. Remember our friend cortisol from before? These steroidal medicines are all derived from cortisol, and like the other immuno-suppressant drugs, cause more immune disruption. So what's the solution you may ask? Fix the stoplight (the immune system)!!!!
It starts in the gut.
The first line of defense for our immune response is in our gut lining and our skin. These are the barriers that all things (including allergens) must cross in order to enter our body. Chances are that if you are suffering from allergies you have a compromised gut lining, which comes from years of eating a less-than-optimal diet. This is one of the reasons why allergies my take a while, years even, to develop. The gut lining is slowly being compromised and then one day the dam breaks loose. The typical American diet is chock full of foods, chemicals and compounds that cause gut inflammation. This inflammation translates directly into immune system malfunction. One need only search "Leaky Gut" to learn more on this. The good news is that the gut can be healed, and it heals quickly.
If you can eliminate, or significantly cut down on, the following list of highly-inflammatory foods, you should see dramatic results (almost immediately) in your allergy symptoms:
-sugar (including soft-drinks and juices)
-refined carbohydrates (white bread, chips, white rice, etc.)
...but why stop there?
The bigger picture.
While cleaning up our diets is a crucial component in reducing allergy symptoms, it is just a piece in the much larger picture of stress reduction and holistic health management. Better health is a commitment--a process, not a magic pill--to proper nutrition, sleep and exercise. Here at Chattanooga Holistic Medicine we are equipped to help guide you along this process, as a team. Schedule an appointment today and discover the better, healthier life that awaits you.