If you suffer from allergies, you are likely aware of the conventional approach to treatment. These treatments include “oral antihistamines and intranasal corticosteroids; however, they often cause side effects and are unsuitable for long-term exposure.” 1
But because Functional Medicine aims to determine and focus on the root causes of the issue, it can provide alternative, natural ways to help alleviate your symptoms. And with one-quarter of Canadians suffering from seasonal allergies, finding an alternative way to feel better is important.
COMMON CAUSES OF ALLERGIES
Allergies are caused when the body treats allergens as ‘foreign’, triggering an accumulation of inflammatory molecules (including histamine and prostaglandins) in the body. As these inflammatory molecules accumulate, it triggers an inflammatory response in the body resulting in allergy symptoms which can range from a simple runny nose to asthma.
Spring brings on seasonal allergies due to the increase of pollen in blooming plants, trees, and flowers. As these pollen particles float in the air, we inhale them, and for some people, they trigger an inflammatory response.
Depending on the time of the year, seasonal allergy sufferers will notice their symptoms worsen or slightly improve. This is because the pollens of various trees, grasses, and flowers vary throughout the season. For example, trees begin to pollinate in the spring, while fall and late summer see more plants such as ragweed releasing their pollen.
There are also environmental allergens and toxins that come into play for allergy sufferers. These include molds and household allergens that can appear in the winter or even year-round.
The allergic response can vary for each person. Genetics, diet, stress, digestive function, and environmental exposure all contribute to your body's inflammatory and allergic response.
TYPICAL ALLERGY SYMPTOMS AND ROOT CAUSES
Allergy symptoms tend to be ‘cold-like’ and can range from mild to more bothersome. They often include:
● Runny nose
● Itchy, watery eyes
● Post nasal drip
● Sinus pressure
Because our bodies can only handle a limited amount of histamine, when our natural maximum has been reached, we can’t properly break down and excrete the histamine, and that is when symptoms start to appear.
When it comes to root causes, our gut plays a significant factor. A large part of our immune system is located in the gut, and any imbalance of our gut microbiome can contribute to allergies. Research does point to a link between leaky gut and allergies and asthma. In addition, food allergies, prolonged exposure to dust, pollen, mold, nutrient deficiencies, and genetic factors are all possible root causes of allergies.
HOW FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE CAN HELP
As with anything regarding Functional Medicine, our goal is to reduce or eliminate symptoms while attacking the root cause of the issue. Here at the Heartland Natural Clinic, there is no blanket approach, and each individual’s plan depends on their unique symptoms and underlying causes.
Some of the common areas that Functional Medicine focuses on to help reduce symptoms include:
● Reducing your exposure to allergens - this includes ensuring you have proper air filtration in your home and reducing your exposure to outdoor allergens.
● Ensuring that the gut microbiome is balanced - this often includes an elimination diet, increasing fiber, and reducing inflammatory foods.
● Natural supplements and herbs that can aid in the function of the gut and reduce allergy symptoms include Quercetin, DAO, NAC, Cysteine, Spirulina, Selenium, Zinc, Magnesium, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, and Omega 3.
● Identifying and reducing any food allergies or sensitivities, including avoiding food that is high in histamines (common culprits are alcohol and fermented foods).
● Ensure your nasal passages are cleared of any allergens by using nasal sprays or net pots.
You don’t have to continue to suffer from seasonal allergies. There are many natural approaches that you can try to help alleviate your symptoms.
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*This article is for informational purposes only