Allergies and Your Health
(Published EcoClean Newsletter)
Allergies have become a common ailment of many Americans. Typical allergens are associated with dust and pollen. However, depending on an individual’s predisposition and immune function, allergic responses can occur due to avariety of different substances, including: trees, grasses, chemicals, foods, and preservatives. What makes any of these agents an allergen?
The body knows the difference between self and non-self. Allergens are identified by the body as non-self. Allergens enter the body through the nose (inhalation), mouth (ingestion of food, chemicals, water, and medications), and skin (contact with various substances). When our body encounters a non-self substance (e.g., pollen, certain foods, chemicals) the body reacts by eliminating the foreign substance from the body and/or making antibodies to that substance causing an allergic response.
Two common antibodies involved in the allergic response are IgE and IgG immunoglobulins. Common allergic responses, such as, itching, runny nose, watery eyes, and increased heart rate are caused by IgE immunoglobulins (antibody proteins). This type of allergic reaction usually occurs quickly after allergen exposure and is associated with the release of histamine from mast cells in primarily the skin, lungs, gastrointestinal tract and reproductive organs. Histamine is a chemical that causes redness, itching, and swelling. An example of the effects of histamine is seen with a bug bite. The area of the bite on the skin becomes red, swollen, warm, and itchy. This is typical of a histamine-type reaction. Still, many allergic symptoms are a result of a delayed immunoligcal response mediated by IgG antibodies, causing symptoms up to 72 hours after exposure. Symptoms may include: fatigue, headache, intestinal pain, gas, bloating, and changes in mood.
What can you do if you are affected by allergies? First, limit your exposure to allergens in your environment. You can achieve this by using air filters in your home or office and using non-toxic, hypoallergenic soaps, clothing, and other products
Next, identify the offending substance. You can achieve this by removing yourself from the offending substance and monitoring your body’s reaction when you re-introduce the substance or agent. This works well especially if you suspect a food allergen.
Finally, since allergies are linked to the immune system, it is important to give your body the correct nutrients, rest, and support to work optimally. Remember the basics. Get plenty of sleep, consume adequate quantities of water, get regular exercise, and consume a diet rich in whole foods, including generous amount of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, hormone-free animal products, and fiber.
Certain nutrients can play an important role in the prevention and treatment of allergies. Vitamin C, Quercetin, Bioflavinoids, Stinging Nettle, and Essential fatty acids all have anti-inflammatory affects, while quercetin also stabilizes mast cells, diminishing the release of histamine. In effect, these nutrients can reduce allergic symptoms. Vitamin C, with the addition of Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B-5), supports the adrenals glands in their function to mediate the stress response, which is integrally connected with the allergic response.
In addition, there are other therapies that may be effective in reducing allergic responses, including acupuncture, allergy desensitization techniques, and homeopathy.
Remember, there is so much you can do to feel better if you suffer from allergies. Take care you yourself and your body. You deserve it!