An allergy is an inappropriate response by the body’s immune system to a substance not normally harmful. The immune system allows us to combat infection by identifying foreign bodies and mobilizing white blood cells to fight them. Substances are called allergens. Examples are common grass pollen, dust, cosmetics, lanolin, animal hair, insect bites and stings, drugs (aspirin and penicillin), foods (strawberries, eggs, shellfish) and additives (Benzoic acid, sulfur dioxide, etc.) and the list goes on. There are a number of factors which predispose people to allergies. Perhaps the individual was weaned too early and inappropriate food substances like wheat, cow dairy and red meat) were introduced into the diet before the digestive system was mature enough to handle these foods.
Normally, the liver detoxifies histamine and therefore, a damaged liver allows increased histamine in the bloodstream leading to increases in allergic reactions. Antihistamines (common allergy medication) increases liver damage and decreases the body’s ability to detoxify histamine.
Hayfever is an allergic reaction to wind-borne pollens. Those of you who have experienced it know the signs and symptoms: runny nose, itchy and water eyes, sneezing uncontrollably. Most people with inhalant allergies may also have hidden food allergies which play an important role in overall reactivity. We are dealing with a hyper-allergic system, not a system with an allergy or two.
There are two types of food allergies. One has immediate mast cell degradation (IgE). The second is a delayed onset which occurs when a substance is eaten too often and in large amounts which stimulates an IgA, IgG, and/or IgM allergic response. This is often seen in wheat, gluten, and dairy consumption. One of the best tests for allergens is the RAST test which measures IgE antibodies caused by bee stings and peanut butter. Air-born allergens are more difficult.
As naturopaths, we try to strengthen the entire body by removing the most common food allergens from the diet. In an acute phase, we recommend that you ELIMINATE dairy products, wheat, gluten, eggs, citrus, corn, and peanut butter for 3 to 4 weeks. With respect to supplementation, we suggest increasing Vitamins A, E, & C plus bioflavonoids, B Complex with an emphasis on pantothenic acid (THE STRESS VITAMIN). Taking Quercetin and Vitamin C three times a day with food seems to be one of the best approaches to calming down the allergic response. Nasal lavage can also offer another good temporary solution (1 tbsp salt in one quart of water). Neti pots facilitate nasal lavage uptake.