An allergy is defined as a type of hypersensitivity reaction to an antigen “allergen'' or an “exaggerated or pathological immunological reaction (such as sneezing, difficult breathing, itching, or skin rashes) to substances, situations, or physical states.”
In other words, allergies are due to an over reaction of the immune system that causes damaging responses that can affect the whole body. Some of the most common causes of allergies are things like pollens, grasses, animal fur, dust or particular foods.
Allergy symptoms occur when your body responds to allergens by producing a chemical called histamine, which works by helping to counteract the allergen. However, sometimes this production is a severe overreaction and causes negative symptoms.
The most common symptoms are:
Runny nose, itchy nose, congestion and stuffiness
Skin rash, redness, hives, dryness, peeling or itchiness
Tingling or itchy sensations in the mouth and on the lips
Swelling of the tongue, lip, throat or face
Nausea and vomiting
Diarrhea and abdominal cramps
Coughing, wheezing and trouble breathing (asthma can sometimes be triggered by allergies)
Dizziness, lightheadedness and in severe cases loss of consciousness
There are many conventional treatments that include a variety of anti-histamine compounds, and they work to varying degrees, but often leave people feeling groggy and unable to function as well as they would like.
However, there are some really great diet and lifestyle changes that can make a huge difference.
Eliminate ALL dairy for 4 weeks and I’ll bet you’ll feel a whole lot better! Dairy has been shown to exacerbate allergies and also reduces the ability of the respiratory system to eliminate allergens from the body as effectively.
Eggs and wheat come in as a close 2nd and 3rd as allergy triggers, so if you are suffering, minimizing these foods may help.
Adding in lots of garlic (fresh or in capsules) and probiotic rich foods (raw sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, kefir) both support the immune system and help to minimize allergic reactions.
Additionally, local raw honey is a great allergy remedy. I recommend taking a tablespoon of local, raw honey every day to help your body build a tolerance to the local pollen that is running amuck on your sinuses.
Honey can be mixed into nettle tea for a double allergy treatment since nettles are able to naturally reduce histamine production.
Vitamin C is a great immune support and is especially effective in reducing allergies as it stabilizes mast cells (the cells that break open and release histamine)
Quercetin is a polyphenol antioxidant that is naturally found in plant foods, such as apples, cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli or cauliflower), onions/shallots, green tea and citrus fruits. It helps to reduce the release of histamines, and naturally control allergy symptoms.
Probiotics are key to supporting any strong immune system, as it’s now become common knowledge that a strong immune system starts with a healthy gut. More than 80 percent of your immune function is stored in your gastrointestinal tract and there is lots of research that links probiotic supplement use to reduced risk of allergies
Sleep. A good night's sleep is probably one of the best things ever. Not only does it make life more enjoyable, it also helps to reduce allergies. Sleep deprivation or insomnia can reduce our immune function leading to more allergic symptoms.
Stress It is a no brainer that stress is bad for us, but it will also make your allergies worse. When we are stressed out, our body releases hormones and other chemicals, including histamine, the powerful chemical that leads to allergy symptoms. While stress doesn't actually cause allergies, it can make an allergic reaction worse by increasing the histamine in your bloodstream.