By Sarah A LoBisco, ND
Tis the allergy time again, another change in seasons, more pollen.
Not fun for most.
The good news is, allergies don’t have to rule you!
I assist those who have allergy symptoms with the same method I use with any health concern. I look at the individual and their unique specific causes, contributors, and genetic susceptibilities in order to find what will work best for them in an integrative wellness program (http://dr-lobisco.com/functional-medicine-testing-why-test/).
Due to the fact that most of our immune system is actually found in our gut, that’s one of the first places I start! The balance of good and bad bugs in the colon is important to assess as a major contributor to an immune deregulation.
As I wrote in a previous blog:
Good microflora has the following roles:
They manufacture B-vitamins, such as biotin, niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6) and folic acid.
They act as anti-carcinogenic (anti-cancer) factors, with powerful anti-tumour potentials.
They act as ‘watchdogs’ by keeping an eye on, and effectively controlling, the spread of undesirable microorganisms (by altering the acidity of the region they inhabit and/or producing specific antibiotic substances, as well as by depriving rival unfriendly bacteria of their nutrients). … lactobacilli is”Candida albicans,” now implicated in many health problems in people who are malnourished or whose immune systems are depleted.
They effectively help to control high cholesterol levels, thereby affording us protection from the cardiovascular damage which excessive levels of this nevertheless important substance can create.
They sometimes act to relieve the symptoms of anxiety
They play a role in protecting against the negative effects of radiation and toxic pollutants, enhancing immune function.
They help considerably to enhance bowel function. Where bowel bacteria are absent, the function of peristalsis is impaired, and the amount of time it take for food to pass completely through the system is much increased.
60 percent of the circulating female hormones such as estrogen are excreted into the GI tract in the bile. (That is, probiotics help remove inflammatory hormones and prevent their recirculation)
Source: Leon Chaitow, N.D., D.O. and Natasha Trenev. Probiotics. Thorsons Publishing Group, Northamptonshire England, c1990 ISBN 0-7225-1919-2 http://www.holisticmed.com/detox/dtx-probio.txt
Therefore, I usually recommend a specific probiotic for allergies, depending on the factors that contributed to a deregulated buggie-gut. 🙂
The Components that Play In Allergies
So, what are some factors that play in the allergic response? According to Dr. Johnson’s research, how the baby is born is one factor on if Fido is welcome at home (emphasis mine):
But what causes one person to become sensitive to these indiscriminate antigens floating through the air, while another sails through life with dry eyes and clear sinuses?
Scientists aren’t exactly sure, but they have a few ideas.
Dr. Christine Cole Johnson has been studying allergies since the early 1980s. Her research team at Henry Ford Hospital was the first to show that having a pet in the house during your child’s first year of life may protect him or her from developing allergies — a finding that’s since been duplicated in other studies.
Her latest research suggests allergy development starts even before that.
Johnson analyzed data from a group of more than 1,200 newborns who were born in Michigan between 2003 and 2007, and have been evaluated by researchers at 1 month, 6 months, 1 year and 2 years old.
She found that babies born by cesarean section are six times more likely to be sensitive to dust mite allergens than babies born naturally. The researcher found similar results for exposure to cat- and dog-hair allergens.
Babies who are born via C-section have a different microbiome in their gastrointestinal tract, Johnson said. A microbiome is what scientists use to describe the bacteria communities that reside in humans, whether it’s in our mouths, on our skin or in our digestive system.
Wilson, J. Where do allergies come from? CNN Health: Living with Allergies. March 26, 2013.
Allergies and Hyper Cleanliness
Here’s another behavioral and cultural component to our allergic, over-responsive sinuses. We are clean freaks:
Here’s what researchers do know: Our immune systems need bugs. They rely on early encounters with germs to learn how to protect our bodies.
“Bacteria, fungi, lots of these things we think of as bad — they’re all part of our environment, and we evolved to live with them,” says Michael Zasloff, an immunologist and physician at Georgetown University Medical Center. Through exposure to these microbes early in life, your immune system learns what’s harmful and what isn’t, he says, and that readies the immune responses you’ll have for the rest of your life.
“The body has got to know friend from foe,” Zasloff says. If your body learns that a specific microbe or substance — any antigen, or visitor to the body — is a foe, it will send immune system cells to destroy it. If it recognizes the antigen as a friend, the immune system will leave it alone. “Exposure tells the immune system, ‘These are the things you’re going to run into all the time, so you don’t need to worry about them.’ ”
According to the hygiene hypothesis, bad things can happen if this early exposure doesn’t take place or if it doesn’t include the right microbes. The immune system can become overly sensitive, overreacting to non-threats such as pollen or dander as if they’re potentially harmful. When combined with certain genetic traits, this process can lead to conditions such as asthma and allergies, says Kathleen Barnes, an immunogeneticist at Johns Hopkins University who specializes in the genetics of asthma.
Hypercleanliness may be making us sick. Washington Post: Health & Science. March 26, 2013.
Seven Immune Busters!
Other interesting factors that could be causing allergic responses is our environment. Below is one example from Dr. Amen on one factor, but be sure to check out his blog on some other components that you may be sensitive to.
4. You drink well water
Surprisingly, the cleanliness of your drinking water can play a role in whether or not you get sick. As many as 25 million Americans drink well water that contains more than the safe levels of arsenic determined by the EPA. Arsenic has been linked to several different cancers, and affects the immune response to swine flu as well. When researchers from Dartmouth Medical School inoculated two groups of mice with the H1N1 virus, the group that had spent 5 weeks drinking arsenic-tainted water developed suppressed immune systems, and many died. The mice that didn’t drink the water got the flu but recovered completely. If your well water tests high, consider switching to bottled water or investing in a remediation system that will remove the arsenic.
Amen Clinics. How Strong is Your Immune System? Dr. Amen’s Blog. 2/19/13.
There are many powerful herbs and supplements, such as Vitamin C and Quercetin, that are beneficial in addressing the histamine response to allergies, but getting to the root cause of why one is making histamine can save a lot of future sniffles.
Who would have thought, the answer to allergy relief may not start in your head, but in your gut bugs!
Dr. LoBisco. Functional Medicine: Why Test? http://dr-lobisco.com/functional-medicine-testing-why-test/
Dr. LoBisco. Probiotics: Supplementing Your Diet with Bugs.