Author: Dr. Steven Whiting Ph.D.
The number of persons suffering from some form of allergy has continued to steadily rise for the last few decades. Conservatively, it is estimated that 70 million people suffer from allergies in the United States and another 40 million in Europe.
The symptoms of an allergic response can vary from simple irritations to complex and devastating problems, which can, forever, alter the quality of an individuals life. Since most allergies are auto-immune and therefore genetic in origin, they are virtually impossible to eliminate with our present knowledge of biochemistry. The good news is that we can mitigate many of the symptoms caused via the allergic response, allowing the sufferer to oftentimes live a completely normal life, symptom free.
What Causes An Allergy?
From the medical point of view, an allergy is a chemical response to a foreign pathogen or invader within our bodys internal environment.
From the medical point of view, an allergy is a chemical response to a foreign pathogen or invader within our bodys internal environment. This occurs in all of us when virus or bacteria invade the body. The immune From system reacts to the presence of these pathogens by building antibodies and eventually destroying the culprit. A by-product of that process is the production of chemical called histamine. When the body reacts in this same manner in the presence of normally harmless substances, such as certain proteins in foods and airborne particles such as pollen, molds or dust, we call that an allergic response.
Since the body sees these harmless substances as actual invading pathogens, antibody production occurs to fight the allergens. Antibodies attach themselves to specific cells called mast cells. When the mast cells explode, they release many chemicals, the primary one being histamine. It is histamine, which causes virtually all the symptoms associated with allergies.
While it is possible to develop an allergy to a specific substance later in life, most of us have the predisposition at birth through our genetics. If one of your parents has allergies, you have a 50 percent chance of developing allergies as well. When both parents are allergic, your odds jump to 75 percent or better. You may not inherit the same specific allergies but the rather the allergic potential.
Understanding the Stress and Adrenal Connection with Allergies
No discussion of allergies would be complete without addressing the role the adrenal glands play in the allergic response.
The adrenal glands secrete hormones during an immune response, which enable our defense system to work better. When this occurs on a more or less constant basis, these glands can become over-worked and eventually even partially fail. As they become less and less effective, the adrenal glands can no longer properly regulate the amounts of potentially powerful hormones, which they produce, sometimes making too many and sometimes not enough. This leads to further chemical imbalance and immune hypersensitivity, leading to increased allergic response.
Common symptoms of adrenal exhaustion include fatigue, anxiety, confused thinking, fluctuations in body temperature and respiration. We can see by this scenario that managing stress and nourishing the adrenal glands is oftentimes essential to an overall program for dealing with allergies.
How Nutrition Can Benefit the Allergy Sufferer
As may be seen by our discussion of the relationship of the adrenal glands to the allergic response, we must begin building our program of successful allergy management by ensuring the health and well being of these important glands. Many studies have continually shown that persons suffering with allergies are deficient in many nutrients. This is because they, oftentimes, do not get sufficient nutrients from the foods they eat. Their bodies need certain nutrients in much higher amounts than persons who do not have allergy problems because the chemical process, which is taking place in the body during an allergic response, consumes these nutrients rapidly. The single most important nutrient for the adrenal glands has to be pantothenic acid. This B vitamin is necessary for all adrenal hormones, especially cortisone.
Vitamin C is a very important stress nutrient used in the management of allergies. Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine and can be used in relatively high amounts. We cannot overlook the link between allergies and hypoglycemia. Low blood sugar seems to be connected with many allergy patients and frequently we find those suffering from severe, multiple allergies also have intolerance, or even an allergy to many carbohydrate foods. Chromium and another mineral, Vanadium, are essential in regulating the blood sugar and insulin relationship. Many of those suffering from allergies benefit greatly by the addition of these minerals, in higher amounts, into their daily program. This should especially be considered if you suffer from hypoglycemia or diabetes along with allergies.
It is important to remember that when our bodies suffer from any chronic condition, including allergies, we need more nutrition not less.
Sinus Problems: The Scourge of the Allergy Sufferer
Of all the annoying symptoms, which can be produced as a byproduct of histamine formation due to the allergic response such as watery eyes, ear & throat problems acute and constant sinus irritation and infection must be the worst. The allergic response to airborne allergies often results in constant irritation of the upper and lower sinuses. This irritation all too frequently leads to infection of these tissues due to the breakdown of the natural anti-biotic properties normally found in mucosal tissue. I have had tremendous results in managing acute and chronic sinus infections in allergy patients through the use of one of my favorite vitamins, vitamin A. By supplying the body with sufficient vitamin A, the integrity of the sinuses and other mucosal tissues are maintained. While vitamin A will not prevent the allergic response, it will most certainly prevent the infections of the sinuses, ears and throat, which often accompanies histamine production.
Free Radicals and Allergies
When we experience an allergic response, the body produces histamine. A direct byproduct of histamine activity within the body is the production of massive amounts of free radicals. Free radicals are those chemical buzz bombs science has identified as being at the cause of virtually every chronic disease process within the body as well as loss of lean muscle mass and premature aging. Needless to say that free radical activity within the body must be controlled in order to prevent further and continual damage to cellular material. Those suffering from allergies must therefore consider the use of high potency antioxidants in addition to the base line antioxidants such as vitamins A and C and E and the mineral Zinc. While these antioxidants may be sufficient for some, the allergy suffer requires high potency heavy hitting antioxidant protection to offset the high levels of free radicals being produced as a result of histamine activity. Another antioxidant we use with great success not only for the mitigation of allergy symptoms but for asthma as well is Quercetin.
You can get relief from your allergies! You may not be able to send them all away, but through some effort, there is no reason why you cannot live a reasonably normal life. It does take some work but since allergies are frequently with us for life, you should begin today for a better tomorrow.
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