Ah, it’s almost spring. When flowers blossom, trees bud—and pollen permeates the air. If you’re one of the 25.7 million Americans who suffer from hay fever, you know what that means. There’s sneezing, hacking, coughing, wheezing and aching, not to mention a constant runny nose and watery eyes. But don’t despair. You can actually put a halt to many seasonal and perennial allergy symptoms with natural remedies and simple lifestyle changes. It all starts with understanding what’s been happening in your system and identifying your personal allergy demons.
Allergies: what’s really going on
In a 1999 publication, the NIAD (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease) estimated approximately 40-50 million people across the United States battle with some type of allergy. And age is not a factor, since allergies can strike at any time . . . even after 30. Recent statistics report that allergic rhinitis (hay fever) now afflicts nearly six million children per year. And the number in all age categories appears to be escalating. Oftentimes linked to genetics, airborne allergies may be instigated by both pollen and non-pollen pollutants.
The real focus is the immune system. The first line of defense for the body, your immune system protects you from toxic or viral invaders. When it is impaired, you’re much more susceptible to colds, flus and other illnesses. But in allergic individuals, the immune system isn’t weak at all—it’s actually working overtime.
According to nutritional researcher Ellen Hodgson Brown, testing was performed in 1997 on 300 children in Guinea-Bissau for allergic reactions to airborne allergens, such as asthma, eczema and hay fever. Surprisingly, children who had been vaccinated against measles showed much higher incidences of allergies. More puzzling reports occurred when additional studies in Italy demonstrated that people living in unsanitary or poor conditions had fewer allergy cases. And still other research indicated that individuals exhibited allergy immunity even after hepatitis A and tuberculosis exposure.
These findings provide an intriguing window into the immune system’s process. Clearly, it must remain active. In the above studies, the absence of threat (by either vaccination or environmental conditions) forced the immune system to continue its dedicated efforts by finding new attackers even though none existed. Consequently, it took a defensive approach against innocuous encounters, viewing them as life-threatening situations. Which may explain why harmless airborne pollutants (such as pollen grains, molds, dust and animal dander) and even simple foods can trigger an allergic reaction in you.
When that happens, your immune system initiates defensive maneuvers. It unleashes proteins called antibodies (immunoglobulin E or IgE ), which bind to two types of cells: the basophils in your bloodstream and the mast cells lining your nose, throat and lungs. The problem occurs when the airborne allergen meets this IgE/cell combination. Armed with 1,000 granules of inflammatory chemicals, the cells retaliate by releasing histamines plus mediators cytokines and leukotrienes. Your respiratory tract and entire body become irritated, forcing allergy symptoms into overdrive.
The most important thing to do is identify the source of your allergy. You can start by observing when and where annoying symptoms kick in. Consulting an allergy specialist may also help. Skin tests—performed by injecting diluted extracts of various allergens in the skin—could detect certain IgE antibodies. A wheal (reddened patch) at the test area indicates a possible allergy. Determining the cause of conditions such as eczema can be done via a blood test, such as the RAST (radioallergosorbent test). Stay tuned for part 2 next week!
[Click here for Part 2 of this article.]
For more information please contact www.annlouise.com (where advice and inspiration are given 24 hours a day, 7 days a week).
Visionary, health guru, diet/detox expert, and natural foods icon Ann Louise Gittleman is the award-winning author of 30 books on health and healing including the New York Times bestsellers The Fat Flush Plan and Before The Change. Her most recent release is The Gut Flush Plan.
For the past two decades she has been considered one of the foremost nutritionist in the United States.
Latest posts by Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman (see all)
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