Allergies, Hay Fever, Allergic Rhinitis; these are a few common names for the watery, itchy, red eyes, runny noses, coughs, wheezing, and difficulty breathing that people get from having an immune response to a normally non-harmful environmental trigger. 50 million people in the U.S. suffer from allergies. This includes 30% of adults and 40% of children, and rates continue to increase. Americans with nasal swelling alone spent $17.5 billion on health care with the cost of 6 million days off work and 16 million visits to the doctor’s office last year alone!
What Causes Allergies?2
Allergies are caused by certain type of immune reaction to substances that are normally harmless. The immune cells responsible for this response are IgE antibody cells, mast cells and basophils. The first time you are exposed to an allergen, your body creates the IgE antibodies. The antibodies then attach to mast cells and basophils, waiting for the allergen to come around again. When it does, the allergen binds to the IgE antibody on the mast cell and basophil, causing it to release histamine. Histamine is what causes the allergic reaction: inflammation, itchy skin, and watery eyes. This is why many allergy medicines, like Benadryl, are anti-histamines.
Allergy Drug Problems
Although certain drugs like Benadryl may help with allergy symptoms, recent studies warn against their long-term use. A study from 2015 showed a link between long term use (3 years or more) and an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease3. Decongestants can also have serious problems for people with heart or blood pressure problems. These types of drugs can increase blood pressure and heart rate, leading to potential serious side effects4. Furthermore, corticosteroids, often given to children who develop asthma, can cause bone loss. This can lead to fractures and the development of osteoporosis as people age5.
What Causes Your Body to Decide Something Benign could be a Threat in the First Place?
There are cells residing in tissues exposed to the outside world called antigen presenting cells (APC). These cells are in places like the nasal passage or intestinal lining, and they pick up proteins that they think might be harmful. They carry them to another immune cell, called a T-cell. After a few more steps, the IgE antibodies become produced. Once produced, they sensitize the mast cells, and next time you are exposed to that protein, you will have an allergic reaction. Why do some people have tolerance to the proteins picked up by the APC’s and other people end up with allergies? And, why do people with allergies not all have an allergy to the same substance?
The key here resides in the T-cells. There are various types of T-cells, but the important ones in this process are T-regulatory cells. They help keep balance within the immune system. If these regulatory cells aren’t working right, you can develop allergies and even autoimmune disorders. They downplay the reaction of the immune system, letting your body relax and not react to pollen, dust, foods, etc.
Bringing Balance to the Force Immune System
So, what can we do to help prevent allergies, and calm down our immune system so that we can develop tolerance to potentially allergy causing materials? We must try to enhance the function of the T-regulatory cells and bring balance to the immune system. This means we must first do things to decrease inflammation in the body. This includes:
- Healing your gut
- Eating the correct foods
- Staying well hydrated
- Supplementing with nutrients that boost T-reg cell function: Vitamin D, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Resveratrol, and Turmeric are just a few. Standard Process also has a few supplements aimed at helping people with allergies: Allerplex and Antronex, amongst others.
- Get Adjusted! Studies show that chiropractic care helps normalize nervous system function and boost immune function. Further evidence shows the connection between the nervous system and the immune system. Last but not least, a study in 2004 showed chiropractic helped people with certain forms of allergic responses6.