“An allergy is when your immune system reacts to something that’s normally harmless to most people. If you come into contact with a substance that your immune system views as a threat, called an allergen, it responds by releasing a chemical called histamine and other substances,” says Lakiea Wright, M.D., a Board Certified Physician in Internal Medicine and Allergy and Immunology.
Allergies are a type of “bodily reactivity (hypersensitivity) to an antigen in response to a first exposure,” or an “exaggerated or pathological immunological reactions (as by sneezing, difficult breathing, itching, or skin rashes) to substances, situations, or physical states.”
There are several broad categories of allergies, which include:
- Seasonal allergies (also called rhinitis or hay fever), usually worsening when pollen levels increase or change, such as during the Spring or Fall
- Perennial allergies, occurring year-round
- Food allergies, such as shellfish allergies
- Drug/medication allergies
- Indoor allergies, such as to mold or dust
- Skin or eye allergies
- Pet/animal allergies, such as to dogs/cats, insects, etc.
- Anaphylaxis, which is a serious, life-threatening allergic reaction in response to a number of different allergens
Symptoms caused by allergies vary from person to person, depend on what’s causing the allergic reaction, and will vary depending on how severe the allergy is. Common symptoms associated with allergies can include:
- 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
- Itchy nose, congestion and stuffiness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Diarrhea and abdominal cramps
- Coughing, wheezing and trouble breathing
- Dizziness, lightheadedness and in severe cases loss of consciousness
What Causes Allergies?
There are so many different things that can cause allergies that it can be hard to pinpoint which are contributing to your symptoms.
- Pollen, from trees, plants and grass
- Dust, including the kinds found around your home
- Certain foods, especially those known to cause the most food allergies including gluten, dairy, tree nuts (especially peanuts), eggs, soy and shellfish
- Insect bites and stings
- Animal fur and dander
- Certain medications, such as antibiotics
Ayurveda regards allergy as a disorder caused by impaired digestion(weak digestive fire is known as weak Agni), which is why preliminary symptoms may include indigestion, constipation or diarrhoea. This dysfunction in the digestive process is the cause of the hypersensitivity to certain substances, such as dust and pollen that triggers the allergic attacks. Deposits of ama (toxins in the form of mucus) in the lungs and respiratory tract create obstruction in breathing and cause wheezing, coughing or sneezing.
Allergies are a sign from your body that one or more organs are imbalanced or have an energy deficiency. This energy deficiency can be related to several organs: the Kidney, Liver, Lung or Stomach. TCM relates the nose and throat to the Lung; so your allergy is rooted in the poor Lung function. Issues with itchiness and redness in the eyes? Your allergies are rooted in poor or deficient Liver function; the Liver governs the eyes. It’s easy to decode the root cause once you look at things the way TCM has for thousands of years.
One of the best ways to fight off allergens and boost your immune function is to Sedate Triple Warmer and Strengthen Spleen. Begin tracing from the outside of the eyebrow to the opening of the ear, up and over the ear as you smooth behind it down to your shoulders. Give your shoulders a squeeze.
Go Natural: harsh chemicals can irritate your nasal passages and aggravate your symptoms. So make natural cleaners with everyday ingredients like vinegar or baking soda.
Detox the body: often, allergies are worsened by toxins within the body. The liver is a great mediator of inflammation in the body, and when it is working overtime metabolizing our stress, medications, alcohol, and processed foods, allergies can flare up. Detox your body by eliminating fried foods, sugar, alcohol and other toxins from your diet. Try liver supportive foods and herbs such as milk thistle, turmeric, artichoke, citrus fruits and nuts.
Manage stress: stress hormones wreak havoc in the body and especially in the immune system, making seasonal allergies even worse. Consider methods of stress management such as meditation, taking time out for self-care and avoid overcommitting your schedule.
Spices to your aid: spices are known to have warming properties and are especially beneficially for those suffering from allergies. Include warming spices in your meals or add them to tea or the water that you drink. Ginger, turmeric, cayenne pepper, black pepper, cumin seeds and cinnamon are particularly beneficial
Vitamin C: boosts the immune system. It also acts as a natural antihistamine. According to a 2018 study on vitamin C in the treatment of allergies, oxidative stress plays a key role in allergic diseases. As vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, it may act as a treatment for allergies. The researchers observed that high doses of intravenous vitamin C reduced allergy symptoms. They also reported that a deficiency in vitamin C might lead to allergy-related diseases.
Butterbur: according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), butterbur may have antihistamine effects.
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to allergies. Several studies suggest supplementation may reduce inflammation and allergic reactions. In particular, a small study showed that participants who took vitamin D supplements along with antihistamines experienced an improvement of allergy symptoms after eight weeks.
Quercetin: is an antioxidant shown to reduce inflammatory cells and proteins, especially in skin. It is found naturally in foods such as apples (with the skin on), berries, red grapes, red onions, capers, and black tea. It is also available in supplement form. It may help reduce the effects of allergies that manifest with skin reactions, such as atopic dermatitis.
Nettle: stinging Nettle seems like an odd choice for improving health, but when properly prepared, it has been shown to treat all manner of concerns, especially including histamine overreactions and inflammation. It’s been widely used in natural medicine for at least a millennium, and probably even further back, as a tea, but common preparations now include tinctures or freeze-dried capsules as well.
Viola tricolor (hearts-ease): it is one of the best herbs to fight off allergies and ease symptoms. Can be used in form of capsules or like tincture.
Ribes nigrum: it stimulates adrenal glands to produce natural cortisone, therefore it has excellent anti-inflammatory properties (this kind of substances is called “cortisone-like”). It can be found in bud extract or glycerin macerate form without alcohol, and it is appropriate for children, too. For its antihistaminic and anti-inflammatory properties it is also useful to treat asthma, bronchitis, laryngitis, allergic dermatitis. It is an immune-stimulant plant and it enhances the efficiency of our immune system.
I am eager and happy to assist and guide you in choosing the best remedies, customized to your state of health. For personalized herbal recipes, looking forward to hearing from you by email.