Seasonal Allergies – How do they work?

As spring starts in earnest and we enjoy the beauty of the budding trees and flowers, some people are beginning to sneeze and itch. Pollen is just one common allergen that sets off reactions, however all year round others react to animal dander, mould, house dust and dust mites. These substances can trigger sneezing, irritated watering eyes, blocked sinuses and itchy ears, mouth and throat. All very unpleasant! So I thought it might be a good time to look at allergies, how they work and what can be done to help reduce symptoms before the hay fever season is in full swing.

Seasonal allergies occur when the body has a reaction to a substance that most people find harmless. You can see from the diagram below that inhaled pollen from a tree, for example, triggers the body to react as if there is a dangerous invader. In defence the immune system creates antibodies to pollen, which are activated whenever we are exposed to it in the future. The antibodies trigger a reaction with our immune cells, which then release a number of inflammatory chemicals, like histamine. This leads to inflammation and irritation of tissues in the nasal cavity and surrounding area.

allergydiagram151008

These are the basics of how the actual allergy process occurs. However there are things that can be done at the beginning of the season to support our body and improve its reaction to substances like pollen. These are discussed below:

Balancing the immune system

The initial problem starts with the immune system being over sensitive to substances that are normally harmless. Therefore balancing the immune system to be less sensitive would be helpful and there are a couple of suggestions here that can help.

Colostrum – colostrum as you know is the substance in milk (including breast milk) that works with the immune system. It contains Proline-Rich Polypeptides (PRP’s), which act as immune signalling messengers that help keep the immune system in balance.

Echinacea – Is an herb known for its immune modulating actions, again helping the body to balance an over-active immune system.

Irritating Foods

One reason for the immune system being out of balance can be food allergies or intolerances. Reactions to foods can lead to general inflammation and over-sensitivity, as well as affecting the immunity through the digestive system. Common culprits are gluten and dairy. If you feel a food might not be working for you, try excluding it for a week and see if symptoms improve.

Look after your liver

When allergic reactions occurs the liver is left to clear up all the chemicals of inflammation and if it is already clearing up lots of toxins and other debris clearance can be slowed. This can lead to a worsening of symptoms, so clearing up the body and detoxing before the allergy season can be beneficial.  This can be done by:

  • Taking some liver supporting herbs such as milk thistle, globe artichoke, dandelion and curcumin to name a few.
  • Cut down on alcohol, coffee, processed foods, cigarettes and increase fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Make sure your bowel move daily as constipation can lead to circulating toxins. Kiwifruit or psyllium are two foods that can help with this.

Strengthening immune cells

There are certain nutrients that can help keep our immune cell walls strong, which stops them spilling out as many inflammatory chemicals like histamine. Flavonoids such as rutin and quercetin are very effective at this, as is vitamin C. They are also anti-inflammatory which helps to temper the inflammatory effects of histamine and other inflammatory chemicals. Therefore increasing their levels can help manage the strength of our reactions.

Good luck with your preparations for the allergy season!

By Jane Cronin

Clinicians Naturopath

Clinicians AllerStop is a proprietary natural formula that works rapidly to provide support for the body’s response to indoor and outdoor allergens such as moulds, dust mites, pet dander, grasses and pollens. Buy it now from our secure online shop.

We'd Love Your Feedback

Do you or someone you know have a seasonal allergy? If so what usually sets it off?

Have you tried a natural supplement/remedy to help with your allergy? What have you found the most helpful?