Spring is coming early to most parts of the country and with those first curling tendrils of real warmth (not the warmth that turns into a 20 degrees tomorrow) some people are in a bit of a panic because they know that allergy season is closing in.
I grew up in Florida and I never had allergy problems until we moved to Kentucky. There’s so much green and so many flowers and trees compared to back in Florida (where almost everything was concrete in my neck of the woods) that Kentucky is considered one of the allergy capitals of the US. During our 3rd year in Kentucky I developed a cold that turned into a lung infection and required a dosage of the dreaded antibiotics to get it to stop. I hate turning to pharma meds but I know they’re necessary sometimes. And it didn’t seem to matter how many herbal antibiotics I took I stayed sick. My nose was so swollen inside that I could barely breathe, my throat ached, and I coughed all the time. After a week on antibiotics it started to clear up but came right back in the fall. Since then I almost always get sick in the fall and stay sick all winter long. It was another two years until my GP figured out that it was seasonal allergies.
So other than the crazy amounts of pollen in the air in Kentucky versus Florida why did I suddenly develop seasonal allergies as an adult?
People have said flat out that I have a ‘Superwoman Complex’. I’m glad they told me flat out because I hate it when they dissemble. 😉 Suffice to say that my days often make me feel less than heroic at the end. More wrung out like a dishtowel than ready to go save the world some more. Constant errands. Demands of little hands. Balancing a couple of jobs with my school requirements plus making meals and running a household. Even before you throw in school activities and my mother’s copious doctor’s appointments it’s a lot for one human!
I will say now that my husband can be amazing. He doesn’t usually balk at doing the dishes (most of the time) or cooking dinner (sometimes). But the pressure of a family of six plus other stuff can get to even the most organized person. As much as I strive for Type A’s mad Martha-esque skills, I often fall quite short leading to that cycle of ‘try, fail, hang your head, pick yourself up, try again, fail, try again, succeed (maybe)’ that most people must settle for.
But stress can be ANYTHING that makes you feel uncomfortable. It doesn’t have to be crazy family drama it could be the daily commute to work or toxins from your favorite shampoo. And it all adds up. Emotional trauma is toxic. The Chinese actually have associated certain feelings with specific organs. The lungs are grief, the liver is anger, and so on. Work on your toxic emotions and your allergies will start to resolve themselves, especially if you add a little support from herbs and essential oils.
Over time our livers usually pick up a certain amount of damage from the foods we eat and the chemicals in our environment. The liver is integral to our body’s defenses against foreign proteins like pollen, but when our liver is congested or not working properly, then our body can over react to the surrounding stimuli.
Conventional medicine continuously suppresses symptoms that are really signals to us that something deeper is going on. None of us were born with seasonal allergies, but eventually we developed them due to issues inside. Seasonal allergies is one of the first signs that our health is declining.
That liver that we should be lovin’ we often abuse. I don’t just mean alcohol, by the way! That’s only a fraction of what damages your liver. Chemicals we ingest in our food-like substances in addition to the high simple carb and sugar diet of your average Westerner spells disaster for your poor ol’ liver. It gets overloaded with toxins and it can’t keep up. So those toxins (or foreign proteins in this case but the liver looks at them the same way) get stored because they can’t be processed and over produces histamines to protect itself from these alien bodies.
Excessive histamine causes your typical allergic reactions like hives, sneezing, coughing, inflamed nasal passages, and even swells your airways. This is why conventional medicine suppresses the natural function with antihistamines.
Also, if your thyroid is out of whack then your liver is, too, since the thyroid controls many liver functions. You must support both if you want to overcome those allergies!
Immune System Dysfunction
People who have studied leaky gut, or intestinal permeability, will understand more of why the immune system causes seasonal allergies. When your intestines don’t have what is called tight junctions, then food particles can slip between and gets treated as a foreign invader by the body. The liver, as noted above, will start producing extra histamine and cause allergic reactions to the foods you eat. This eventually hyper-stimulates the immune system overall leading to autoimmune disease and food sensitivities so that every time you eat that food (or run into that pollen) your body goes on red alert. Antibodies that your body has developed against these invaders flips a switch to turn on your mast cells. Then they break open and release various chemicals (including our old friend histamine) that cause a variety of reactions.
If your immune system is not in proper shape, then you are more likely to start developing allergies to everything. My allergies first started after the birth of my 2nd child. My body was vulnerable and couldn’t handle anymore. I was eating at that time a crappy diet, I drank diet soda, not enough water, and I had just stopped smoking. I was in toxic overload. I started noticing food allergies. I had never had bowel problems before that and tomatoes never gave me any trouble growing up but after baby #2 I couldn’t eat them without my hands swelling up the next day and having the most horrible stomach pains. Then I couldn’t eat corn. Then potatoes joined the party and it went on from there. Eventually I also developed seasonal allergies and then an autoimmune disorder. It all goes together.
You must fix the root issues like poor diet or chemical exposure before you can be healed. In the meantime, there are some things you can do to help allergies of any kind:
- Peppermint, lemon, basil, and tea tree oil are great to diffuse when it’s that time of the year as they can help with the symptoms of seasonal allergies
- Use a far infrared sauna. Sweating releases a small amount of toxins but the far infrared can stimulate organs like the liver and help it to regenerate and detoxify
- Eat more garlic, green apples, carrots, and fresh green leafy vegetables to keep the liver clean
- Pure carrot juice or pure green vegetable juice (no fruit) in moderation can help to cleanse the liver. A 1 day juice fast with no fruit juices and plenty of water plus time in the sauna can really do a lot towards get your system back in order. Just make sure you’re not contraindicated by pregnancy or other issues first!
- Grapefruit juice, only the fresh stuff, once a day
- Sensible Health sells a set of truly fabulous liver and gallbladder cleansing herbal tinctures. They are made using TCM principles. If you want to know more please check them out. I’m always happy to send people to see this tiny little shop in Toronto because I know that they will only ever recommend what you need. I asked by email about purchasing a formula to go with another one I was buying already and they actually told me no, you don’t need that one and to just use the one I purchased. That’s integrity. I’ve also seen the best results with using their tinctures in addition to the other supporting steps I mention above.
- Eating burdock, dandelion, and chicory roots support the liver with their alterative actions. I recommend making them a part of your normal diet. Please also eat the leaves if you can as the bitters stimulate bile flow.
- Nettle tea
- Broad spectrum enzymes with every meal but particularly amylase for breaking down carbohydrates and lifting the load on the liver
- Neti pots are great to use on a daily basis during peak season and then once a week after that. They help to flush out the pollen, dust, and other agitators.