hay fever

What causes allergies?

Do you feel it already? Spring is here; often associated with happiness and freshness. However, for some this might be not their favorite season; swollen eyes, itching, blocked nose, fever… People with allergies will experience it differently.

Allergies stem from a long period of hyperactivity in the immune system.  It’s the body’s way of expressing unease, usually in the form of inflammation, discomfort, and more severely, anaphylaxis.  There are various types of allergic responses due to the different immune proteins that would cause a reaction from a particular substance.  In naturopathy, we classify them as insensitivity, intolerance, and anaphylaxis.

Insensitivity – is usually expressed in the form of hives, headaches, bloating, or gas
Intolerance – is usually expressed in the form of rashes, diarrhea, dizziness, vertigo, fainting, or even vomiting
Anaphylaxis – is the most severe of them all where hospitalization is required due to closing of the airway primarily and swelling of mucous membranes.

The purpose is to help the patient to heal both the root cause and the symptoms of the disease.

allergies organs chinese medicineAllergies usually has an underlying cause that started in the past or it could be from an acute trigger that started recently (it could stem from a gene shutting off or turning on, still a debate).  We find that most allergies start from the gut and not environmental.  Our GI tract is constantly introduced with new food items on a daily basis and if our digestive system is one, premature or under developed, or two, unhealthy, these food items can enter our system without the control we normally have and cause an immune response to react to the foreign substance in our blood stream.

The spleen is the lung’s mother.

From the perspective of Chinese medicine, allergic problems such as nasal allergy, asthma, eczema and other related allergies are interconnected with the balance of your inner organs. For example, the three mentioned allergies have a lot to with the human body’s lung, spleen and liver system.

Firstly, the lung is understood best by taking into account the nose. When your lungs are lacking Yang energy, its functions will be imbalanced which can cause allergy symptoms. Also, from a Chinese medicine perspective, the spleen is the lung’s mother. If your spleen is imbalanced and weakened, you will have problems with your immune and respiratory systems that can lead to a worsening of nasal allergies or even asthma.

Additionally, the body’s lung and its skin are interconnected with each other. That’s why imbalanced lungs, will cause unstable emotions especially if the spleen (the lung’s mother) does not have enough energy. In turn, the liver will imbalance the spleen, and consequently, worsening imbalance of the digestive system. As a result, it can cause asthma, delay the healing of asthma and worsen its symptoms. It can also lead to the ejection of blood clots, thus making the patient’s condition even more difficult to improve.

 

optimize immune system

What can you do?

Allergies, is an immune response, a warning, red flag, to warn the body that there is an intruder!  However, can be managed, and now, possibly eliminated through natural means.   Therefore, Chinese medicine will start the discussion of treatments for these immunity system related allergies based on the interconnectedness of your inner organs. Generally, Western medicine uses medicine, such as steroids or antibiotics, to treat allergies. Although they can quickly cause the symptoms to be minimized, the actual problem will not be solved. The allergy can easily break out again and even (long-term) side effects may occur.

Here are a few tips to start your road to minimizing allergies:

 

priobiotic drink1. Try the elimination diet

Elimination diet is really striping your diet to the bare essentials for a period of time to offset the inflammatory response (“put out the fire; without adding fuel (allergen) to it”).  Time will help to decrease the symptoms and give your body time to heal.
This diet can be done from 2-3 weeks to several months.  Then a reintroduction period of the potential allergic foods and observe if there is an allergic response or no response.

 

2. Try supplements

  • Quercetin – it’s a type of bioflavonoid from red, orange, and yellow vegetables and fruit and the pith of citrus fruits.  It can help in the symptomatic relief of allergies, both dietary and environmental.
  • Curcumin – tumeric has been shown to be a powerful anti-inflammatory and can help in the symptomatic relief and treatment of allergies
  • L-Glutamine – it’s an amino acid used by intestinal cells as food.  This will help with the integrity of gut and increase the efficiency of absorption of food.
  • Probiotics – as mentioned by Anne, has been shown to be beneficial in the breakdown of food.
  • Omega 3s – Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) – specifically Omega 3s have been shown to have anti-inflammatory benefits and can minimize swelling and flare-ups on skin conditions. Furthermore, it can balance the Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio.  This has been linked to balance T Helper cell ratios for minimizing potential PRO-inflammatory responses when one is subjected to an allergen.

 

3. Tap into ancient Chinese medicine knowledge

acupunctureTo bring back balance, Chinese medicine will mainly repair the spleen’s and lung’s energy. Depending also on the patient’s actual habits and lifestyle, it will transform phlegm, drive away moist, clear the internal heat, nourish Yin energy and improve blood circulation to remove blood clots. The purpose is to help the patient to heal both the root cause and the symptoms of the disease. Common treatments for allergies are herbal medicine combined with acupuncture, cupping, meridian-blood-pricking and other treatments to support your inner organs.

 

4. Learn what you can do with Shiatsu

Shiatsu, a manipulative therapy developed in Japan, incorporates techniques of Japanese traditional massage, acupressure, stretching, and Western massage. It can be translated as finger pressure and has been described as needle-free acupuncture. Regular shiatsu treatments are helpful with allergies in relieving the symptoms of allergies and dramatically reducing allergic reactions. Shiatsu stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which in turn promotes immune functions changes. In a broader sense, Shiatsu is believed to enhance physical vitality and emotional well-being. Find out easy self-help Shiatsu tips to reduce your allergic reactions here.

 

air pollution

We are in a shift in how our bodies respond to the outside world

Food quality has decreased globally and the increase in chemical use has done a great deal of damage to our bodies and our ecosystems.  We are in a shift in how our bodies respond to the outside world and therefore, there will be an increase in allergies over time.  Hopefully, we all can strengthen our immune systems so that we can combat the ever changing world and create a better health & wellness for ourselves and our families.

Contributed by Dr. Kenneth Chu, Dr. Grace Yu and Anne Cousin.

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