As I walk through the orchard I see blossoms on fruit trees, I hear bees working madly and I smell the sweet scent of Spring. When I had allergies a walk through the orchard was unthinkable. The sneezing, runny nose, itching eyes and fatigue was so debilitating I would hide inside the house. Many Australians suffer from seasonal allergies. In this post we will discuss a few ways to manage, and possibly overcome your allergies…..
The terrible symptoms of seasonal allergies start when your body is exposed to a particular pollen or allergen the immune system recognises as foreign to it. An inflammatory response occurs in which immunoglobulin E (IgE) is triggered causing histamines to be released into circulation. Histamines are our body’s way of trying to combat the foreign invader; unfortunately, they are also responsible for the symptoms we hate. This much has been known for quite some time, but why are some people more susceptible to seasonal allergies than others? The role our gut plays in this process is now coming to light.
Gut health is integral to your wellbeing (1). Poor gut health can lead to chronic illnesses by way of intestinal permeability (aka Leaky Gut). Your intestinal lining should keep all foreign particles in the gut, but when it becomes permeable, like a sieve, they can spill into your bloodstream causing the body to mount a massive immune response.
If you suffer with seasonal allergies here’s a good protocol to follow:
SEAL YOUR GUT
The first thing you need to do is restore gut integrity. You can achieve this by being kind to your intestinal lining:
remove all known food allergens from your diet as they will compromise gut health
feed the cells of your intestines – collagen from bone broths, glutamine and B vitamins
re-inoculate your microbiome with friendly bacteria
In my Winter Wellness, Part 1 post I discussed how to make bone broths (stocks)so have a read of that article (recipe included). The collagen in bone broth will heal your intestinal lining by reducing inflammation and irritation.
Glutamine is found in many wholefoods such as:
animal products: beef, poultry pork, fish, organ meats, eggs, dairy products (cow’s , goat’s and sheep’s)
vegetables: cabbage, beets, spinach, parsley (raw is best)
legumes and beans
B vitamins are found in many foods: meats, dairy, eggs, nuts, vegetables (such as broccoli, potatoes, tomatoes, greens), legumes, spirulina , and seeds.
REPOPULATE YOUR GUT BACTERIA
Getting the right bacteria to flourish in your gut requires two things – probiotics and prebiotics.
Probiotics are the friendly bacteria that help us break down the foods we ingest. The best way to repopulate your gut with good bacteria is to eat fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, fermented vegetables, kefir water, kefir milk and kombucha. To find out more refer to my Winter Wellness, Part 2. By using fermented foods you will introduce more bacterial strains than if you take a probiotic capsule.
Prebiotics are foods you eat that are indigestible to you, however, your gut bacteria feed on them:
inulin in Jerusalem artichoke, chicory root, yacon (jicama), asparagus, globe artichokes
green leafy vegetables such as dandelion greens
alliums – garlic, onions, leeks green onions/spring onions, chives, French shallots
Vitamin C-rich foods will help reduce inflammation in both the intestines and in the mucous lining during seasonal allergies. Capsicum and chillies are a great source of vitamin c and so are brassicas and kale.
Stinging nettle is another useful green to reduce hayfever symptoms (2). You can forage for nettle during Spring (isn’t Nature interesting how we are provided with the very things we need at the right time?). Here’s a great way to use nettle:
Be cautious when collecting and handling nettle as it can cause uticaria.
To remove the ‘sting’ just boil the nettle in water quickly, then drain out the water and allow to cool.
Put nettle, parmesan cheese, salt, extra virgin olive oil, and toasted nuts of your choice (if no allergies) in a food processor and blend.
Taste and adjust as you like. You can add herbs, too, for more nutritional value.
Make a big batch as it freezes well.
Use as you would pesto made with basil….on cauliflower pizza is best!
To treat the symptoms of seasonal allergies while increasing your gut integrity there are a couple great supplements – quercetin and bromelain. Quercetin is a flavonoid (plant pigment) found in various foods. When taken as a supplement it inhibits the release of histamines (3). Bromelain reduces inflammation in the nasal passages (4). These two supplements are best taken together.
Spirulina, a blue-green algae, used by many vegetarians and vegans also inhibits histamine release within the body. You can add a bit to green smoothies.
AVOID SECONDARY INFECTIONS
The best way to avoid a sinus infection is to keep the sinus clear. The easiest way to do this is to use a saline spay to flush out the sinus cavity. You can get saline nasal sprays at any chemist. Just follow the instructions on the box. I have used this method for myself and my children for years with great success.
Essential oils are another non-invasive and easy alternative. Both eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils are great for fighting sinus infections. Place one or both in a diffuser near you and inhale. The particles in the essential oils will be absorbed through your nasal passage. Peppermint essential oil is excellent for relieving gut inflammation as well. You can either add a few drops to oil and rub on your tummy or add a drop or two to foods or water.
Other complementary therapies with good success treating seasonal allergies are Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture as well as Homeopathy. Look for a practitioner in your area to discuss how they can help.
Cheers to Good Health-
Bischoff S, et al. Intestinal permeability-a new target for disease prevention and therapy. BMC Gastrooenterol. 2014: 14:189 (DOI: 10.1186/s12876-014-0189-7)
Mittman P. Randomized, double-blind study of freeze-dried Utica dioica in the treatment of allergic rhinitis. Planta Med. 1990 Feb: 56(1):44-7
Park H, et al. Flavonoids inhibit histamine release and expression of proimflammatory cytokines in mast cells. Ach Pharm Res. 2008 Oct:31(10):1303-11 (DOI: 10.1007/s12272-001-2110-5)
Secor E, et al. Bromelain exerts anti-inflammatory effects in an ovalbumin-induced murine model of allergic airway disease. Cell Immunol. 2005 Sep:237(1):68-75 (DOI: 10.10016/j.celimm.2005.10.002)