Meera Dossa BSc, ND.
With allergy season looming on our doorstep, the end of the winter blues may not necessarily translate into a blissful spring. According to a survey conducted by pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, as many as 10 million Canadians may suffer from symptoms related to allergies during this season. So, what then is an allergic response and how can you best prepare yourself to combat the allergy season?
Breaking it Down
The term allergy is, in itself, broad. The direct definition is an imbalance of the immune system in which a hyperactive response is mounted by the immune system to specific substances it sees as foreign. Typically, when one hears the word “allergy,” runny nose, itchy, watery eyes and endless sneezing are the first symptoms that come to mind. However, an allergic reaction can also manifest in other ways.
Allergies can be broken down into two components: primary and secondary. Most of us are familiar with primary allergies. These are responsible for the typical allergic reaction picture, resulting in a swift onset of symptoms. Most commonly, these are rashes, swelling, hives, sneezing, watery eyes, itchy throat, etc. These reactions can develop anywhere from a few minutes to within two hours of contact with an allergen. The culprits are usually environmental with some examples being: dust, pollen, pet dander, latex, or some drugs.
Meanwhile, secondary allergies are always due to food. An allergic reaction is mounted when the immune system responds defensively to a specific food protein that it views as foreign, and therefore harmful, to the body. These reactions produce symptoms that most would not equate with an allergic response, namely: stomach aches, frequent heartburn, bloating, insomnia, headaches, etc.
So What Else is Leaking?
Nowadays, the notion that a significant portion of the immune system lies in the intestinal tract is becoming accepted by a growing number of healthcare providers. That being said, it only makes sense that something may be amiss in the area where the immune system resides; the gut.
Normally, foods that are ingested follow a path through the digestive tract where digestion, absorption, and assimilation of nutrients occur. Through this process, foods form protein complexes that should be contained within the walls of the intestines or the gut. However, in populations with compromised immune systems, chronic inflammation, and heavy alcohol or antibiotic consumption, damage to the lining of the bowels may have occurred, rendering the gut impermeable. This is commonly referred to the as leaky gut; a condition where bacteria, toxins, and incompletely digested food matter are able to leak into the bloodstream, causing the body’s defense to mount an inflammatory response against what it perceives to be “foreign invaders.” As a result, symptoms of digestive dysfunction, fatigue, skin disorders, autoimmunity, and common allergic symptoms may arise.
Fixing the Plumbing
Allergies can be resolved via two methods; suppressing the immune system, providing temporary, yet quick relief or mending the immune system, providing lasting effects. While both methods will provide relief of symptoms, only addressing the root cause will provide longer-lasting results. If you suffer from the symptoms discussed above, consider an appointment with a qualified health professional such as a naturopathic doctor (ND). NDs can help you isolate food sensitivities through comprehensive food allergy testing. Results are analyzed and dietary recommendations coupled with gut-healing protocols are employed to stop the leaks, so to speak! Here’s to a dry allergy season! Please call to inquire further about IgG Food Allergy testing at The Pacific Wellness Institute.
Meera Dossa,BSc, ND is a licensed naturopathic doctor at The Pacific Wellness Institute. To book an appointment for dietary assessment, intravenous vitamin therapy and naturopathic treatment with Dr. Dossa, please contact The Pacific Wellness Institute at 416-929-6958.