By Autumn Frandsen, N.D.
Originally published on the Ohio Naturopathic Doctors Association website
Allergies can develop at many points in a person’s life, often going unnoticed or unrecognized until they are a major hindrance. They can present as a sinus infection, headaches, itchy eyes, and even colitis. I have found that emotional turmoil, stress, exposure to chemicals, poor diet, defects in detoxification pathways, and frequent antibiotic use can all cause allergic reactions. The threshold for toxicity is different in everyone. Once it is reached, the nervous system and immune systems become hyperactive. At that point, it is no longer enough to use antihistamines and anti-anxiolytics. Treatment must be focused on unburdening the body through increasing antioxidants, repairing damage caused by inflammation (particularly in the gut), and desensitizing both the nervous system and the immune system.
There is a delicate balance between the nervous system and the immune system. Adrenal function affects both of them greatly and in those with pronounced stress, whether physical or emotional, adrenal output is usually diminished. At any given time there can be surges of cortisol, causing the nervous system to by up regulated, which in turn causes hyperactivity of the immune system as it searches for stressors and invaders. This increase in immune system reactivity causes increased inflammation, leading to destruction of the GAP junctions in the gut lining. This causes “leaky gut” and suddenly (or insidiously) food allergies never before present or bothersome increase in number and symptom presentation.
Dealing with allergies can be a slow process if the focus for treatment is put solely on controlling symptoms. It is important to identify where weaknesses are in the body and strengthen those organs or pathways. Calming the nervous system with herbs or certain amino acids is often more effective then leaving any anxiety untreated or to treat it with meds that may add to the toxic load already present in the body. Allergies are rarely if never present without a toxic burden, be it from exposure in the womb combined with poor detoxification pathways, or mild exposure compounded throughout one’s life. Chronic anything should never be ignored, even if it is viewed as mild, i.e., seasonal allergies.