Allergies include seasonal allergies, hay fever, pet, dust and mold allergies. Allergies reflect an overactive immune system. Learn surprising things that cause them and how to relieve allergies naturally. In most cases, the things we encounter in our environment that prompt allergic reactions aren’t harmful, such as dog hair, pollen, dust and mold. But when someone has an allergy to one of these substances, his or her immune system treats the irritant as a foreign invader and produces antibodies to it. These antibodies induce immune cells to release inflammatory compounds including histamine, which in turn cause allergic symptoms. Allergic reactions are inappropriate, but otherwise normal responses of the immune system to substances that it identifies as posing a threat.
Every time a person encounters that particular substance or allergen, he or she will have an allergic reaction. About 15 to 20 percent of Americans have allergic reactions to airborne substances, which trigger the condition known as allergic rhinitis. The pollen-induced variety of allergic rhinitis is usually called “hay fever,” or “seasonal allergy” (because it tends to peak in the spring, when pollen counts are high).
The tendency to have allergies is often hereditary, although allergies to specific substances are not, as these are acquired by exposure to the irritant. Allergies and its symptoms usually develop by age 10 and peak in a person’s early twenties; allergies often become less severe or disappear in older adulthood.
Allergies do serve a purpose. Food allergies serve to keep us away from foods that would tend to unbalance our body chemistry. Environmental allergies similarly warn us about chemicals, or pollens that may be damaging to our health. Many individuals in air-polluted areas suffer from allergies, which represent nothing more than their bodies crying out for cleaner air.
Symptoms vary, but can include:
- Runny nose (clear nasal discharge)
- Itchy, bloodshot, or runny eyes
- Irritated nose or throat
- Nasal congestion
- Blocked ears
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Trouble breathing
Many different irritants can provoke allergies, including perfumes, powdered cosmetics, culinary spices and smoke. Common allergens include:
- Pet dander
- Food Sensitivities
- Environmental Chemical Sensitivities
Lesser known common causes of allergies are Copper Dysregulation and Adrenal Fatigue. When one suffers copper dysregulation, which is rampant in our society, they will suffer from allergies, food sensitivities and multiple chemical sensitivities. This will diminish as copper is properly regulation. Listen to this podcast on Copper Dysregulation to learn more about how to address this issue.
When one has Adrenal Fatigue they release more histamine than normal. As adrenal fatigue is healed, allergies can reduce significantly if not disappear.
Allergies are readily diagnosed by their symptoms. Physicians or allergists can determine the specific irritant with several different tests. These include:
- Skin testing. A small amount of the suspected allergen is placed on the skin; the skin is then scratched and observed for signs of an allergic reaction, such as redness and swelling. This is the most common type of allergy test.
- RAST (radioallergosorbent). This blood test measures the levels of specific allergy-related substances circulating in the bloodstream.
- Antibodies Test. Blood tests for levels of antibodies.
- Elimination Diet. This testing, in which a person avoids suspected allergens to see if symptoms improve. This form of testing is typically used to check for allergies to food or medication.
People with allergies may be able to prevent reactions by avoiding known allergens. In addition, conventional medicine often treats allergies with the following medications:
- Antihistamines. These drugs prevent histamine from binding on the receptors of immune cells and can help prevent and treat allergic symptoms, including sneezing and runny nose. Side effects can include drowsiness, dry mouth, headaches, confusion, dizziness, respiratory difficulties and much more. Prescription antihistamines are less likely to cause these side effects. Long-term use can result in liver and kidney damage.
- Cromolyn sodium. This over-the-counter nasal spray helps stabilize the cells that release histamine, and can help avoid the cascade of allergy symptoms. For best results, start using it two to four weeks before allergy season.
- Decongestants. Pills and nasal sprays typically work by blocking the effects of histamine on nasal passages, and often can help ease nasal congestion, but their effects are only temporary. Overuse of decongestants can actually worsen congestion over time. People with high blood pressure should not use these drugs.
- Eye Drops. Over-the-counter and prescription eye drops can help relieve itchy eyes caused by allergens.
- Steroid Sprays. Steroids tone down the immune response. Prescription nasal steroid sprays combat swelling in the nose, which helps ease congestion. They often can take about 2 weeks to start working effectively. All steroid nasal sprays can suppress adrenal function and the functioning of the immune system, increasing the likelihood of developing other infections. Read more about side effects in the article, Side Effects of Steroid Nasal Spray.
- Allergy Shots. Also known as immunotherapy, patients receive regularly scheduled injections of small amounts of allergens. The goal is to release histamine triggered by the allergen gradually, and thus desensitize the patient so that he or she no longer reacts to the irritant. Although allergy shots are said to work in about two-thirds of cases, they can require years of treatment to become effective. Allergy shots may also elicit more severe reactions such as hives, rash, and sometimes anaphylactic shock. This is the reason you are required to remain at the doctor’s office for 30 minutes following an allergy shot. For a full list of side effects, read Allergy Shots Side Effects.
Wendy’s Natural Recommendations
Allergies are a learned response of the immune system, but anything learned can be unlearned. The goal should be to convince the immune system that it can encounter these substances and not view them as threats. A good first step is simply to limit exposures to common allergens as much as possible. Avoiding the allergic food or substance is one possible answer. However, avoidance is often not practical or even possible. Avoidance does not help identify the primary cause of the allergy problem. Allergic symptoms occur when a critical stress threshold has been exceeded. Dust, molds, pollens, toxic chemicals and other irritants contribute to the toxic load the body must cope with. Reducing the toxic load requires a review of your home and work environment and taking active steps to detox your body.
- Dust. Dust-proof homes by eliminating wall-to-wall carpets, down-filled blankets, feather pillows and other dust catchers. Carpet is the worst flooring you can have in your house if you have allergies. Not only do they contain dust and are impossible to clean, they are full of chemicals (namely, VOCs) that you breathe in every day, contributing to environmental chemical sensitivities. Substitute window shades for dust-friendly Venetian blinds. Wash curtains regularly in hot water to kill dust mites. Encase mattresses in an airtight, dust-proof plastic cover. Dust furniture with a damp cloth. Mop floors regularly to pick up dust.
- Mold Testing. Have your home tested and treated for molds to rule out this potential underlying cause of your allergies.
- Air Filter. Indoor air pollution from dust, molds, dirty air ducts, and chemical exposure from furniture, carpets, office equipment and cleaning products is far worse than most outdoor pollution. The best air filters have a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter, which removes particles in the air by forcing it through screens containing microscopic pores.
- Reduce Stress. Consider whether stress impacts your allergies and, if so, take steps to reduce it. The immune system bridges the mind-body connection, and addressing daily stress and a negative mindset towards irritants can completely resolve long-standing allergies.
- Hypnosis. Try hypnosis, which can lessen or completely prevent allergic reactions and facilitate the immune system’s unlearning of its pointless habits (in this case, an inappropriate response to pollen, dust, mold or animal hair or other substances that cannot really hurt us).
- Nasal Irrigation. I love using nasal irrigation with a nettie pot or Neil Med nasal irrigator bottle with a warm saline solution to rinse pollen grains off nasal tissues and soothe irritated mucus membranes. Do this before bed to rinse away the day’s pollen, irritants, and mucus.
- Be wary of antibiotics. Antibiotics are grown in different mediums that can trigger allergic reactions. For instance, peanut meal is a common medium. However, this ingredient will not be on the product label because it’s simply an ingredient used in production – not required to be on the label. Antibiotics should only be used in an emergency when a life-threatening bacterial infection is proven to be present.
- Adrenal Fatigue. Adrenal insufficiency is a major cause of allergies to pollen, dusts, molds, animal hair, foods and environmental chemicals. The adrenal glands produce epinephrine, norepinephrine, cortisol and cortisone. These hormones help control allergic reactions. Insufficient production of these hormones results in the body’s inability to respond adequately to allergens. In our fast-paced society, guzzling coffee, stimulants and sugar, it is very easy for the adrenals to become fatigued. Additionally, people with adrenal fatigue typically have low levels of digestive enzymes, particularly hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Partially digested food may ferment or putrefy, producing toxic chemicals that cause reactions. See my article Epidemic Adrenal Fatigue for more information and treatment.
- Syntol AMD. Allergies can be caused by a Candida Albicans (yeast) infection. When hungry, yeast send out powerful chemicals that cause powerful cravings for sugars, be it alcohol, sugar, or carbs, but when ingested cause an explosive growth in this yeast. Syntol AMD is an incredibly effective remedy for systemic yeast infections, but it must be taken for at least 3 months while doing an anti-Candida sugar-free diet. For more information, read The Body Ecology Diet or see the website BodyEcology.com. Your doctor can test you for Candida Albicans, but you can usually tell just by comparing your symptoms to a list of candida infection symptoms. Copper toxicity must be present to have a fungal infection like candida. When one detoxes their copper, they don’t get candida infections any longer.
- Stinging Nettle. Control symptoms with the herb stinging nettle. Take 1 to 2 capsules every 2 to 4 hours as needed.
- Quercetin. Take 500 milligrams of quercetin every day for at least 6 to 8 weeks. This bioflavonoid may stabilize the cells that produce histamine.
- Bee pollen. A look at bee pollen’s nutritional composition shows that it is comprised of approximately 35% protein, including all 22 known amino acids found in the body. It is also rich in vitamins, (particularly B vitamins), all 28 minerals found in the body (especially zinc), and is loaded with health-promoting enzymes. One nutrient of particular importance is quercetin. Known for its ability to minimize or neutralize the histamine response, quercetin may be a primary reason for bee pollen’s capacity to alleviate inflammation caused by hay fever or other common allergy-causing substances. I eat a spoonful straight every morning. You can also mix it in your cereal or smoothie.
- Water. One of the causes of allergies is simple dehydration. One of the responses to dehydration is a release of histamines, the cause of allergic reactions. Histamines cause an increase in brain blood circulation, getting substances to areas of the brain that should be done by the job of sufficient water supplies. In the absence of adequate water, histamines must do this vital job. If you remain hydrated by drinking 3 liters of water per day, your allergies may clear up or greatly improve due to a reduction in histamines. Read my article Dehydration Causes Pain and Disease. For more information, read the book by Dr. Batmanghelidj, Water for Health, for Healing, for Life: You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty!
- Avoid the Chemical Diet. Diet has profound impacts on allergies, as the vigilance and health of the immune response is influenced heavily by the consumption of a junk food or whole food diet. Reducing one’s intake of chemical laden foods can alone often make a huge difference in allergy cases. This means avoiding all fast food, processed foods, artificial colors, unpronounceable ingredients and becoming a food detective by researching every label item. You will be blown away, like I was, when you learn what you have been eating for decades.
- Avoid MSG. Monosodium Glutamate increases allergic reactions. MSG is a neuro-stimulant that increases hypersensitivity, over-stimulating the immune system. Food manufacturers know consumers don’t want to eat MSG, so they hide it under fifty different ingredient names, the most common of which is ‘yeast extract.’ Look for it in a lot of foods at Whole Foods. For more information and a list of ingredients that contain MSG, see my article Hidden MSG.
- Genetically Modified (GMO) Foods. Since GMO foods have come onto the market in the mid 1990’s, allergy rates have skyrocketed. Simply removing these from the diet can go a long way to reducing allergies. Learn more about GMO’s and their harmful health effects in the movie GeneticRouletteMovie.com. Here is a list of GMO foods currently on the market that you should only eat organically.
- Alfalfa (Fed to nonorganic cows)
- Canola (90% GMO)
- Corn (88% GMO)
- Papaya (All Hawaiian are GMO)
- Soy (94% GMO)
- Sugar Beets (95% GMO)
- Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash
- Allergy Testing. It is recommended to test for food allergies to avoid trigger foods. When you eat too much of a food (like gluten in wheat breakfast, lunch, and dinner), your body can become allergic to it. Just because you’re allergic to a food one year does not mean you’ll be allergic to it the next, except in the case of fixed allergies like shellfish, etc. Testing is needed every year.
- Food Elimination Diet. A food elimination diet will pinpoint food sensitivities, which can exacerbate allergies. Allergy testing is not able to pinpoint all foods with which you have problems. Food sensitivities arise in the gut and are not detectable on skin and blood allergy tests. The most common offenders are dairy and gluten. Read more about food sensitivities and how to do an elimination diet in my article, Food Sensitivities Make you Sick and Fat.
- Heal Your Leaky Gut. If your intestines are in a poor state of health, they could be ‘leaky’, allowing large undigested food particles to ‘leak’ out of your gut wall and trigger allergic reactions to foods that otherwise would not be troublesome. An unhealthy gut wall allows molecules that should not cross into the bloodstream to leak through. A compromised gut may identify food particles as an unwelcome invader and initiate an immune response, thus causing an allergic reaction that would not have occurred when the intestines were healthy. A leaky gut can also leak bacteria that contributes to immune system overload, indirectly contributing to allergies. Heal your leaky gut by reading Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Natasha Campbell-McBride or The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates. Also, read my article Probiotics–The Foundation of Health to learn about the importance of probiotics to your health and recommended brands. Get the clinical strength probiotics in the Myers Detox Store.
- Protein. Excessive protein can irritate the immune system and keep it in a state of over-reactivity. Casein, the protein in cow’s milk is a frequent offender. You must play with the amount of protein you eat to figure out the amount that is right for your body. It can take some time to learn to listen to your body and what it needs.
Myers Detox Protocol. This approach to allergies dictates that when body chemistry is out of balance many individuals become hypersensitive. This is why they react to substances in an excessive manner. You need minerals to balance and strengthen your immune system and stop it from overreacting like it does with allergies. Calcium and magnesium tend to stabilize cell membranes, while high tissue levels of sodium and potassium tend to increase cell permeability. Excessive permeability causes foreign proteins and other allergens to be absorbed more easily into the cells, leading to more extreme allergic phenomena.
A great way to balance these minerals is with a targeted mineral supplementation plan through Myers Detox with Hair Mineral Analysis. This program also heals adrenal fatigue, which can trigger allergies. Another underlying cause of allergies is chemical and heavy metal toxicity, which this program addresses. I offer extensive information on this site on how to detox from heavy metals and chemicals.
Have I left any natural treatments for allergies out of this article? Do you have a story about how you treated your allergies naturally? Tell me by leaving a comment below. I want to hear your story!
This material is for educational purposes only. The preceding statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Click Here for References+
1. Analytical Research Labs. Allergies. 2000.
2. Bradot, JB. Frightening Link Connecting MSG and Alzheimer’s. January 31, 2013.
3. Batmanghelidj, Fereydoon, MD. Water for Health, for Healing, for Life: You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty!
Warner Books, 2005.
4. Campbell-McBride, Natasha, MD. Gut and Psychology Syndrome. 2nd Edition. Medinform Publishing, 2010.
5. Gates, Donna. The Body Ecology Diet. Hay House, 2010.
6. Mangan, Tracy. Side Effects of Steroid Nasal Sprays. May 7, 2011.
7. Mihalovic, Dave, ND. Vaccines Cause Allergies. June 9, 2012.
8. Miller, Sarka-Jonae. Gluten Intolerance May Cause Additional Food Allergies. Dec 29, 2012.
9. Murray, Michael, ND. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. Atria Books, 2005.
10. Non-GMO Project. What is GMO? http://www.nongmoproject.org/learn-more/what-is-gmo/
11. Rudolph, William. Bee Pollen: Nature Provides an Answer for Allergies. April 14, 2010. http://www.naturalnews.com/028571_bee_pollen_allergies.html
12. Smith, Jeffrey. Film. Produced by the Institute for Responsible Technology. http://geneticroulettemovie.com/
13. Weil, Andrew, MD. Allergic Rhinitis. http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03109/Allergic-Rhinitis.html