Prepare Yourself for Hay Fever Season –
But Think Beyond Antihistamines
When I say ‘prepare yourself’, I don’t just mean stock up on antihistamines. If antihistamines are your usual remedy for hay fever, then keep on reading.
Allergies involve a very complex process that goes beyond itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose and congestion. It may surprise you to know that the root cause may stem from a multitude of body systems.
Hay fever or allergic rhinitis is thought of as genetic in origin. Whilst this is true for many, it is not always as simple as that.
There can be several reasons underlying allergic rhinitis.
1. Other non-pollen allergies & toxins:
- If you suffer from other allergies / sensitivities such as food-based (gluten, lactose, fructose, nuts, etc) or exposure to environmental toxins (nicotine, exhaust fumes, mould, pesticides and other chemicals), you are more likely to develop hayfever during spring when the pollen count is high.
- This is due to your immune system being in a state of chronic hypervigilance, with histamines levels elevated in your body. You could view hay fever as a clue that there may be other underlying chronic allergic conditions. Therefore, it might be time to get a health professional to look at your diet and environment for any underlying triggers.
2. Leaky Gut or GIT inflammation and GIT barrier dysfunction:
- Leaky Gut has been linked to increased incidences of allergic rhinitis. If your gut lining is inflamed and barrier function is impaired, it allows for endotoxins to leach into systemic circulation setting off an inflammatory cascade.
- Furthermore, the DAO enzyme that helps excrete histamines from the body, is impaired when there is gut inflammation. This results in a histamine accumulation making your hay fever symptoms worse. Gut health is a crucial step in addressing your hay fever.
3. Metabolic Syndrome (insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, atherosclerosis, Liver steatosis):
- Research shows that people with Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) have increased susceptibility to allergic rhinitis. MetS causes liver congestion and impairs its function. The liver is the body’s detoxification powerhouse. When it is impaired, toxins begin to accumulate which in turn causes systemic inflammation and immune system dysregulation which can lead to increased symptoms of hay fever.
4. Nervous System Dysregulation – Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Insomnia
- People experiencing these neurological conditions become more susceptible to hay fever. Acute stress is an evolutionary adaptive mechanism designed to protect us. Chronic stress on the other hand, which is rampant in modern times, causes the Hypothalamus Pituitary Adrenal (HPA) axis dysregulation resulting in elevated cortisol, which in turn causes mast cell activation and an increase in histamine release. Whilst stress does not cause allergies, it can make symptoms worse.
Research studies have shown that these conditions increase allergy susceptibility and symptom reactions. If this resonates with you, investigate resolving your seasonal allergies in a holistic natural way that addresses the root cause and goes beyond symptom suppression.
By Rochelle Wickramaratchi (Clinical Naturopath & Ayurveda Therapist at NIIM).
Rochelle is interested in working with clients who struggle with allergies to help find the root cause of their symptoms. To learn more or book a consult with Rochelle, click here.