Seasonal allergies affect millions of people each year and the many of the medications available can produce side effects such as nausea, drowsiness, fatigue and vomiting. Luckily there are effective natural options that have limited if any side effects. In part one of our series on seasonal allergies we looked at ways that you can decrease you systemic inflammation and how to use nasal irrigation to lessen symptoms associated with seasonal allergies. In this post we are going to be looking at the role of the gut and supplementation that is available for people who suffer from seasonal allergies.
Before we begin, it is important to understand what allergies are and how they affect the body. Each day we come in contact with a variety of different substances and it is the bodies job to differentiate from particles that are “self” and “non-self.” When the body comes in contact with something that it considers non-self it releases chemical such as histamines. This process happens all day without your awareness, until there is an a hyper-response where the body produces an over abundance of these chemicals. The over production of these chemicals is responsible for the symptoms typically associated with season allergies. Allergy medications focus on treating these chemicals that are released.
Why do we produce too many of these chemicals in the first place? This is an important question as we look at preventing the release of these chemicals, which is much easier then trying to deal with them once they’ve been released. One theory looks at how the digestion plays a crucial role in this process. At first glance you might be wondering, “how does my gut make my nose run?” It is thought that people who suffer from seasonal allergies don’t digest their food adequately, which leads to undigested particles passing through the stomach and into the intestines. These over sized particles then make their way through the lining of the intestines and into areas where they shouldn’t be. This condition is termed, leaky gut syndrome. It is believed that leaky gut syndrome can set a person up to be hypersensitive to a wide variety of allergies, including airborne allergens. There is still controversy over the legitimacy of leaky gut syndrome and most conventional physicians do not recognize it.
What can be done to treat leaky gut? The most important thing you can do is to limit foods that you have sensitivities to and decrease you used of NSAIDs such as ibuprofen. Ibuprofen effect the lining of the gut therefore making it easier for particles to travel through the lining. Secondly you can supplement with HCL, which breaks down the food in your stomach.
If you suffer from chronic indigestion, you might have low level of HCL in your stomach. Also if you suffer from GERD or Reflux you might have a low HCL. This might seem counter intuitive, as you might have assumed that you have too much stomach acid which is moving up your esophagus and causing your symptoms. This might be the case, but it is not always the case. If you have a low level of HCL your food will not be digested properly and the undigested food remains in the stomach and gets pushed upward in the esophagus caused pain and burning. A simple test to determine if you are HCL deficient is to take a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with your meal. Vinegar is acidic and will aid in the digestion of food particles. If you find that your symptoms are diminished it is likely that your HCL is low.
How is low HCL treated. Luckily it is very inexpensive to add HCL to your diet, but it does take changing your habits. HCL has to be taken with each meal, prior to starting the meal. It is theorized that your body’s ability to produce HCL will begin to increase as you take the supplements, think of the supplements as a kick start to the chief cell of your stomach that produce HCL. Start taking two HCL tablets before your meal, if you feel a slight warming in your stomach, this is the proper dose for you. If you don’t feel a warming, continue to add a one tablet of HCL to each meal until you feel the warming.
Well, this post took more than I had expected, so it looks like there will be a part 3 of Allergies Without Medication where we will focus more on supplementation.