Spring has finally arrived! The weather is getting warmer and the flowers are blooming. It is a wonderful time of year, but for many, it also means the onset of allergies. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, it is estimated that 50 million people suffer from allergies in the U.S (1), with 30% of adults and 40% of children affected. Allergic reactions can be induced by the environment, drugs, chemicals, and food agents. Whatever the provoking factor, allergies are the most common chronic health condition in the country and have become a major burden in society today.
When an allergen is ingested, inhaled, or enters through the skin, the immune system reacts very specifically to that agent. An antibody called IgE is produced in high amount which provokes the release of inflammatory proteins, one of which being histamine. Allergic symptoms include itchy and watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, rashes, and asthma, to more severe symptoms like a drop in blood pressure, swelling of the throat and tongue, shortness of breath and loss of consciousness. The latter symptoms are known as "anaphylaxis" which is a severe and dangerous reaction of the immune system to the allergen.
How do naturopathic doctors treat seasonal allergies?
As naturopathic doctors, instead of prescribing antihistamines which only target the symptoms of allergy, we focus on evaluating a patient's overall allergenic load. By taking this root-cause approach, we can help patients decrease their overall allergenic load by removing foods that they may be allergic or intolerant to and taking nutritional or herbal agents to decrease inflammation.
I know what food allergies are, but what is food intolerance?
Food intolerance is a lesser reaction than a food allergy, but if accumulated in the body over time, can cause increased overall inflammation. Intolerance involves another type of antibody called IgG. Like their IgE counterpart, IgG antibodies create an inflammat