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Posts Tagged ‘allergies’

histamines and natural relief copy

If you dread allergy season, then you know what it’s like to suffer from itchy skin, red eyes, a runny nose, sneezing, sinus pressure, and headaches.

Likewise, you may react to certain foods with hives, headaches, nasal congestion, skin problems, a racing heart, or irritability.

What is the common denominator in both scenarios? Histamines.

While many people just give up and suffer, some natural compounds can bring relief. To understand why these natural remedies work, it’s helpful to understand a bit about histamines.

What are histamines?

Histamine is a protein that causes inflammation, redness, and irritation. It is produced in response to environmental or dietary proteins, also known as antigens.

When the antigen comes into contact with the body, the immune system registers it as an intruder and produces antibodies to it. These antibodies cause a release of histamine into your bloodstream, where they can build up with repeated exposure and increase sensitivity.

Histamines are found in many common foods, especially those aged or fermented, such as aged cheese, red wine, and sauerkraut, and also in foods such as eggs, some fruits and vegetables, and some seasonings.

The bright side is that there are a number of natural ways to ease your suffering, whether it’s from seasonal allergies or high-histamine foods.

First — Lower overall inflammation in the body

Before looking at natural antihistamines, it’s important to first address a functional medicine foundation: adopting a diet and lifestyle to lower overall inflammation.

This includes removing foods to which are intolerant (gluten and dairy are most common), stabilizing blood sugar, repairing intestinal permeability, managing low thyroid function and hormone imbalances, and addressing chronic stressors, such as sleep deprivation, over training, toxic exposures, junk food, excess alcohol, and many more.

Quercetin — nature’s Benadryl with Hashimoto’s

Quercetin is a bioflavonoid with anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties.

It also gives both short-term relief and long-term gut repair so you’re you less susceptible to allergies.

Nettles

Nettle leaf is a natural antihistamine that naturally blocks histamine production. It can be made in to a tincture or tea, but for allergy relief, capsules made from dried nettle leaves are the most effective option.

Butterbur

The European herb butterbur has been shown to rival leading OTC drugs in reducing histamine reactions. It’s an anti-inflammatory properties also reduces spasms in smooth muscle and relaxes swollen nasal membranes.

Mangosteen

Mangosteen is a fruit extract that has been shown to reduce inflammation and inhibit histamine release.

Ginger

This Asian medicinal plant has been shown to inhibit histamine production.

Ask me about natural antihistamine relief 

These are just a few of the many compounds effective in reducing histamine reactions. You can benefit from the synergistic effect of these compounds working together in product formulations that combine them.

If you have seasonal allergies or react to foods, contact my office. I can help you determine the source of your symptoms and get you on the path to feeling better.

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benefits pets copy

Most pet lovers find their furry, feathered, hoofed, and scaly companions count among their best friends. But pets aren’t only good company — research shows they greatly benefit your mental and physical health. 

Pets help the developing immune system

A study in Finland showed that babies who grew up in a home with cats and dogs were 44 percent less likely to develop ear infections and 29 percent less likely to receive antibiotics in their first year compared to babies from pet-free homes. The theory is that exposure to bacteria brought in from outside by pets helps the developing immune system learn how to react properly to germs in the environment. And the more time the pet spent outdoors, the greater the benefit.

Other studies show that children who live with dogs and cats in the first year of life are less likely to develop allergies to those animals later in life.

Pets help you live longer and lower disease risk

Babies aren’t the only ones benefiting from pets:

  • People with pets have lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels than non pet-owners, regardless of weight, diet, and smoking habits.
  • In subjects who have experienced a heart attack, dog ownership decreases the odds for death the first year post-heart-attack from 1 in 15 to 1 in 87!
  • In people undergoing stress tests or physical examinations, the presence of a dog during the exam lowered heart rate and blood pressure.
  • “Seizure-alert” animals are trained to signal their owners prior to a seizure as well as protect them during the event.
  • Some pets are trained to alert their diabetic humans to episodes of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) before life-threatening symptoms develop.
  • Prescription drug use and overall costs of caring for patients in nursing homes dropped in facilities where companion animals became part of daily therapy.
  • The need to exercise a pet and care for it often results in better physical and mental health for the human, regardless of age.
  • Researchers at the University of Arizona are exploring whether dogs can improve human health by having a probiotic effect on the body.

Pets provide mental, emotional, and social benefits 

A study at Tufts University found young adult pet owners are more connected to their communities and relationships, are more engaged in community service, help family and friends, demonstrate more leadership, and have more empathy and confidence than non pet owners.

Caring for a pet can prevent downward spirals by providing consistency and routine, helping us feel needed, and giving us something to do each day.

This is especially true for those who live alone, as well as the elderly, who say their pets provide social companionship and a reason to get out of the house for exercise and socialization.

Even families surveyed before and after they acquired a pet reported feeling happier after adopting a pet.

In conclusion, pet owners exhibit greater self-esteem, are more physically fit, more conscientious, less lonely, more socially outgoing, and have healthier relationship styles than non-pet people. The researchers concluded that our pets contribute to our sense of self just as much as our human companions do.

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2 48 got allergies fix gut

When the sneezing, sniffling, and runny eyes of springtime kick in, most people grab for the allergy pills, antihistamines, and eye drops. But did you know you can greatly relieve if not banish your allergy symptoms by fixing your gut?

It may sound crazy that your gut health would affect your sinuses, but in fact the two systems are very intertwined. Both the respiratory tract and the digestive tract are immune barriers, meaning it’s their job to protect the body from outside invaders.

The gut in particular profoundly influences the entire immune system. When gut health suffers so does the rest of your body, and the result for many people are allergy symptoms that flare up each spring.

A common culprit in allergy symptoms is leaky gut, also known as intestinal permeability. Leaky gut is a condition in which the lining of the digestive tract becomes inflamed and porous, allowing undigested foods, bacteria, yeasts, and other toxins into the sterile bloodstream. The immune system launches an attack on these toxins, which creates inflammation throughout the body. For many people, this happens every time they eat.

This inflammation manifests in different ways for different people. It can cause joint pain, skin problems, digestive complaints, autoimmune disease, issues with brain function, fatigue, chronic pain, and…seasonal allergies.

What causes leaky gut and seasonal allergies?

Leaky gut is very common today and can cause bloating, heartburn, gas, constipation, diarrhea, or pain. However, many people with leaky gut have no digestive symptoms at all.

One of the most common causes of leaky gut is eating gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt, and other wheat-like grains. Wheat today is not like the wheat from past generations. It has been genetically altered, processed, and stored in ways that make it very damaging to people’s guts.

Sometimes simply removing gluten from the diet can profoundly relieve allergy symptoms by allowing the gut to recover and repair. Because leaky gut leads to food intolerances and food allergies, you may need to eliminate other foods, such as dairy, eggs, or other grains. You may find significant allergy relief by following an anti-inflammatory diet, or you can ask my office about a lab test to screen for food sensitivities.

Another factor that contributes to leaky gut and allergy symptoms is an imbalance of gut bacteria. The digestive tract holds several pounds of bacteria that play a large role in immune function. When the bad bacteria overwhelm the good, inflammation and allergies result. Leaky gut repair includes nurturing your beneficial bacteria with probiotics and fermented foods to improve allergy symptoms.

Chronic stress also weakens and inflames the digestive tract, causing leaky gut and seasonal allergies. Stress doesn’t just have to come from a stressful lifestyle or lack of sleep, although those certainly play a role. Eating a diet high in sugar and processed foods is stressful to the body, as is an unmanaged autoimmune disease, or hormones that are out of whack and causing miserable PMS or menopausal symptoms. These are just a few metabolic factors that contribute to leaky gut and seasonal allergies.

Find seasonal allergy relief by fixing your leaky gut

You don’t have to needlessly suffer every spring and depend on allergy medicines to function. In fact, you should see your allergies as a red flag that your body needs attention. Leaky gut can lead to much more serious conditions than allergies, such as autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, Type 1 diabetes, etc.), depression and anxiety, neurological diseases, and more. By repairing your leaky gut and improving your allergy symptoms, you can prevent or even resolve more serious problems.

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A calm, healthy pregnancy and postpartum period could reduce the risk of allergies in your baby, according to a new Swedish study.

Researchers found infants with lower levels of cortisol, an adrenal hormone released in response to stress, developed fewer allergies than other infants.

Stress hormone cortisol triggers allergies

The researchers believe environmental and lifestyle factors during pregnancy and early infancy raise adrenal cortisol levels, which increases the risk of allergies.

Studies show high cortisol in a pregnant mother raises levels of the hormone in the fetus.

In functional medicine, we see many women enter into pregnancy with high cortisol. Common symptoms include excess belly fat, insomnia, insulin resistance (high blood sugar), hair loss, and an irregular menstrual cycle.

Stress isn’t just about too much to do on too little sleep (although that is certainly a factor).

Factors that cause high adrenal cortisol

Common factors that elevate cortisol are:

  • Sugary, starchy diets that consistently spike blood sugar (which causes excess belly fat).
  • Excess caffeine.
  • Undiagnosed food intolerances. Gluten intolerance and celiac disease are particularly common.
  • Poor gut health. Gas, bloating, indigestion, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, and other digestive symptoms are signs of a poorly functioning gut.
  • Improperly managed autoimmune disease. Do you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism or another autoimmune disease?

Rate of childhood allergies rising

The rate of allergies has risen sharply in the United States. About 54 percent of Americans are allergic to at least one thing, an up to five-fold increase the late 1970s. The number of children with food allergies has risen 18 percent since the late 90s; witness the prevalence of peanut-free classrooms.

Manage health before pregnancy

The best thing a mother can do to reduce the risk of allergies in her child is to address her own health and nutrition before conception.

An adrenal saliva test is a good way to measure whether cortisol levels are normal. A mother’s health before conception and during pregnancy greatly influences the health of her baby.

Stress is a fact of life for us all. How have you managed to lower stress levels during pregnancy?

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Question

Why did pregnancy trigger my hypothyroidism?

Answer

Natural immune shifts during pregnancy, together with a genetic tendency and other predisposing factors, can trigger hypothyroidism in some women.

Hypothyroidism is an immune disease for most

For 90 percent of Americans, hypothyroidism is caused by Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland.

The immune system has two major arms of function, one that reacts immediately to an invader, and one that reacts later to produce antibodies. When one of these arms of becomes overly dominant it can trigger an autoimmune disease.

Going into pregnancy predisposed

Pregnancy and the postpartum periods naturally polarize the immune system. In the third trimester the delayed immune response is dominant. Postpartum the immediate immune reaction is stronger.

If a genetically predisposed woman goes into pregnancy with an existing immune imbalance, these natural immune shifts could be the tipping point for Hashimoto’s.

When pregnancy is one stressor too many

Pregnancy can also cause hypothyroid symptoms secondary to chronic stress. Stressors such as gut infections, food intolerances, blood sugar imbalances, and hormonal imbalances can depress the pituitary gland, which controls hormone function in the body. As a result the pituitary fails to signal thyroid activity.

For many women this manifests not only as low thyroid function, but also postpartum depression. Because so many women enter pregnancy dealing with multiple chronic stressors, the increased demands of pregnancy overwhelm the pituitary gland and depress thyroid function.

Balancing health pre-conception lowers risk for mother and baby

A woman should address health and immune imbalances before conceiving to reduce her risk of developing hypothyroidism.

Doing so also may lower the risk of her infant developing eczema, asthma, food allergies, and even autism, which has been found to be caused by an autoimmune disease in many. When the mother’s immune system is healthy and balanced, there’s a stronger possibility her baby’s will be too.

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Question

I learned I have intolerances and allergies to certain foods, and that I need to avoid those foods if I want to lose weight. Isn’t it just a matter of eating fewer calories?

Answer

Some people find they can’t lose weight through calorie restriction alone. When that happens several issues need to be investigated. One of the most important is food intolerances. Eating foods to which you are allergic or intolerant will prevent weight loss.

Food intolerances cause inflammation

Food intolerances and allergies create inflammation, and inflammation prevents weight loss. Every time you eat gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, or some other food that may be a problem for you, you create inflammation in your body.

Leaky gut is a primary culprit

For many people today, a variety of foods trigger inflammation. This is due largely to intestinal permeability, or “leaky gut,” which allows undigested food particles to slip into the bloodstream through damaged and inflamed intestinal walls. Leaky gut is very common today due to poor diets, excessive sweets, chronic stress, and other maladies of modern life. Gluten intolerance and celiac disease are also common and cause leaky gut.

As these food particles circulate throughout the body the immune system responds by attacking and destroying them for removal, just as it would respond to a viral or bacterial infection. Unfortunately, if the food is eaten regularly, this keeps the immune system constantly at work, hence creating chronic inflammation. Symptoms can be obvious in the way of joint pain, skin issues, abdominal pain, or even brain fog, memory loss, or moodiness. Sometimes the inflammation is not obvious, yet a person finds she or he can’t lose weight.

Inflammation halts weight loss

Studies show the immune compounds that cause inflammation also make insulin receptors less sensitive, creating insulin resistance. As a result glucose can’t get into cells and blood sugar becomes too high. The body lowers blood sugar by converting it to fat for storage. Insulin resistance also hinders fat burning.

Inflammation also has been shown to cause leptin resistance, which stimulates hunger and promotes fat storage. Furthermore, excess body fat secretes immune messenger cells that trigger inflammation, promoting a vicious cycle that prevents weight loss.

Although moderating caloric intake and exercising are recommended for weight loss, effective and lasting weight loss depends in part on tackling chronic inflammation and food sensitivities.

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