Always On Guard
As we go about our daily lives, we are exposed to an abundance of foreign substances, and it is our immune system’s job to detect which of these are harmful and mount an appropriate immune response. When you experience hay fever symptoms however, your immune system has mounted an inappropriate response to a harmless substance (e.g. pollen) and has become hyper-reactive. This causes specialised immune cells, known as mast cells, to migrate to your nose and throat, where they release histamine. This chemical triggers an explosion of inflammation, which forces foreign particles out of your body. It is the swelling and irritation that inflammation causes which leads to the miserable symptoms of hay fever.
Antihistamines – Paper Over the Cracks
By blocking the effects of histamine, antihistamines reduce or suppress hay fever symptoms; however, they do not address the underlying hyper-reactive immune response that causes histamine release in the first place. This is why you only experience temporary relief of your symptoms, which return once you stop taking the medication. Alternatively, an approach that builds immune tolerance, which is the ability of the immune system to resist reacting to harmless substances, can treat the underlying cause of hay fever.
Fix the Wall
There are two key ways to help improve immune tolerance. The first is to boost your body’s production of specific immune cells known as T regulatory (Treg) cells. Put simply, the more Treg cells you have, the more balanced your immune system is, and the less likely you are to react to harmless substances.
The second way is to support the health of your gut and its microbiota (the 38 trillion microorganisms that live in your intestines), as there is a strong connection between the microbiome and immune reactivity. If there is an imbalance of good and bad microorganisms in your gut, your immune system can become hyper-reactive and as a result less tolerant to harmless substances. A healthy microbiome also requires a healthy gut lining (and vice versa!). If the lining of the gut is inflamed or damaged, perhaps due to a poor diet or digestive illness, this can also disrupt your microbiome, increasing immune reactivity and allergic symptoms.
Case Study: Rebuilding Tolerance to Manage Allergy
The Allergy and Reactivity Reduction Program, which can be provided by your Natural Healthcare Practitioner, addresses both immune reactivity and gut health. This program uses herbs and nutrients, specific dietary changes, and lifestyle recommendations to rebalance your microbiome, promote the health of the gut lining, and build immune tolerance – lowering your likelihood of experiencing hay fever.
Let’s look at a specific case as an example.
Kate, a 25-year-old female who suffered from hay fever, experienced significant benefit from following the Allergy and Reactivity Reduction Program. She suffered from sneezing, watery eyes and an itchy throat when she was exposed to pollens. She also experienced daily headaches triggered by perfume and strong smells.
As part of the program, Kate was given the following:
- An immune-building/gut repair formula including medicinal mushrooms Ganoderma lucidum (reishi) and Lentinula edodes (shiitake), and herbs Scutellaria baicalensis (baical skullcap) and Perilla frutescens (perilla).
- An allergy symptom relief formula including nutrients quercetin and bromelain, and a herbal complex, which work together to reduce histamine release.
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus (LGG®) and Lactobacillus paracasei (LP-33®), two probiotic strains that help regulate a hyper-reactive immune response and improve the health of the microbiome.
- High strength, purified fish oil to reduce inflammation and support healthy immune function.
- A custom elimination diet to identify any food triggers.
After 10 weeks following the program, Kate had experienced a significant reduction in her sneezing, watery eyes and headaches, with the added bonus of feeling less anxious (see Figure 1 below).
A Holistic Approach for Long-Term Gain
The symptoms of hay fever can not only be frustrating but also debilitating. Whilst antihistamines may provide a quick fix, increasing your immune tolerance is the key to resolving your symptoms in the long term. By improving gut and immune function, the Allergy and Reactivity Reduction Program can help address the cause of hay fever symptoms, allowing you to get the most out of life. For a tailored solution and more information about the Allergy and Reactivity Reduction Program, speak to your Healthcare Practitioner today.