An allergy is an adverse reaction to a substance that is harmless to most of the population. Symptoms from allergies are many and varied. A reaction can be so severe that it is life threatening or it can result in a minor rash, sinus problem or other minor symptom. Some of the Scottsdale holistic health and wellness doctors believe that allergies can also be the cause of chronic health problems like colitis, eczema, migraine headaches or other, often mysterious health problems.
Most medical treatment of allergies is directed toward the symptoms. This is a good approach if the symptoms are life-threatening. If the symptoms are chronic, it is better to find the underlying cause of the allergy. Even patients with severe reactions who take medication will do better if the underlying cause of their allergic symptoms is addressed.
Many of the symptomatic treatments actually undermine health and can make the underlying cause of the allergy worse. Nasal sprays, for example, irritate the mucus membranes. The membranes swell and produce more mucus as a response to the irritation of the spray. They actually create the problem that they are designed to solve.
Steroid medications, while giving symptomatic relief, deplete the adrenal glands. Ironically, good adrenal function is necessary to overcome allergies.
The commonly used antihistamines like cetirizine (eg. Zyrtec), desloratadine (eg. Clarinex), and loratadine (eg. Claratin) do not have the extreme side effects of steroids. Fatigue and dry mouth are common side effects of these drugs. Loratadine may also produce headaches. Deslortadine and loratadine (in very high doses) have produced tumors in mice. While offering relief, these drugs do not, however, address the underlying cause of the allergy.
It is good to relieve symptoms—it is better to fix the underlying cause
The adrenal glands produce hormones that enable the body to keep
inflammation in check (many of the symptoms of allergies are from inflammation). The steroid drugs used to quell a severe allergic response are similar to the hormones produced by your adrenal gland.
The adrenal glands are directly affected by stress. They are responsible for the “fight or flight” response. Hans Selye, MD, conducted some experiments creating stress in rats. The rats were made to tread water with their legs tied until they became exhausted and died. He found that the adrenal glands responded to stress in three distinct stages. In the initial stage (the alarm reaction), the adrenal glands enlarge and the blood supply to them increases. As the stress continues (the resistance phase), the glands are large and functioning well. Eventually, if the stress continues, the glands reach the third stage, which is adrenal exhaustion.
The physiological changes brought on by the adrenal glands during stress is called the fight or flight response. Many people in modern society do not have the luxury of a recovery period for their overworked adrenal glands. Stress is constant. The changes caused by the overproduction of adrenal hormones stay with them. The stimulation of the adrenal glands causes a decrease in the immune system function, so an individual under constant stress will tend to catch colds and have other immune system problems, including allergies.
People with weak adrenal glands frequently crave coffee and sugar, as well as salt. Sugar and caffeine stimulate the adrenal glands. It’s as if your adrenal glands are two horses towing a wagon load of bricks up a mountain. Sugar or caffeine is the whip you use to get the horses to keep trying. What they need to get to the top of the mountain is nourishment and a rest period.
To effectively treat the adrenal glands, you must eliminate as much stress from your life as possible. Situations are not always controllable, but stress is. Stress is cumulative. Emotional, structural and chemical stresses all affect the body the same way. Your adrenal glands do not know the difference between an IRS audit, treading water, extremes in temperature or excessive sugar consumption. Excess sugar consumption will add to the stress of the IRS audit.
Eating sugar and skipping meals are two things that are especially stressful to the adrenal glands, which work to maintain your blood sugar level. Eating sugar causes a temporary increase in blood sugar, which soon drops. Skipping meals also causes the blood sugar to drop. The adrenal glands then have to work to increase the blood sugar. Hypoadrenia and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) usually exist together.
The digestive system:
Some believe that there is a connection between poor digestion and allergies. If there is not enough hydrochloric acid produced in the stomach, or if there is inappropriate microbes (like yeast) growing in the GI tract, the immune system may be overworked. Incomplete digestion creates large molecules that sometimes trigger immune system response, creating allergies. It is just an idea that is held by many natural health care physicians, and it needs more research. However, many allergy sufferers improve when the digestive system is treated.
The nervous system:
Nerves control the entire body. This control extends to the adrenal glands, digestion and other areas that may influence allergies. The chiropractor is in reality, a doctor of the nervous system. Balancing the nervous system with chiropractic can solve many health problems, including allergies, by treating the source of the problem.
Can A Good Food Be Bad For You?
Sometimes eating whole foods and following a good diet is not enough to achieve good health. It may be necessary to take your wellness program a bit farther by finding foods to which you are sensitive and eliminating them from your diet.
You can be sensitive to a food that you crave. Sugar cravings, the desire for junk food and the inability to lose weight can be the result of hidden food sensitivities. This is very different from the familiar kind of food allergies. People commonly think of an allergic reaction as being immediate and severe, like breaking out in hives from eating strawberries.
Hidden allergies and sensitivities don’t usually have a sudden and obvious reaction. The reaction to the offending food can take as long as 72 hours. People with this type of allergy often have a chronic health problem that they can’t link to any particular food. Sinus problems, digestive problems, eczema, headaches and obesity are examples of the health problems that can be caused by hidden allergies.
The Addictive “Allergy”
This concept is based on the ideas of Theron Randolph, MD. Dr. Randolph looked at food sensitivities in an entirely new way. Here are some of his ideas.
- A person can take up to 72 hours to react to an offending food.
- Food sensitivities can cause symptoms of chronic conditions and seem to have nothing to do with consuming the offending food. Symptoms like migraine headaches, sinusitis, eczema, digestive problems, asthma, and obesity are examples of the problems caused by hidden food allergies.
- People with food sensitivities are commonly addicted to the food that is causing their health problem.
- Commonly, when the offending food is avoided, the individual’s symptoms become worse initially. Symptoms usually flare up for 4 or 5 days, but this reaction can last longer. After the reaction passes the individual will feel much better—chronic symptoms disappear, energy increases and excess weight begins to come off.
Avoidance Is Not the Only Way to Bring Hidden Allergies under Control
There are many well-documented cases of people who have been exposed to chemicals and developed many sensitivities. Physicians using natural health care are well aware of the fact that these patients respond to vitamin therapy. Vitamin C can reduce histamine levels. Trace minerals can support the liver in its effort to get rid of toxins. Supporting the adrenal gland and improving digestion are also useful strategies for bringing allergies under control.