Pollen is Not The Problem
Sounds of people sneezing and blowing their nose fill the pollen laden air. Boxes of tissue, allergy pills and bottles of eye drops are flying off the shelves fast and furious in pharmacies all across town.
While pollen does indeed make you sneeze if you get a noseful of it, is it really necessary to dread spring every single year knowing that Visine and allergy meds will be your constant companion to deal with watery eyes and congestion for at least a month or two? Is this something you just have to resign yourself to and live with?
The truth is that seasonal allergies are much more than a nuisance. They are one of the mildest forms of autoimmune disease. It is a gentle warning by the body that more autoimmunity problems are on the way if the dietary flaws and gut imbalance that is causing them is not dealt with effectively.
Hippocrates noted that “all disease begins in the gut”. This includes seasonal allergies like allergic rhinitis or hay fever.
Dealing with seasonal allergies using over the counter or prescription meds is like cutting the wire to the flashing oil light on the dashboard of your car and pretending that the car is no longer low on oil. Such an approach guarantees that the problem will get worse over time and most likely lead to more serious autoimmune problems in the future such as asthma, eczema, psoriasis, fibromyalgia, lupus, celiac, migraines, MS, diabetes, arthritis and the list goes on.
For example, it was recently reported that babies with eczema even if mild are much more likely to develop asthma. In fact, 40% of babies with eczema go on to develop this much more serious autoimmune disease later in childhood.
A healthy balance of beneficial gut flora in our colon is the ultimate gatekeeper of health. Gut flora is the major regulator of the immune system for better or for worse. When the gut environment is out of balance, a malfunctioning and overreactive immune system is the result.
How Seasonal Allergies Originate in the Gut
When the gut is out of balance, opportunistic and pathogenic microbes overgrow and take over dominance. These pathogens produce toxic substances which are the by-products of their metabolism. Some of these toxins actually play an important role in the body when the pathogens in the gut are controlled and kept in check by good flora. But, when the good flora is absent or not playing a dominant role, these pathogens can overproduce these toxins.
One such toxin produced by several types of gut pathogens (Proteus, E. coli, Staphylococci and others) is histamine which is actually an important neurotransmitter in the body.
When these microbes grow unchecked in the gut due to a lack of beneficial flora, they overproduce histamine. This causes many functions in the body that react to it to go haywire as excessive amounts pour into the blood.
Is Benadryl your best friend? If so, you know you potentially suffer from an overgrowth of pathogens in your gut that are overproducing histamine!
Parents Pass Gut Flora to Their Children
Conventional medicine likes to point to genetics as the cause of allergies. This is the case for only a small percentage of cases. The fact is that parents pass on their gut imbalance problems to their children. This causes gut dysbiosis to worsen with each successive generation. This and oversterilized environments that gives children little access to probiotics in nature is the main reason why seasonal allergies have skyrocketed in recent generations.
According to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MD, children with autoimmunity issues almost without exception have a mother and most likely also a father who exhibit signs of chronic gut dysbiosis. Most women have been on the gut destroying birth control pill for years before having children. They also have taken many courses of antibiotics throughout their lives. Almost every single one has a health problem that is associated with chronic gut imbalance. The most frequent being digestive disorders, hay fever and other seasonal allergies, migraines, PMS, chronic cystitis (UTIs) and vaginal yeast infections.
Do you wish to have children free of allergies? If so, it is imperative as a mother to be to get your gut health in order before birthing them. Not vaccinating is another way to significantly reduce allergy risk in children. Vaccinated children suffer from allergies and other autoimmune disorders at a startlingly higher rate than nonvaxed children.
Gut Imbalance Can Develop Later in Life
Have you ever noticed that a lot of adults say that they developed seasonal allergies all of a sudden one year where they never had them before?
Well, the pollen hasn’t changed has it? The excuse that “the pollen is really bad this year” is not the reason either.
Development of seasonal allergies all of a sudden or those that get worse each year is a sign that gut health is deteriorating with age. At that point, steps should be taken quickly with the diet to rectify the situation.
The good news is that even if you or your children have seasonal allergies now, you can deal with it effectively with a change in diet!
Steps to Eliminate Seasonal Allergies From Your Life
Here are a few simple steps for combating seasonal allergies with diet:
- Eliminate pasteurized dairy from your life in all forms. Pasteurization of dairy denatures fragile milk proteins and renders then allergenic among other problems. Grassfed raw dairy would be an excellent alternative here. If you have problems digesting dairy, try healthy milk substitutes such as homemade coconut milk tonic.
- Source the best, raw, unfiltered local honey in your area and use a teaspoon or two everyday during allergy season. Note that heated honey does not confer any health benefits and is actually toxic according to Ayurvedic tradition. If you prefer creamed honey to liquid, be sure it is free from any additives and GMOs.
- Look to significantly reduce or eliminate grains and sugars in all forms from your diet. Many people with seasonal allergies report nothing short of miraculous improvement when gluten containing grains or even complete avoidance of grains and sugar is followed particularly during allergy season.
- Look at the GAPS Diet as a long term solution for rectifying gut imbalance. Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MDs book Gut and Psychology Syndrome is a primer on this subject. She not only describes in detail how gut dysbiosis develops in the first place but outlines a comprehensive plan for rebalancing gut flora and putting autoimmunity into remission for good.
- While you are healing from the inside out, use herbs to find natural, nontoxic allergy relief instead of meds. This article details which allergy relieving herbs are most potent for this purpose and how to use them.
Bottom Line on Healing Pollen Allergies
Seasonal allergies need not continue to annoy you year after year during what should be one of the most beautiful and enjoyable times of the year.
Spend some time and energy fixing your gut environment and reap the rewards by breathing freely again no matter how thick the pollen may be!
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Sarah Pope has been a Health and Nutrition Educator since 2002. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Sarah was awarded Activist of the Year at the International Wise Traditions Conference in 2010.
Sarah earned a Bachelor of Arts (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in Economics from Furman University and a Master’s degree in Government (Financial Management) from the University of Pennsylvania.
Mother to three healthy children, blogger, and best-selling author, she writes about the practical application of Traditional Diet and evidence-based wellness within the modern household. Her work has been featured by USA Today, The New York Times, National Review, ABC, NBC, and many others.