Making peace with ragweed

When fall is close and you start sneezing you know ragweed allergy season has begun. Do you think it is fair that mother nature makes some of us end the summer with red and itchy eyes? How come that only some of us end up with stuffy nose, coughs, and headaches and others don’t have any symptoms?

Ragweed is not your enemy!

Ragweed is not our enemy. Although you may feel different about this annoying plant, ragweed is a normal part of North American flora. I understand that you were considering writing a petition to the ministry of environment to remove the plant from our backyards, but at least till this is accomplished you may keep on getting a primer on allergy symptoms every fall.

Is there anything you can do about it?

Of course, making friends with the pharmacist next door is an option. Over the counter anti-allergy drugs are one of the best sellers in North America, especially during ragweed season. And although they cost a lot of money for some of us they seem to be the only viable option…
… unless you know more about the causes of seasonal allergies.

Allergies happen in people where immune system overreacts to a non-threatening substance. This overreaction is not a random occurrence, but seems to correlate with altered body states such as excess histamine, chronic inflammation, and bowel flora changes.

Excess histamine

Histamine is a naturally occurring chemical in our bodies that, when in excess, causes redness, itching, and swelling. Yet, it is not always bad to produce extra histamine. Penile erections very much depend on this chemical for extra blood supply. No histamine, no increased blood flow, no erection. It is that simple.

High histamine also keep you alert, and yes you may have guessed that low histamine, makes you drowsy. That’s why drugs against seasonal allergies, which reduce histamine make you sleepy. Here is a tip: it is a bad idea to go on a “hot” date after taking antihistamines.

Excess histamine can occur from many different reasons. Too many to list them here. However, one of the most common, and seldom looked into reasons, is presence of parasites or Candida.

Excess histamine can also occur due to poor nutrition. Vitamin C is a natural anti-histaminic substance. If your diet is low in vegetables and fruits, you may be low in this vitamin and can therefore make you more prone to allergies. Checking for nutrients in the blood is not the best way and there is no one way to measure your nutritional needs. I prefer to assess nutritional status through the hair analysis, which checks for 46 different biochemical parameters.

Chronic inflammation

Chronic inflammation, just like excess histamine, can have many causes. The most common cause of excess inflammation is a pro-inflammatory diet. Of course nobody deliberately chooses pro-inflammatory foods, however based on from my clinical observation three out of four people eat pro-inflammatory foods without even knowing it.

Pro-inflammatory foods are fried foods, and foods containing hydrogenated oils, as well as foods that produce immune reaction. Those immune reacting foods aren’t universal and are different for different people. Some people are shocked to discover that they have immune reaction to healthy food such as garlic or bananas.

Immune reactions to food are common in people suffering from environmental allergies. A skin scratch test however, cannot tell which foods cause inflammatory reaction. A special blood test is required for proper analysis.

Changes to bowel flora

In the depths of intestines we carry a few pounds of bacteria. A thick carpet of this symbiotic flora guards intestinal mucosa against infection and abrasions. A normal healthy intestinal lining, which also hosts immune cells, is protected by this large number of beneficial probiotic bacteria. If this bacteria is removed by antibiotics, steroids, stress or infection we lose integrity of the intestinal lining and hypersensitivity of the immune system follows.

Many people suffer from ragweed allergy and many reach for antihistamines as the solution to their problems. Although this method will improve the symptoms immediately, it will do nothing to treat the underlying causes of the allergies, hence recurrence of allergy symptoms.

If you truly want your body to work well you must look beyond simply suppressing symptoms. Itchy eyes, runny nose and head congestion are tell tale signs of immune malfunction, which frequently are caused by lifestyle factors, which you may have control over, so take charge and live smart.

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