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What are Allergies?A number of health problems commonly involve allergic reactions, including asthma, atopic dermatitis (eczema), food sensitivities and multiple chemical sensitivities. Symptoms of allergic reactions range from mild (eg. hayfever) to life-threatening (anaphylaxis). Allergy occurs when the body over reacts to a normally harmless substance.
There are two stages involved in the development of an allergic reaction.
- Sensitisation: the body develops an excess of immune antibodies against an inhaled, ingested or injected substance (called the allergen). These antibodies either circulate through the blood or attach to immune cells in the skin mucosa, gastrointestinal tract or respiratory system.
- Reactivity: when the body is re-exposed to the allergen it reacts by releasing substances (eg. histamine). These substances cause the symptoms of allergic reactions that range from hayfever, itchy skin and asthma, to diarrhoea, vomiting or anaphylaxis, and many more.
- Elimination and avoidance diets. These can assist in identifying food allergies. They should only be undertaken with supervision by a naturopath or health professional. In some cases, re-introduction of suspected foods may be fatal.
- Including foods high in omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants (eg. tuna, salmon, fresh fruit and vegetables) assist in reducing the inflammation that causes symptoms. Fish or fish oil should only be introduced in an allergic patient under the supervision of a naturopath.
- Balance the immune system. The following supplements support immune function and can reduce allergic symptoms: Probiotic, Flaxseed Oil, Quercetin, Vitamin C, Magnesium and a range of Botanical supplements including Echinacea, Olive leaf extract and Andrographis.
- Sinuses affected by allergy may respond well to saline irrigation, which flushes fungi and bacteria out, reduces mucous membrane swelling and minimises inflammatory histamine and leukotrienes.
- Botanical antimicrobial sprays can reduce swelling and improving nasal breathing.
- When food sensitivies are involved, healing the digestive tract will reduce the passage of allergens into the circulation, reducing the cause of allergic symptoms.