by Tracey Roizman, DC
Do you have a love-hate relationship with spring? If the thought of flowers blooming makes you want to revert back to the sterile cold of winter, you are probably among the many who suffer from seasonal allergies. You’ve likely frequented the remedy section at the drug store and can authoritatively describe the relative merits of symptom relief versus side effects of the most popular remedies. You also most likely feel that there is a better solution. There is. The key to the cure lies in understanding the underlying causes of many allergies, and from there the best course of action is natural.
Why does your immune system decide that a normally benign substance such as dust or pollen is a dangerous enemy that needs to be attacked? Pollen doesn’t want to inhabit your body the way bacteria do, it is simply present in the air. Even the term “allergen” is misleading and makes these inert substances sound a bit like pathogens that are out to get us. Anything can be an allergen if your immune system is susceptible to reacting that way. Nothing ought to be an allergen for a healthy body whose immune system is able to distinguish friend from foe.
The place where an allergen makes contact with your body is where the answer lies. In the case of airborne particles such as dust or pollen, that place is the thin delicate membrane that lines the sinuses. This membrane is composed of live cells. There is a similar membrane that lines the digestive tract, where anything that gains entry from the outside environment, such as food, comes into contact with live cells. You can imagine that the health and integrity of this cell membrane is vitally important in protecting you from pathogens and other irritants. Also important to consider is that the majority of immune tissue in your body is clustered around those delicate membranes, ready to respond to anything that gets past the protective barrier.
Several factors contribute to the health and vitality of the sinuses and digestive tract. Depleted nutrient status is one of them. Identifying and correcting depleted nutrients is an important first step toward helping your body help itself overcome allergies. The cells that make up the protective barriers of the sinuses and digestive tract have a higher demand for nutrients and a relatively shorter life span than cells in other parts of your body. Giving them the building blocks they need to carry out their important protective and selective functions makes good sense. These nutrients don’t come from pizza, ice cream, soda, or many of the other consumables that comprise a significant portion of the diets of most Americans.
Other dietary factors come into play as well. Believe it or not, there is a correlation between your food choices and your hay fever. Common staple foods such as wheat and dairy are difficult for many people to digest. Wheat contains high quantities of the protein gluten, which in varying degrees can be an irritant. Dairy contains the protein casein, also difficult to digest and the reason why dairy foods are said to be mucous-forming. Postnasal drip occurs so often when we eat dairy foods that we fail to notice it and even accept it as normal. This situation creates an ideal breeding ground for mold and fungus, upsetting the balance of normal flora. Once this occurs, the body is vulnerable to infections and allergies.
Wheat and dairy are also culprits in robbing you of energy that you might prefer to have available to spend in other ways. The drowsy feeling you get after eating certain foods indicates that you are having some difficulty digesting and assimilating them. Pay attention to this response and adapt your diet accordingly to avoid the offending foods.
Finally, perhaps the most important causative factor in many allergies is such irritants as antibiotics and other medications. Many of these substances are quite harsh on the body and alter the balance of good bacteria. Over 500 species of bacteria call your sinus cavities and digestive tract home. In great numbers, they help crowd out pathogens, regulate the acid/base balance within those areas, and even help us digest food and produce certain vitamins. They are good to have. Anything that disrupts this normal environment can lead to allergies. Regaining proper balance of your personal internal colony of “worker bugs” is most important after having one or more courses of antibiotics, steroids, or other medications.
Wholistic chiropractic care addresses allergies from a multifaceted approach. Through the use of muscle resistance testing, also known as applied kinesiology, allergens as well as underlying stresses and deficiencies are identified and neutralized during treatment sessions. I have seen excellent response to this remarkably simple and effective tool on many occasions.
Chiropractic spinal manipulations, along with other soft tissue treatments, help to relieve muscle tension and restore normal open breathing patterns. In my practice I also utilize reflex points that stimulate congested sinuses to drain. Clear, open sinuses are less likely to be breeding grounds for molds and funguses. Add some appropriate nutritional and/or herbal supplementation and subtract any contributing lifestyle factors and you have a comprehensive and effective equation for allergy elimination.
Also, neurologic research shows that many allergies and autoimmune conditions stem from an imbalance in the central nervous system, leading to an overactive immune system. A functional neurology evaluation can detect and correct these subtle brain imbalances, calming the immune system and reducing the occurrence and severity of allergies.
How will you know when your allergies are truly gone? Once you’ve done the right amount of internal cleaning and clearing, your energy will bloom along with the season and you can direct your energy windfall to those other small details of life, such as the garage, overstuffed closets, or perhaps some yard work. Hmmm, maybe winter has its advantages after all…
Tracey Roizman, DC offers a whole-body approach to chiropractic healing, incorporating each aspect of the triad of health: structural, chemical, and emotional. Dr. Roizman utilizes traditional chiropractic structural corrections along with kinesiology testing, and nutritional therapies. She graduated from Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, Oregon and holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of New Hampshire.