An allergy is a hypersensitive immune response to a substance called an allergen. The allergen either enters or comes into contact with the body which causes the immune system to treat it like a pathogen—a foreign and potentially harmful invader. This causes the immune system to produce antibodies. Antibodies are proteins made by the immune system to destroy or neutralize allergens. IgE antibodies are the smallest and most common antibodies and are found in lungs, skin and mucous membrane and mostly occur when the immune system reacts to food and environmental allergens. IgA antibodies also affect mucous membranes, respiratory passages, gastrointestinal, saliva and tears. The release of histamine produces the symptoms of watery, itchy eyes, sneezing, nasal congestion, irritability and hives.
The most common and severe food allergies are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. Sometimes children outgrow allergies such as milk and eggs. Other allergies like peanut and tree allergies as well as fish and shellfish are usually lifelong problems that do not improve without treatment.
Where do allergies come from?
- Inherited. Some through DNA and others through habits we learn from the repetitive behaviors and beliefs that come from these environmental influences.
- Genetically modified substances that attempt to sneak past the identification process of food and nutrients vs. non-food— chemicals (dioxins and Rx drugs), pesticides, and GMF (genetically modified food)—making associations between harmless substances such as food to create negative reactions.
- Antibiotics that kill natural bacteria, weakening our immune systems.
- Vaccinations, suspected to leave residues that can last as interfering substances in the body.
- In Chinese medicine, the body often craves what it is allergic to, further compromising our systems.
Why is it so important to clear allergies?
Sixty to seventy percent of immunity happens in the gut. Digestively, the body creates a toxic response against the ingested substance. More commonly people have intolerances to food rather than allergies, but these intolerances when chronic for years and decades can turn into full blown allergies. Chronic IgG mediated allergy responses are hidden, insidious, cloaked and slow to react. These can give rise to overgrowth of yeast, leaky gut, bloating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain. This can set the stage for chronic illness. Asthma is a common condition associated with allergies.
Non-IgE mediated allergies are called intolerances or hypersensitivities.
In response to an unknown trigger, the immune system may begin producing IgG antibodies that instead of fighting infections, attack the body’s own tissues. These are called auto-immune diseases and include conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis MS, in which the immune system attacks nerve cells, diabetes mellitus in which antibodies attach and destroy insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, endocrine disorders, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and more.
What happens to the brain in the presence of an allergy?
Allergies upset hormones and key chemicals to the brain. It is suspected that depression can come from the lack of serotonin production in the gut that is interfered with by an allergic reaction. Food allergies can create metabolic disorders that can lead to a host of mental symptoms that include fatigue, brain fog, slowed thought processes, anxiety, agitation, aggravation, depression, learning disabilities. These combined with feeling poorly all of the time can cause major issues in relationships to self, others and in the work place.
In this, an allergy can grow in definition to
include a cumulative negative hypersensitivity and reactivity to anything or anyone.
What can you do about your allergies?
In a follow-up article I will discuss a number of treatments that are commonly used to test and treat allergies. Anita Alexandra, L.Ac., CH is an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist with 16+ years of experience. She practices at Chiropractic Health and Acupuncture. 619 Main Street, Frisco. (970)668-3299 www.CHAfrisco.com