The snow is melting, the grass is getting greener, and the trees and plants are showing signs of life. Instead of snowflakes and a wintry chill, spring is in the air! Along with the joy a new season brings, some not-so-pleasant friends can accompany it, like the allergens that hitch a ride in the breeze.
If you are suffering from spring allergies, and antihistamines aren’t cutting the symptoms, you want to find natural alternatives, or you just want to discover the root cause, read on.
In this article, I’ll explain why some root problems can cause allergies to act up, what can be done to help you stop suffering from seasonal allergies, and the supplement we most recommend for taming allergy symptoms.
Symptoms of seasonal allergies
No matter what season it is, allergies are never enjoyable. Dr. Paul and I frequently hear complaints from patients who come to the clinic about their allergies. For some, symptoms may bring mild discomfort, but for others, the symptoms can be severe.
Some of the most common symptoms of seasonal spring allergies include:
Itchy eyes, nose, and/or throat
Dark circles under the eyes
Mouth-breathing (which can affect your sleep, among other things)
The top 5 causes of spring allergies (you may not think about)
Why is it that some people get allergies so aggressively, some get mild allergy symptoms, and others don’t have them at all? Many people just try to get through the season and live with the miserable symptoms, but it could be a sign of underlying problems.
If you’re experiencing allergies, it’s important to ask why your immune system is being triggered in the first place.
There are several reasons why allergic reactions and intensity vary so greatly. Here are the top five causes of seasonal allergies:
- Leaky gut
- Imbalance of microbiome (dysbiosis)
- Food allergies and sensitivities
- Mold exposure
- Nutritional deficiencies
The biggest cause of allergies Dr. Paul and I see in the office is leaky gut. We have been shocked at the frequency of this being the cause of allergies flaring up. Frequently, Dr. Paul and I will direct people’s diets, their guts begin healing, and they notice their allergies have greatly improved.
The term “Leaky gut” is used to describe a compromised gut barrier. It describes when the barrier system of the gut begins to break down. This breakdown is problematic because the barrier prevents unwanted foreign substances (antigens) from getting through the barrier and into your bloodstream. These foreign substances can be undigested food proteins, bacteria/microbes or toxins.
Your immune system becomes overactive and overburdened. Once again, your immune system is prioritizing whatever it thinks it needs to fight and tries to protect you by prioritizing the battle against a particular offender. This leads to an easily overburdened body when met with environmental problems on top of the existing issue.
Your gut health plays a major role in how your immune system functions.
Studies have shown that people with seasonal allergies have a more imbalanced microbiome, also known as dysbiosis.
The microbiome of your gut is a complex community of microorganisms, and there must be a healthy balance among the many different types of organisms. You don’t want too much of one type of bacteria, especially ones that create inflammation, like gram-negative bacteria, parasites, fungus, yeast, and viruses. This is why probiotics are so often used to help rebalance the diversity of bacteria in the gut.
You want to have beneficial bacteria and short-chain fatty acids to create a robust microbiome and restore balance in the gut. This can help you regulate your immune response so you can have a more accurate reaction (or lack thereof) to food, environmental factors, and more. If your microbiome is imbalanced, you will have more of a reactive immune response.
One of the most common underlying causes of experiencing seasonal allergies is because of existing food sensitivities and allergies. Many people have food allergies or sensitivities without realizing it and continue eating the triggering foods regularly. If you’re sensitive or allergic to certain foods and continue eating them (or consume them by accident), your immune system prioritizes fighting against those foods.
The most common food intolerances and sensitivities we see driving inflammation and mucus production in the clinic are to gluten, grains, and dairy. We also see many patients who have issues with nuts, citrus fruits and nightshades.
This overactive immune response is your immune system trying to protect you. When you react to these foods, your body easily becomes overburdened from environmental antigens that are at a higher concentration in the spring, summer, and fall. These antigens can be from things like pollen, certain grasses, dust, mold, or trees. When you encounter these triggers, your body becomes overwhelmed and your immune system can’t deal with the extra offenders. That’s when you start to experience symptoms.
While mold found outside can cause allergies to flare, one of the major causes of experiencing seasonal allergies in the first place is indoor mold. Indoor mold is more concerning because it comes from water-damaged material inside homes that can create mycotoxins. Breathing in mycotoxins suppresses your immune system and makes you more vulnerable to things like seasonal allergies.
Living and working in a moldy environment can exacerbate symptoms and cause similar reactions to leaky gut, along with causing neurological inflammation.
Indoor mold is the result of too much moisture in your home. That can be caused by water damage from flooded basements. Water can infiltrate your home when the grade of your house flows toward it instead of away. Mold can also easily grow in poorly insulated homes and areas where there is high humidity and little sunlight. To learn more about the impact of indoor mold, click here to read the article.
Anything that helps you detoxify mold or helps your gut health is incredibly beneficial. When you’re deficient in these nutrients, it can cause your immune system to act inappropriately.
The nutrient deficiencies we often see and focus on the most in relation to seasonal spring allergies are things that help support the liver’s detoxification processes. When your liver is functioning well, it can get rid of allergens more effectively and quickly.
The two main detoxification pathways in the body are the methyl and sulfur pathways.
The methyl pathway processes hormones and roughly 10-20% of your toxic load. B vitamins help the methyl pathway detoxify hormones.
The sulfur pathway is your largest detoxification pathway. It processes roughly 75-85% of your toxic load and the most diverse amount of chemicals. Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), and glutathione are the raw materials your liver needs to perform these functions well.
When B vitamins, ALA, NAC, and glutathione are low, you can’t clear out allergens efficiently. This is why testing these nutrient levels and others is so important to your overall health.
What can you do to help with seasonal spring allergies?
The most common route of helping allergies is to just take rounds of antihistamines, decongestants, steroids, and immunotherapy for the rest of your life. Unfortunately, this route doesn’t get to the root cause of your problems and can lead to other symptoms with long-term use.
While antihistamines can be very helpful and necessary to relieve allergy symptoms, especially when serious, there are better long-term solutions for figuring out the cause of why your body is responding in the way it is and what your body needs to better regulate its reactions.
The best thing to do is to get with a functional medicine clinic and doctor that can order and run relevant tests. Individual testing paints a clearer picture of what’s happening in your body and gives you and your practitioner more direction for what steps should be taken.
Can any supplements help improve spring allergies?
Whether you do testing or not to figure out the underlying causes triggering seasonal spring allergies in your body, there are safe supplements you can use to lower histamine levels and allergy symptoms. The supplement we recommend is NutriRestore’s Hista Guard.
The usual culprit for allergy symptoms is too much histamine being released throughout your body. Once again, it’s your body trying to protect itself and overcompensating.
Hista Guard contains a high dose of quercetin, which has been shown in research to dampen the release of histamine. Quercetin is one of the most effective natural antihistamines, helps your liver process histamine, and works prophylactically.
Quercetin is also very dose-dependent. In order for you to be able to tell a difference, you need to take enough. You would need to take way too many capsules of other low-dose quercetin products in order to tell a difference in your allergy symptoms. Hista Guard provides 1,000 mg of quercetin in each tablet, meaning you only have to take 2-4 tablets per day, as opposed to taking 10-20 capsules of lower-dose quercetin products.
To summarize, here are some steps you can take to discover how you can reduce your seasonal spring allergy symptoms.
- Identify allergen triggers through testing.
- Ask your doctor about leaky gut and get tested to see whether this is a problem for you or not.
- Get your microbiome tested to see if microorganisms are balanced or not in your gut.
- Get tested for food allergies/sensitivities.
- Get your house tested for mold and check your inflammation levels if you’ve seen it, smelled it, have a history of water damage, or present signs of mold illness and other measures you’ve taken to improve your health haven’t worked.
- Get tested for nutritional deficiencies to see if you’re deficient in any key nutrients that could be causing a disruption in your immune system functioning properly.
- Manage symptoms with natural antihistamines as you work on other areas in your body that are affecting how your immune system is functioning. Supplements like the high-dose quercetin found in Hista Guard can help relieve allergy symptoms and lower histamine levels.
I hope this article will help you identify triggers, root causes, and remedies that will improve your seasonal spring allergies.
Information by Dr. Kyle Warren
Edited by Meghan Feir Walker