Hands down, the most common conditions I am treating in recent times are allergies and intolerances. There are a whole range of these annoying, frustrating, lingering conditions including eczema, hay fever, asthma, food allergies and intolerances and dermatitis.
There is no denying the fact that allergies have risen dramatically, particularly in children. The question no one can definitively answer, is WHY?
There are many theories such as the Hygiene hypothesis, based on our obsession with cleanliness and sterilisation of everything, thereby decreasing our immune system’s exposure to a wider array of allergens and bacteria, rendering the immune system’s response to eventual stimuli massively exaggerated. Whilst that sounds reasonable enough, it is largely being thrown out, in favour of looking inside our bodies, specifically internally at the gut flora or microbiome. As I have discussed here many times before, the gut plays an incredible role in determining one’s immune response to everything from food, environmental factors like grasses and pollen as well as infective bacteria and viruses.
What medical research is now beginning to identify and understand, is the importance of not just gut flora in general, but how important the type and complexity of our gut flora in our first year of life is. This essentially sets up one’s immune system for life. Samples of children’s gut flora with eczema and other allergies frequently shows ZERO strains of certain good gut bacteria integral for the immune system. As well as colonisation of unfavourable bacteria.
A baby’s gut flora and subsequent immune system is dependent on a number of things. The nature and means of birth. C-Section births reduce a baby’s exposure to vital flora in the mothers birth canal form the get go and if bubs is unable to be breastfed, this also decreases baby’s exposure to the rich immune boosting properties of colostrum.
Vitamin D deficiency has also shown to be linked with allergies as it has immune modulating properties. Considering the rate of both maternal and general population vitamin D deficiency, this is a huge factor to consider. 2010 studies showed 85% of people in Geelong and the surrounding regions to be medically vitamin D deficient.
Acutely, allergies can be very tricky to treat. Identifying and rectifying deficiencies is important, supporting gut microbiome is essential, but managing the inflammatory aspect is also paramount. Certain herbs can give symptomatic relief, so too can high doses of particular vitamin C products, consuming local honey for hay fever and keeping the dust at bay!
Regular sunshine, incorporating fermented foods, reducing processed foods, taking appropriate natural remedies for acute relief and working on gut health are all pieces to the allergic jigsaw.