Your body always wants to maintain balance and your bodily response to an allergy is no exception. To understand how to treat disease, we must first understand that the body is always trying to create balance. Even when suffering from illness, each bodily process is in pursuit of establishing equilibrium. For example, acute diarrhea from ingesting a parasite, is the body’s way of ridding itself of the foreign invader. Another common example is stress, which leads to high blood pressure. Evolutionarily-speaking, stress reflected the need to escape danger, so elevating blood pressure pushed blood to the muscles for faster movement.
Since beginning my pursuit to understand the complex human body, I have been amazed by its ability to repair itself.
Allergies are no exception. In the case of allergies, the body mounts an immune response against a perceived threat. However, when the proper checks and balances are missing, the immune system goes haywire and mistakenly overreacts to things like food and pollen.
Imagine your immune system as a security guard at the entrance to your body. If the security guard stops recognizing those that work in the building, the guard may fight with the employees who are simply trying to go to work, causing chronic stress and unnecessary roughness. Unless you get rid of everyone that works in the building, this constant state of overreaction won’t resolve. The solution involves re-introducing the security guard to workers slowly, each day, so that over time they stop overreacting.
Immunotherapy works in a similar way — it is a re-education of the immune system to down-regulate hyper-responsiveness against specific allergens. In 2016, I spent a weekend in Onalaska, Wisconsin, with the incredibly intelligent group at Allergychoices and Allergy Associates of La Crosse. While there, I learned to implement this extremely helpful and underutilized treatment of allergies for my own patients.
Immunotherapy is the only proven method that cures allergies to the environment, to molds, and to foods like wheat and dairy. The doctors at Allergy Associates of La Crosse have been using Sub-Lingual Immunotherapy (SLIT) to treat illnesses related to allergies for ~50 years, and it has been effective in the majority of cases.
How Sub-Lingual Immunotherapy (SLIT) Works:
SLIT involves creating a personalized formula of liquid, tailor-made to your allergies. This liquid is placed under the tongue every day until long-term tolerance is established. This method is very safe with no life-threatening reactions in a billion+ doses given. The reason to use drops under the tongue, as opposed to injections, is because our natural response to foreign molecules in the mouth is to develop a tolerance to them. Conversely, injecting foreign substances with a needle activates a different immune response that can cause a severe reaction.
Why SLIT isn’t widely known:
You’re probably wondering why this extremely effective and safe method has gone unnoticed and underutilized for so long. The unfortunate and simple answer is that there is no money for pharmaceutical companies to make. Pharmaceutical companies make money from standardized, FDA-tested products, and not from custom formulas. Pharmaceutical companies can only sell drugs that have been through stringent FDA testing. Unfortunately, the FDA only approves specific doses of a specific chemical, and not custom formulas made for unique needs.
Because SLIT therapy, though extremely effective, safe, and cost-effective, is based on each individuals needs, and not mass-produced, pharmaceutical companies cannot profit from it. This is why you (and your doctor) have likely never heard of SLIT. Each patient’s allergies are different and treatments must vary to fit their needs—there’s no “one size fits all” solution. If pharmaceutical companies don’t profit from it, marketability becomes difficult. This is the quick and dirty answer and a testament to the medical environment of today.
But I digress… Let’s get back to treating your allergies.
The PrimeHealth Solution:
To begin using SLIT, you must to work with a trained professional. There are, however, natural approaches to begin controlling your allergies today. When considering each approach, you must first consider gut health. The inner lining of the large intestine is where more than 2/3 of immune cells are produced. Since allergies are immune-mediated, ensuring optimal gut health is imperative.
Start treating your gut, and therefore, your allergies, with these tips:
1. Take probiotics and/or eat fermented foods.
The probiotic with the most evidence for aiding in allergic rhinitis is Lactobacillus paracasei, which is found naturally in fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi. In human studies, Lactobacillus paracasei decreased symptoms of grass pollen and dust mite allergies. By providing healthy bacteria to your gut, the immune system improves and hyper responsiveness to allergens calms.
2. Detox your internal and external environment.
It’s important to consume only organic foods whenever possible. Non-organic foods contain harmful pesticides and antibiotics that disrupt the gut microbiome. In Dr. Leo Galland’s book, The Allergy Solution, he highlights the abundance of scientific research supporting that toxins and chemicals in our environment and homes increase incidence and severity of allergies.
One helpful tip is to only use soaps with natural ingredients and without triclosan. See Dr. Galland’s book for more information on clearing your home of allergy-inducing chemicals, something he cleverly coins “Mission Detoxable”.
3. Avoid antibiotic use as much as possible.
Gut bacterium are an essential component of a strong immune system. The trillions of bacteria living within your gut are constantly fighting for you. Unfortunately, a 7 day course of antibiotics can wipe out ~50% of gut flora for up to 6 months. So, the next time you’re coming down with a respiratory, ear, or sinus infection, remember that 80-95% of these infections are viral and will not resolve with antibiotics. Talk with your doctor about whether you truly need antibiotics (which are far over-prescribed) and whether alternative treatments exist. If you are good to your gut bacteria, they will return the favor by supporting immunity.
4. Eat high fiber foods.
Foods high in pre-biotics, or soluble fibers, feed your healthy gut bacteria. The goal of this bacteria is to keep you healthy, so treat them right by feeding them every day. Conversely, sugar and pesticides feed their enemies and should be avoided. The goal is to feed the healthy bacteria team and starve out the inflammatory bacteria and yeast. Examples of supporting foods are asparagus, banana, onions, garlic, and leeks.
5. Ensure your vitamin D level is between 50-80.
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for the immune system. Because of chronic sunlight deprivation, Vitamin D levels are severely lacking in modern society. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with immune system issues, including auto-immune diseases and allergies. In scientific studies, vitamin D is shown to improve effects of immunotherapy for desensitization from allergies. Most adults require at least 2000 IU daily to reach adequate levels. To know where you’re at and how to optimize your vitamin D, you should have your levels checked by a qualified physician and have them recommend a tailored dose.