Allergies are a yearly ordeal for most people; bouts of sneezing, streaming nose and eyes, headaches and more become common for some. Perhaps you struggle throughout the year because of mold, dust, or other unexplained reasons.
This blog, written by Dr. Radhika Kamat, our expert functional medicine doctor in Singapore, will walk you through the cause of allergies and how a naturopathic doctor would treat them. If you would like to schedule an appointment, please get in touch.
What Exactly Causes Allergies?
Allergies are caused by the immune system’s extreme reaction to otherwise harmless substances found in everyday environments. Though we see allergies as nuisances, there are other symptoms that follow allergies: fatigue, coughing, wheezing, sleep issues, ear infections, nasal polyps, snoring, difficulty learning or concentrating, reduced productivity, loss of smell or taste, and more. Allergic rhinitis, or these other secondary problems, can lead one to have numerous absences from school and work and severely impact an individual’s quality of life.
As we grow up, our immune systems develop a tolerance to most non-threatening substances. This physiology of the immune system developing ‘tolerance’ is particularly important for food and other substances present in the environment. Allergies simply reveal that the immune system is not tolerant of a given substance, and that it perceives that substance as a threat to the body. Your immune system then mounts an attack against the external substance. A potent chemical, histamine, is then produced to create inflammation as a means to get rid of the threatening agent and cause most of the symptoms.
How Naturopathic Doctors Find the Cause of Your Allergies
I usually start with finding the possible root cause for allergies while working on providing relief during the attack. There are various root causes that can range from poor dietary choices to hormonal or underlying chronic disease. The most common causes are:
Chronic Digestive Problems Can Cause Allergies
According to my own research and a study by Alessio Fasano, leaky gut syndrome or imbalance gut microbiota can, in fact, cause allergies. If your intestinal wall increases in permeability, food particles and antigens may enter the bloodstream – this can trigger inflammation and an immune system reaction. Regarding imbalance gut microbiota, dysbiosis in the gut has been linked to food allergies and other unwanted reactions. As an experienced gastro doctor in Singapore, Dr. Kamat can help diagnose and treat these issues.
Allergies and Food Sensitivities
Some patients have genuine food allergies, in which your body triggers an immune response to specific proteins in a given food item. Allergies may be indicated by hives, swelling, and even anaphylaxis in severe cases. Food sensitivities, on the other hand, may include lactose intolerance and other gastrointestinal issues. A naturopathic doctor can help you understand the difference and identify the foods that are causing your discomfort.
Stress and Adrenal Depletion Can Cause Allergies
Chronic stress leads to the continuous release of cortisol from the adrenal clans, which in addition to a myriad of other health issues, will lead to adrenal depletion and fatigue. Adrenal depletion may then lead to an overactive immune response to everyday stressors, causing allergy symptoms. This can be addressed naturopathically.
Can Nutritional Deficiencies Cause Allergies?
Yes, nutritional deficiencies can cause allergies. Vitamins A, D, C, E, zinc, selenium and more help your immune system behave in a healthy and effective manner; deficiencies lead to an impaired immune response, and your body may not be able to tell the difference between “invaders” and friendly substances.
Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients act as natural anti-inflammatory agents. If you are deficient, you may suffer symptoms from everyday things that would never bother you otherwise.
There are many more causes of allergies, including nutrient deficiencies that lead to mucosal barrier function, DAO deficiencies leading to histamine intolerance, and more. If you have any questions, contact our naturopathic doctor in Singapore as soon as possible.
Naturopathic Treatment For Allergies
Most often, a simple change in diet and addition of nutritional supplements and homeopathic remedies are enough to balance the immune system and reduce hyper responsiveness. The doctor is there to guide your dietary changes, recommend supplements based on your lab work (if necessary), and help modify your treatment as symptoms subside.
What Foods Help With Allergy Relief?
Dark leafy greens, egg yolks that are rich in Vitamin E, turmeric, spirulina, medicinal mushrooms, flax oil, berries, papaya, brussel sprouts and cauliflower would be a great place to start. They also have anti-inflammatory properties to reduce symptoms during the attack.
Nutritional supplements, including herbs, provide best results in severe cases. There are numerous nutraceuticals and herbs that are well researched and known to modulate the immune system. For eg; short term high doses of Vitamin C or quercetin along with customized herbal formulas are excellent to provide immediate relief and reduce the duration of symptoms. Extensive studies on herbs like Butterbur or nettles have shown to have ability to lower the extreme responses of the immune system. Certain glandular products, like thymus extracts and plant sterols, are great in severe cases and should be used under supervision of a practitioner.
For kids, a customized nutrient or herbal formula can be made that is safe, effective and not so nasty tasting. Ask your naturopathic physician on which botanicals or nutrients may help you or your child for your specific allergies.
Homeopathic Remedies Can Help With Allergies
Homeopathic remedies have worked effectively for most cases in my practice. I do practice as a homeopathic doctor in Singapore, and I often suggest homeopathic remedies. These involve taking an extremely diluted form of selected allergen or liquid or sugar pill under the tongue. These miniscule doses serve to stimulate the immune system similar to a vaccine and thereby train the immune response to create tolerance.
Additional Methods For Beating Allergies
Depending on your needs and preferences, acupuncture, spinal manipulation, and stress management are equally effective, and in fact work synergistically, for long term relief when done together with other methods mentioned.
You should also clear your environment of allergens. Consider:
- Removing dust collectors like rugs, drapes and upholstered furniture
- Purchasing a filtration system for your room/home like HEPA air filter and purifiers
- Avoiding synthetic products or perfumes
- Having your home tested for mold, and remediating if necessary.
You and your children do not have to go through this ordeal every year. Consult with your naturopathic physician for a customized long term plan that can pinpoint your triggers and create treatment strategies. Whatever your personal situation may be, taking a personalized approach to the problem can be very effective.
1.Man LX. Complementary and alternative medicine for allergic rhinitis. CurrOpin Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2009 Jun;17(3):226-3.
2 Chirumbolo S. The role of quercetin, flavonols and flavones in modulating inflammatory cell function. Allergy Drug Targets. 2010 Sep;9(4):263-85.
- Thornhill SM, Kelly AM. Natural treatment of perennial allergic rhinitis. Altern Med Rev. 2000 Oct;5(5):448-54. .
- From personal clinical experiences.