You know what an allergy is, right? At the least, you know the symptoms – itchy eyes, sniffling, runny noses and, in more severe cases, rashes or hives. But do you really know why your body is reacting the way what it does? Are you aware of the everyday toxins around you that can cause the reactions? And most importantly, do you know that you don’t have to take over the counter or prescribed drugs to combat them, but can use natural remedies?
First, what is an allergy? In its simplest form, an allergy is an over-reaction of the immune system, the body’s natural defense system. In short, the body responds as though it’s under attack, releasing antibodies and triggering inflammation, even though the stimulus of the attack (the allergen) is normally harmless. So when it comes to allergies, your immune system thinks it’s doing something good, when in reality, genetics and environment have conspired to make cells that are essential for normal immune function become overactive and respond to otherwise innocuous substances. This is due mostly to two immune system cells – helper T cells 1 (Th1) and 2 (Th2). These white blood cells circulate in the bloodstream and alert other immune system players that the body may be under attack from invading germs. Th1 cells handle certain types of bacterial infections, while Th2 cells help in eliminating certain parasites. But in allergic reactions, this process goes haywire. Th2 cells are more likely to respond than Th1 cells, and your body mounts these Th2 responses to substances that are not actually harmful, such as pollen and dust mites.
Second, what toxins in the environment are causing these allergic reactions? Sure, you have the usual suspects, such as pollen and ragweed. But what about chemicals hidden in your food or everyday household items? Even if you eat well and live a healthy lifestyle, you may be inadvertently exposed to numerous chemicals and potential allergens. There are over 3,000 chemicals added to our food supply, and more than 70,000 chemicals used for other purposes in North America. Scary, huh? Here’s an example of something that a lot of you probably use on a regular basis – Febreeze. It’s convenient, it just takes a spray or two to freshen up your car or your sofa (where your wet dog was sitting). They even have Febreeze air fresheners now, and Febreeze air fresheners for cars. But think about this – Febreeze is all chemical. And everytime you spray it, you’re breathing in those chemicals. Then there are phthalates and VOC’s (volatile organic compounds), which are dangerous substances used abundantly in construction and household products, fragrances, and plastics We’re surrounded by toxins that can eventually lead to allergies. Why do they lead to allergies? Because our bodies are designed to be able to handle only a certain load and over the course of many years, all this chemical exposure has a cumulative effect. If you add the other factors so prevalent in the modern woman’s life — poor diet, emotional stress, and hormonal imbalances — it’s a marvel our bodies can cope at all.
So what can you do? You can take over the counter and prescribed drugs, but wouldn’t you rather do things the natural way? After all, how exactly does fighting chemicals with more chemicals really help? A few good places to start are with your diet, cleaning house and clearing your mind. Diet eliminations of certain foods can help you see where your food allergies are coming into play, while cleaning your house helps eliminate chemical and environmental toxins. Invest in a good vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. Go through your cabinets and throw out cleansers, creams, soaps, and cosmetics with irritating synthetic chemicals. Buy green products, such as laundry detergent, when you can. Even simple things, like keeping your windows closed, will help reduce allergies. You can also try acupuncture/acupressure, allopathy, chiropractic, and kinesiology as ways to help clear your body of allergies.
We’ve been talking all month on our social media pages about natural ways to help decrease allergies and ways to get rid of the symptoms without having to use drugs. Go check us out on Facebook to learn more about natural remedies to allergy season!