With spring around the corner, allergies are a common topic of concern with my patients. Often, the general public misunderstands the cause of allergies, and turns to pharmaceutical products to treat their symptoms rather than getting to the root of the problem.
The Root Cause
In a healthy individual, the ratio of Th1 to Th2 cells should normally be 1:1.
However, when there are hormonal or inflammatory imbalances due to stress, environmental toxins and poor food choices, for instance, the Th2 cell volume increases. This imbalance between T-Helper cells causes the immune system to spiral out of control and become more reactive, causing inflammation and imbalance in the body. Therefore, the body is much more reactive to environmental inputs and foods.
By the time allergy symptoms are expressed, the horse is already out of the barn. Histamines are released as a rallying cry for the immune system, causing symptoms like watery and itchy eyes, sneezing, and congestion. At a minimum, histamines are a helpful signal to help balance the immune system. Of course, when they spiral out of control, it is only natural to turn to histamine blockers to minimize symptoms.
However, treating the symptoms with histamine-suppressing drugs can actually make the entire immune system more vulnerable, because it suppresses the body’s natural ability to deal with the inflammatory response to allergens and toxins.
Treating Allergies Naturally
The main goal is to achieve a greater balance between Th1 and Th2 cells. One of the most effective ways to create this balance is with the use of perilla seed. For thousands of years, the Chinese have used perilla seed to treat both asthma and eczema, which are also caused by similar T-Helper cell imbalances.
Perilla seed oil contains one of the highest proportions of Omega-3 fatty acids, which helps decrease inflammation. In studies, perilla seed was shown to suppress a wide range of allergic reactions in experimental animals, and showed benefits in terms of lung function and breathing (Mohammad Asif, 2012).
In another study, supplementing with the extract of Perilla frutescens enriched with rosmarinic acid, a phytochemical, resulted in a significant decrease in itchy nose and eyes, watery eyes, and total symptoms (Hirohisa Takano, et al., 2004).
Nature’s Remedies carries a similar product called Perimine®. Because it can take up to a month for severe allergy cases to start seeing the benefits, I already have many of my patients taking it. I have also successfully used Perimine to treat patients with severe reactions to food. However, this mechanism is not fully understood, because food allergies aren’t the same as environmental allergies. It is suspected that there is a crossover somewhere, though.
By addressing gut health in addition to using Perimine with my patients, I have seen these difficult allergies diminish or stop altogether within six months.
To help with allergy symptom management, Hista-Weg Plus is another great product. Most patients tell me it is more effective than anti-histamines, as it stabilizes histamines instead of blocking them. This is important, because some histamine is vital for immune system functioning, and blocking it altogether renders the system vulnerable to infection and immunosuppression.
My hope is that with a better understanding of allergy causes and naturopathic treatment options, more and more individuals will be able to find permanent relief!
Asif, Mohammad. (2012). “Nutritional Importance of Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids of Perilla Oil.”International Journal of Phytopharmacy. Vol. 2 (6), pp.154-161, Nov-Dec 2012. http://ijpp.ssjournals.com/index.php/journal/article/download/33/33.
Takano, Hirohisa, et. al. (2004). “Extract of Perilla frutescens Enriched for Rosmarinic Acid, a Polyphenolic Phytochemical, Inhibits Seasonal Allergic Rhinoconjunctivitis in Humans.” Experimental Biology and Medicine. Vol. 229, No. 3, pp. 247-254, March 2004. http://ebm.rsmjournals.com/content/229/3/247.full