• Dr. Caroline Ricker

Tis the Season...to be Sneezing!

You wake up in the morning and your nose is stuffed, head is pounding. After a few minutes the sneezing starts. You wonder if you should invest in the stock of tissues with the amount that you’re going through on daily basis. Every purse you own has a lifetime supply of eye drops but you still can’t stop rubbing your eyes. A friend invites you to go for a walk, and you debate whether or not it’s worth the blast of symptoms that you know will hit.

Yep, it’s that time of year again. When spring has sprung, and all of the trees and bushes are budding and blooming. When allllll of the pollen is EVERYWHERE and the air is full and humid. If you haven’t already guessed that I’m talking about seasonal allergies then your probably aren’t someone that suffers from them. For those that do, I know you know exactly what I’m talking about.

All winter long we wait for spring and warmer weather to come along, and then when it does, it brings a blast of allergy inducing pollens right along with it. The most common symptoms of seasonal allergies are runny nose, sinus congestion, sneezing, itchy eyes, itchy nose and itchy throat. Some will even get sinus related headaches and a cough from post nasal drip irritation. These symptoms can last from a few weeks up to the entire summer and into the fall for some severe sufferers.

So what can we do about these allergies, especially when even being quarantined inside our homes doesn’t seem to solve the problem? Why do some people get allergies and other don’t? How come I never had allergies before and suddenly I do?

In order to answer these questions we’ll have to take a deeper look at what causes allergies in the first place.

People often think of allergies very differently than they think about colds or flus. The reality is that these things are much more similar than you might imagine, because they are all reactions of the immune system.

When your body comes in contact with a cold or flu virus, it responds with antibodies to fight, with symptoms like coughing, sneezing, fever and mucous production to remove the offending attacker from the body. This is an appropriate immune response from a healthy functioning immune system. An allergy is an inappropriate response. The immune system is getting all fired up and responding to something that is not really a threat.

Here’s how it works. Some kind of substance enters the body, generally either food, chemical, or environmental, and the body has a choice. It either views the item as something safe, or something harmful, and then reacts accordingly. In the case of allergies, the body is overreacting, often to something that is virtually harmless, by releasing histamines in excess leading to inflammation and the above mentioned symptoms. This is why most allergy medications are a type of anti-histamine.

The problem with taking an antihistamine is not that they don’t work, because many times they will certainly help to reduce symptoms. The issue is that it is addressing the reaction product, not the reason that the body over reacted in the first place. It’s like if an electrical short caused a building to catch on fire, sure the fire department can come and put out the fire, but if no one calls an electrician to fix the short, the fire will just keep happening.

So we need to address the root cause of the immune system’s over reaction. And to do that, we need to look at the gut. Nope, you didn’t read that wrong. Most of your body’s magical immune system starts in the gut where are all the nutrients are absorbed, intruders are filtered out and good bacteria live. Any damage to this system can lead to your body being over sensitive.

Imagine you’re lying in bed just drifting off to sleep when you hear a small crash out in the living room. You sit bolt up in bed, eyes wide, ears tuned, heart racing. You hold your breath trying to hear better. Is that someone coming down the hallway?? You grab your alarm clock ready to throw it at whoever is about to walk through your door. Seconds tick by as your heart pounds…you see the half open door ease open and you THROW! The alarm clock collides with the door with a crash and your poor cat Buffy takes off under the bed.

This is exactly what is happening in the body when it reacts to “allergens”. When the lining of your intestines gets damaged, intruders such as the foods you eat can get into the bloodstream when they shouldn’t. This leads to inflammation, and your body being on high alert at all times ready to “throw the alarm clock”, and just like in our scenario, it often throws at the wrong target, or a target that shouldn’t get attacked at all, like poor little Buffy. While your conscious mind knows that Buffy was probably the culprit and can go to sleep just fine the next night, your immune system doesn’t work that way. Once it has decided something is an intruder once, it sets up more alerts to take even bigger action the next time.

This answers our questions:

Why do some people have allergies and some don’t?

The answer is that if one person has a well-balanced, undamaged gut, then their body is not likely to be overly sensitive to foreign substances coming in. To use our night time example, when it hears the crash, it simply gets up, sees Buffy next to the broken vase, realizes there’s no threat and goes back to bed.

Why do I have allergies now when I never did before?

It is likely that your gut has slowly become damaged over time. What was once a well-oiled machine is now functioning poorly and has finally reached a threshold level of inflammation and irritation.

This is GREAT news! Doesn’t sound like great news? Hear me out. If we can get down to the bottom of a few things, we can generally greatly diminish, or solve people’s allergy issues altogether!

When we evaluate someone for allergies, we’ll have to look at both the things that are causing the reaction, as well as what is causing the damage to the immune system. While there are some instances where we need to do more extensive testing like lab work, there are often ways that we can test a person right in the office to find out what they are sensitive to both externally and internally. With the help of some elimination, and the right supplements, results can be achieved fairly quickly!

If this sounds too good to be true then you probably haven’t heard of NAET or JMT treatments.

NAET and JMT are cutting-edge, non-invasive treatments based on the systems of acupuncture and homeopathy which neutralize symptoms related to an allergy or hypersensitivity. Unlike traditional acupuncture, these particular treatments are done without the use of needles.

During an allergy treatment, the specific acupuncture points that are treated correspond to points along the spine that are treated during a chiropractic adjustment. These specific acupuncture points are used for their whole-body balancing properties and work to reset one's nervous and immune systems as they relate to the sensitivity. A good analogy is what happens when ctrl-alt-delete is entered on a computer to reboot it when it stops functioning properly due to an error message. The error message represents the allergic response or hypersensitivity in the body. This process allows the body to now respond normally to something that previously caused an allergic or hypersensitive reaction. Sometimes, your body just needs to be rebooted! This is crucial for anyone experiencing food/chemical/environmental sensitivities, because if you eliminate all the sources and even heal your gut, your body may STILL be stuck on high alert. A simple reboot to the nervous system will help get you back to functioning normally!

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