Pollen allergies are caused by pollen, which is made up of small egg-shaped grains of dust released by flowering plants. Pollen is carried by wind, bees and other insects from one plant to another to perform its essential reproductive function. This is part of the natural cycles for life on earth to continue, however, when different types of pollen fly through the air, they can often, especially in seasonal locations, land in the eyes, nose, lungs and skin.
Spring allergies are usually caused by trees, mainly oak, olive, elm, birch, ash, walnut, poplar, sycamore, maple, cypress and hickory.
Late summer and autumn pollen allergies are usually caused by weed pollens. Again, these allergies may depend on your location.
Also, if you travel to another country or continent, you may notice that some allergies disappear or new ones appear, depending on the season and the type of plants and pollens in the area.
However, some allergies are not caused by pollen, but by indoor moulds, dust mites, pet dander or cockroaches. This is why it is important to know the cause of your allergies in order to prevent them. Today we will focus on seasonal pollen allergies.
Symptoms of pollen allergies
Although some of the most common problems caused by pollen allergies are sneezing, runny nose and coughing, they can lead to a variety of other symptoms. Symptoms of pollen allergies can include, in addition:
Sinus congestion, watery or itchy eyes, red eyes, itchy throat, coughing, wheezing, itchy skin, and even hives, stomach pain, fatigue and irritability.
How the Immune System Reacts to Pollen Allergies
Any pollen allergy is linked to your immune system. When your immune system is out of balance, it can trigger pollen allergies or other types of allergies. This can happen from any bodily stressor that interferes with the healthy function and natural strength of your immune system.
According to an article by Dr. David Jockers, if you have experienced environmental problems early in life, your body may not be able to develop a natural immune response to certain pollens or other things and make you prone to allergic reactions. However, if you experience an immune condition later in life, it can wreak havoc on your immune system and cause allergic reactions when you are older.
What Organs Make Up Your Immune System
The human body's first line of defence is the skin and mucous membranes, which act as physical barriers.
The bulk of the defence system is made up of the lymphatic system.
The lymphatic system includes the lymph nodes, which are small bean-shaped tissues found along the lymphatic vessels. The lymph nodes act as filters. Various immune system cells trap germs in the lymph nodes and trigger the creation of special antibodies in the blood. Swollen or sore lymph nodes are a sign that the immune system is active, e.g. to fight infection.
The endocrine system with the special role of the thymus gland
Special types of immune system cells called thymus cell lymphocytes (T-cells) mature in the thymus. Among other tasks, these cells coordinate the processes of the innate and adaptive immune systems. T-lymphocytes move throughout the body and constantly monitor the surface of all cells for changes.
The spleen is located in the upper left side of the abdomen, below the diaphragm, and is responsible for several different tasks:
- It stores various cells of the immune system. When needed, they move through the blood to other organs. Scavenger cells (phagocytes) in the spleen act as a filter for germs entering the bloodstream.
- Breaks down red blood cells (erythrocytes).
- It stores and breaks down platelets (thrombocytes), which are responsible, among other things, for blood clotting.
The tonsils are also part of the immune system. Because of their location in the throat and roof of the mouth, they can prevent germs from entering the body through the mouth or nose. The tonsils also contain many white blood cells, which are responsible for killing germs. There are different types of tonsils: the palatine tonsils, the adenoids and the lingual tonsil. All these tonsillar structures together are sometimes called Waldeyer's ring, as they form a ring around the opening of the throat from the mouth and nose.
There is also lymphoid tissue in the side of the throat, which can perform the functions of the palatine tonsils if they are removed.
Bone marrow is a sponge-like tissue found inside bones. It is where most of the cells of the immune system are produced and also multiply. These cells move to other organs and tissues through the blood. At birth, many bones contain red bone marrow, which actively creates immune system cells. Throughout our lives, more and more red bone marrow is converted into fatty tissue. In adulthood, only a few bones still contain red bone marrow, such as the ribs, sternum and pelvis.
The intestine plays a key role in the body's defence against germs: more than half of all antibody-producing cells in the body are found in the intestinal wall, especially in the last part of the small intestine and in the appendix. These cells detect foreign substances, mark them and destroy them. They also store information about the substances so that they can react more quickly the next time. The large intestine also contains harmless bacteria called gastrointestinal or gut flora. A healthy gut flora makes it more difficult for germs to spread and enter the body.
The Key to Counteracting Seasonal Allergies May Reside in a Well-Balanced Immune Response
It may seem strange to you that allergies could have a bearing on your digestive health, but the truth is that a disturbed and unbalanced gut flora can very easily make you vulnerable to allergies or increase your symptoms.
In fact, the gut microbiome is responsible for 70% of the body's innate immune response and allows it to differentiate between what are known as safe environmental particles, such as pollen, weeds and dust, and unsafe environmental particles, such as bad bacteria, viruses and unhealthy yeasts.
If the gut flora is altered at an early age, immune disengagement and hypersensitivity to safe environmental particles can occur. This can not only increase the risk of pollen and other seasonal allergies, but also the risk of asthma, autoimmune diseases and chronic inflammation, according to Jockers.
The Role of Histamine
Histamine is an important neurotransmitter and immune messenger molecule. It is essential for the proper functioning of the body. It is involved in processes such as inflammatory response and communication with the brain. Histamine receptors are found throughout the body, including smooth muscle and endothelial cells, the intestines and the central nervous system.
Although histamine is essential and plays a very important role in your health, it is important to have enough histamine, but not too much. Histamine intolerance means that your body has too much histamine.
Histamine intolerance can also affect the whole body, including the lungs, intestines, brain, heart and hormones. It can cause a variety of problems, such as digestive problems, sleep disorders, bladder problems, anxiety, headaches and skin problems. Pollen and seasonal allergies are some of the signs of histamine intolerance.
Lifestyle Measures that Help You to Counteract Pollen Allergies
Lifestyle plays a key role in the way the immune system acts and responds to the environment.
To reduce your exposure to agents that trigger allergy signs and symptoms (allergens):
- Stay indoors on dry and windy days. The best time to go out is after a good rain, which helps to remove pollen from the air.
- Avoid mowing the lawn, pulling weeds and other gardening tasks that raise allergens.
- Take off any clothes you have been wearing and take a shower to remove pollen from your skin and hair.
- Do not hang clothes outdoors: pollen can cling to sheets and towels.
- Wear a mask if you do outdoor work.
Anti-inflammatory Foods that Help Prevent and/or Alleviate seasonal allergies
- Drink plenty of filtered water
- Eat nutrient-dense anti-inflammatory foods, such as leafy greens, kale, spinach, collard greens and Swiss chard, vegetables, such as cucumber, celery and asparagus.
- Low-glycaemic fruits, such as lemon, lime and berries.
- Spices, such as turmeric, ginger, mint, rosemary and oregano,
- Healthy fats, such as avocado, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil and organic butter or ghee.
- Good quality, organic, complete proteins.
- Fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir.
Supplements to Help Prevent or Control Allergies
- Probiotics. Probiotics play an important role in the microbiome and immune stability. Studies have shown that probiotics can help reduce allergy symptoms providing much relief to people who use them.
- Spirulina. Allergic rhinitis - which you probably know as seasonal allergies or hay fever - is a group of conditions characterised by inflammation of the nasal passages. It can also be caused by other things you are not allergic to, such as dust mites and pet dander.
Symptoms usually include itchy and watery eyes, sneezing and runny nose. It is well documented that spirulina helps fight inflammatory reactions, such as seasonal allergies, by blocking histamines.
One placebo-controlled study found that spirulina successfully reduced symptoms of allergic rhinitis, including runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion and itching.
Many supplements suggest a dose of about 2 g per day, but multiple studies have shown that higher doses are generally well tolerated.
- Vitamin D3: Vitamin D3 is crucial for the body's immune function. Low levels of vitamin D3 are associated with chronic inflammation and allergies.
Ideally, get regular sun exposure, but if this is not possible, as far as possible use infrared light therapy. Or take a vitamin D3 supplement with K2, at least 5-6,000 IU per day.
- Omega-3: Omega-3 oils can be very helpful in reducing allergies because of their potent anti-inflammatory effect as they have a systemic effect on the body and can reduce both allergic and cardiovascular inflammation.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can dramatically reduce allergy symptoms such as hay fever and asthma. You can get vitamin C from citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, tomatoes and melon.
- Nettle leaf: It is known that nettle can regulate a variety of inflammatory actions such as histamine.