Now Available: Seasonal Support Protocol by The Emerson Ecologics Medical Education Team
Not on Wellevate? Create an account.
THE IMMUNE RESPONSE TO ALLERGENS
We know that allergic reactions occur when the immune system overreacts to a harmless substance and produces antibodies to attack that substance. Common allergic reactions, such as “hay fever”, certain types of asthma, hives and dermatitis are linked to immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. Each IgE antibody can be very specific, reacting only to certain substances. For instance, a person can be allergic to one type of pollen, but not another.
Mast cells are found in mucosal and epithelial tissues throughout the body. When an allergen (antigen) enters the body (such as through inhalation), IgE antibodies bind to the antigen, and then bind to a mast cell receptor. This interaction destabilizes the mast cell membrane and releases the contents of the mast cell which includes histamine and other chemical messengers. Histamine causes increased vascular permeability causing fluid to escape from capillaries into the tissues, which leads to the classic symptoms of an allergic reaction: sneezing, a runny nose and watery eyes which all happens to help your body get rid of the offending substance or irritant.
The chemicals released by mast cells cause inflammation, and affected tissues may become red, swollen and tender. Mast cells release additional chemicals, called chemotactic factors, that then attract many other inflammatory cells to the site, including eosinophils, neutrophils, and lymphocytes. Once they’ve arrived, each one of these cells contributes to the late phase of the allergic response. Eosinophils generate chemicals similar to those made by mast cells, as well as release more irritating toxic substances. Neutrophils release a number of chemicals including enzymes, which degrade proteins, and in turn cause further tissue damage.
A healthy, normal immune response is supported with diet and naturally occurring food chemicals, such as vitamins and flavonoids. Allergic inflammation is mediated by several types of immune cells, all of which can respond to naturally occurring bioactive compounds in the diet. Research looking into the actions of flavonoids, flavones, terpines, anthocyanins and other food phytochemicals show that they all influence different steps within the allergic cascade, and are therefore complementary. There is synergistic action between them, suggesting that there is no one “magic bullet” and that the best strategy is to consume a variety for the best effect in supporting normal immune system function.
Some natural compounds found in food are mast cell stabilizers. Mast cell stabilizers help to inhibit the degranulation of the mast cell upon allergen exposure, thereby reducing the release of chemical mediators like histamine. Despite the fact that naturally occurring mast cell stabilizers have been the subject of many studies, their precise mechanisms of action still remain unknown.
An article published in the British Journal of Pharmacology in 2013 had this conclusion, “In some situations, their mechanism of action has been elucidated, while in many situations their activity is not solely limited to their effect on mast cells. Indeed, in many situations they also target many inflammatory events, which may ultimately complement their effect on mast cell degranulation.”
Conventional OTC treatments for seasonal allergies may come with a list of side effects, including drowsiness. The good news? Embarking on and consistently following an integrative program to balance the immune response can have a big pay-off in the end. People can and do overcome their allergies given the right lifestyle changes and nutritional support over time.
PROBIOTICS FOR IMMUNE BALANCE
Clinical studies have shown that allergies alter an individual’s microbiome. These studies have also shown that specific strains of probiotics (Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM® and Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07) have beneficial effects in supporting a balanced immune response and supporting sinus and nasal health.
For a look at the interesting research on this topic click here https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2710782/ and here https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28029082/
OTHER SUPPLEMENT INGREDIENTS FOR SEASONAL SUPPORT
Clinical studies are still lacking in providing substantive information on using herbs and phytonutrients for seasonal support. Research consists mainly of in-vitro and animal studies. However, traditional use of quercetin, nettle leaf, luteolin (perilla), tinospora and reishi have shown benefits for seasonal immune balance, and new research on probiotics informs us further on the importance of supporting the microbiome. Click to read the latest scientific review article on this topic.
The integrative approach is to address the root cause of seasonal symptoms – the immune system – to calm and support a more balanced response which may reduce and eventually eliminate symptoms. Unfortunately, this can take time, one or more seasons, and year-round focus to support the immune system in finding its normal balance. An anti-inflammatory diet and other lifestyle modifications are the foundation for success.
Sign in to take a look at this latest protocol in the Wellevate Protocol Library, or, if you’re new to Wellevate, set up an account to view these and dozens of other protocols from leading integrative and functional medicine experts!