A Natural Approach to Allergy
What is allergy?
Allergy may present as asthma, eczema, rashes, allergic rhinitis, hay fever, anaphylaxis, and seemingly unrelated symptoms as recognised in food intolerance. In fact, the definition of allergy can be debated, but the common factor in all these presentations is an immunological response and inflammation. It is widely accepted that there is a global increase in the worsening or frequency of symptoms in previously sensitized individuals, and increase in sensitization in individuals with a family history.
Epidemiological evidence shows that allergic disease varies widely, and suggests that environment and lifestyle are predisposing factors. The increase of allergic respiratory symptoms in urbanised areas has been shown to be related to exposure to air pollution, from exhaust fumes, industrial and incinerator waste. 21st century lifestyle also characterises more time spent indoors, where there is greater exposure to house dust mite, mould, animal dander, and cigarette smoke.
In the last 25 years, individuals are also being exposed to unprecedented levels of synthetic chemicals. These chemicals are found in cosmetic, domestic, horticultural, technological and construction products which are ingested through food, water, and the skin.
Pollution of the sea has led to contamination of the food chain, and processed food contains preservatives, colouring and artificial flavours which increase the toxic burden. Agriculture, over the last 25 years, led to increased use of pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, and anti-biotics, all of which contaminate foods.
Even the childhood vaccination programme, which in concept makes sense, exposes babies to hidden chemical additives such as mercury, aluminium, formaldehyde, sulphites, and monosodium glutamate which add to the overall chemical burden. Similarly, the widespread prescribing of pharmaceutical drugs has caused allergic drug reactions.
Dietary changes over the last 25 years, with excessive consumption of refined and processed food can also be considered a likely factor in the inflammation associated with allergy. Inadequate levels of anti- oxidants found in fruit and vegetables, contribute to impaired immunity. Vitamin D, is also essential to protect an increasingly allergic population, as well as EPA and DHA, found in fish oils.
The relationship between gut flora, inflammation and immunity also appears to be a likely factor in the incidence of allergy. This is particularly important in infants, where a natural birth and breast feeding have been shown to effect gut flora.
The effect of stress, as a cause of inflammation, is also being considered in the clinical application of allergy. However, behavioural changes due to psychological coping mechanisms, such as diet, alcohol, smoking, exercise, will also influence onset of allergic symptoms.
A Natural Solution
So, although, many factors in 21st Century environmental change, may affect allergy, it is the cumulative effect in atopic individuals, which determines the onset of symptoms.
A Naturopathic approach to Allergy, considers an alternative to pharmaceutical intervention.
Elimination of toxic exposure is essential. Simply choosing natural products for all aspects of daily life will significantly reduce exposure. A natural whole food diet, rich with anti oxidants, essential fatty acids, minerals and vitamins will protect against an increasingly toxic environment. Stress management and relaxation techniques need to be incorporated into increasingly demanding 21st Century lifestyles.