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When is an allergy not an allergy?

Summer is here, at last! The rain has stopped and the “high” temps are finally above the 70s. After a rough winter and a sloppy spring, we are all ready for a wonderful summer. However, for those of you with allergies, summer is not always the best thing. Pollen, ragweed, hay fever, flowers, grass, etc. lead to sneezing, fatigue, brain fog, and all the rest of the symptoms you know so well as allergies.

So bring on the Claritin, the Allegra, and all the drugs that help you survive.  Don’t mind the side effects—headaches, sleepiness, diarrhea, nervousness, stomach pain, etc.—your nose is dry! That’s all that matters!  Remember one of the side effects of antihistamines is weight gain. Are all of those side effects worth it just to have a dry nose?

There are natural approaches to allergies that are quite helpful, and typically the only side effects are better health, and NO weight gain!  Bioflavonoids are natural antihistamines and can be strongly anti-allergenic.  Some probiotics have also been shown to be quite helpful!   But don’t buy just any probiotics off the shelf; some strains of bacteria in certain probiotics actually increase histamine production.  Red clover and stinging nettle both quell allergic reactions, but both have effects on hormones so should only be used under supervision.  Chiropractic adjustments have often helped with allergies as well. How? By resetting the immune system and balancing the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems.

But what about the times when an allergy is NOT really an allergy?   I made the mistake myself a few times in the past of treating patients for allergies who did not really have allergies.  This typically happens when a patient comes in and tells me that they had already been diagnosed with allergies.  When the treatment doesn’t really work, I would question the patient, only to find they either self-diagnosed or they were misdiagnosed by their primary care provider and treated as such.

So if it is not an allergy, then what is it? There is a fairly common condition called histamine intolerance.  It is caused by overreaction on the part of your body to histamine either coming into your body or being produced by your body.  Your body produces histamine naturally all the time—you need it to function. But when your body overreacts it looks just like an allergy. Some foods are very high in histamine, such as fermented things like alcohol and sauerkraut, and also sour cream. Other foods with high histamine are smoked meats, some shellfish, and beans and pulses like chickpea, soybeans, and peanuts. Pickles, certain nuts, and unfortunately, chocolate all have high histamine as well.

People who feel full and bloated after eating certain foods typically have histamine intolerance.  Another indication of histamine intolerance is facial flushing. If you have been diagnosed with allergies for any of these, think back and see if maybe you or someone else jumped to a misdiagnosis. There are simple tests to confirm if you really are allergic to certain foods, and we do have that test available here at Burtis Chiropractic.

There are natural ways to treat histamine intolerance.  It is not as simple as just taking antihistamines, although you will get temporary relief. Just avoiding all high histamine foods can work as well, although that can be tricky.  Again, chiropractic correction of neurological imbalance will help.  Supplements that block the breakdown of an enzyme called diamine oxidase can improve your response as well. Please remember as always, if you go to Amazon to buy your supplements you have a 1 in 4 chance of buying a counterfeit supplement that won’t work and may make you sick.

If you have confirmed you really do have allergies, remember there are safe and effective alternatives.  If allergies have not been confirmed, talk to an expert in functional medicine who knows how to tell you what is really going on; I have been certified as a Functional Medicine Practitioner and am happy to help guide you in diagnosing and treating these issues. Achieving histamine balance can change your life and give you back your energy and vitality.  And the natural methods we employ have one major side effect… HEALTH!!  Here’s to an allergy free and histamine neutral summer!

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