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Allergy Supplements

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About Allergy Supplements

Sneezing, itchy eyes, watery nose, congestion headaches—these are just some of the irritating symptoms that can be experienced with allergies. Some of the most common allergic conditions are sinusitis, hayfever, asthma, dermatitis and eczema. These are all referred to as atopic conditions. Though there may be a hereditary (genetic) component that makes us more susceptible to each of these conditions, we still need contact with an allergen, which is the trigger. Allergens may include pollens, dust or mould spores, or even proteins found in the food we eat, such as gluten (gliadin). 


When we are exposed to an environmental allergen, such as a cleaning chemical, we often see external signs on the skin that warn us of an immunological reaction. With food allergies, we actually consume the allergen, making them harder to detect. For instance, kiwi fruit allergy can cause slight burning or soreness in the mouth for several hours afterwards. However, if we only occassionaly eat the fruit as part of a mixed meal that someone else cooked, it can be hard to detect.


Kiwi fruit allergy is more common in young children, where they react to a protein called actinidin. This biological effect was reported in Clinical and Experimental Allergy all the way back in 2004. More subtle food allergies (sensitivities) can sometimes just make us feel “off”, tired or unwell, as the allergen winds up our immune system and inflammatory processes over an extended period of time. 


Identifying food allergies is the key to successful management of atopic conditions. The standard method for identification is a skin prick test that assesses primarily IgE antibodies. Based on this method of assessment, it was identified in 2014 and published in the journal Methods, that cow’s milk allergies affect somewhere between 2% and 9% of individuals. IgE is a great scientifically validated method that is helpful for understanding the most overt allergens. However, it does not detect food sensitivities. For this, IgG or IgA methods may be useful. 


With regards to contact allergens that find their way onto the skin, often they also make it into the lungs when we breathe. The immune system recognises them as foreign molecules, which activates our defense system, involving the immune system and inflammation.   


Why then should we take supplements if the body is simply reacting to a chemical or protein? These immune responses are often excessive and sometimes even harmful in extreme cases. They can also have significant health ramifications if we are constantly exposed to the allergen, negatively affecting quality of life. Of course, doing your best to remove the offending allergen from your diet or environment is the first step, such as removing mouldy carpets or talking to the neighbours about their daisies.


Fortunately, the internal responses to these allergenic triggers can be modulated if they are mild. Inflammatory responses can be reduced, while overactive immune cells can be "calmed", such as the T-helper 2 lymphocytes. There are also herbs and nutrients that simply help with natural symptom management, such as horseradish for mucous congestion and marshmallow root to soothe irritated mucous membranes. 


The bioflavonoid Quercetin plays an important role in the prevention and treatment of mild to moderate atopic conditions. It has been shown to exhibit anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory responses, and also functions as a natural antioxidant and anti-viral compound. Taken with Vitamin C or bromelains, it can modulate our responsiveness to triggers, like pollens and molds.