By Lawrence Wilson, MD
© December 2009, the Center for Development, Inc.
Allergies or allergic reactions, to be more precise, are reactions in the body due to exposure to airborne particles, foods, water, molds, dusts, chemicals, pollens and other substances. They have several major causes that we will discuss in this article.
CAUSES OF ALLERGIES
A rough explanation of allergies is that any substance in the air, water, food, or through physical contact can act as a ‘foreign object’ in the body. The body then produces antibodies to neutralize or help rid the body of the foreign substance. In the process, histamine and other chemicals are released which cause allergic symptoms.
Often allergic symptoms are good in that the body seeks to expel the offending substance. Sneezing or coughing when you breathe dust, for example, is a normal reaction of the body. If, however, the normal defense mechanisms malfunction or become extra-sensitive, the reaction can become prolonged or excessive.
The causes of allergies involve one or more of the following mechanisms in most cases:
Weak adrenal glands and low cortisol and cortisone production. Cortisol, cortisone and adrenalin stop allergic reactions.
Excessive cell permeability. This allows foreign proteins and other substances to pass into the body from the nasal passages, intestines and elsewhere.
Fatigue or stress from any causes, which affect many systems of the body, notably the adrenal glands.
Weakened capillaries leading to capillary fragility. This has to do with copper imbalance, vitamin deficiencies such as vitamin C, and a need for substances such as bioflavinoids.
Impaired quality of certain mucus membranes, which opens the body to penetration by foreign proteins.
Other nutrient deficiencies or toxic metals such as mercury, lead and others.
Food allergies are often due to the presence of candida albicans or other infections that cause “leaky gut syndrome”. Chemicals in foods and improper diet also commonly cause food reactions and can damage the intestines.
ALLERGIES AND THE ADRENALS
One of the body’s defense mechanisms to regulate allergic reactions is the release of cortisone, adrenalin (epinephrine) and other chemicals from the adrenal glands. These chemicals both prevent allergic reactions and participate in them. For example, when a person enters a hospital with asthma or a bee sting, often the doctor gives a shot of cortisone, cortisol or adrenalin to stop the allergic reaction.
If the adrenal glands are not functioning correctly however, a person may experience excessive allergic reactions, or, for that matter, fewer reactions than are optimal. Recall that some reactions are normal and necessary for survival of the body.
If the glands are under active, they may not produce enough hormones when needed to create a reaction, or not enough to complete an allergic reaction. This condition is extremely common in our population. The adrenal glands are often nutritionally depleted and toxic. This can impair their functioning in a variety of ways.
Weak or stressed adrenal glands may be due to fatigue, nutritional deficiencies, stress, fast-paced lifestyles, negative emotions such as worry and fear and excessive toxic substances in the body. This is an extremely common cause of allergies of all kinds. They can include hay fever, skin outbreaks and many other types of allergies. The adrenals require a variety of nutrients including vitamin A, C, E, pantothenic acid and others to help them rebuild. They also require plenty of rest.
TOXIC METALS AND TOXIC CHEMICALS
Although the adrenal glands are often involved, toxic metals and toxic chemicals can, of themselves, cause allergic reactions. These account for many cases of food poisoning, for example. They may also cause many other types of allergic reactions, from hay fever to much more severe reactions due to medical drugs, for example.
In addition to environmental toxins, most people produce toxins in their intes-tines due to inadequate digestive juices or improper diet. For example, protein foods that are not digested actually rot or putrefy in the intestines. These produce very toxic substances that are absorbed into the liver.
Another source of toxicity in some instances are toxins due to chronic infec-tions. These produce what are called endotoxins and/or exotoxins. Common sites of acute and chronic infections include the ears, teeth, sinuses, throat, bronchial tubes and many more. Some of the symptoms of an infection can, in fact, be the body’s reactions to these toxins.
Reacting to all the toxins also contributes to adrenal exhaustion, over time. Thus the toxins can lead to another cause of allergic reactions, weak adrenal glands.
ALLERGIES AND CELL PERMEABILITY
Another cause of allergies is excessive permeability of the intestines and, in fact, of all cells. Permeability means the ease with which chemicals can pass in and out. If the cells are too permeable, foreign substances can enter and cause severe allergies.
This is a poorly understood cause of allergies, but one that is most important. Adequate calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, and other minerals are most essential to prevent excessive cell permeability. Fatty acids, especially the Omega-3 fatty acids, also play an important role in cell membrane permeability. Bioflavinoids such as rutin, hespirdan, quercitin and many others tend to help strengthen cell membranes by their anti-oxidant and other properties. All these nutrients, therefore, can play a role in allergy prevention and correction.
Excessive cell permeability is most common in fast oxidizers. This means the people in whom the tissue calcium and magnesium levels are low in relation to their hair sodium and potassium levels. This group includes most very young children, among others. For this reason, young children often have skin reactions such as hives, dermatitis, eczema and other skin problems. They may also have food allergies, although these can be due to excessive permeability of the intestinal lining.
Fast oxidizers also have another reason for severe reactions at times. They have none or little adrenal reserves. This means the adrenal glands are in a constant state of excess hormone production. In particular, cortisol helps reduce or even stop al-lergic reactions. In the fast oxidizer metabolic type, the adrenals are already secreting excessive hormones, with little in reserve. If a stressful situation arises, there is no re-serve supply to counter the stressor and a severe reaction can result. The combination of low cell permeability and low adrenal reserves can occasionally cause fatal allergic reactions, such as those that occur in asthmatic attacks.
Reactions to foods are very common and can have a variety of causes. We have already discussed imbalanced adrenal glands, excessive cell permeability and the pres-ence of toxins. However, food reactions can also be due to the very nutrients or other chemicals in the food. The nutrient content of the food itself can, in some cases, serious-ly unbalance the body chemistry, leading to powerful reactions.
The most common example of this may be the consumption of sugar. Sugar lowers calcium, increases insulin for a while and places extra strain on the adrenal glands. It has many other effects besides these on the body. The combination of these effects, in some people, causes severe reactions that may affect behavior, skin rashes, flaring of infections and much more.
Another common example is the allergic reaction to milk in many people. The body of many people cannot digest lactose, or milk sugar. As a result, it ferments or causes other adverse chemical reactions that cause cramps, and even depression. Another common example are reactions to food colorings, additives, preservatives and other foreign, toxic substances found in many prepared foods today. These, also, can cause substantial reactions. The reaction to MSG (monosodium glutamate) for example, is very common with a band-like headache.
Food reactions can be due simply to the nutrient content of the food. For example, a food high in copper such as chocolate may adversely affect body chemistry in some people. Other people are not affected and may even feel better on it if they need the nutrients it contains.
Other causes for food reactions are eating when upset or tired, inadequate chewing of food, drinking too much liquid with meals, which dilutes stomach acid, eating too fast, eating too much and other poor eating habits. Food that is overcooked or undercooked can also cause reactions in sensitive people. This is why caution must always be exercised, especially when eating at restaurants or fast food places. One does not know what is in the food in these establishments, and most of it is not great for you.
Food reactions may cause a wide variety of symptoms. Many have nothing to do with the stomach or intestines and include headaches, fatigue, depression, cramps, pains in the joints, rashes and others.
Most people today would benefit from better quality food, better eating habits and digestive enzymes at least until their body chemistry is more balanced. A vicious cycle often occurs in which impaired digestion causes reduced nutrient absorption, which in turn causes even worse digestive problems. Several years on an excellent diet with nutritional supplements are required to reverse this downward cycle.
Often detoxification procedures such as saunas are also required to eliminate toxic substances that have built up in the body for years due to impaired digestion.
An interesting type of allergies are those that affect the brain or central nervous system. They can be caused by almost anything, from foods to pollen, dust, molds, chemicals and other substances. What distinguishes them is that the symptoms affect the brain, rather than other body systems. For example, one may become depressed, anxious, irritable or even violent when exposed to the offending substance. Other symptoms might include tremendous fatigue, or other nervous system symptoms such as tingling, numbness, headaches or others. Brain allergies can even cause psychosis such as schizophrenic episodes.
Brain allergies must be handled just as with any other type by avoiding the offending substances and hopefully with a complete nutritional balancing program to restore the body to health. Many times the allergies will then go away.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT ALLERGIES
Conventional therapy for allergies. Symptomatic medication such as antihistamines and newer drugs may suppress the symptoms of allergies. However, they do not address deeper causes and may have harmful side effects. Long-term use of cortisone is best avoided due to serious side effects. Neutralization techniques such as allergy shots or newer techniques like NAET are much better than drugs but still do not reverse nutrient deficiencies and metal toxicity.
Nutritional Remedies. Simple nutritional remedies that may control allergies include bee pollen, manganese, vitamin C, vitamin A, bioflavinoids, essential fatty acids, and herbs such as stinging nettle. Nutritional remedies help strengthen the adrenal glands, reduce cell permeability or act like anti-histamines.
Stress Reduction. Reducing stress usually helps allergies a lot. Stress may come from many sources from within and without the body. When it reaches a certain level, the adrenals can no longer respond properly and allergies result. For this reason, any therapy or activity that reduces stress from any source may reduce allergies. Here are some specifics.
Lifestyle. Adequate rest and sleep are very important. Most allergy sufferers are tired. Fatigue often indicates adrenal gland insufficiency. Plenty of relaxation and rest in a clean, well-ventilated area helps reduce stress and fatigue.
Moderate exercise and deep breathing may be helpful. Excessive exercise weakens the adrenals and eventually makes allergies and asthma worse. Running or bicycling along heavily traveled roads may seem healthy but exposes one to harmful exhaust fumes.
Emotions have powerful effects on glandular activity. Fear, worry, anger and other negative emotions add stress to the body. Positive, inspiring, uplifting thoughts reduce stress.
Chronic infections such as candida albicans, infected teeth, ear or sinus infec-tions weaken the body and must be eliminated to stop some allergies.
Eliminating allergic foods from the diet often help reduce all allergies. The most common offenders are wheat, cow’s milk dairy and sugar in all forms. Juices often contain excessive sugars that upset blood sugar and weaken the adrenal glands. Re-laxed, regular, freshly-cooked meals in a quiet environment are also most helpful.
Detoxification. This is often a key aspect of a complete healing program. The single most powerful method for detoxification is an infrared lamp sauna therapy pro-gram. See the article on this site for more information about sauna therapy and the dif-ferent types of saunas. We also have a book available, Sauna Therapy, that discusses this inexpensive and powerful method in much more detail, including plans to build an infrared lamp sauna at home.
Other detoxification procedures I use and recommend include colonic irrigation, coffee enemas, foot reflexology and energetic medicine techniques.
REBUILDING THE BODY
A complete nutritional balancing program is the best way to end allergies for good. In many cases, simply improving the diet and lifestyle and eliminating certain foods and chemicals are not enough. Attempting to suppress allergy symptoms with various remedies, natural or otherwise, can mask the development of more serious health condi-tions.
Rebuilding health takes more work and time, but when done correctly gives longâ€‘lasting results. It also offers many healthful ‘side effects’ such as improved energy and resistance to many illnesses.
The goal of rebuilding is to replenish 30 or forty different nutrients, improve circulation, reduce the load of toxic metals and eliminate chronic infections. It involves balancing the activity of the adrenal and thyroid glands which produce the anti-inflammatory (antiâ€‘allergic) corticosteroid hormones.
Digestion and liver activity usually need strengthening. Toxic metals must be replaced with physiological minerals in enzyme binding sites. Detoxification may include the use of saunas and colonic irrigation to enhance the activity of these vital organs. Other natural therapies may also be required to correct structural and energetic imbal-ances.
I highly recommend rebuilding body chemistry. It requires hair mineral analy-sis to assess body chemistry and guide the design of a diet and supplement program. It requires a few years of diligence and detoxification procedures like saunas. It is well worth the effort. If one is willing to take these steps, most allergy problems can be elimi-nated for good!
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.