Allergy season tends to come early for the Vancouver area, typically commencing end of January, early February.  Common inhalant allergy symptoms include runny nose, itchy eyes, sinus congestion, and fatigue.

Allergies are a common affliction, affecting up to 25 percent of the population.  Around the time of year when pollen from trees, grass and flower is in the air, allergy (late Winter, Spring for Vancouver area) symptoms can get particularly bad.  An important thing to note is that allergies may indicate an impaired or imbalanced immune system whether they occur seasonally or year round. 

There are a few basic functional approaches to identify potential exacerbating factors for allergy.  A couple of these may include adrenal gland insufficiency, chronic yeast infection and/or yeast hypersensitivity. 

The first issue, adrenal gland insufficiency, has the most components to it.  The adrenal glands are two small groups of tissue situated above each kidney.  Within the body, they partake in a variety of functions including contributing to the control of blood volume, blood pressure, energy, and probably most importantly, reacting to stress.  These are some hormones that it secretes:

Aldosterone: responsible for control of the levels of salts in the blood

Adrenaline: responsible for the "adrenaline rush", makes blood vessels clamp down and become less permeable or leaky

Cortisol: natural stress hormone, modulates of the immune system

From the functions of the hormones you've probably guessed that the adrenals play a role in keeping allergic symptoms at bay because of cortisol and adrenaline.  Cortisol is probably the most important as it prevents an over-active immune system from getting out of control.  It is related to the well known immune suppressants called prednisone and cortisone, but physiologically in the body the natural cortisol serves the important role of keeping a balanced immune system and giving a healthy, energy-providing response to stress.  Daily cortisol rhythm may be altered, which may be associated with increased daytime tiredness and/or trouble sleeping at night.

Keep in mind we are not talking about an outright deficiency of cortisol in the blood.  The importance of adrenal insufficiency may be subtle in allergies, and blood levels are often normal.  It's the pattern of tissue delivery through the day that may be off.  Normally cortisol secretion to the tissues should be highest in the morning, reducing throughout the day, lowest at night.  

 In many patients with allergies in my experience, salivary analysis throughout the day may show a second pattern, with deficiency at one or multiple times during the day, sometimes deficiency only in the morning.

We should keep in mind that allergies are of course not the only potential stressor on the adrenal glands.  Someone may be prone to have this subtle insufficiency if the other daily stressors are not handled appropriately.  In my experience, a stressor under individual personal control are blood sugar fluctuations during the day.   Having blood sugar that rapidly rises and then falls forces the adrenal gland to work to stabilize the sugar levels.  Adrenaline plays a large role in this, (as does the pancreas).  Stabilizing dietary sugar intake is generally encouraged.

For allergies, intravenous immune bags may be recommended, which are intravenous infusions of vitamin C at a dosage of 12.5 grams to 50 grams. By bypassing oral absorption with intravenous nutrient therapy, blood ascorbate levels may get higher than typically from oral administration, depending on the dose administered.  If indicated, salivary testing for the adrenal hormones is can be done may be assessed and then treatment recommended accordingly. 

Steps often recommended to allergy patients (as per the discretion of the patient and the doctor; recommendations vary according to case specifics): 

1.Avoid sugar: this hits two of the common causes. First, sugar stresses the adrenal glands and makes it more difficult for optimal production of the natural cortisol. Second, a high sugar diet makes for a favorable environment for yeast overgrowth in the bowel.

2.Vitamin C orally.  Vitamin C is concentrated in the adrenal glands.  At the biochemical level, it quenches and acts as a natural anti-histamine (1, 2)

3. HEPA air filter. Decreasing allergen load in the home may help to decrease the pathological polarization of the immune system.  The air filter has to be powerful enough to cover the size of the room, and should be portable so it can be moved from room to room if needed.

 

 

References:

 

  1. Hagal AF. et al.  2013.  Intravenous infusion of ascorbic acid decreases serum histamine concentrations in patients with allergic and non-allergic diseases.  Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol. 2013 Sep;386(9):789-93   2013 May 11.

  2. Johnston CS1, Martin LJ, Cai X.  1992. Antihistamine effect of supplemental ascorbic acid and neutrophil chemotaxis. J Am Coll Nutr.  Apr;11(2):172-6.