Hey kids! Who is that sneezing, sniffing or scratching?

With Spring upon us, treating and preventing those irritating allergic symptoms now can be a game changer!

So kids….does your dog send you into a sneezing frenzy? Do your favourite foods leave you bloated, headachy or irritable? Or do pollens and certain grasses leave your skin desperately itchy? If anyone answered yes to any of these, put your hand up, alongside the millions of people living with allergic conditions such as hay fever, asthma, food allergies and eczema.

So why does your body react this way? Essentially, your body believes that these otherwise harmless substances (animal hair, foods and grasses) are threatening. Hence, when it comes into contact with these substances, known as allergens, your immune system releases large amounts of the chemical histamine. Histamine’s job is to get an allergen out of your body by any means necessary. Some of the ways histamine does this job is by producing redness and inflammation, a running nose, itchy eyes, constricted airways, bloating and diarrhoea; manifestations of allergic disease.

Allergies are Like Onions, They Have Layers

Current approaches to allergy management centre on both allergen avoidance and reducing histamine (e.g. antihistamine medication). But why does your body think these substances are harmful and mount this response against them in the first place? Several contributing factors lead your body’s immune system to respond this way, including:

  • Inflammation within your digestive tract (where the majority of your immune system is found).
  • Damage to the lining of your digestive tract commonly known as ‘leaky gut’, allowing small particles (undigested food, bacteria and/or toxins) to pass through to the blood stream causing inflammation in other areas of the body).
  • Low levels of good bacteria and/or an overgrowth of bad bacteria within your intestine that interferes with your body’s immune response.

Addressing the Roots of Reactivity

Truly holistic allergy management encompasses symptomatic relief while also retraining the body’s immune system to tolerate ‘threatening’ allergens. One way you can achieve this is by following treatment that reduces allergy and reactivity as guided by your Naturopath. This incorporates carefully selected herbs and nutrients combined with tailored diet and lifestyle recommendations; to help repair your gut, improve your ability to tolerate allergens, and reduce your reactive symptoms.

The Ingredients That Reduce Reactivity

A number of herbs and nutrients can help you manage your symptoms of allergy and reactivity; by helping to restore balance to your immune system:

A prescribed combination of herbs that has antihistamine and anti-inflammatory actions – key to providing you with symptomatic relief.

Quercetin and Bromelains: These potent antioxidant nutrients help retrain your immune system, minimise respiratory congestion, and reduce mucus production.

Avoid processed sugar and processed fats: excess calories from these sources are stored as fat, especially around your waistline. They also encourage dysbiosis within your digestive tract.

Reishi and Shiitake: Medicinal mushrooms support healthy immune system function and neutralise allergens, along with reducing wheeze and excess mucus production.

A Tolerable Diet

Following a prescribed diet in conjunction with specialised supplementation greatly assists in reducing symptoms and building tolerance to allergens.

While you ‘rest’ from foods that may be creating inflammation and damage within your gut, this gives your immune system an opportunity to ‘reset’ and become more tolerant.

Strategically re-testing the foods you have been ‘resting’ from will determine the right amount for you in the future; so you can remain symptom free, while still enjoying the foods and activities you love.

Now is the time to address those irritating allergic symptoms by tackling the underlying causes. Building your immune system now can help you gain control of your reactivity and increase your tolerance levels, leading to a reduction in symptoms. Imagine indulging in the foods and activities you enjoy; patting your dog without sneezing, eating the foods you love without bloating, or having a picnic in the grass without itching – now that would be life changing!

Sarah Harris is an experienced naturopath with a special interest in paediatric health and wellbeing. She loves helping babies, children, mums and families navigate health challenges and stay well.

How do you know if you have Leaky Gut?

Leaky Gut with Georga Holt at The Melbourne Apothecary

Leaky gut – you have probably heard it before, but what exactly does it mean?

Leaky gut refers to when the lining of your gut wall becomes damaged, causing pathogens/toxins to leak into the gut and reduce nutrient absorption. Unfortunately leaky gut is relatively common, but fortunately it is something that we can heal. So let’s get a bit deeper into it. I’ll share with you WHY you need a healthy gut wall, HOW you know if you’ve got a leaky gut, and a few key HEALING options to factor into your leaky gut care plan.

 

What is the purpose of your gut wall?

Your gut wall is essential for the uptake of minerals, nutrients & water. It also prevents entry of pathogens & toxins and also reduces the loss of nutrients that you consume. If there is a ‘leak’ it can cause a vicious cycle with your health systemically, as your gut health plays a significant role in every organ and system of your body.

 

How do you know if you have a leaky gut?

If you notice any of the following symptoms it’s a good idea to chat with your naturopath or practitioner about it during your next treatment session.

  • Irregular bowel motions
  • Diarrhoea
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Abdominal pain
  • Low energy/fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Brain fog
  • Nutrient deficiencies

 

How do you get leaky gut in the first place?

Here are a few factors that can contribute to or reduce the integrity of your gut. Cast your mind back to the time when you started developing any of the above symptoms and see if it lines up with any of the following triggering factors.

 

Triggering factors:

  • Antibiotics
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Medications
  • Poor diet/inflammatory food
  • Stress

 

Okay, so this is all great to know. But how do you heal the gut?

Well, there are certain steps that need to be taken to ensure you are on the right path – for example see a trained health practitioner – whether that be a Naturopath or Nutritionist – this allows investigative work to take place to find out underlying causes/triggers, plus they will be able to design an individualised treatment plan to heal YOUR gut. Because at the end of the day, everyone’s gut (and health) is so unique and what worked for the person next to you won’t necessarily work for you.

In saying this there are some key components to a healthy glowing gut so here is a list of my top 4 go-to nutrients – make sure you consult with a practitioner to access high quality products at the right dose for your situation:

 

Glutamine

It repairs the tight gap junctions, boosts immune cell activity in the gut, prevents infections & reduces inflammation. It also soothes the intestinal tissue which can contribute to improving the integrity of the gut lining.

 

Zinc

Strengthens the tight gap junctions of the GIT lining which will reduce a leak of pathogens/toxins into the gut and plays a regulatory role in the immune system – which we know communicate quite closely.

 

Vitamin D

Plays a role as an immune modulator, anti inflammatory and antimicrobial agent. Low Vitamin D levels can contribute to IBS like symptoms due to a reduction of Vitamin D receptors which are found in the gut, this can reduce gut function such as motility causing bloating & digestive upset. Vitamin D also plays a role in intestinal epithelial barrier function and bowel inflammation.

 

Vitamin A

Studies have found that Vitamin A deficiency increases intestinal permeability (leaky gut), as it modulates inflammation and is an important component to the integrity of the GIT lining.

Written by Georga Holt, Naturopath.

Georga Holt is a respected general health Naturopath at The Melbourne Apothecary. Book in with Georga to improve your gut health and start  to reignite your sense of vibrancy.

 

References

Bischoff, S. C., Barbara, G., Buurman, W., Ockhuizen, T., Schulzke, J. D., Serino, M., Tilg, H., Watson, A., & Wells, J. M. (2014). Intestinal permeability–a new target for disease prevention and therapy. BMC gastroenterology14, 189. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12876-014-0189-7

Camilleri M. Leaky gut: mechanisms, measurement and clinical implications in humans. Gut. 2019 Aug;68(8):1516-1526. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2019-318427. Epub 2019 May 10. PMID: 31076401; PMCID: PMC6790068.

Rao JN, Wang JY. Regulation of Gastrointestinal Mucosal Growth. San Rafael (CA): Morgan & Claypool Life Sciences; 2010. Intestinal Architecture and Development. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK54098/

Skrovanek, S., DiGuilio, K., Bailey, R., Huntington, W., Urbas, R., Mayilvaganan, B., Mercogliano, G., & Mullin, J. M. (2014). Zinc and gastrointestinal disease. World journal of gastrointestinal pathophysiology5(4), 496–513. https://doi.org/10.4291/wjgp.v5.i4.496