An Unexpected Allergy-Fighter

Image: Mario Trunz Last weekend I spent some time in Parksville, a beach community on Vancouver Island. Our hotel was right on the water, and we took long walks, soaked in the hot tub, and ate yummy meals.

The laid back energy we brought to the weekend, combined with the GLORIOUS spring weather, got me thinking about seasonal allergies.

Which I realize sounds a little weird, but such is the life of the naturopathic doctor!

A lot of my patients are starting to show signs of seasonal allergies. Sneezing, itchy eyes, and chronic tiredness in the clinic are a sure sign that the down side of spring is here.


The Immune System & Allergy Connection

So what do a relaxing weekend and seasonal allergies have in common?

Nothing, actually.

However, what I realized while relaxing was that seasonal allergy symptoms are so, so much worse when your immune system is compromised.

Allergies are a disorder of the immune system that is caused by an improper immune response. Antigens are substances (such as food, bacteria and/or moulds/dust) that initiate an immune response. However, if your immune system isn't firing on all cylinders, those antigens have a much bigger impact.


Stress: The Immune System's Worst Nightmare

One of the reasons seasonal allergies are so widespread is stress. In particular:

  • Physical stress caused by environmental toxins, over-processed foods, and a sedentary lifestyle
  • Mental stress caused by all the stimulus we experience every day (constant notifications, alerts, traffic noises, etc.)
  • Emotional stress caused by how darn busy everyone is. We're expected to work longer hours, volunteer, raise perfect children, hit the gym every day, communicate 24/7 via social media... it's a non-stop whirlwind

Combine all of the above, and then throw in the stress of airborne allergens, and your poor immune system doesn't stand a chance.


Gimme a Break

I like people to choose their own path to health, but my one doctor's order would be this: TAKE A BREAK!

Time away from the drive and responsibility of day-to-day life has a significant impact on stress. Which is delightful for your immune system, which finally gets a chance to catch its breath, and shore up its resources to fight off allergens.


Don't have the money to get out of town for the weekend?

Turn off your phone, shut down your computer, and try one of these:

  • Spend a whole day (or two!) in a park or at the beach
  • Sleep late, have a coffee, and read a book until the afternoon
  • Spend the whole day in the kitchen making a delicious meal for your family
  • Make no plans for one ENTIRE weekend

There are a million ways to unplug and give your immune system a chance to catch its breath.

Taking a break now, while spring is still young, will save you a whole lot of sneezing, wheezing, and exhaustion down the line.