Allergies are immune reactions to environmental allergens or foods. Some of the most common symptoms are sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, hives, headaches/sinus pressure, and digestive distress. Reactions can be situational, seasonal, or chronic depending on the root cause. Beyond just temporary discomfort, allergies can result in health conditions as varied as acne, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, attention deficit disorder, and bladder infections.
WHY and HOW DOES AN ALLERGY ATTACK HAPPEN?
The dynamics of an allergy attack are simple. A special class of antibodies (immunoglobulin E, or IgE) is released in the presence of allergens (there are specific IgE molecules released for each allergen). The IgE molecules attach to receptors on the surface of mast cells, those specialized cells that release histamine. Histamine is a chemical that produces symptoms such as watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, welts, hives. Once the IgE molecule has attached to a mast cell, it can remain attached for weeks or even months, ready to bind to allergens and re-instigate the allergic cascade. Different chemicals are released – depending on the allergen – and target specific areas of the body, producing specific symptoms within a few minutes up to an hour (in some cases, even days later) after contact.
WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS FOR AND CAUSES OF ALLERGIC ATTACKS?
Allergies appear to be inherited, most often from the mother.
Non-Causcasians have a higher likelihood to develop allergies than Caucasians, and men are more likely than women to develop allergies. IgE levels drop as we age, so many individuals grow out of childhood allergies or see their effects lessen with age.
From a blood type perspective:
In terms of general allergies, type AB experiences the least severity of reactions, followed by type A (still low), then type O (somewhat high), and finally type B (very high). Secretors of all types are at the high end of average for severity of reactions. One theory is that the body reacts to otherwise innocuous substances as if they were parasites. Certainly, the presence of parasites greatly increases IgE production. Persons with atopic (inherited) skin diseases – including atopic dermatitis (eczema) – seem to have a genetic predisposition for developing IgE antibody-mediated hypersensitivity to inhaled and ingested substances. Exposure to the water-soluble proteins in latex can cause a marked increase in allergic reactions.
In terms of environmental allergies (grasses, pollens, etc.), severity of allergic reactions in type AB is very low, type A is low, type O is at the high end of average, and type B is very high. Secretors are likely to experience slightly above average severity of reactions. Type O is at the greatest risk for respiratory allergies and is prone to allergy-related asthma. Type B is generally less sensitive to environmental allergies UNLESS the wrong foods are eaten – especially chicken and corn. Type A is particularly prone to mucus, especially when stress levels are high. ALL blood types do better at avoiding asthma and hay fever when they follow their blood type diet. I am a blood type B secretor with Nomad genotype. I find that the older I get, the more I tend to react to allergens. I have been highly allergic to environmental threats since I was about 30 and suffered greatly with allergies until I found the advanced Blood Type Diet strategy together with daily ingestion of essential oils (more below).
A note about seasonal threats – The World Allergy Organization says that up to 40% of the world’s population suffers from at least one seasonal threat and that, in some countries, seasonal threats have increased by as much as 50% over the past decade.
In terms of food allergies, severity of allergic reactions in types AB and A are about equal at the low end, type B is average, and type O is also average but higher than type B. In this case, non-secretors are likely to experience highly severe reactions. Type A naturally produces more mucus, as noted above. Therefore, a type A person who is trying to minimize congestion needs to be be very careful to avoid mucus-producing foods and to follow beneficial food lists.
Some notes about food – most reactions that folks describe as food allergies are actually food intolerances. When the issue is an intolerance, the food item may be reintroduced slowly with success over time. True food allergies do not occur in the digestive system; they occur in the immune system. The reaction is swift and harsh, with resulting physical reactions (rashes, hives, swelling, etc.) as the dietary lectins (special proteins in foods that the body interprets as like or unlike the body’s blood type) responsible for the allergic reaction cause the body to release IgE molecules to try to get rid of the food that it is allergic to.
Of at least 3 genes that are believed to be responsible for allergies, the one that has been identified with certainty produces interleukin 4 (IL-4), a growth factor that that is required for the production of IgE. Most dietary lectins stimulate the production of IL-4, explaining a probable link between highly allergic individuals and increased sensitivity to dietary lectins. This also explains why following specialized dietary lists linked to individual blood type often leads to a lessening of allergic manifestations, sinusitis, and asthma. Many bacteria use lectins to attach to host tissue, and these lectins are some of the most highly allergenic parts of the organism. Lectins from peas, broad beans, lentils, jack beans, soybeans, peanuts, and wheat germ bind directly to IgE and initiate the release of histamine, leading to a feeling of “spaciness”, inability to focus or concentrate. The most common food allergens – responsible for up to 90% of all allergic reactions – are the proteins in cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, and tree nuts. Food allergies may contribute to the symptoms of atopic dermatitis in infants and young children but appear to have no effect in older children and adults. Other foods that trigger strong IgE production are bananas, chestnuts, avocados, and kiwis.
Caution: Unless the foods listed above are beneficial for your blood type, you would do well to avoid them. If they are listed as beneficials but you still experience problems after attempting to reintroduce them, drop them from your meal plans.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO LESSEN ALLERGIC REACTIONS?
Blood Type Diet
Food really is both preventative and restorative medicine. Nutritional supplements and other natural solutions are amazing as a complement to (not a substitute for) excellent nutrition.
I follow an advanced version of the Blood Type Diet (includes blood type, secretor status, genotype, epigentics, and personal wellness concerns) to help especially with allergies, asthma, digestive upset, and aging and have written about it often on my blog. If you are looking for a way of eating that fits you as an individual, take a few minutes to enjoy this overview.
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for you, especially for your digestive system. Both children and adults benefit from taking digestive enzymes to break down food optimally and probiotics to optimize gut microbiome diversity. Here are a couple of links to help you start your own research.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25592987/ (probiotic modulation of peanut allergies in children)
doTERRA offers pre/probiotic supplements for children and for adults. The child version (PB Assist Jr. ) is in the form of a delicious pixie stick and includes the Lactobacillus rhamnosus strain mentioned in the peanut allergies study above. The adult version is PB Assist+, with 6 billion CFUs of probiotic microorganisms in each capsule. Research suggests that 1 billion colony forming units of live bacteria is the minimum daily amount and that 5-30 billion is optimal. If you are interested in the strains found in each of these supplements, follow the links to read the supplement labels.
Some recommended probiotic strains include:
Bifidobacterium lactis (B. lactis) – a powerful strain that has been proven to fight tumor growths, improve digestion, and enhance immune system functions. B. lactis is also responsible for breaking down body waste and aiding in the absorption of vitamins and minerals in the gut.
Lactobacillus acidophilus (L. acidophilus) and Bifidobacterium bifidum (B. bifidum) – both help enhance digestive and immune system health. Use L. acidophilus to ease lactose intolerance and B. bifidum for relief from irritable bowel syndrome. L. acidophilus is also great to support immunity.
Lactobacillus salvarius (L. salivarius) lives in every part of the body and makes its own antibodies. It is especially known for improving digestive health, immunity, and dental health.
Lactobacillus casei (L. casei) alleviates antibiotic-induced diarrhea and C. diff infections as well as rheumatism in those with RA. One study showed that L. casei lessened anxiety and promoted gut health in chronic fatigue sufferers.
Bifidobacterium longum (B. longum) helps tame inflammation and lessen food allergies. Other research shows that B. longum eases depression and anxiety while also helping the body handle stress more effectively. B. longum helps to increase the amount of available trytophan, a precursor to serotonin.
Breathe Respiratory Blend for congestion – As some of you may know, I have experienced respiratory challenges for many years, because of both allergies and asthma. For whatever reason, I can inhale the Breathe blend and even put it on my feet and face. I particularly love the Breathe Vapor Stick (use it like an inhaler and carry it with me for sudden, unexpected allergy attacks from smoke, incense, synthetic fragrances, and other airborne allergens). I just can’t put Breathe on my chest without breaking out terribly (thin, extremely sensitive skin). I have tried mixing it with Myrrh and/or Tea Tree, but even that combination irritated the skin on my chest for several days. One day, I decided to put Tea Tree and Melissa on my chest. Not only do I love the aroma of Melissa, but I can state without hesitation that my breathing is much better when I use it for a boost. I have also found that I can use Laurel Leaf oil (one of the ingredients in Breathe) on my chest. When you can’t breathe well because of asthma symptoms, Melissa can be your best friend.
TriEase Softgels (Lavender, Lemon, and Peppermint) for clear airways – these softgels are the easiest way to ingest the powerful essential oil trio that I find best supports clear airways. If you prefer to use the oils individually or blended for aromatic or topical support, they can be diffused or mixed with a pure carrier oil and applied over sinuses, between eyebrows, on the throat and chest and on the soles of the feet. They can be dropped in cool water to drink or in hot water and used as a steam inhaler. A drop of two of Peppermint (or DigestZen – see below) can be rubbed around the navel to dissolve mucus and to calm digestive upset.
If you are an ardent DIY person, you can make your own TriEase capsules. Simply buy doTERRA veggie caps and have Lavender, Lemon, and Peppermint essential oils on hand. When you are ready to take your capsules, fill each one with 2 drops each of the 3 oils. Using dropper tops made for your 15ml oil bottles makes the job easy (let me know if you want tips on where to buy the tops). TIP: Don’t make the capsules up in advance.
Purify Cleansing Blend and Tea Tree for sinus pressure (my friend Sarah’s testimonial): “We have a busy week coming up and mommy has zero time to suffer from ear pressure! I am always an advocate for seeking medical intervention when necessary, you all know that! When I can use the tools in my home, I most certainly do! My ear had been hurting from the sinus pressure that is caused by allergies! It is SO crazy how much tree pollen is around our house right now! I have and will continue to take my TriEase Seasonal Support, but I needed to kick this pressure and pain NOW! I just grabbed these two and applied them BEHIND and IN FRONT of my ear. BAM! Pain gone! So instead of it developing into an ear infection, needing to go see the Dr., get antibiotics, take extra probiotics and deal with all of that, I had this option! I am so thankful! Now here we go into the rest of our day!”
DigestZen Digestive Blend liquid and DigestTab chewables to help with food reactions: With gluten sensitivity, lactose intolerance, and food allergies affecting millions of us every day, it’s crucial to know how to handle accidental consumption, especially by children. If you live with one of these concerns, DigestZen and DigestTab are incredibly helpful in giving temporary relief to an upset stomach.
Hives Be Gone
This testimonial is from Natalie Carson. [Personal note: if you layer FRANKINCENSE on top of the blend described here, you will AMPLIFY its effectiveness!]
“Our 14-year-old daughter, Julia recently had a serious allergic reaction to celery juice. She had hives, had trouble breathing, and her throat started closing up!!! We brought her home from school, had her use BREATHE aromatically to immediately open airways, 4 drops Lavender internally – in a capsule as it is an antihistamine and could start to work from the inside out – then sprayed her down with a spray bottle with the following essential oils:
10 drops each (Blue Tansy, Lavender, Copaiba, Yarrow Pom) topped off with fractionated coconut oil in a 1/2 oz (15ml) spray bottle.
Major itching/panic went away while we waited for a few minutes, and the hives cleared up in less than 2 hours!”
Essential Oils for Rashes
Rashes can be caused by a number of medical conditions including allergic reactions. Some underlying conditions require immediate medical attention while many can be soothed by the application of essential oils. These articles may be helpful in determining whether your rash is an allergic reaction (copy and paste the desired URL; the many images in each make them difficult to link):
You can use essential oils to soothe the skin and to support the body in addressing underlying conditions. Listing the best oil or oils for each situation is beyond the scope of this post, but you can get some starter ideas here.
Keep your mouth safe
I finally got braces as an older adult and have had them off for about 10 years. The results were great, but I knew I would be wearing retainers from then on. For several years, I used oral appliance tablets. I didn’t like all the packaging and was always a little nervous that I wasn’t rinsing everything off well enough. And, although the packaging said “safe”, there were the warnings:
*Do not use to clean natural teeth
*Keep out of reach of children
*Contains known allergens
*In case of accidental ingestion, seek professional assistance or contact Poison Control immediately…
Here’s an article on the persulfates in many oral appliance cleansers. These days, I use a mason jar, water, and a couple of drops of doTERRA’s OnGuard essential oil Protective Blend (orange, cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, and rosemary) to soak dental appliances. Truly safe!
- Stop a sneezing fit with a simple water rinse.
- Food allergies are usually not triggered by essential oil use since essential oils have no proteins. Regarding citrus allergies, pure essential oils are made by cold pressing the rinds and do not include any pulp or juice. As with anything you ingest, try a drop or two of the oil mixed in a small amount of olive oil or honey to test any sensitivity.
- Skin allergies are not usually triggered by essential oil use, but skin can be sensitive. Try a drop of two of the oil mixed with several drops of a pure carrier oil on your skin as a test. Wait at least 12 hours after applying citrus oils topically on skin before exposing that skin to direct sunlight.
- Textile and chemical allergies: my skin can’t tolerate being in contact with most wool (merino seems to be okay) and some other textiles. There are also chemicals in our carpeting, clothing, household cleaning and personal care products, etc. that can cause allergic reactions and sensitivities.
- Pets and allergies: always start by researching the ingredients in your pet’s food (same as with humans). Many physical problems can be cleared up by eliminating or adding ingredients to create a diet that your pet will digest most efficiently. For specific conditions, consult a holistic veterinarian for natural solutions. You may also want to purchase “SpOil Your Pet” in book or app form (the book includes DIY recipes). There is also a section on pets in “The Essential Life” book.
- Synthetic fragrances (found in candles, air fresheners, sprays, and even many essential oil products) may contain toxic substances and can cause allergic reactions such as headaches, dizziness, asthma attacks, and may lead to respiratory infections and other illnesses and diseases.
- Mold and Mildew. I can smell the presence of these two long before anyone else I know can and even if they are not visible. They cause respiratory problems to me if left untreated. If I can’t see them, I diffuse Purify Cleansing Blend. If I can see them and the area is well ventilated, I use this DIY recipe from “The Naturally Clean Home”, 2nd edition. If you already have a buildup of mold or mildew, allow the spray to rest on the surface areas for a few hours. Wipe with a soft cloth, the respray the areas and let the spray dry without rinsing. As a preventative, simply shake and spray on all surfaces, and do not rinse.
Combine all ingredients in a plastic spray bottle suitable for use with essential oils and shake well before each use.
1 ¼ cups white vinegar
4 drops Cinnamon essential oil
6 drops Patchouli essential oil
2 teaspoons Tea Tree essential oil
I admit that this post is only the beginning of all that could be said about allergies and how they affect our lives. Please let me know if you have specific questions or favorite solutions. As always, consult a knowledgeable health professional if a problem is severe or persists despite self-care solutions.
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