Spring is here! Beautiful weather, green grass, the trees and flowers are blooming…which also means that allergy season has begun. For those of you who suffer from allergies, spring isn’t always a time to look forward to or be excited about.
Approximately one third of all Americans that experience symptoms of seasonal allergies during the spring and summer. Symptoms include runny nose, sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, headaches, fatigue, coughing and difficulty breathing. None of which are enjoyable, and very much affecting the lives and everyday activities of those who suffer from allergies. Many people don’t realize that seasonal allergies can actually exacerbate depression, digestive issues and joint pain.
Many people will turn to over-the-counter medications to help with allergy symptoms, leaving many feeling drowsy. Daily nose sprays can contain steroids that can damage the body’s natural defense mechanisms and healing abilities.
Allergies occur when the immune system encounters an irritant and mistakes it as harmful, leading the immune system into working overtime over normally harmful substances. The five most common allergens include: pollen, grass, dust mites, mold and weeds.
Irritants can either be inhaled, eaten or touched. The body then responds by producing specific antibodies, which activate the release of histamines. Histamines begin damaging the body, causing an inflammatory response. This inflammatory response is what causes those miserable and annoying symptoms of allergies.
This may or may not come as a shock to some of you, but stress plays a significant role on our immune system. The nervous system and the immune system are very closely related. So much so that there is a specific study of science, called psychoneuroimmunology, that investigates the relationship between perceived stress and the corresponding immune system changes the body undergoes.
It has been found that stress and allergies elicit similar inflammatory responses, and that stress aggravates the immune system’s already heightened response to allergens. Chronic stress also causes high levels of cortisol (your main stress hormone) to be produced. Cortisol in balanced levels is actually an anti-inflammatory hormone and is good short-term, but chronic stress and elevated levels of cortisol causes the immune system to become suppressed. It is a natural response of the immune system to undergo specific inflammatory pathways when threatened, but cortisol and chronic stress prevent this from happening, making us more susceptible to illnesses and in this case, allergies.
Chiropractic and Allergies
Chiropractic and allergies are very much connected, more so than people realize. The nervous system and the immune system are closely related, due to the fact that the nervous system controls everything in the body, including the immune system. Chiropractic care treats the nervous system by treating the spine, correcting the subluxations or misalignments in the spine that are putting pressure or stress on the nervous system. Not only do these subluxations cause a stress response and increase levels or cortisol, they also prevent the brain and the body from communicating properly, therefore the body will not functioning properly.
Here is another way of looking at it to better understand: the nervous system is the powerlines and the brain is the power plant – the powerlines connect to the power plant. If something is wrong with the connection to the power plant it can take more power than needed to do certain things or there may be issues further down the line. The same can be said for misalignments in the spine preventing the proper messages/signals being sent to/from the brain and the body via the nervous system. By improving the communication between the brain and body by treating the nervous system, chiropractic care can help regulate and manage the body’s reaction to allergens. So instead of treating allergies or the immune system, chiropractic adjustments remove the interference to the nervous system allowing the body to function and fight like it was designed to do.
Acupuncture and Allergies
According to Chinese medical theory, the signs and symptoms of allergies are due to the imbalances of the meridians and organ systems in the body. Stress, poor diet, constitutional weakness, pollutants and/or environmental toxins may cause these imbalances in the body. An accumulation of these imbalances will affect the function of the organ systems, and in this case, the immune system. Making us more vulnerable to allergens or irritants, and compromising our health.
The majority of the immune system is located in the GI tract, spleen, lymph nodes, bone marrow and the bloodstream. Coincidentally, acupuncture focuses on the Stomach, Large Intestine and Spleen meridians for allergy treatment, resulting in reduced or eliminated symptoms. Acupuncture helps support and strengthen the systems of the body that are involved in immune health, enhancing immune system function.
Acupuncture can relieve and prevent seasonal allergies without negative side effects, as well and improving sleep and reducing stress. On average, a course of 4-6 acupuncture treatments should be received, as acupuncture has an accumulative effect on the body.
If you are looking for a natural alternative to relieve your allergy symptoms, give us a call today or schedule now!