Although most of us look forward to spring and summer, more than fifty million Americans suffer from hay fever, making it the sixth most common chronic illness. The acute seasonal form of allergic rhinitis occurs when specific airborne plant proteins act on the lining membranes of the nose, causing histamines— chemicals produced by the body—to be released from the body’s tissues.
Spring allergies are caused by tree pollens, summer allergies by grass and weed pollens, and fall allergies are caused by weed pollens. Regardless of the season, though, the symptoms are the same—itchy eyes, nose, and roof of mouth; watery eyes; scratchy throat; lots of sneezing and a clear nasal discharge. And allergy sufferers who tend to be miserable during the nicest months of the year can often be heard saying, “I can’t wait until it snows” (even though they may hate the snow!).
Many people who have seasonal allergies continue to suffer from environmental allergies throughout the year (molds, dust mites or animals are all common culprits)—and may even develop food sensitivities, and have recurrent ear infections and sinus problems.
Antihistamines relieve symptoms but don’t address the underlying problem and may have toxic side effects. But besides dosing up on antihistamines, there is something you can do that will not only help your symptoms, but also improve your overall health and energy.
Adrenal glands play an important role in allergic response
Allergic hypersensitivity is one of the earliest and most typical signs of an imbalanced immune system. And an overly sensitive immune system may be the result of weakened adrenal glands.
According to adrenal health expert Dr. James L. Wilson, author of Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome, and doctor of chiropractic and naturopathic medicine, most allergies involve the release of histamine and other substances that produce inflammation. In his book, Dr. Wilson writes that, “Cortisol is a strong anti-inflammatory. Your circulating level of cortisol is the key factor in the level of inflammatory reactions in your body. For this reason your adrenal glands play an important role in mediating the histamine release and inflammatory reactions that produce the symptoms experienced with allergies. It is therefore not surprising that people with food and environmental allergies commonly have weak adrenal function.”
Wilson, who also holds a Ph.D. in human nutrition, continues:
- The more histamine that is released, the more cortisol it takes to control the inflammatory response and the harder the adrenals have to work to produce more cortisol.
- The harder the adrenals have to work the more fatigued they become and the less cortisol they produce, allowing histamine to inflame the tissues more.
- The vicious circle can lead to progressively deeper adrenal fatigue as well as to larger allergic reactions.
- Anything that you can do to break this cycle will help your adrenal glands and reduce the effects of allergies. (Adrenal Fatigue, pg. 175)
How do you break the cycle in order to help your adrenal glands and get relief from allergies?
Give your adrenal glands the support they need to become strong, healthy, strong and resilient!
What are the adrenal glands?
They’re no bigger than a walnut and weigh less than a grape. The adrenals sit like a pyramid on top of each kidney, in the back, near the bottom of the ribs on each side of the spine. They are the major steroid factories of the body producing or contributing to the production of about 150 vital hormones essential to your body’s health and energy production.
According to Dr. Wilson, “The hormones secreted by your adrenals influence all of the major physiological processes in your body. They closely affect the utilization of carbohydrates and fats, the conversion of fats and proteins into energy, the distribution of stored fat (especially around your waist and at the sides of your face), normal blood sugar regulation, and proper cardiovascular and gastrointestinal function.” (Adrenal Fatigue, pg. 4)
Healthy adrenal glands secrete very precise amounts of steroid hormones. The secretion of these hormones helps minimize negative and allergic reactions to drugs, alcohol, food and environmental allergens. But because the adrenals are so responsive to any change in your inner physical, emotional and psychological environment, it’s easy for them to get out of balance. “This means that too much physical, emotional, environmental and/or psychological stress can deplete your adrenals, causing a decrease in the output of adrenal hormones, particularly cortisol,” says Wilson. This decrease results in adrenal fatigue or hypoadrenia (hypo meaning lower and adrenia meaning related to the adrenals).
In addition, Wilson says that if your adrenal glands have no opportunity to fully recover from chronic or simultaneously occurring stresses, usually the result is adrenal fatigue.
What is adrenal fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue is any decrease in the ability of the adrenal glands to carry out their normal functions. This happens when your body is overwhelmed, when stress overextends the capacity of your body to compensate and recover. Consequently, the adrenals become fatigued and are unable to continue responding adequately to further stress.
Typically what happens to many people is that they get into a vicious cycle of relying on coffee, colas and other stimulants to keep them going throughout the day. Eventually, they get a second wind and end up working very late into the night. It becomes harder and harder for them to get going in the morning, so they drink more caffeine, perpetuating the cycle.
Adrenal fatigue shows up in a variety of ways
But that’s only the beginning. Adrenal fatigue manifests itself as a collection of signs and symptoms, known as a ‘syndrome.’ Its chief symptom is fatigue, but once the adrenal buffer is gone, you become susceptible to a long list of health complaints including allergies, respiratory infections, asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and other immune disorders.
Common symptoms of adrenal fatigue:
- Erratic or abnormal blood sugar levels—hypoglycemia
- Arthritic pain
- Decreased immune response
- Premenstrual tension
- Difficulty during menopause
- Increased fears, anxiety and depression
- Confusion, poor concentration and memory recall
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Adult-onset diabetes
- Auto-immune disorders
How can I keep my adrenal glands healthy?
The guidelines are very similar to the overall principles of good health, and they’re all laid out in detail in Dr. Wilson’s book, Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome, published by Smart Publications. A moderate lifestyle with high-quality food, regular exercise, plenty of rest, and a superb nutritional supplement that supports adrenal health will go a long way towards keeping your adrenal glands strong and resilient.
So that, instead of hiding indoors to avoid allergens, you can go outside and enjoy the flowers blooming, the trees budding and the birds singing … without suffering afterwards.
Don’t wait until next allergy season. Start restoring your adrenal health today!