In this episode re-release, Dr. Lisa and Dr. Toni discuss the atopic triad of allergy, asthma and eczema that both perimenopausal moms and their kids can experience. Find out how your hormones are involved, plus what you can do to prevent and treat these inflammatory issues today.
What is an allergy?
Hypersensitivity disorder of your immune system, where you react to normally harmless substances in the environment that most people won’t react to.
Allergic symptoms include:
Itchy, watery, red eyes
Headache or pressure in sinuses
Constant clearing of throat
More serious symptoms include:
Eczema – inflammatory skin condition
Asthma – immune reactivity and inflammation in airways causing wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath
Hives and anaphylaxis
The prevalence of allergic symptoms is increasing!
Allergic rhinitis, including runny nose, dark circles under eyes and throat clearing, affects as many as 40% of kids in US
CDC reported food allergies increased by 18% in US since 1990s
Eczema affects about 1 in 5 kids in US, with rates tripled in past 3 decades
Asthma affects at least 1 in 8 kids in US, with rates tripled between 1980 and 2008
Increased immune system reactivity causes may include:
- Hygiene Hypothesis or Microbiome Disruption
- Your immune system needs to learn to respond to components in dirt and soil
- Babies born by C section are 5x more likely to develop allergies than vaginal birth, since they are not exposed to mom’s vaginal microbiome
- Also influenced with breastfeeding
- Good bacteria are needed for “oral tolerance” and immune tolerance, so you are less reactive to foods and environmental allergens
- Reduced gut flora diversity linked with increased risk of eczema, damage to gut lining allows foreign particles to trigger more immune reactions since more than half of your immune system is found along your gut – see Episode 8
- Germ phobia can make kids more allergic
- Insufficient micronutrient and antioxidant intake
- Environmental pollution and compromised liver detoxification pathways
- Liver filters all the blood in the body from the digestive system and removes toxins, allergens, hormones, chemicals, drugs, etc.
- Your liver contains the Reticuloendothelial System (RES) containing immune cells that remove antigens from the digestive system
- If overworked with high levels of chemicals and pollution, your liver will not be able to remove allergens appropriately – see Episode 33
- Stress and adrenal function
- Adrenal glands produce stress hormone cortisol, which is needed for an appropriate immune response
- If overstressed or burnt out, you produce less cortisol resulting in more inflammation – for more info, see Episode 24
- Can be modified by environmental factors
- Just because your parents suffer from allergies doesn’t mean you have to!
Immune system balance is like a teeter-totter or see-saw
Th1 vs.Th2 response
- Infants born with an allergic tendency and proper amounts of beneficial bacteria or microbiome supports more balance away from allergy while preventing autoimmunity
Research has shown that children in Estonia are less allergic than those in Switzerland and Estonian children have higher numbers of good bacteria in their intestines
Components of the Allergic Response include:
Allergens are also called antigens, like food, animal hair, insects, pollen, mold, dust, trees, chemicals, drugs, dyes, detergents, additives, etc.
Antigen binds to IgE antibody receptors on immune cells called mast cells, which triggers the release of inflammatory substances including prostaglandins and histamine
Histamine acts in many areas in the body causing:
- Vasodilation – swelling, redness, inflammation
- Skin – itching, swelling, redness, hives
- Nose – runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion
- Eyes –watery
- Lungs – congestion, bronchoconstriction of airways, difficult to breathe
- Digestive System inflammation
Conventional medical treatment for allergies, asthma and eczema include:
- Antihistamines – blocks action of histamine
- Steroids (Inhaled, oral, topical cream) – suppresses the overactive immune response
- Decongestants – reduces congestion
- Benadryl (diphenhydramine) – blocks action of histamine
- Epinephrine (adrenaline) – dilates the airways, makes breathing easier
- Immunotherapy – small doses of allergens are injected below the skin or taken under the tongue to desensitize the immune system
Nutritional Factors that Increase Allergic Symptoms
- Mucous-producing foods including dairy, gluten, sugar, bananas, processed foods, fried foods
- Pro-Inflammatory foods can include:
- Dairy, gluten, red meat, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, oranges, grapefruit, soy, shellfish, sugar, processed foods, pork, corn, eggs
- Histamine-containing foods:
- Deli meats, aged cheeses, fermented foods, canned fish, shellfish, avocado, citrus, tomatoes, alcohol, dried fruits, smoked meat/fish,
- Foods high in omega-6 increases inflammation and the allergic response – vegetable oils, soybean, canola, sunflower, corn, safflower
- Ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 should be 4:1; Western diet ratio is 10:1!
- In Japan, with westernization of diet (less fish and omega-3), saw increase in allergies
- Can balance with more omega 3 from algae or fish source (anchovies, sardines, mackerel, herring, salmon), as well as omega 6 GLA found in evening primrose, borage, hemp
- Deficiencies in:
- B vitamins
- Vitamin B6 – found in tuna, calf liver, chicken, salmon, turkey, potatoes, cod, sunflower seeds, halibut
- Vitamin B12 – found in calf liver, sardines, salmon, beef, lamb, halibut, scallops, yogurt
- Magnesium – found in pumpkin seeds, spinach, swiss chard, soybeans, sesame seeds, halibut, black beans, sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds
- Zinc – found in oysters, red meat, poultry, baked beans, chickpeas, and nuts like cashews and almonds
- Vitamin C – found in blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, oranges, papaya, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kiwi, cauliflower, kale, parsley, lemons, limes, spinach, snow peas, and rose hip tea
- Vitamin D – found in small amounts in eggs, milk, best made with UV exposure to skin
- Vitamin E – sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, swiss chard, turnip greens, papaya
- Vitamin A – found in two forms:
- Retinol – active form of vitamin A, found in animal liver, whole milk, and some fortified foods
- Carotenoids – can turn into active form of vitamin A, found in plant foods like carrots, squash, sweet potatoes
Why Does Perimenopause Cause More Skin Itching and Hives?
Estrogen plays an important role in your skin health, impacting the microbiome of your mouth, gut and skin. Microbiome changes related to menopause may increase intestinal permeability, which increases the likelihood of having food reactions and atopic dermatitis.
Hives, also called chronic urticaria, are about twice as common in women as in men and may be associated with hormonal changes such as the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, menopause, birth control pill or synthetic hormone replacement therapy. Your sex hormones can modulate immune and inflammatory cell functions, including mast cell secretion of histamine.
One study suggests that patients with chronic urticaria have lower levels of serum DHEA-S (dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate), an adrenal hormone that tends to decline with age. Stress is commonly elevated during perimenopause, leading to high output of cortisol and adrenaline which are frequently associated with hives.
Lab testing you can consider:
Serum hormone testing or DUTCH urine hormone testing
IgG food sensitivity testing
Micronutrient testing – vitamin D, specialized labs for zinc, vitamin A, omega 3
Comprehensive stool testing for microbiome balance and gut health
Prevention and Treatment to Consider for Allergies, Asthma and Eczema:
- Support stress management and adrenal glands
- Avoid caffeine, sugar, alcohol, stimulants
- Stress-relieving techniques including sleep support and routine
- B vitamins, Vitamin C, adaptogenic herbs
- Increase air quality
- HEPA filter (heating, ventilation, air conditioning, vacuum cleaner)
- Avoid carpeting
- Regular dusting and vacuuming
- Keep pets out of the bedroom and bathe regularly
- Sinus rinse or Nasal Lavage
- Neti Pot or Nevage
- Steam inhalation with eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil, thyme oil
- Blow your nose regularly
- Support gut health with probiotics and fermented food
- Avoid antibiotics, PPIs, NSAIDs
- Use filtered water to remove chlorine
- Avoid inflammatory and histamine increasing foods
- Avoid food allergies and sensitivities
- Increase foods with nutrients important for immune function, including flavonoids – see Episode 39 for more info on nutrients to support immune activity for viruses
- Pomegranate, tomatoes, bilberry, blackberry, blueberry, black currant, sweet cherry, apples, apricots, pears, raspberries, black beans, cabbage, onions, parsley, pinto beans, watercress, green tea, grape skin
- Consider regular intake of local honey to decrease immune sensitivity to environment
- Supplements to consider:
- Urtica dioica (nettles), Ribes nigrum (black currant), N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), Pine bark extract, Flavonoids including quercetin
- Homeopathic Remedies
- Homeopathic Immunotherapy
- Topical treatments for eczema can include moisturizing oils like coconut, shea, jojoba (anything except olive), oat baths, calendula
Today’s Mama Must Have:
Dr. Lisa loves roasted beets and beet root powder to provide natural sweetness and extra liver support.
Dr. Toni is a big fan of having moisturizing lotion and creams for hands and body handy. She likes Baby Bum fragrance free every day lotion with shea butter and Rocky Mountain soap company omega 3 vanilla coconut hand cream.
Dr. Toni’s next HypnoBirthing info session for expecting parents looking to trust their instincts and their body during labour and birth is happening in May. Join her at https://www.hypnobirthingcalgary.com/register
Dr. Lisa’s Wild Collective: get on the waitlist: wildcollectivetoronto.com
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this presentation is not meant to replace treatment with a licensed health care practitioner. It is for informational purposes only. Consult with a Naturopathic Doctor or other licensed health care professional to determine which treatments are safe for you.