Asthma and allergy season is in full swing. If you’re a sufferer, you’re likely experiencing some intense symptoms right now. Unfortunately, traditional medicine doesn’t always help to stave off these symptoms.
So, you might be wondering: what is the functional medicine approach to asthma and allergies? We’re going to discuss it in detail in this article, helping you understand how functional medicine might aid in the treatment of your allergic reactions.
Common Allergy Symptoms
There are allergy symptoms of all kinds. These run the gamut from excess coughing to excess sneezing to congestion to scratchy skin to diarrhea and more. You might also notice swelling, tension pain, and a generally rundown feeling as well.
Different types of allergies generally result in different types of symptoms. For instance, pollen allergies generally bring about watery eyes, sneezing, itchy throat, and nasal congestion. Food allergies, conversely, can result in things like diarrhea, nausea, stomach pain, and even lightheadedness and fainting.
In the end, it’s all about how the body’s microbiome responds to allergens. We’ll talk more about the microbiome below.
Understanding the Role of the Microbiome
To understand how functional medicine doctors approach the treatment of allergies, you must first understand the role of the microbiome. The microbiome is an ecosystem of microorganisms that live in the human body. The state of this ecosystem affects how the body reacts to new stimuli.
When the microbiome is properly balanced, the body barely reacts to allergens or asthmatic triggers at all. As such, allergy symptoms never truly arise.
When the microbiome becomes improperly balanced, on the other hand, the body can have more and more severe reactions to allergens. This is when allergy symptoms become extreme.
The goal when treating allergies and asthma, then, is to ensure that the microbiome is, indeed, balanced. There are many strategies involved in balancing it, and they’re all dependent on the specific needs of the patient.
The Link Between Allergies and Leaky Gut Syndrome
As noted above, allergies arise due to bacterial imbalances in the body’s microbiome. One of the leading causes of bacterial imbalance within the microbiome is a leaky gut.
This is a condition wherein the bad bacteria in the stomach and intestines leak into the bloodstream. They do this because the lining of the stomach thins out. This occurs due to stress, poor diet, other medical issues, and the like.
When bad bacteria enter the bloodstream, the immune system kicks into gear to combat it. This is a good thing, in most situations.
However, when bad bacteria are constantly leaking into the bloodstream, the immune system becomes overworked. It finds itself in a constant state of attack and therefore doesn’t handle allergens in a way that it would otherwise. This is known as immune dysregulation; it allows allergic reactions to take place.
So, in effect, a leaky gut is leading to allergies. This is why naturopathic physicians will often assess allergic patients for leaky gut. If the allergic patient is found to have a leaky gut, a treatment plan will be devised to combat it.
Combating Leaky Gut
We just made the connection between allergies and leaky gut syndrome In essence, if you suffer from a leaky gut, you have a good chance of suffering from allergies as well.
This is because a leaky gut prevents the immune system from working as intended. This, in turn, results in improper responses to allergens.
Of course, what this means is that to treat allergies in a patient, a physician must also consider the potential of treating a leaky gut. How does a physician go about this? It’s dependent on the patient.
At the core of a leaky gut is a bacterial imbalance in the stomach. When the number of good bacteria and bad bacteria isn’t balanced, the stomach becomes inflamed. This causes the stomach lining to become thinner, thereby allowing bad bacteria to flow into the bloodstream.
To treat a leaky gut, the physician must balance the bacteria in the patient’s stomach. One way to do this is to alter the patient’s diet. This includes steps such as cutting out red meat or processed foods.
This might also include eliminating individual trouble foods. See, some patients struggle with foods that other patients have no trouble with. These patients need to avoid these foods as much as possible.
Another thing a naturopathic physician might do to treat leaky gut is to increase the amount of stomach acid in the patient. Ample stomach acid is vital, as it enables the body to properly absorb nutrients.
There are many ways to increase stomach acid. One option is to chew foods into smaller bites. Another option is to increase zinc intake. The most effective option, however, is to take probiotics.
One last thing a naturopathic physician might do to treat leaky gut syndrome is to have the patient participate in meditative exercises. These are used to treat stress, a leading cause of inflammation in the stomach. By treating their stress, the patient reduces their inflammation, resulting in a lessened risk of leaky gut.
Dealing With Asthma and Allergies?
Are you dealing with asthma and allergies currently? Looking to treat them with functional medicine? If so, Fairbanks Family Wellness has you covered.
We’ve worked with countless allergic and asthmatic patients, helping to treat their symptoms with a functional medicine approach. Regardless of the extent of your allergies and asthma symptoms, we can help you as well.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment!