Root Cause of Ontario’s Seasonal Allergy Wave
By: Dr. Nicole Roberts, ND
Coming to the end of the deep freeze (and thaw, and freeze) of Ontario’s spring marks a turning point for many of us. The warm, green lure of Spring is often paired with the dreaded season of itchy watery eyes, scratchy throats, runny noses and constant sneezing, sending unlucky sufferers running to the pharmacy for anti-histamines, nasal sprays and asthma puffer refills. April and May mark the months of tree pollen triggers, followed closely by grass pollen triggers in June and July that extended the uncomfortable allergy season for many Ontarians. Ragweed season takes over at the end of the summer, worsening eczema, asthma and hay fever symptoms for many.
What’s more (as if there needed to be more), mid summer is a hot bed for mould growth, both outdoors on rotting vegetation and very commonly in Southern Ontario, indoors. Spores from mould growth, which are designed to survive extreme temperatures and even cleaning treatments, latch onto bedding, carpeting, clothing and contribute to vague symptoms of fatigue, headaches, rashes, hives, nose & throat symptoms, asthma, etc, year round.
Symptoms severity can range from annoying to infuriating, but what is important to note is that even with mild symptoms, the body may be in a state of chronic inflammation that can predispose to disease and create further dysfunction within the immune system.
For this reason I recommend:
Treating allergies and sensitivities as soon as they crop up
Beginning healing the body for allergic reactions BEFORE allergy season begins
As a child with eczema, asthma and hayfever, the atopic triad trifecta (how talented of me right?) I was shuttled from allergist to allergist, each one pricking my skin, each prick resulting in hives and each assessment declaring me allergic to everything. Finally, upon seeing both a Naturopathic Doctor and an Environmental Doctor, we discovered a hidden mould source in my family home that was likely responsible for my severe symptom outbreak and as I began to heal my body from the inside out, my immune system slowly stopped building responses to the innocuous proteins released from the vegetation around me.
I’ll never forget, wide-eyed, sitting in front of this environmental doctor as he told me that much of southern Ontario and the GTA in particular, sat in what the indigenous population had referred to as “The Valley of Death”, a name born out of the fact that the land lay low and the cross winds moved over it, rather than through, causing a stagnation of the air, heavy with pollens and pollution. To this day I have not found further corroboration of the Valley of Death in my research into allergy rates across the country, air quality and wind patterns, but I did notice that long after my mould exposure symptoms had resolved, I would experience other allergic triggers that would flare when living in the Greater Toronto Area and would resolve if I went to visit family in Alberta or take a vacation. In addition, when living in the GTA, I could predict a worsening of flares based on the season / month. As I went through naturopathic medical school, I saw similar pattens in many other patients, whether the primary complaint was hive reactions, eczema, asthma, post-nasal drip, etc.
While it would seem easy to recommend to patients to relocate (though very difficult for patients to follow through with), I felt that this was not really understanding or treating the root cause of the development of these allergic symptoms and that we could learn to coexist with the local pollens and moulds without uncomfortable, and something downright terrible, symptoms.
Cleaning Up Your Body and Biochemistry
While the immune system is a deeply complex and multifaceted system, it is actually very well suited to naturopathic treatment. Wholistic healing that addresses the body as a whole is able to positively affect the immune system from many different perspectives and quickly influence changes in immune-based symptoms.
While I take a fervent anti-cleanse approach to the sustainable health and wellness of my patients, which is largely based in the fact that many cleanses are not rooted in true physiological need but rather marketed from a perspective of quick results (often weight loss and increased energy) for a high price, I do approach the treatment of seasonal allergies, hives and histamine-related reactions from a place of “biochemical spring cleaning”!
What does (or could) this look like?
Everyone is different and has different causes of symptoms or variations in their treatment needs, but healing allergies could include the following:
Identify allergy or sensitivity triggers and remove or limit exposure; foods, pollens, dust, moulds, chemicals, etc
Heal the gut with targeted nutrition and herbs; Gut health is very directly linked to inflammation within the body and immune health
Replenish nutrient depletion that contributes to immune dysfunction
Understand personal genetic, methylation and gut flora patterns that contribute to histamine and other immune reactions and treat accordingly with high dose nutrition
Support the liver chemistry
Use targeted supplementation to calm TH2 dominant immune reactions and re-educate the immune system
All in all, allergies, despite how mild or severe they can get, come from a root cause. Trying to limit exposure to allergens can greatly diminish our opportunities and sometimes even our quality of life. Allergies stood in my way for a long time and it is my goal to help others get over this hurdle by healing their allergic responses.
About the Author
Dr. Nicole Roberts, ND is registered with the College of Naturopaths of Ontario and is a member of the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors.
With a focus on brain and immune health, Dr. Roberts works with Ontarians to help them get back to symptom-free living.
I want to help you get back to the best version of yourself so that you can get back to your life.