Jayney's Blog

Allergies Aging

Can Allergies Accelerate the Ageing Process?

Allergies can run the gamut from being relatively mild to being seriously debilitating. What’s worse is that they make a negative impact upon the way that our immune system functions and can even make us biologically older and more vulnerable to chronic diseases. So, now that we are at the start of hay fever season (please see also my 19th April blog on hay fever management), I’m sharing my annual coverage of the latest data about allergies and allergens, and the lifestyle and complementary medicine steps we can take to reduce the impact of these problems.

I believe that allergies of all types – including seasonal allergies – are on the increase, and I’m seeing more people than ever in my practice who are now suffering badly – even if they’d never previously experienced allergy misery.  

Allergies used to develop in early childhood, but now we are seeing them occur for the first time well into adulthood. A number of factors are responsible, including nutritional issues, unmanaged stress, and environmental pollution. The latter is probably the worst culprit as we’re consistently being bombarded by unprecedented numbers and types of environmental pollutants. As many as 40% of deaths worldwide are caused by pollutants in water, air, and soil. In the UK, circa 40,000 people die every year as a direct result of pollution – and the UK is a relatively ‘clean’ country with fairly strict controls over emissions and other environmental pollution.  

Our foods are also potential allergen sources. Unless we opt for organic produce, the foods that we eat are contaminated with fungicides, pesticides, insecticides, and all these come under the class of chemicals known as biocides, which are designed to kill. After all, the word ‘biocide’ can be broken down into its roots; ‘bio’ life and ‘cide’ killer / killing.

The chemicals we use on a regular basis – to clean our homes and ourselves also have the potential to harbour an enormous toxic burden. We also have to factor in the chemicals in our cosmetics, deodorants, our needlessly ‘scented’ sanitary wear, shampoos, conditioners, and more. In fact, it is estimated that we are exposed to more than 700,000 different toxic chemicals on a daily basis – excluding those in our foods. Overall, it isn’t abnormal to be exposed to 2,100,000 toxins each and every day. Finally, indoor air may have toxic chemical concentrations of up to 100 times higher than outdoor air (think fire retardants in furnishings, paint fumes, cleaning fluids, carpet treatments, etc.).

All these toxins, whether we breathe, ingest, bathe in them, or put them on our skin, provoke an ‘up-regulation’ of our immune response, putting our immune systems into a constant state of red-alert, and this causes us to be excessively reactive or sensitive to allergens, so that we over-respond to other elements such as pollens, dust and more. 

How do allergies age us prematurely?

There are many factors that are involved in the ageing process. These include wear and tear, oxidative stress, psychological stress, inadequate nutrition – which, in developed countries, means that we consume an excess of calories through very nutrient-poor food – some of which is downright dangerous e.g., trans-fats, high fructose corn syrup, processed meats, refined carbohydrates, and more. All of these lead to inflammation, which is a natural response to stressors and is usually helpful and protective. When it gets out of control, however, it becomes chronic inflammation which underlies every degenerative disease. Inflammation lies at the heart of the allergic response. In hay fever or seasonal rhinitis, every time an allergic response is provoked by an allergen, precious resources are diverted away from our immune system – meaning that it can’t do its normal job of keeping us well – and this increases the degenerative, and thus ageing, effects of stressors.

Ways to combat seasonal allergies

Conventional or pharmaceutical medicine has no cures as such for allergies – and can only offer antihistamines, etc. for temporary symptomatic relief. By contrast, complementary medical approaches offer solutions that are extremely helpful – they work preventatively because we address the underlying reasons for a person’s hyper-reactivity to allergens. Several complementary medicine disciplines are outstandingly effective in this arena such as homeopathy, acupuncture, herbalism, ayurveda, nutrition, and more. 

I use homeopathy to treat my own seasonal allergies, and for my patients, because it gets results fast and is safe. Here’s how it works:

To deal with symptoms immediately: Acute prescribing – a homeopathic medicine is given to immediately address the distressing symptoms of allergies, quickly and effectively. The medicine will usually be a highly diluted mixture of the allergens that the person is reacting to, e.g., pollens and grasses. The symptoms may be relieved within minutes. 

For allergy prevention: Constitutional prescribing – this is more individualised as the homeopath makes a highly detailed analysis of the patient’s symptoms, lifestyle, medical history, and more, so that the person’s ‘constitutional remedy’ can be prescribed. The carefully chosen homeopathic remedy helps the person to become more balanced and healthier overall and better equipped to deal with stressors, including allergens. Because constitutional remedy is so broad in scope, many other of the patient’s symptoms will gently disappear too and they will be healthier overall. It is ideal to do this at the beginning of the year to prevent the development of allergic responses. This is the essence of preventative medicine – the creation of a state of physical, mental, and emotional resilience – so that the person remains well regardless of external factors which might undermine a person in a weakened state. 

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