More than 50 million Americans have allergies. Many people seek alternative approaches to combat allergy symptoms. Join the AANMC and Dr. Jonathan Beatty for an informative webinar to review naturopathic approaches to allergy treatment.
Here’s what you can expect to learn:
– The basics of our immune response – and how allergies develop
– Different types of allergies/hypersensitivities
– The basic physiology – what happens during an allergic reaction
– Risk factors for developing allergies
– Naturopathic treatment strategies for allergies
To view the archive of past webinar recordings, please click here.
About the Presenter
Jonathan Beatty, ND runs an independent clinical practice focused on autoimmune disease and neurological disorders. He began his journey into healthcare with a degree in Nutrition and Nutraceutical Science from the University of Guelph. A strong background in nutrition ultimately guided Dr. Beatty towards pursuing a career in naturopathic medicine at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. He has worked in the natural health product industry as a formulator of natural health products, is a well-known lecturer, and was twice voted Best Naturopathic Doctor in Canada by National Nutrition. Dr. Beatty lectures to health professionals on autoimmunity, infectious diseases, and digestive health. He is on the editorial advisory board for Alive magazine, and has appeared nationally in Canada in print, radio and television.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez, AANMC executive director, joins KCAA’s NBC LA affiliate On the Brink to discuss naturopathic approaches to allergies.
Full Transcript of Interview Below.
The various causes of allergies – nature vs. nurture
The burden allergies place on your system
Environment, nutritional and lifestyle changes for allergy prevention and management
How naturopathic medical education is responding to COVID-19
Erin Brinker: Welcome back. I’m Erin Brinker.
Todd Brinker: And I’m Todd Brinker.
Erin Brinker: And we are On the Brink, the morning show on KCAA, AM 1050, FM 106.5 and FM 102.3. I’m super excited to welcome back to the show- (LONG PAUSE)
Todd Brinker: Somebody from somewhere.
Erin Brinker: Oh my God. I have allergies so bad.
Todd Brinker: Dr. JoAnn Yanez.
Erin Brinker: Dr. JoAnn Yanez, and I’m just kidding. I love to welcome back Dr. JoAnn Yanez from the Association for Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges. She joins us once a month to talk about health and wellness and just everything feeling good from a naturopathic perspective. Help me with my allergies, Dr. Yanez.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: You bet. That was the best intro I think I’ve ever gotten. Oh, my goodness.
Erin Brinker: I have allergy brain. I really do. And while I was joking, just then it’s happened to me in meetings where I know what I want to say, and I can’t get it out because my head feels like it’s full of cotton balls.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Gosh, you know, allergies affect so many people, and we don’t always really know the full cause of allergies. There are genetic susceptibilities and environmental factors that play a very important role. When we’re looking at the reasons and the heritability rates for allergic disease, a lot of times it’s in your family. Erin, did you have any family members who had allergies?
Erin Brinker: I think my dad has some. Yes. I’m going to say yes, I do.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Very often we’ll see this hereditary component. It can be as high as 95% for asthma, 84% for atopic dermatitis, which are like skin rashes and so on. It’s clear that genetics account for a good chunk of this, but a lot of this is nature and nurture. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of that before, but how much is our genetics, and then how much is our interaction with our environment?
Erin Brinker: Right.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Allergies are a topic where avoidance helps a whole lot. If you know what you’re allergic to, that makes it a heck of a lot easier to avoid things that will trigger your system. What are allergies? It’s basically just an overreaction of your immune response. Your immune response is set up to detect what is self and what is not self – what’s me and what’s not me.
All the stuff that’s ‘me’ is good, friendly, let them be. And all the stuff, that’s not ‘me’, we’re going to attack like viruses and bacteria and molds and pollen and things of that sort. But the body sets up this extra response to things that would be in our environment like pollen, like maybe some foods or cat dander, animal dander and things of that sort. And then, as a result, you get itchy eyes, the runny nose, the foggy brain.
Erin Brinker: I am allergic to just pollen, so in the spring, and here it’s not as bad as other places. The year that I was an exchange student in Austria, I thought I was going to die in the spring because there were beautiful flowers everywhere, and I was miserable. So, yeah. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t live in that local area normally. And so, maybe it was because it was new to me?
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: There are a lot of different theories behind that. The other theory that is often discussed when we’re talking about this allergy topic is total load, and that’s the total burden on your system. Think of it like that proverbial hair that broke the camel’s back. You may be fine with a low level of the things that you’re allergic to, and there might be things in your environment right now that you have more mild sensitivities to that maybe don’t get to that level of the itchy eyes, but there might be a low grade inflammation in your body as a result of being exposed to certain types of things.
When you add that one extra little piece on top of the camel and boom, the camel tips over. I think that’s very often what we see in allergies, and so in general, a naturopathic approach to allergies is going to be looking at the whole person, looking to decrease the overactive inflammatory response and lower that burden wherever we can.
We’re going to be identifying maybe even some of those lower level allergens and getting those out of the system and decreasing the burdens so that if and when you are exposed to some extra pollen, that doesn’t throw you over the edge. Does that make sense?
Erin Brinker: It makes total sense. If you find out, which is my greatest fear, that you’re actually allergic to cats, but it’s not so bad that it makes you really sick, but then you walk outside and there’s pollen falling from the trees and you go bananas. The issue may really be more the cats than the trees.
Todd Brinker: It could be both.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Like I said, it’s, it’s that total load. You bring up this cat example and it’s hilarious. When I was in medical school, medical school’s hard and I was thinking of stress release, and I went and I got myself a cat. She was amazing and beautiful and so fun to have around the house, but I was a medical student. I wasn’t home a whole lot, but I started noticing … I had some really funny friends in medical school, a naturopathic school, and they would tell these amazing jokes and all of a sudden when they would joke, I would laugh and then start coughing. I never put it together that it was the cat that was creating extra inflammation in my lungs. They would tell a joke and it would jostle up the phlegm that was in there, and I would start to cough.
I didn’t put it together. And let me tell you, I had the cat until she was about 18, so you can see where we’re going with the story. But as a medical student and then as a young doctor, I was not home a whole lot. And so, I might’ve been home really just to sleep and then go back out to work again, and so it wasn’t until we moved to South Dakota, and I was home with her pretty much all day long. I was working from home, and my husband started noticing every night I would start coughing. He’s like, you need to go get tested. Figure it out.
At that point, I’d probably had her for about, I don’t know, 13, 14, 15 years. It was just this total load of building up over time, and the fact that I was with her now all day long was that straw that broke the camel’s back. And so I go to an allergist and I get all the allergy testing and, lo and behold, trees and cats.
You know what? I’m looking at my little fur baby. I’m like, I’m not getting rid of you after 16 years, so I did as much as I could to keep the house clean, so there are environmental things that you can do. Get rid of your carpets. Get rid of your drapes. Get rid of any fabrics that you can’t wash in your home that attract and hold onto that.
We got a bunch of air purifiers to clean out the air, and then I started working on my own diet and taking anti-inflammatories as much as I could. I got pregnant around the same time, so that limited the amount of things that I could take, but it was one of those where, all right, I’m not going to put my cat down because I’m coughing and sneezing.
Erin Brinker: Right.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: So, what are the other options?
Todd Brinker: Are there some natural anti-inflammatories that you maybe took as an alternative?
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: There are natural anti-inflammatories and this is not a diagnosis or promotion of anybody taking anything. Make sure to check with your doctor to make sure that you’re taking the right things for you. But there are things like stinging nettle, quercitin, fish oil. You could do turmeric, which is a natural source of anti-inflammatories. There are a lot of things that you can do, making sure your bioflavonoids are up, and then allergen avoidance. Just really avoiding the types of things that are inflammatory so paying attention when you eat, how do you feel after a certain food? Do you get a little extra phlegmy in your throat after you’ve eaten something?
Paying attention to those signs and removing those things from your diet. A food journal or a rotation diet, a rotation and elimination diet is an easy way, not easy, but it’s probably of the more effective ways to figure out that. So journaling, removing things from your diet, and then adding them gradually back in and seeing the symptoms that pop up.
I think when it comes to allergies, it is a comprehensive approach. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. It’s going to be very variable for folks, but it can be extremely, extremely effective. We have a webinar coming up on May 26th with Dr. Jonathan Beatty, who’s going to speak about his own journey, which is hilarious. He was a kid. He used to work at Dairy Queen, and had horrible eczema, only to find out that he was allergic to dairy.
Erin Brinker: Oh, wow.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: He’s going to tell his story and journey to ridding himself of horrendous eczema, and also share some other patient cases and some other ways that naturopathic medicine works with patients with allergies, but it’s really one of those things where, with my cat it’s like, okay, she was 16 at the time. I can’t put down an animal.
Erin Brinker: No. She’s your baby. I’m a cat lover, and I’m remembering now, my father is allergic to cats, so I’m probably allergic to my cats, but I love them so much, and I’ve had them for 14 years, 13 years.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: It’s really tough. My cough was bordering turning into asthma, though, so it’s like, okay, this is getting to a point where, after my cat naturally passed away, “all right, not getting near any cats anymore.” Now I’m so sensitive that my nose starts itching as soon as I walk into a home that has cats.
Erin Brinker: Interesting. Interesting. Wow.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Total load. Total load.
Erin Brinker: Total load. And I have to tell you, I was constantly sick for years, constantly sick, and in January I became a vegan. I have cut, because of that, just wanting to be healthier, with no dairy I get little colds. I had kind of a sore throat last night, but I’m fine this morning. I haven’t been consistently sick since I gave up dairy. I’m quite certain that these consistent colds that I had were because my body’s like – Stop. Eating. Dairy. Knock it off, Erin.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Step away from the cheese.
Erin Brinker: But it’s so hard to do that.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: I know, but you have to open it, and you just highlighted, these nutritional changes, the lifestyle changes are some of the hardest to make, you know? And so, I think for people, I always guide folks, all right. What’s your goal?
When you make decisions about eating, is that decision moving you closer to your goal of health or farther away? Just be conscious about it so that you can make that decision of, all right, yes, cheese is really tasty but every time I eat it, I end up sick, or my colds don’t go away, or my colds turn into longer flus or pneumonia or whatever.
Erin Brinker: Or I get cold sores over and over and over again.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Is that really worth this slice of cheese?
Erin Brinker: No, it’s not. I can tell you right now, no.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Well, we’re at AANMC.org. Instagram, we have a whole site on there for our events as well. We update events every month. This month is allergies. Next month is cancer. Every month we’ve got events for free to the public. I kind of caught the tail end of you talking about education.
We’re in naturopathic medical education, and that’s something that we’ve also been working on as all of our schools have had to emergently move online, and what can be done online long-term and what really cannot, so I applaud you for taking on that topic. It’s definitely something, all of us in education, are chewing on really thoughtfully right now.
Erin Brinker: These are discussions I think that people have been having because we’ve had online education, but it’s like, oh, we want to consider everything, and then all of a sudden, bam, we’ve got to make these decisions now. And oh my gosh, what does this mean?
Nobody’s had time to really think things through, and we’re kind of working through things out. This is true in K-12 education, too, because I’m married to a teacher. It’s working in some ways and really not working in others. Yeah, we got to talk about it.
How are you all doing? How are your member colleges or universities doing their online education because it’s a medical school, so all of the labs and all of the science that has to take place, how do you do that online?
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: It’s been a very quick trial by fire and emergency effort. I applaud my member schools and deans and educators for getting their programs online and getting the students transitioned, especially the ones that were getting set to graduate, where they were just about done.
We’ve been working with our accreditors, our testing agencies, the deans. There are emergency measures that have been implemented (with permission from the accreditors and Department of Education) right now that we recognize. Like you said, there are some things that are working and there are some things that were emergency measures. All of the schools are working right now on transition plans of how do we safely get students back on campus to do some of that hands-on learning that really needs to be hands-on, although I will say that there are some amazing technology simulation labs that have been created that, while it isn’t the same as face-to-face, there are some amazing technology feats that have been created.
Some of our schools have gotten really inventive to where, like for botanical medicine labs, they’ve sent boxes home to students with herbs and you all of the things that they need to do the experiments and the procedures and such at home. And so, what’s that? Necessity is the mother of-
Erin Brinker: Invention.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Exactly. We’ve really been getting very inventive in trying to ensure the continuity of our students’ education. So, while yes, there are some things like delivering babies and phlebotomy and all of that that have to have to have to be face-to-face, we’re also securing protective equipment. Several of our schools have been able to be providers during this time either with protective equipment or telemedicine.
Every single one of our schools has gotten telemedicine up and running because the other thing is you have patients. You have patients at all of our clinics that rely on our clinics for medical care. You can’t just abandon your patient because now there’s no way to continue with their care. So telemedicine was something everyone stood up very quickly. Many of the schools, almost all of them, already had very active tele-med programs, but this was something that really got ramped up to full capacity quickly.
Erin Brinker: Well, it sounds like everybody’s working hard to keep the quality of the education as high as possible to meet the needs of their students, and I think that’s wonderful.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Harder than we’ve ever worked in our lives.
Erin Brinker: I can imagine. I can imagine. So, Dr. Yanez, it’s always, always, always a treat to have you on the show. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: You bet. Thank you both and stay safe and healthy and happy.
Erin Brinker: Thank you. You too. So with that, it’s time for a break. I’m Erin Brinker.
Todd Brinker: And I’m Todd Brinker.
Erin Brinker: And we are On the Brink, the morning show on KCAA. We will be right back.
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“I’m okay, it’s just my allergies,” is a phrase heard all too often. Among the most common, allergies are also some of the most often disregarded symptoms. Allergies and allergy-related diseases such as allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, food allergies and allergic asthma are extremely common, impacting tens of millions of American men, women, and children each year.1 Asthma Canada reports 1 in 5 Canadians suffer from respiratory allergies. The symptoms associated with allergies occur when the body is exposed to something that the immune system over-reacts to. The appearance of allergy symptoms can be associated with any number of triggers such as foods, creams, touching certain materials (even other people!), insects, pets, pollen, dust, and mold. The body’s immune response causes the symptoms we commonly refer to as allergies. The immune response results in effects on the body which can be mild or severe and can range from sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes, watery eyes, runny nose (often called rhinitis), and a scratchy throat, to rashes, hives, swollen respiratory passages, lowered blood pressure, breathing difficulty, asthma and even death in the most extreme cases.
What causes allergies and asthma?
The cause of this immune overreaction is largely unknown, but both genetic susceptibility as well as environmental influences can be important factors.2 Heritability rates for susceptibility to allergic disease can vary but have been found to be as high as 95% for asthma, 91% for allergic rhinitis, and 84% for atopic dermatitis.3 It is clear that genetics only account for an increase in susceptibility, and cannot be attributed fully for the dramatic increase in allergic disease worldwide.4 Food Allergy Research and Education reports a CDC statistic showing a 50% increase in food allergy prevalence in children between 1997 and 2011, and a 300% increase in peanut allergies during 1997-2008. 5 Environmental influences and triggers likely also play a role. Large studies such as the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood and the European Community Respiratory Health Survey Study have revealed striking patterns showing increased prevalence of asthma in first world, English speaking countries and non-English speaking Western European countries over developing nations. These studies have further shown that asthma incidence increases in developing nations as they begin to embrace more “Westernized” lifestyles.4 All of these factors correlate to a lifestyle and environmental role in the development of allergic disease and asthma.
Naturopathic approaches to allergies and asthma
From a naturopathic medical perspective, allergic symptoms are quite often associated with disruption to the microbiome in the gut, as well as to dysfunction of other organ systems including the adrenal glands/endocrine system, digestive disturbance beyond the microbiome, and altered immune responses. Determining the cause of a patient’s allergic symptoms, including allergic asthma, is at the forefront of a naturopathic treatment protocol. Root cause identification may involve laboratory testing, diet-symptom tracking via logs and observations, as well as special diets called elimination and challenge diets. In terms of management and treatment, dietary avoidance, environmental modifications such as home air purifiers and specific cleaning routines, as well as a variety of herbs and supplements may be implemented based on patient presentation.
“Allergies and asthma arise from a complex interplay of genes, food introduction, breast feeding or not, the gut and of course the greater environment. Some patients are hard-wired to develop allergies to pollen and mold. This can cause miserable symptoms, and is sometimes the real culprit driving asthma, but not always. It’s important to keep in mind that diet, home environment, stress, hydration, sleep and chemical exposure all play a role in how reactive someone is. Although allergy is definitely mediated by the immune system in well understood ways, we also want to examine someone’s toxic burdens in terms of how highly fired their system is from day to day. The Environmental Protection Agency has more than 85,000 chemicals listed in its registry, and processed foods contain many of them. Without oversimplifying matters, we do have to think about the impact of all this on someone’s allergic experience. As a naturopathic doctor, I think about the whole person and how to restore health and, in that sense, allergies as sometimes a symptom of deeper problems I can help someone with.”
Uncovering the root cause of allergic symptoms is imperative, and at the same time, can be challenging. There are several testing methods that are commonly employed to assess what a person’s specific allergies are. These include blood testing using various techniques to assess antibodies and immune reactions, testing blood levels of biomolecules associated with allergic responses such as allergen-specific IgE, histamine, and tryptase, scratch testing, and others. The type of testing most appropriate can also vary by the type of allergy being tested for.
When examining aeroallergen sensitization, testing is often done in a combination approach to ensure all sensitized allergens are accounted for. Although there have been many recent advances in testing allergen specific IgE levels, it has been found that using only one testing method may lead to a misdiagnosis with every fourth allergically sensitized patient as being found non-reactive.6 Many studies show that there is discord between testing for serum-specific IgE and skin testing results suggesting that the two methodologies act in a complimentary manner and should not be used interchangeably.
In regard to food allergies, there are numerous laboratory assays that can be performed such as radioallergosorbent tests (RAST), immunoblotting, basophil activation (BAT), leukotriene LTC4 release, cellular allergen stimulation tests (CAST), and others. Other methods such as skin prick testing and fecal testing are also common. Skin prick tests (SPT) are quite common as they are inexpensive and relatively low risk, however skin prick testing to foods has a low specificity and a low positive predictive value.7 This means that a positive result, unless confirmed by other clinical data such as a diet-symptom log, does not allow for a definitive diagnosis of a food or environmental allergy. There is also non-standardization of measurement of positive reactions as evidenced by the identification of cut-off values for the SPT reaction diameter for certain food allergens (milk: 8 mm, egg: 7 mm, peanut: 8 mm), however they have not received universal acknowledgement.7 Allergen specific IgE testing is also common, but can be extremely costly. Specific IgE levels above the diagnostic cut-off value gave a 95% predictive value for a symptomatic allergy.7 When combined with compatible clinical history, this gives this type of testing the advantage of being able to confirm a diagnosis of food allergy without the need for further challenge testing. However, it is important to note that there are a number of variables that can impact the outcome of testing, such as age and the length of time the person has been avoiding the food. Not all food reactions are mediated by IgE, as is true of many cases of sensitivities to foods. In these cases, an elimination diet followed by a re-challenge phase are critical for identifying and treating food sensitivities.8 This type of testing is considered the gold standard for diagnosis of food allergy.9
“The goal of naturopathic medicine is to reduce the exaggerated immune response to allergens, and bring tone to the mucus membranes of the respiratory and digestive systems. The side effects of the naturopathic treatments include increased energy and nutritional status, greater resistance to colds and flus, and increased cardiovascular health. The side effects of conventional treatments commonly include drowsiness and diminished sense of taste, smell, and sight, rebound congestion leading to dependency on medications, and progression of inflammatory disease processes (especially eczema and asthma).The naturopathic approach requires more participation on the part of the patient, and can, in some cases be more expensive in the short-term, so it is up to the allergy sufferer to decide which is better for them. Often, people elect to manage symptoms for a short transitional period while beginning the naturopathic treatments, just to find they no longer need the antihistamines after a few days or a week and feel more energetic than anticipated.”
In humans, the gastrointestinal tract is inhabited by a large, complex group of microbes that play a distinguished role in maintaining health. Collectively, this group includes trillions of bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses that are known as the microbiome. A person is first exposed to microorganisms as an infant, during delivery in the birth canal and through the mother’s breast milk.10 As time goes on, the microbiome evolves with the individual and exposures to various environmental factors as well as variations in diet can impact the microbiome leading to improved health benefits or increased risk of disease. The microbiome has numerous important functions including producing various nutrients such as vitamin K, prevention of colonization by intestinal pathogens, and modulation of the immune response to name a few.11 The diverse role of the micro biome has led to the idea that its modification may be a target used to restore and maintain balance of the overall individual. Introducing pre and probiotics are a means to accomplish this. Prebiotics and probiotics may be consumed in the form of raw vegetables and fruit, fermented pickles, or fermented dairy products. Another source may be supplemental formulas and functional food. Studies examining the use of probiotics in patients with allergic rhinitis (hay fever) found that adjuvant use of probiotics resulted in improvement in quality of life.12 Probiotic use has also resulted in increased symptom control as evidenced by decreasing scores on questionnaires designed to assess control of allergic rhinitis and asthma symptoms.12 Additionally, a meta study examining the use of probiotics in the treatment of allergic rhinitis examined 22 double-blind, placebo-controlled studies. Seventeen trials showed significant benefit of probiotics clinically. Eight trials showed significant improvement in immunologic parameters, and all five studies with Lactobacillus paracasei strains revealed clinically significant improvements compared with placebo.13 It is interesting to note that many cultures have historically incorporated fermented foods as part of their daily diet.
Nutritional supplements can provide targeted therapeutic options for the treatment and prevention of allergies. Supplements can address many different factors involved in the expression of allergies and asthma including immune system dysregulation, inflammation, and oxidative stress among many others. Some examples of supplements commonly used in treatment of allergies and asthma include:
Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) is also commonly called “nettle.” Nettle has a significant research profile as a treatment for allergies and allergic rhinitis.14 National College of Naturopathic Medicine (now National University of Naturopathic Medicine) examined the use of freeze dried nettle leaf for treatment of hay fever, asthma, and seasonal allergies found that the freeze-dried preparation was rated higher than placebo in relieving symptoms after one week.15 Further studies on the use of nettle in preventing lung inflammation associated with asthma have also been promising. Studies using an experimental model of allergic asthma have shown positive benefit in both immune modulation as well as reduction in inflammatory markers with administration of an aqueous extract of stinging nettle.16
Omega 3 fatty acids
The omega 3 fatty acids docosohexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are found in fish oil and are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and protective effects in inflammatory diseases including asthma and allergies. A six month study conducted by Johns Hopkins University examined the role of omega 3 fatty acids in the prevention of environmentally triggered asthma symptoms. They found that having more omega-3 fatty acids in the diet results in fewer asthma symptoms caused by contaminated inside air.17
Quercetin is among the most abundant polyphenols representing the flavonoid subgroup. It is naturally occurring in plant foods such as onions, broccoli, capers, apples, berries, and grapes, herbs like dill, and is also found in tea and wine.18 Quercetin has been utilized in a number of studies examining factors underlying the development of allergies. Quercetin is known for many different properties including its anti-allergic properties such as inhibition of histamine release, decrease in pro-inflammatory compounds, immune system modulation, and inhibition of antigen-specific IgE antibody formation.18 All of these mechanisms can contribute to addressing the underlying cause of allergy symptoms and asthma. In an experimental model of allergic rhinitis, quercetin has been shown to reduce antigen specific IgE levels and well as mitigate the expression of allergic rhinitis symptoms.19
In years past, allergy sufferers were often subjected to extensive series of allergy shots. These were injections designed to aid in reducing the expression of allergy symptoms. Sublingual immunotherapy is a method of allergy treatment that does not involve injections, rather small tablets or liquid drops containing small amounts of specific allergens to build up tolerance and reduce symptoms. Studies have shown that sublingual application of allergen specific immunotherapy is a safe and efficient substitution to injection in the treatment of IgE-mediated respiratory tract allergies.20Meta analysis studies have shown that sublingual immunotherapy reduces allergic diseases symptoms and the need for other medications, improving the quality of life for children with the diseases.20
The diet constitutes an important source of nutrients and non-nutrient components with multiple properties that present a potential opportunity to modulate the risk of asthma and allergies. Elimination diets wherein the offending food is completely avoided can be difficult to follow long term. Contemporary studies have shown that nutrition trends during the early childhood years may produce changes that have a lasting impact on human health at later ages particularly on the respiratory, GI, and immune systems.21 Western diets are characterized by the consumption of highly refined, overly processed, energy-rich foods and beverages. These foods are typically high in fat, sugar, and salt but low in dietary fiber and other nutrients. A decrease in the intake of fresh fruit and vegetables and increase intake of processed foods has previously been linked to an increasing prevalence of asthma and allergies.22 Multiple studies have highlighted evidence of positive effects of fresh fruits, and antioxidant vitamins on asthma.23 Additional studies have specifically looked at the quality and quantity of dietary fats as a source of allergenic response. Research has shown that a high fat diet enables food-induced allergic responses associated with series of negative health effects.24 The quality of fat has also been shown to play a role in increased risk of allergenic response. In a pediatric asthma study, researchers found that for each additional gram of omega 6 fats consumed, children had a whopping 29% increased risk of being in a more severe asthma category.17 Fiber is another nutrient that is consistently lacking in the standard American diet as well as many dietary patterns of many other developed/“Westernized” countries.25 Dietary fiber (especially polysaccharides and oligosaccharides) and its metabolites (SCFAs) have been shown to regulate mast cell function and activation. Mast cell activation can be downregulated by pretreatment with these substances.25 Mast cells are key players in initiating and maintaining inflammation, particularly in allergies and asthma.26
Some parts of our environment are out of our control, particularly outside the home. We cannot control the amount of mold, pollen, or other allergenic inhalants that are in outdoor air. But there are steps we can take inside the home to manage our exposure indoors.
Rugs, drapes, wall-to-wall carpet, and even overstuffed, upholstered furniture are tremendous collectors of dust and pollen. Removing them, changing them often, or changing styles can help reduce exposure.
Using specialized air filters like HEPA filters particularly in the bedroom can be helpful. In some cases, whole house filtration systems may also be recommended.
Avoiding toxic inhalants like perfumes, body sprays, scented candles, room sprays, air fresheners, dryer sheets, and other scented products, especially those with synthetic ingredients.
Testing home tested for the presence of mold and remediating the source if mold is detected and found.
Using zippered, allergen resistant covers on mattresses and pillows. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, enclosing mattresses works better than air cleaners to reduce allergy symptoms.28
To learn about natural approaches to combating allergies and asthma, contact your local naturopathic doctor. Click here to find an ND in the US and Canada.
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“The sky is the limit with naturopathic medicine. You really can choose any path you like.”
Diversity and an eclectic nature is at the forefront of what has drawn Dr. Jaquel Patterson to the profession. In her own practice, she covers a variety of medical conditions from autoimmune diseases to allergies and from Lyme disease to anxiety/depression. It is this wide variety of coverage, coupled with the passion naturopathic doctors are known for that helped inspire her and continues to motivate her in the profession.
Laying the groundwork to become an ND
For Dr. Patterson, the path to becoming a naturopathic doctor included a very personal inspiration. During her teen years, she saw her mother “struggle with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).” Both of these autoimmune conditions are debilitating, and Dr. Patterson felt that the conventional medicines and treatments did not address her needs fully. Prior to that, she had already been interested in alternative medicine as a child, having seen the benefits at home.
When she attended an open house at UBCNM and was able to hear ND’s speak about their profession, she says that, “I knew I was in the right place. It felt like I was going full circle back to my roots.” The fact that the campus was close to where she lived and serviced a variety of diverse populations just served to seal the deal for her.
Dr. Patterson greatly appreciated the opportunities to learn at UBCNM and how it helped transition her into the community health side of medicine. She participated in the community clinics and then began to serve in a variety of community outreach capacities, including acting as the Health Chair of local chapter of the NAACP. She has also served with the Southern CT Sickle Cell Disease Association of America and was elected on the National Board for Sickle Cell Disease Association of America.
“Living the dream” after graduation
During her third year at UBCNM, Dr. Patterson attended New York Lobby Day. There, she met the CEO of a health center that saw over 65,000 patients. It was this contact that gave her an entrance into the field when she graduated. From there, she excelled by leading “quality improvement initiatives for childhood obesity, which was the highest in the Bronx at the time, diabetes and hypertension. My work was recognized by Community Health Care Association of New York State and was used to help develop models in other FQHC’s in the state.”
Finding fulfillment as an ND
Since getting her start, she has continued working not only as a naturopathic physician, but also as an administrator, eventually becoming VP at a large community behavioral health agency. Her work directly impacted the behavioral health needs of 21,000 patients. Today, she has her own practice, Fairfield Family Health where she works “with a robust team of 6 other healthcare providers including naturopathic physicians, primary care consultant, pediatric nurse practitioner, nutritionist and physical therapist.” She is also the first UBCNM graduate to be elected President of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, as well as the first person of color to hold this position.
Advice for aspiring NDs
To sum up her advice for aspiring NDs, Dr. Patterson has this to say: “It is a rare opportunity to find something that appeals to your heart and that creates butterflies in your stomach. If you have that feeling about naturopathic medicine, you need to make sure to follow that path.” She feels that this bold step will be the key to success and a life without regrets.