Natural Solutions for Seasonal Allergies

By Dr. Justin Marchegiani

If you suffer from allergies, you’re not alone–seasonal allergies affect an estimated 40 million to 60 million people yearly. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. There are several underlying factors that make a person more prone to having allergies, and several natural solutions to increase your resistance to these immune triggers.

What Causes Allergies?

All aspects of health are important pieces of the puzzle: air quality, diet, exercise, sleep, stress, etc. Whenever we burden our body with stress–whether it be eating a gluten-containing muffin, or having a fight with a loved one–it adds a drop into our stress bucket. Too many drops, and the bucket is going to overflow. When our immune system is overloaded, it will react to an otherwise harmless substance, like pollen, as if it were a dangerous foregin invader.

The risk of developing seasonal allergies is increased in individuals with a co-existing condition, like asthma, food allergies, pregnancy, and even stress and trauma. These conditions affect your immune system, contributing more drops to the stress bucket.

Allergies are an immune system disorder. The body overreacts to a harmless substance by producing antibodies to attack, causing common allergy symptoms.

Common Seasonal Allergy Symptoms:

  • Congestion
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Excess mucus 
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Scratchy throat
  • Decreased concentration and focus
  • Fatigue, problems sleeping
  • Mood swings, Irritability
  • Asthma
  • Skin issues like hives or eczema

In addition to the above pre-existing conditions, anything which weakens the immune system will contribute to the stress bucket, leading to allergies. Recent surgery, physical trauma, underlying illness, and lack of sleep included!

Click here to consult with a functional medicine doctor and start feeling better today!

What are other stressors on the immune system? A poor diet is a biggie. Gluten, sugar, alcohol, and processed foods all weaken the immune system, leaving you more susceptible to gut imbalance (which affects the immune system), sickness, and yes–seasonal allergies.

Natural Remedies for Seasonal Allergies

  • Treat your nostrils with a Neti Pot or Saline Spray– Sterile saline solution can flush out allergens and calm inflammation in the nasal passages.
  • Quercetin: Quercetin can significantly lower inflammation and modulate immune response. Research also shows quercetin stops the production and release of histamine!
  • Nettle: Nettle blocks histamine production and reduces inflammation. A natural antihistamine, nettle can be used as a tincture or tea to calm allergy symptoms.
  • Probiotics: Allergies are linked to immune health–and so is the gut. By balancing gut health, the immune system benefits and allergies subside. Try a quality probiotic and consume fermented foods to boost beneficial gut bacteria.
  • Local raw honey: In a study published in the International Archives of Allergy and Immunology, those who received honey had better allergy relief than those on allergy medication! The key here is local and raw. Local honey contains the pollen causing your allergies, and raw honey contains vitamins and enzymes. If you want to use it in your tea, allow the tea to cool before adding honey to prevent killing the beneficial compounds.
  • Sleep: Getting ample sleep is crucial for the body to repair itself. The immune system thrives when the body gets adequate rest. Aim for 8 hours per night. Sleeping n a pitch black room, slightly cool (aim for 65-68 degrees), with white noise can help foster a good sleeping environment.
  • Essential oils: Peppermint eucalyptus, lavender and peppermint essential oils can help clear the nasal passages. Diffuse them, or apply with a carrier oil to the chest to help ease breathing and open the lungs

Takeaway

By eating an anti-inflammatory diet, getting enough sleep, and implementing some of the remedies above, you can reduce your allergy symptoms significantly. Allergies are not a sentence–you have the power to take charge of your health.

If you’d like help managing your allergies, click here to consult with a functional medicine doctor and start feeling better today!

The 4 Most Common Gut Issues & How to Fix Them

By Dr. Justin Marchegiani

Gluten Intolerance

Gluten sensitivities, like Celiac disease and gluten intolerance, have become an object of public interest in recent years. 

Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. One thing to be conscious of is the fact that although gluten isn’t found in many ancient grains like oats, quinoa, rice, or corn, these foods are often cross-contaminated. If you are gluten sensitive, it’s best to avoid any gluten-containing or cross-reactive foods.

Celiac disease and true gluten allergy are rarer than gluten intolerance. Gluten allergy symptoms include malnutrition, stunted growth, cancer, severe and neurological illnesses.

Much more common is gluten intolerance and sensitivity, which has been dubbed non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). Those with NCGS feel and perform noticeably better when they stay away from gluten. When they do consume gluten, symptoms include:

  • Digestive problems including:  IBS, abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, constipation, diarrhea
  • Brain fog, headaches, concentration and memory problems
  • Skin issues such as: dermatitis, eczema, rosacea, and rashes
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Mood imbalances like anxiety and depression
  • Reproductive problems and infertility
  • Higher risk for learning disabilities and neurological diseases, including autism, ADHD, dementia and Alzheimer’s. 
  • Chronic fatigue, low energy levels
  • Muscle and joint pain, or numbness in the limbs

Because gluten opens the door to so many health issues, I recommend cutting gluten regardless. A gluten molecule looks similar to the thyroid tissue, the body can mistakenly start an attack on healthy body parts, driving autoimmunity. If you don’t want to do testing, you can try an elimination diet to see how you feel when you cut out gluten. There are so many healthier alternatives!

Leaky Gut

Leaky gut occurs when the intestinal lining becomes inflamed, which can be caused by infections, a poor microbiome, and the consumption of gluten, sugar, or other foods you are sensitive to. The inflamed gut lining opens the tight junctions of the gut, which allows food particles and other toxins to slip through into the bloodstream, creating more inflammation and driving autoimmunity. 

More and more research is starting to show that the gut microbiome plays a pivotal role in the prevention and healing of leaky gut. Probiotics can help reverse leaky gut by enhancing production of the proteins which form the tight junctions that keep the gut barrier sealed. Antibiotics, on the other hand, disrupt the balance of the gut microbiome and can weaken junctions, letting pathogens into the bloodstream. To heal leaky gut, you need to remove foods that cause inflammation along with any foods you have a sensitivity to. I recommend removing sugar, dairy, gluten, processed foods, and alcohol to allow your body to recover. You will also want to supplement with enzymes, acids, and bile salts; and finally repair the gut with healing nutrients and probiotics.

Gut Dysbiosis

We all have around two pounds of microbes living in and on our bodies; the majority of which lives in our gut! Breakthroughs in science are discovering how the gut is a kind of ‘second brain’ and the trillions of bacteria in our gut communicate with the neurons in our gut lining. Poor gut health is tied to many health issues and diseases, including:

  • Asthma and allergies
  • Autoimmune diseases (arthritis, IBS)
  • Cognitive decline (Alzheimer’s, dementia)
  • Fatigue and brain fog
  • Fungal overgrowth
  • Gluten sensitivity and other food allergies and intolerances
  • Infertility
  • Learning disabilities (ADHD)
  • Mood disorders (anxiety, depression)
  • Parasitic infections
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)

Click here if you are suffering from digestive issues to consult with a functional medicine doctor and start feeling better today!

Just as bad bacteria negatively affect your health, good bacteria have a positive influence on your health! Good gut flora assists in the following ways:

  • Better nutrient absorption and storage
  • Strong intestinal lining and prevents leaky gut
  • Stronger immune system and lower inflammation
  • And, avoiding the negative symptoms associated with poor gut health, like brain fog and digestive distress

Here are some tips to keep your gut bacteria strong:

  • Avoid antibiotics, which deplete good gut bacteria. Be cautious of prescription drugs, which can do the same.
  • Reduce your sugar intake: Bad bacteria love sugar!
  • Avoid inflammatory foods, which can reduce good bacteria and also create leaky gut.
  • Eat vegetables with every meal: If you can fill half your plate with vegetables and plant-based foods, your good bacteria will have plenty of fiber and nutrition to feast on and use to boost your health!
  • Choose organic: Not only are GMOs and toxic pesticides are bad for our microbiome, they also affect the soil they’re grown in, and our gut bacteria and the bacteria in the soil are related.
  • Incorporate fermented foods into your diet: Sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, and pickles are all delicious fermented foods.
  • Take prebiotics and probiotics: The use of pre- and probiotics feed the good bacteria that keep your gut healthy.
  • Take steps to lower your stress: Studies have shown that stress can actually negatively affect the composition of your gut flora!

Parasites and Infections

Symptoms of Parasite Infections Include:

  • Brain fog, Mood problems like anxiety and depression
  • Sweet cravings
  • Skin issues like acne and eczema
  • Nutrient deficiencies like anemia
  • Allergies
  • Fatigue
  • Digestive problems like: Bloating, Gas, Indigestion, Diarrhea, Constipation, GERD or acid reflux, IBS, Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative colitis

A parasite infection will not only rob you of energy and nutrition, they also produce other biotoxins that can disrupt digestion. These toxins are a product of parasitic defecation and debris of dead parasites.

  • Parasites include larger worms: hookworms, roundworms, pinworms, tapeworms, nematodes, and protozoa.
  • As well as small, microscopic parasites like: Giardia, Entamoeba histolytica, Blastocystis hominis, Cryptosporidium, Dientamoeba fragilis, Entamoeba coli, Yersinia enterocolitica, Entamoeba hartmanni, and Toxoplasma.

70–80% of my patients dealing with health problems have a parasite infection, and aren’t even aware of it! Chronic infections steal your nutrients and energy while deplete your body’s ability to produce regenerative hormones.

To test for a parasite infection, click here!

Everyday Habits to Keep Your Gut Healthy

A gluten-free, paleo-inspired diet rich in grass fed meats, butter, pastured eggs, and bountiful organic product is one of the best ways to support a healthy gut and healthy digestion. You may also incorporate fermented foods like sauerkraut and kombucha, or a quality probiotic supplement to help your good gut bacteria rebuild!

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5440529/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5454980/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3122153/

https://translational-medicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12967-017-1175-y

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24077239

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4566439/

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24689456

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4848870/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4940716/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4259177/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4425030/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4662178/

Gluten’s Devastating Effects and How To Test For It

Glutens Devastating Effects And How To Test For It

By Dr. Justin Marchegiani

Gluten sensitivity is a state of genetics, just like your genes cannot be changed, what we have control over is the expression of our genes. Gluten is one of those food products our genetics have not adapted to well.  If you are a person that have genetics that predispose you to gluten sensitivity, the way  in which you can control  how your genes are being expressed, is to avoid gluten.

Terminologies 

Lets review some terminology that is used to describe people who react to gluten and or grains. Many people with gluten sensitivity can be gluten intolerant or have a gluten allergy as well.

The terms “allergy” and “intolerant” have come to mean different things in conventional medicine, so the more excepted terminology in gluten circles like this is the term “sensitivity”.

Sensitivity is referring to the fact that your immune system is hyper responsive to the gluten proteins. The byproduct of these hyper-immune responses is inflammation and if prolonged, autoimmune conditions are a strong possibility.

Gluten Allergy

Refers to your immune system creating an IgE immune response (anaphylactic in nature) to the gluten protein, these allergies are inborn and are usually known at birth.  With new cutting testing we know allergies can also be delayed in nature via an IgG or IgA response; this is closer to what we see in gluten sensitivity.

Gluten Intolerance

Refers to the inability to break down the gluten proteins in the digestive tract. Just like with lactose intolerance, some individuals have a difficult time breaking down lactose (milk sugar), but with specific enzymes (like lactaid) this is possible. Most people who are gluten sensitive have a difficult time breaking gluten down too, but taking enzymes alone will not be enough to avoid the inflammation and autoimmune destruction from consuming it.

In science today gluten sensitivity has been primarily connected  with celiac disease, so the misconception is if you don’t have celiac disease, you don’t have gluten sensitivity.

This couldn’t be further from the truth! The testing used to diagnose and assess celiac disease can miss many people. Essentially you can have all of the telltale signs and symptoms of gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, and still be misdiagnosed.

The typical mainstream diagnosis for celiac disease is a sample of your micro-villi from your small intestine via endoscopy. The micro-villi have to be worn down 80% for you to be considered celiac.

There are a couple problems with this diagnosis criteria:

Glutens Problems And Diagnosis

1. What if we do not collect a sample that was affected by gluten?

2. What if the  micro-villi have not been worn down 80%?

This method is analogous to pulling a bucket of water out of the ocean, examining that there is no fish in the bucket and then concluding the ocean must have no fish. This may not be a perfect analogy, but I think you know what I’m getting at.

There are other blood tests that can be used to confirm celiac disease. These blood test includes transglutaminase antibodies, endomyseal antibodies, deamidated gliadin as well as gliadin antibodies. If you come back positive with one of these test markers, you can be confident that you have celiac disease. The problem is, many individuals come back negative with these markers and still may have  gluten sensitivity.

This is where genetic testing comes into play, if you have a gene that predisposes you to gluten sensitivity it’s just a matter of time till those gene expresses itself. The more physical, chemical and emotional stress you  are under, increases the chance that your gluten sensitive genes will react and start creating symptoms. As you well read below, the symptoms for gluten sensitivity are all over the map!

Want to know if you have gluten sensitivity? Click here.

What are the best tests out there?

Glutens Tests

I think genetic testing is a good tool to assess if you have the genes for gluten sensitivity.  The problem with other testing is it’s very easy to have false negative result (the test comes back negative  but in reality you may still have gluten sensitivity). If you come back with a gluten sensitive gene, you can be confident that it’s just a matter of time before that gene expresses itself if you keep eating gluten.

The primary genes that are involved in celiac disease are HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8.  There are other HLA-DQ genes involved as well; HLA-DQ 1, HLA-DQ 3 and HLA-DQ 7 are also genes that predispose you to gluten sensitivity.

When you’re looking at genetics such as HLA-DQ testing, you get one HLA-DQ gene from each parent.   If you receive two HLA-DQ 2’s or two HLA-DQ 8’s, this increases the risk of celiac disease (the same goes for gluten sensitivity). According to the genetics, the only people that are immune to gluten sensitivity are people with the genetic sub-types HLA-DQ 4 (which are less than 1% of the population). There needs to be more research done validating gluten sensitivity and its connection with the genetics (1).

The percentage estimates surrounding gluten sensitivity regarding the population are a point of contention among  experts. Dr. Alessio Fasano at the University of Maryland medical school, who is a pioneer in gluten research, feels that only 6 to 7% of the population are gluten sensitive; while Dr. Ford a pediatrician in New Zealand and the author of the book “The Gluten Syndrome,” believes  30% to 50% of the population are gluten sensitive.  According to Dr. Kenneth Fine over 50% of the population is gluten sensitive. Either way you look at it, the new estimates that are coming out surrounding gluten sensitivity are showing a significant increase than the original 1% estimates of celiac disease.

The information that we have now shows the majority of the population are gluten sensitive. The problem with gluten sensitivity, is the majority of symptoms that come from gluten are not necessarily correlated with digestive issues (symptoms that are gastrointestinal in nature like bloating, gas, diarrhea and IBS). With gluten sensitivity you are actually 8X more likely to have extra intestinal symptoms, (symptoms not related to the gastrointestinal tract, like headaches, depression, lupus and thyroid disease).  This is the main reason why gluten sensitivity is so easily glossed over today.

Most patients with gluten sensitivity complained of 2 or more symptoms (2).

gluten symptoms

The symptoms of gluten sensitivity

Celiac disease is a form of gluten sensitivity, so essentially if you have celiac disease you are gluten sensitive. At the same time if you are gluten sensitive, you don’t have to necessarily have celiac disease.

There are many common manifestations of gluten sensitivity, I call this the web of gluten sensitivity:

This includes:

Various anemia’s, type I diabetes, Hashimotos and other thyroid diseases, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, lupus, there is gut infections, skin issues (psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis herpetiformis), psychological and mood disorders (schizophrenia, depression).

Gluten Sensitivity

I challenge you to Google scholar or pubmed search gluten or celiac disease with any disease of your choice. You will see many results come up in your search, proving the connection cannot be ignored.

My favorite method to assess for gluten sensitivity!

The problem with many of the tests that are out there, is that similar information can be received through a simple elimination provocation diet (this is where  inflammatory foods are cut out for a period of time and then added back in). The only time I conduct testing on patients, is if patients are resistant to changing their diet. Then the lab test be very useful, because they can quantify to the patient in an objective manner that these issues are real. Some people  need to see that type of evidence before they cut out some of their most favorite and addicting foods!

I find almost all individuals who are suffering from some type of chronic illness benefit when they cut gluten out of their diet. The foods that contain gluten, which are all grains, tend to be very low in nutrition, have a high glycemic index and create inflammation. It’s always better to eat foods that are nutrient dense, anti-inflammatory and low in toxins.

My recommendations are for all of my patients to start off with some type of anti-inflammatory, autoimmune paleo or bulletproof style of eating. The focus with this type  of eating is to be consuming foods that are anti-inflammatory, low in toxins and nutrient dense. This allows us to put our body into a state of healing  so we can start recovering from all of the damage created by the gluten exposure. Macro-nutrient ratios including carbohydrate, protein and fat can always be adjusted to meet the needs of the patient. I deal with these macro-nutrient ratios on individual basis per patient.

What Do You Do If you Aren’t Feeling Better After Going Gluten Free?

When dealing with patients that are chronically ill,  making the above dietary recommendations may not be enough. The inflammation created from years of stress and gluten consumption, may have caused damage to your adrenals, thyroid and gastrointestinal system. This may have weakened your immune system to the point where chronic infections like parasite, bacterial, fungal and viral infections have gained a foothold. I find removing these infection can be the missing barriers that are preventing people from getting better.

If you’re not getting better  from going gluten-free,  feel free and schedule a complimentary consultation by clicking here to review what your options are.


References:

1.A. Fasano et al. Divergence of gut permeability and mucosal immune gene expression in two gluten-associated conditions: celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. BMC Medicine 2011, 9:23. doi:10.1186/1741-7015-9-23.

2. New understanding of gluten sensitivity, Umberto Volta & Roberto De Giorgio, Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology 9, 295-299 (May 2012).


The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Dr. Justin Marchegiani unless otherwise noted. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retains copyright as marked. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Justin and his community. Dr. Justin encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified healthcare professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Marchegiani’s products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using any products.