Have you ever experienced allergy-like symptoms (such as hives, sneezing, runny nose or itchy skin) when you’re feeling stressed? Find out why …
Nearly everyone experiences stress at some point in their lives. It’s our body’s natural response to things it perceives as harmful, challenging or threatening, and we’re well equipped to deal with it in the short term. However, our bodies struggle to cope with prolonged (chronic) stress and this kind of stress can really take a toll on our wellbeing. In fact, an enormous 72 per cent of Australians say that stress has an impact on their physical health!
For instance, persistently high levels of stress may cause anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, impair memory and learning, trigger symptoms of depression, cause pain, tightness and soreness in muscles, and may lower immunity. Unchecked, chronic stress may also contribute to many health conditions, including autoimmunity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes and obesity.
Stress and allergies
Stress is a well-known trigger for many allergy related problems, including atopic conditions like hayfever, asthma and eczema. This is because stress releases a number of chemicals and hormones during the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response. These include histamine – an incredible chemical that regulates your immune reactions but is also responsible for dreaded allergy symptoms.
Prolonged stress also raises levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which may damage immune function and lead to recurring inflammation, autoimmune diseases or allergies. It may disrupt the balance of good bacteria in the gut, which may increase intestinal permeability (condition known as leaky gut), which may lead to inflammation throughout the body and trigger allergies.
Manage stress and allergies naturally
No one should have to live with long-term stress, but it can sometimes be a tough condition to overcome. While some people turn to prescription medications, natural therapies and lifestyle changes can often be an effective alternative.
- Try supplements – our practitioners may prescribe a range of herbs and supplements (including magnesium, vitamin B, lemon balm and St John’s wort) which are commonly used to help relieve stress.
- Review your diet – a healthy diet can help counter the impact of stress on the body.
- Adopt an anti-inflammatory diet plan by reducing processed foods which are generally far too high in sugar, salt, grains and hydrogenated fats in favour of an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, organic meats and fish and good oils from avocado, macadamia, EVOO and butter
- Foods rich in vitamin C – such as citrus fruits and dark leafy greens – may reduce cortisol levels, while boosting immunity.
- Seeds, nuts and oily fish are a good source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, which may also keep cortisol at bay.
- Reducing stimulants (like caffeine and sugar), which can often lead to a crash in mood and energy, may also help. At HWA our practitioners can work with you to determine an individual eating plan to help you combat stress.
- Reduce stress – this may seem like a no brainer, but as the environment we live in becomes more complicated, it can become harder to roll with the punches day after day. If you cannot avoid or eliminate the stressor, try find a little time each day, even if it’s on the bus to practice simple breathing techniques. Conscious breathing, the slowing and focusing of the breath, can interrupt the cascade of detrimental stress hormones, improve oxygenation and energy.
- Try Positive Association Technique (PAT) – stress can trigger or worsen the symptoms of allergic reactions. At Health & Wellness Australia (HWA), we use a technique called muscle testing or kinesiology to help identify your body’s sensitivities. Following testing, you can work with your practitioner to address your intolerances using a natural allergy treatment called Positive Association Technique (PAT), a holistic therapy that:
- draws on acupressure and kinesiology techniques
- aims to retrain your body
- may reduce your stress-triggered reactions to food and environmental substances
- Try Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) – EFT is a simple therapy that you can learn at home, which draws on alternative medicine to effect emotional healing. As a therapy, PAT can work similarly to EFT – An EFT practitioner will perform gentle acupressure by tapping along simple facial energy meridians while the patient concentrates on negatively held thoughts, fears, beliefs and emotions. This is thought to initiate a calming response in the area of the brain known as the Amygdala, which controls fear, anxiety and triggers alarm. Our resident Holistic Psychology Sonja Plecas often incorporates EFT into her sessions to give her clients a may to help manage their stress. More about Sonja – http://www.holisticpsychologycentre.com/
While reducing stress alone cannot not cure allergies, Naturopathy as well as both PAT & EFT may offer symptom relief through their combined ability to combat stress and its impact of driving stress-related complaints such as hives, eczema and IBS.
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This blog is intended as general information only. PAT cannot cure mould allergies – it is intended to decrease reactions and help manage symptoms. It is not intended to raise unrealistic expectations. If symptoms persist, consult your GP.
Australian Psychological Society. Stress in Australians. https://www.psychology.org.au/inpsych/2014/december/npw/