Our last blog post gave you some insight regarding asthma, and now we’re going to shift gears and transition more into allergies. They both have similar ties to the immune system and nervous system, which is why they are so closely related. If you need a refresher on how the nervous system and immune system function, check out the first couple paragraphs of our asthma blog.
What we’re mainly going to be digging into is seasonal allergies because of the change in seasons that we’re experiencing now. We see trees blooming, more ragweed, grass, pollen, and then there’s other things like pet dander and mold as well. But, if you remember from our asthma blog post, just the exposure to those isn’t the main problem. It’s the same concept we talked about with the immune system and asthma. It’s not just the allergen that is overwhelming the body and causing problems. It’s showing us that your body is inappropriately perceiving the allergens as threats. When we have things that are irritating or overwhelming to your system, your body is tagging that, which is what we’ll talk about in more detail in a little bit when we dive into more of details of how the immune system works in regards to allergies.
Common signs of allergies include a runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, and skin rashes. In more serious cases, there can be vomiting, constriction of airways, and anaphylactic reactions that would require the use of an Epi-pen. In the more severe allergies, it’s important that you take the same precautions that you normally do when it comes to your child’s allergies.
When we talk about seasonal allergies, we again have to remember that if everyone reacted the same way to all of these common allergens, then we could blame the substance itself. However, that’s not the case. Therefore, it depends on the individual’s susceptibility to each one of those things. So what is it that can cause your child’s system to react one way, but their sibling, the rest of their family, or their friends all react in a different way?
An allergy actually is an overreaction of the immune system in which that person’s body is perceiving the allergen as a threat. Depending on how big of a threat the body recognizes it as will determine how much of a response it will mount to it. If a body overreacts and finds a blade of grass to be a threat, it perceives it as a fight or flight type stress response. What we find is that there is an imbalance in the allergen and how their system is reacting. The reason for that is there is actually two modes of how our immune system works. And when we bring it back one more level, the nervous system is actually what controls every single function of our body – from organs and glands to muscles and tissue. It’s the master control system of the body and actually directly controls 30% of the immune system. The other 70% of the immune system resides in the gut. In our asthma blog, we talked about promoting gut health through a vaginal birth, which really helps jump start that immune system. Other things to help the gut include breastfeeding, probiotics and prebiotics, eating fermented foods, and a healthy diet.
The neurological component of the immune system has two different modes: the Th1 and Th2 responses. The Th1 side of the immune system is responsible for externalization. Think of it like your body trying to get the substance out of your system – that’s where the runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, sneezing, and skin reactions come into play. Allergies are a Th1 response of our immune system. The other side of the immune system is actually the smarter, more calculated response system. I call it the flag and tag system, which is the Th2 response. What it does is it will flag the invader and make sure our system knows that it’s on the most wanted list. It will go out and attack it if it ever comes back into our body. These two systems can get imbalanced. The Th1 side is going to be promoted when we talk about more of our sympathetic gas pedal response of the nervous system that we discussed in the first part of the asthma blog. When we talk about our Th2 side, it’s that more calm, but calculated, response of the immune system, which is like the parasympathetic brake pedal mode of the nervous system. When we have a high gas pedal response in our system, we typically also have a high Th1 externalization, allergic response. If our nervous system is more in a brake pedal response, then we see that our immune system functions better. If we are constantly running on our gas pedal, our immune system isn’t functioning like it should. Our brake pedal is what builds up our proper immune response and controls resting, digesting, growth, and proper development. So when we talk about this in relationship to your kids, we often see that kids who have allergies also tend to have hyperactivity, trouble falling asleep, constipation, or growth restrictions. Those all relate to being shifted to that sympathetic gas pedal response and not having the proper balance of the nervous system.
When we connect chiropractic with allergies, what we really talk about is the neurological component, as chiropractic care improves the function of the nervous system. It helps balance the sympathetic gas pedal mode and the parasympathetic brake pedal mode, which in turn gives the proper balance to the Th1 and Th2 immune responses. And balance really is the key here. The Th1 response, or that externalization, is actually a good thing when it’s properly signaled. When we have an overload of it, that’s when we have more of an allergic response.
At our office, we are able to see, measure, and quantify the stress on the nervous system using Insight nervous system function scans. These will tell us which areas are not functioning properly, any stress that our nervous system is experiencing, and will also tell us if the nervous system is in an imbalanced state. That is part of our evaluation so that we can put the best plan in place to help you and your family. If you have any questions about that or anything else we went over, feel free to reach out to our office and we would be happy to help you.
Dr. Jill Mork is a pediatric and prenatal certified chiropractor and the owner of Family First Chiropractic of Verona. She focuses her practice on families, infants, kids, and pregnant women. She takes a special interest in children with neurodevelopmental challenges. Her mission is to empower families to take control of their health and well-being. She believes that the body was designed to heal and function properly. By approaching the body from a functional standpoint, she utilizes chiropractic care to free up the interference on the nervous system and allow the body to work like it was designed to. Her office is located in Verona, WI and she serves those in Verona and from Fitchburg, Oregon, Middleton, and the surrounding Madison area. To improve the quality of life of you and your family, contact Dr. Jill at 608-497-1801.