Fish Oil and Allergies
I am a naturopathic physician with nearly 20 years of experience developing breakthrough nutritional products.I also have extensive television and radio experience and have lectured widely to health professionals, the military and the public on all aspects of natural health.
Dr Myers, an expert who holds a doctorate in naturopathic medicine
Stephen Fry in my surgery during the making of the BBC TV program
Me with Lord Bragg, accepting my "Champion of the Year" award
After graduating, I was recognised as being the 'best young neurosurgeon in Britain'
With almost one in four people suffering from allergies worldwide and nearly one in five children in the UK suffering from allergies in some form or another (National Statistics Online 1996), allergies have become a serious issue with which to contend. Finding suitable remedies that work for a wide variety of patients is something that has confused scientists and doctors for years. Though there many be specific allergens that are causing specific allergic reactions, not all remedies work as well as the patient might like.
What are Allergies?
The human body is a complicated system of processes that occur in order to allow us to live and to breathe in this world. When one of these processes isn’t working in the way that it should, it can result in physical reactions and symptoms. Allergies, for example, occur when the body reacts to an outside stimulus. To fight this outside stimulus, the body produces histamines in the body. And in most cases, these chemicals prevent your body from being harmed by the outside conflicts. When you have allergies, however, the body overproduces these chemicals, causing you to have symptoms such as:
Dark circles under the eyes
Wheezing and other difficulties breathing
A patient can be allergic to a variety of substances, depending on their individual body chemistry. While the most likely causes of allergies are pollen and dust, one can also be allergic to certain foods and weather conditions, as well as drugs and other allergens in the environment. Some people are simply more sensitive than others to new things in their environment, while others are more sensitive at certain times of the year – i.e. hay fever in the spring and fall months.
What are the Usual Treatments for Allergies?
When you’re suffering from allergies, the best way to stop the allergic reaction is to remove yourself from the environment. But as this is not always possible, there are other ways to help the body deal with these allergens in a most positive manner. For common environmental allergies, a doctor might prescribe an anti-histamine substance that is taken on a needed basis and is often found in local pharmacies. If the allergies are more long term, there are prescription medications that can be taken throughout the year to prevent allergic reactions from occurring.
In the case of food allergies and other serious allergies that can cause more life threatening symptoms like anaphylaxis (airway constriction), more severe treatment is necessary. Because the throat can tighten up quickly, cutting off the air to the brain, the body will need a shot of adrenaline in order to prevent this from happening. While this isn’t a cure, it can slow the response of the allergy until the patient can be treated at hospital.
The main concern with many of these allergy medications is that they can have dangerous side effects. They aren’t recommended in the case of those that have pre-existing heart conditions or blood pressure problems. Since many of these allergy medications contain things that speed up the heart rate, the patient can be heart palpitations, problems with anxiety and also troubles with sleeping. Others can have troubles with mouth dryness and less severe symptoms.
What is Science Saying about Fish Oil?
At their core, allergies are a reaction of the body’s immune system. When the body senses something that shouldn’t be in the environment, it actively tries to fight it off. When this immune function is impaired, the body can not fight off the intruders on its own. It would be best then to try to find ways to increase the immune function of the body in order to reduce the prevalence of allergic responses.
According to the University of Western Australia, studies have shown that the consumption of fish oil has been linked with increased immune system response as well as to help the body’s inflammation response. By helping the body regulate the response to the allergens, patients can see fewer symptoms during high allergy times. There have also been initial studies linking a mum’s consumption of fish oil with fewer allergies in their children. Pregnant and nursing women who take in a few servings of essential fatty acids via fish oil can greatly impact their baby’s health – as well as their own.
Where Can You Find Fish Oil?
Fish oil supplements are easy to find in your local grocery stores and through online retailers, so these are simple ways to ensure that you are getting enough essential fatty acids in your diet. If you want to supplement your diet instead, oily fishes like salmon and mackerel are good sources to use. Though plant based sources of essential fatty acids like flaxseed and nuts are good to add to a diet, they do not contain the Omega 3 fatty acids that fish oil does.
In the end, fish oil can help to boost the body’s response to allergens in the air, which can then reduce the symptomatic response that some people suffer.
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