It’s not uncommon to start experiencing seasonal allergies around age 40—and hormones are often a major culprit. What’s the connection between hormones and allergies? In a recent webinar, Dr. Z talked about hormonal imbalance and how it can manifest in the body as allergies, hives, autoimmune diseases, and more. Here we explore some of the causes of hormonal disruption and how functional medicine can help.
The body is a complex, interconnected machine
The first thing we need to understand is that everything in our body is connected—and that includes the gut microbiome, hormones, and all other bodily systems. “We know that inflammation is at the root of most allergy symptoms,” says Dr. Z. “So the key is finding balance in the body—including hormonal balance—to get rid of the inflammation that is wreaking havoc in so many ways.”
Because hormones play an essential role in regulating activities throughout the body like hunger and sleep, imbalances can cause weight gain, loss of sex drive, brain fog, insomnia, and more. Imbalances of certain hormones such as histamine, cortisol, and thyroid hormones can result in allergy symptoms.
What is histamine?
Anyone who suffers from allergies knows about “antihistamine” medications like Benadryl that work by blocking the effects of too much histamine in the body. Histamine is actually a natural hormone produced by mast cells and other immune cells and it serves important functions related to digestion, mental function, and female reproduction.
When there’s too much histamine for the body to metabolize normally, it triggers symptoms like nasal congestion, itchy eyes, nose, and throat, and hives and rashes. It can also cause other symptoms not typically associated with allergies such as fatigue, headaches, and anxiety.
The mast cells that produce histamine also have receptors for estrogen and progesterone, two important female hormones. When estrogen binds to these receptors, it causes even more histamine to be released. At the same time, histamine increases estrogen production. This explains why some women begin experiencing allergies around age 40, especially after having children, during perimenopause, or after menopause.
There’s also a strong connection between allergies and other hormones produced by the thyroid and adrenal glands. “Many patients have more than just allergy symptoms and in many cases there’s low thyroid or other hormonal imbalance,” says Dr. Z. “Increasingly I’m asking my patients if they have a history of hormone dysfunction.”
The environment is messing with our hormones
Pesticides, herbicides, and a host of other environmental toxins are causing hormonal disruption in people. BPA, which is used in a wide range of plastic products, and other chemicals found in foods, household, and personal care products such as phthalates and parabens all have estrogen-like effects and are hormone disruptors. Avoid these chemicals by frequently washing hands, eating organic foods, and reading product labels.
Functional medicine can help
As a doctor of functional medicine and a functional allergist, Dr. Z takes a holistic approach to helping each patient live a healthier life. “We focus on treating the underlying cause of the problem, not just the symptoms because as soon as you stop taking the medication, they come back.”
At AAPRI, we use diagnostic testing to dig deeper and then work with the patient to create a treatment plan, which almost always includes healthy lifestyle choices:
- Eat a diet rich in unprocessed, whole foods. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and Brussels sprouts can help reduce a heavy estrogen load.
- Drink enough water. Dr. Z says, “Divide your body weight in half and that’s how many ounces of water you should be drinking every day.”
- Exercise. Sweating releases toxins from the body, increases bone and muscle mass, improves brain clarity, and helps improve sleep.
- Reduce stress. “When you’re chronically stressed, you’re in a hypercortisol state (also caused by hormones) which is like being on prednisone all the time,” says Dr. Z. “This leads to a wide range of health problems, including asthma and allergies.”
Contact us to schedule a consultation today
When it comes to addressing any hormone-related health concerns, be sure to contact a healthcare professional. At AAPRI, we’re here to help you find the root cause and get effective treatment. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.