Allergies part 1

Focus on allergies - part 1

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In part one of her three part series, Naturopath Jodi Van Dyk delves into the increasingly common world of allergies. Part one will discuss allergies, how they come about, potential causes and varying types.

Allergies are becoming increasingly common in Australia. According to the Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA), one in three people will suffer from an allergy at one point in their life.

When you think of allergies you might picture some one who has red, watery eyes, a runny nose and is constantly sneezing. This represents a classical picture of hay fever; however, allergies can take on many forms and cause different symptoms, including itchy skin, hives, welts, swelling and lung problems

How do allergies come about?

Allergies occur when the immune system reacts to something in the environment, causing damage to tissue as it tries to fight off the threat, which should otherwise be harmless to the body. The substances that cause allergies are known as allergens and are varied, including substances such as animal dander, grasses, pollen, dust mites, food, moulds, insects and some medicines.

What happens in the body during an allergic attack?

In acute allergies we must be ‘sensitised’ to an allergen before an allergic response occurs. When we initially come into contact with an allergen no reaction occurs, only sensitisation. However when exposed to the allergen again the body has already been sensitised, and a reaction occurs; the body releases a host of inflammatory chemicals including histamine. The inflammatory chemicals cause typical symptoms seen in allergy which include runny nose (allergic rhinitis), runny eyes, hives and red, itchy skin.

Most allergies are mild to moderate, causing irritation and perhaps a loss of function, however some particular allergies can be life threatening, causing what is known as anaphylactic shock.

Types of allergies

Seasonal allergies – usually occur at varying times of the year generally either autumn/winter or spring/summer. These are as a result of airborne allergens such as pollens or grasses. These can cause runny nose, itchy throat, and red runny eyes.

Perennial allergies – these are allergies that occur all year round. These are generally in response to dust mites, animal dander, mould and occasionally food additives.

* Both seasonal and perennial allergies can be commonly referred to as ‘hay fever’

Animal allergies – an allergy to mainly pet hair. Allergens can arise from the fur, dander, saliva, faeces and urine. Allergic reaction usually occurs via inhalation of the allergen.

Allergic contact dermatitis – this allergy affects the skin and causes a weeping red rash, which usually shows up within 1-2 days of exposure to an allergen.

Hives (urticaria) – causes weal like swellings in the skin which can be as a result of contact with an allergen or ingestion of a food allergen.

Eczema/asthma – allergies can be found in those suffering from atopic conditions such as asthma or eczema. Allergies can trigger a flare up or an attack or can be implicated in causing inflammation.


Atopic individuals have an inherited tendency to allergies.[2] Atopic individuals do not need the initial ‘sensitisation’ exposure to an allergen before responding to it.[2] These people will respond immediately to the allergen even in small amounts. Many cases of eczema and asthma can be linked to atopic individuals.

References available on request

Dear Ms Robinson, I am sorry to hear about your friend’s allergy to amines. Allergies and sensitivities can be brought on by quite a few factors and having a sensitive or inflamed digestive system is one of them. This is often referred to as “leaky gut” or gut dysbiosis. It may be beneficial for your friend to try some natural supplements that may decrease inflammation and support gut health such as slippery elm, aloe vera, glutamine, turmeric and vitamin A. Sometimes gluten containing grains (such as wheat, barley, rye, spelt, and oats) as well as dairy products may also increase inflammation in sensitive people, so it may be a good idea to cut those foods down for a few weeks, and see if that helps with her sensitivities. If her symptoms do not improve, I would highly recommend seeing a naturopath or a healthcare practitioner in private practice so as to get referred for further investigations and/or functional tests if need be.
I hope this information will be helpful to you and your friend. If you have any further questions, please contact Blackmores Naturopathic Advisory service on 1800 803 760. Kind regards, Rosaria Nithart (Blackmores Naturopath)
Dear Blackmores, Can you help a dear friend of mine who is allergic to amines? There is hardly anything at all that she can eat without staying awake all night with really nasty problems! When she came to dinner she did not eat any fruit or vegs at all. We are both retired registered nursing sisters. Help! HR
Anonymous 20 May 2014
Hi Riva, I am so sorry to hear about your environmental allergies. It appears that your immune system has become highly sensitized and over-reactive. Vitamin C (high doses) can help to balance the high histamine response and probiotics can also help to modulate the immune response via the gut. Due to the severity of your reaction (s), I would suggest that you see an integrative GP (one who practices both conventional and complementary medicine) A helpful website for you would be: . Seek one who has had experience dealing with allergies as there are protocols available to assist with de-sensitization-otherwise you may have to relocate! In addition, both kinesiology and homoeopathy can help to deal with the allergic response. Please call the naturopaths at Blackmores so we can help you further. All the best ! Gina- Blackmores naturopath.

Hi Simone, Thanks for your post and sorry to hear about your dermatitis. You may like to consider the nutrients of zinc, vitamin C and A, also cod liver oil, for the skin. Green lipped mussel oil and magnesium may be beneficial as an adjunctive treatment for the asthma. Avoiding commercial cleaning products and using simple baking soda and eucalyptus oil may be better for you. 100% Goat milk soap and creams tend to be very soothing for skin issues. Looking into food allergies/ intolerances may also be beneficial. You may like to call Blackmores and speak to one of the naturopaths here, so we can assist you on a more individual level. I hope this has been helpful. All the best! Gina - Blackmores naturopath
I have suffered allergies since a child and eczema, but now also sundering from dermatitis the last 9 years..It flared up out of no where and is painful i have had it on my face and mainly knock arms and chest..I have had some relief Via some medicine/cream prescribed since moving to Australia. oh yes i do have Asthma.. I have a few doctors but none can get it under control losing my head over this bothers my sleep!
Anonymous 22 Apr 2014
I never suffered with hey fever or allergies. The last couple of years I began getting bronchitic episodes one after another. Also, about a year ago I suddenly could not walk more than 50 meters due to some unusual chest pain and difficulty breathing. Although, I do not have the usual symptoms like hay fever sufferers have. Than it went away for a while. About 4 months ago it all happened again. Also, this time I also had irregular heart beat, headache, bloating etc. I came to see my GP, and he panicked. Also my blood pressure was unusually elevated. I had all possible tests including a proper heart stress test, and a visit to a cardiologist, but nothing was wrong. When I noticed that my hands and body is itching like I was touched by poison ivy, I remembered my old gardener once told me that he was allergic to a couple of street trees close to my windows. I touched the leaves of one of them, and the result was truly scary.Now I found out that the 2 trees are Privet trees. Also, there is a big Desert Ash full of seeds hanging over my fence near the window, and other 2 of the same kind just across the road from my window. Now I am also aware that these trees belong to the Olive family, and can be allergenic, and even more so if combined together. I have asthma like symptoms, itchiness, I am bloated, my limbs at time feel like semi-paralyses for a while, my throat is burning, and some more unpleasant sensations. Same happened when I broke a little branch from the Desert Ash, for I wanted to compare the leaves with the ones on the Web site.
I am afraid to go outside. I even bought a few masks from the chemist, but it did not help either.
When I am away from my house, I feel almost good again.
Is it possible to have such a terrible reaction to trees? What should I do? Thank you, Riva
Anonymous 03 Mar 2014
Hi Ki

Thank you for your post. There is no botanical relationship between “black pepper” piper nigrum and capsicum. You may wish to consult with your Dr regarding any other “connection between you pepper & capsicum allergy”. Kind regards, Emma Flett (Blackmores naturopath)
hi, I have many allergies, my main two being pork and pepper . I also found out that i am allergic to capsicum (paprika). Curious is there a connection between my pepper allergy and my capsicum allergy?
Anonymous 12 Feb 2014