Adrenal Glands and Allergies- The Connection
By Sarah Axtell, ND • March 15, 2014
Have you noticed that your allergies have worsened over the years? Maybe you did not have allergies as a kid but now you dread Spring due to the influx of the common allergens in the air. This can be due to poor adaptation to stress, or adrenal fatigue.
You may have heard stress impacts the immune system. Your adrenal glands, or “stress glands,” play an important role in allergic reactions. Cortisol is your body’s main stress hormone and is a strong anti-inflammatory. When the adrenal glands are exhausted (due to chronic stress), they no longer make adequate amounts of cortisol. When there is not enough cortisol, your body has a difficult time counteracting inflammation associated with allergic reactions. This results in a more robust reaction to common allergens, such as pollen, grasses, dust, and mold.
Supporting the adrenal glands in addition to identifying and eliminating food sensitivities will result in less environmental allergies…and bonus, more energy!
Here are some ways to support your adrenal glands (and thus your immune system):
- Sleep in a completely dark room.
- Go to bed and wake at the same time every night and morning, even weekends. After all, your adrenal glands thrive on routine!
CALM YOUR ENVIRONMENT
Assess your environment for visual and auditory over-stimulation. Establish boundaries for screen-time, such as turning the tv and computer off an hour before bed. Avoid bright lights in the evening, which can suppress melatonin production. Also consider ending relationships that do not serve you or fulfill you. Work with your stress and find a way to process it effectively. Meditation and deep breathing can do wonders!
If you are experiencing an early response to stress, it may feel great to go for a run or engage in other vigorous workouts. However, if you are in a state of adrenal fatigue (evidenced by low cortisol on a salivary hormone test) you may need to choose a gentle form of exercise, such as yoga or walking. You should not feel exhausted after you exercise. If you are experiencing a significant amount of fatigue, you are getting sick often, and/or your allergies are flaring up, your body may be telling you to slow down and replenish with sleep, gentle forms of exercise (yoga, walking) and nourishing foods.
- Eat several balanced meals a day. Eat within 1 hour of waking and not within 1 hour of bed.
- Include a protein with each meal and don’t shy away from the good fats (olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, grass-fed butter, seeds, nut butters).
- Eat dark, leafy greens such as collards, kale, chard or spinach every day.
- Do not be afraid of salt. Use sea salt, Himalayan pink salt, or kelp powder to taste.
- Drink half your weight in ounces of filtered water every day. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs, you need 75 ounces of water daily.
- Sugar and refined (white) carbohydrates
- Processed foods
- Hydrogenated fats
- Allergic or sensitive foods
- Vitamin C
- B complex with an adequate amount of B5 (Pantothenate)
- Tulsi tea
- Black currant bud
- Adaptogenic herbs such as Rhodiola, Ashwagandha and Holy Basil
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.