The temperatures are rising, the birds are chirping, the sun is coming out and nature is beginning to bloom. 2020 welcomes spring with open arms. As pleasant as it may be for many, for allergy sufferers it is the beginning of a particularly challenging time. With spring comes the early onset of the yellow dust, which causes sneezing, sniffing and itchy eyes for people with pollen allergies. It is enough to prepare for the next few weeks, because with the right resources, people with allergies can get into the spring mood. CBD can complement this as a natural alternative and help alleviate the annoying symptoms. The following article provides information on the background, diagnosis options and conventional and alternative options for allergies.
What is Allergy?
Allergies are a malfunction of the body’s immune system. The chronic disease is extremely sensitive to basically harmless substances, such as pollen. When it comes to allergies, these are seen as a real threat to the body.
An allergy is a disease that is triggered by an immune overreaction to otherwise harmless antigens. The antigens or allergens are the substances that trigger the allergy. These are mostly microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites or externally identified macromolecules.
In order to understand how an allergic reaction occurs, it is necessary to take a closer look at the immune system. It consists of cells that trace the antigens in certain processes and render them harmless. Here the leukocytes and lymphocytes play a crucial role.
The lymphatic stem cells ensure the formation of B lymphocytes in the bone marrow and T lymphocytes in the thymus.
The B lymphocytes for the specific humoral immune defense
In the course of the first contact with an antigen, some of the B lymphocytes are transformed into plasma cells, which form specific antibodies and then release them. The plasma cells, which are in the connective tissue, survive for about 2-3 days. The rest of the B lymphocytes are transformed into dividable B memory cells. Compared to the plasma cells, they are long-lasting and their antibodies are membrane-bound.
With a second contact with the antigen, the B memory cells multiply rapidly. A conversion processes in plasma cells take place and it quickly produces large amounts of antibodies.
T-lymphocytes for the specific cellular immune defense
Here, part of the T lymphocytes is converted into T effector cells on first contact. These are cytotoxic and can destroy other body cells affected by antigen. The other part turns into long-lived T-memory cells, which circulate in the blood and are focused on recognizing the antigen.
If there is a second contact, the T memory cells multiply and form a considerable number of T effector cells as a secondary response. These attack the body’s own phagocytes.
The T effector cells are differentiated as follows:
- T-killer cells: carrier of the cytotoxin (substances that damage cells)
- T helper cells: These work together with the B lymphocytes and are responsible for the formation of plasma cells
- T-suppressor cells: Inhibit antibody production during the immune response
Furthermore, the human organism has natural killer cells called the large lymphocytes, which can also destroy macrophages.
Possible factors of allergies
Around 60 million people in the United States are now affected by allergies – and the trend is rising. Around 8.2% of adults and 8.4% of children suffer from hay fever in the US.
Environment & lifestyle
The environment and today’s lifestyle are the two most significant causes of increasing allergies. Nowadays, people are in contact with allergens more often through pollution with exhaust gases, cigarette smoke and environmental toxins. Furthermore, industrialized countries are more often affected by allergies compared to rural regions and developing countries. A lack of exercise, stress and an unbalanced diet also contribute negatively.
Contact with bacteria
Another hypothesis is that people have less direct contact with bacteria, which increases the risk of developing allergies. Researchers suspect that contact with different germs trains the immune system.
Fewer parasites as an indicator of increased allergies
Scattered research also indicates a connection between the low level of parasites and an increased risk of allergies. In the past, people were often infected with worms, which is why researchers assume that they also contain certain protective mechanisms. Finding these out can be important for treating allergies.
A large proportion of people with allergies suffer from hay fever. Researchers suspect a connection between the climatic changes and the increasing number of pollen allergy sufferers. Climate change also increases the number of pollen and the flowering phase. Even non-indigenous plants with more aggressive pollen can grow with us and we can get exposed more easily.
Fine dust and pollutants promote pollen allergies
It is also suspected that the nitrogen from exhaust gases interacts with certain proteins in the pollen, which increases the risk of allergies. An allergic reaction can exacerbate by contact with exhaust gases alone.
Changes in the intestinal flora
Current research suggests a connection between the intestine and the bacteria it contains with the immune system and allergic reactions. Studies indicate that probiotics can help prevent allergies and alleviate symptoms.
How does an allergy develop?
It can take a while for an allergy to actually break out. It often takes years between the first symptoms and the actual diagnosis. An allergy can affect anyone, regardless of their history and at any time. For example, pet owners may develop an allergy to animal hair over the years. But certain tendencies can also increase the risk of developing allergies. For example, if the parents are allergic, the children are more often affected.
In the case of allergies, we must understand that there is a difference between an immediate type and a late type:
The Instant Type
This is where the immune defense’s reaction begins immediately after contact with the allergen – Immunoglobulin E (Ig-E) antibodies are formed within a few minutes and a chain reaction is initiated. Triggers can be pollen, medication, animals, certain foods or insect poisons. The first contact is usually symptom-free.
In the course of the reaction, the messenger substance called ‘histamine’ is released. This is also responsible for the classic symptoms that arise from an allergy, such as itching, reddening of the skin, rash, runny nose or swelling of the tissue. The anaphylactic shock describes the worst case: here the blood pressure drops to life-threatening – it’s an emergency situation in which the patient must get first aid immediately.
The term atopy is often used in this context. This describes the hereditary disposition to develop an immediate type allergy. Atopic people also have an increased risk of developing allergic asthma or atopic eczema. However, researchers are still searching for more experimental results on how CBD can help with allergies and hay fever.
The Late Type
With the late type, the allergic symptoms show up with a little delay. The symptoms do not necessarily appear immediately – they often only become noticeable after repeated contact. In the late type, in most cases the T cells are involved, which trigger an inflammatory reaction in the body.
There is also Type II and Type III allergy.
Type II allergy is rather rare. This form comes into contact with a cell-fixed antigen or components of a cell surface. These lead to the destruction of the target cell.
Type III allergy involves a massive antibody immune response. The body or the immune system is highly sensitive here. If the organism comes into contact with the allergen, large aggregates of immune complexes are formed. These can trigger inflammation in organs.
What types of allergies are common in the US?
The following is an overview of the most common allergies:
- Hay fever / pollen allergy
- House dust allergy
- Animal allergy
- Sun allergy
- Contact allergy
- Mold allergy
- Cross allergy
- Insect bite allergy
- Food allergy
- Histamine intolerance
The diagnosis aims to identify the allergy-causing allergen so that it can be avoided in the future. Most allergens come from the following substances:
- House dust mites
- Cat and dog fur
- Molds The following standard tests can be used to diagnose allergies:
With this method, certain allergens are dripped onto the inner surface of the forearms and the skin is slightly scratched open. The result can then be read after about 30 minutes. In the case of an allergy, there is a skin reaction, usually in the form of a wheal.
Similar to the prick test, this method uses a needle to inject the allergenic solution into the skin. Here, too, the result can be read after about 30 minutes. This method is used if the prick test is negative but an allergy is still suspected.
Total Ig-E and RAST test
With the help of a blood test, the immunoglobulin E (Ig-E) is determined, which is increased in the case of an allergy. However, this method is rarely useful and usually does not replace an allergy skin test. The test is mainly carried out if the results are not clear.
If all of these methods are unsuccessful, specific provocation tests are used, which are only carried out in special facilities and are very time-consuming.
Once allergic, always allergic?
Being allergic does not always mean you will always be allergic. If allergies are recognized early and properly diagnosed, there is already the possibility of timely and effective treatment. Here, however, it is necessary that primary care physicians in particular continue to specialize in this to avoid chronic allergies.
Spring – A nightmare for pollen allergy sufferers
Spring is especially challenging for people with hay fever or pollen allergy. Due to the comparatively mild winter, nature begins to bloom earlier, which is why it is more important than ever that allergy sufferers are optimally prepared for this time.
In the meantime, there are already special pollen detectors or apps you can use on a smartphone. These Apps can quickly and easily determine the current loads. The hourly forecast helps allergy sufferers to better assess the risk during the day and month. In combination with the right treatment, the symptoms can be reduced and, at best, completely eliminated.
The symptoms range from sneezing and runny noses to watery eyes and swollen eyelids. Also, itching and asthmatic symptoms, such as cough, shortness of breath or wheezing may be signs of an allergy.
In most cases, the following drugs are suitable for treatment:
- Leukotriene receptor antagonists
- Decongestant nose drops and sprays
In addition, there are no drug treatment options such as saline nasal sprays.
These methods can be used primarily for the short-term relief of symptoms. In the long term, hypo-sensitization is recommended, a specific immunotherapy that helps to become less sensitive to allergens in the long term. This therapy, in which low doses of the allergen are regularly administered, takes about 3 years.
A number of natural alternatives can also help to alleviate the symptoms of allergies, so that allergy sufferers can also relax in spring and do not have to resort to antihistamines and other drugs with a range of side effects.
Cannabidiol, or CBD for short, the Phyto-cannabinoid of the hemp plant, can ideally complement here and support you during this time which is intensive for the body and especially the immune system.
How can CBD help with allergies?
The spectrum of CBD effects is very diverse and can be used both preventive and specific for allergies. This is advisable especially shortly before and during the peak season and in acute phases. Below are the points where you will know how CBD can help with allergies and hay fever.
CBD to Boost the Immune System
CBD works through the body’s endocannabinoid system. There it docks on receptors to develop the effect. These docking points can also benefit your body’s defense response. Studies indicate that CBD has a beneficial effect on immune function. CBD also suppresses cell expression, proliferation and cell surface expression.
The immune system is particularly challenged in the case of allergies, which is why CBD is an ideal alternative and can strengthen the weakened body.
CBD to Inhibit Inflammation
CBD can also take a holistic approach to allergy-related inflammation that arises in the course of an allergy. Current studies show a connection between CBD and the reduction of inflammation. This also goes back to the endocannabinoid system as an emerging key player.
CBD for Allergy-Related Skin Problems
Many allergies are expressed through the skin – they put a lot of strain on it and affects the skin barrier. Here too, the studies indicate that CBD can also be used as a supplement for dermatological complaints. Since skin issues in particular severely affect the quality of life of those affected, CBD can be used here as an effective therapeutic instrument. Cosmetics containing CBD in particular are recommended for external use.
CBD to Promote Inner Balance
In addition to the physical symptoms, an allergy can also affect your mood. Dripping nose, burning eyes and itching skin can be quiet annoying, both physically and mentally. With its calming and relaxing effects, CBD can also work here and promote inner balance. This is due, among other things, to the lowering of the stress hormone cortisol.
How is CBD used for allergies?
When using CBD for allergies, full-spectrum oils with Phyto-cannabinoids as well as flavonoids and terpenes are recommended. We can easily achieve good results with 5% oils.
In case of a pollen allergy or hay fever, it is advisable to start taking it before the high season. Pollen flight calendars can be helpful here, which are already available online for download.
Depending on requirements, you can increase the number of droplets in the course of the season by one to two droplets at two to three daily intervals. In acute cases, you can also increase the dosage without hesitation and, if necessary, double it.
“CBD proves to be a practical and side effect-free alternative to medication.”
Compared to medications such as antihistamines or preparations with cortisone, CBD is a natural alternative that is also suitable for long-term use.
Orthomolecular Medicine for Allergies
Orthomolecular medicine can also offer extensive support to the immune system. Studies have shown that the following micronutrients are particularly relevant:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
It is often challenging to consume all of these micronutrients through food, especially since higher doses are necessary. Here it is advisable to take preparations that ensure holistic care. Multivitamin supplements provide you with the most important micronutrients for allergies and other health-promoting vitamins.
General Tips for Everyday Life with Hay Fever
- Do not leave street clothing in the bedroom. Pollen settles on this and you bring it into the house with the clothes you are wearing.
- Do not dry laundry outdoors.
- Wash hair more often, because pollen also settles here (ideally in the evening).
- Take a warm bath or shower before going to bed: it washes off the pollen and prevents you from taking it into bed.
- Keep the window closed when there is a strong pollen count – only ventilate in the morning and evening.
- Spend as little time outdoors as possible during intense pollen flight and do without strenuous sporting activities outdoors.
Together with the CBD, micronutrients and some tips for everyday life, your entire body can be ideally supported. Follow this effective regime and enjoy your spring to the fullest!