Seasonal allergies can be a bane for many Australians and this year has been one of the toughest yet for sufferers like me. I've tried everything from anti-histamine tablets to corticosteroid nasal sprays etc. But still no respite.
What is a Seasonal Allergy?
The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) indicates that pollen from grasses, weeds or trees can trigger symptoms of allergic rhinitis (commonly known as hay fever) and asthma. Pollen seasons can last for several months and exposure is difficult to avoid. Allergic rhinitis symptoms are caused by the body's immune response to inhaled pollen, resulting in chronic inflammation of the eyes and nasal passages. In moderate to severe cases, allergic rhinitis can even trigger an asthma attack.
Could Milk Kefir be the key to alleviating seasonal allergy symptoms?
Over the past month, I have been reviewing research papers to find a solution. Surprise, surprise, it seems like gut health may yet again be the key as with many allergy related ailments.
There have been numerous studies (1, 2, 3) indicating the anti allergic effect of milk kefir via suppression of the body's inflammatory mechanism. Inflammation in this context is the body's reaction to a foreign material namely allergens like pollen. In response, the gut cells produce reactive oxygen metabolites (4) like hypochlorite (household bleach) and hydrogen peroxide (common sanitising chemical).My hypothesis is that an overactive immune system and production of reactive oxygen metabolites may significantly disrupt the gut microbiome by indiscriminately killing commensal bacteria or old friends (as coined by Dr Michael Mosley) subsequently weakening the gut and making things worse over time. We are investigating further via our Gut Explorer - Microbiome Analysis Project at Allele Microbiome and closely reviewing all inflammatory foods and lifestyle practices.
Recalibrating the Immune System
Based on these findings, I began to substantially increase dosage of homemade milk kefir to 600 ml (200ml X 3 times a day). I began to notice that my seasonal allergy symptoms were substantially reduced and much more bearable. Again I hypothesise that this is like turning down the inflammatory thermostat allowing our old friends to repopulate and strengthen the gut.
References:1) Lee et. al, Anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic effects of kefir in a mouse asthma model,
Immunobiology. 2007;212(8):647-54. Epub 2007 Jul 10.