THE POLLEN & RESPIRATORY VIRUS CONNECTION

As we continue to learn about the coronavirus most scientists, researchers and medical professionals have to extrapolate on other medical research with other viruses including HIV and Rhinovirus. This is a disclaimer that, like most things right now, there isn't much research or understanding (still) of this specific strain of coronavirus, (SARS-COV-2). This is not meant to replace the advice of your physician and is only meant as informational education. If you have any medical conditions, please talk to your doctor first about any and all information presented here. This is not treatment or information specific for corona virus.
 
The latest Allergy medical journal (2) this month supported a well known hypothesis of the affect of allergies on our bodys' ability to fight bacteria and viruses. 
With a little understanding of a "simplified" version of how our bodys' immune system work, we can understand how healthy we are or are not. What we can do about it if we are not!?
First, lets understand the differences between allergy and viral symptoms:
 
  1. Viral Infection- symptoms include fever, body aches, diarrhea (small percent), cough (in the example of corona virus its a dry cough), small percentage may have headache with loss of smell but this is common in cardiovascular disease, allergies and much more!
  2. Allergies - itchy eyes and throat, sneezing, post nasal drip or sore/scartchy throat in morning and night. Headache is more specific to allergies.
 
Our immune system starts with our non-specific immune system. These are special types of germ fight cells called white blood cells or WBCs, that scan for anything that isn't self or different. Once it finds something different in our body that is foreign, it than mounts different more specific responses based on the type of foreign material.
A specific response against bacteria and viruses is called a TH1 response and An immune response to toxins, parasites, and allergies is a TH2 response. There are a couple other responses called Th0 and Th17, but for this topic we will exclude those for now. Often this dominance can be shifting all the time and isn't like that you are always in one state or the other. The body always will try to maintain balance but often if we are emotionally stressed, physically stressed like with injuries or chronic disease states, or nutrient deficient; this balance is harder to achieve.
 
TH2/TH1 testing
There are certain conditions and indicators doctors look for to help understand which side your dominant in as a patient, but most often blood work will tell you where your immune system stands. Blood work looks at certain cytokines and inflammatory markers. Testing for leaky gut and food allergies are also significant in balancing and understanding your immune health. The majority of our immune system activity takes place in our mouth, stomach, and intestines through good bacteria, so food and gut health play a big role in our immune system and its ability to fight all foreign matter. Stool testing can also be helpful to understand our micro-biome and the good and bacteria that live there. A micro-biome is the good bacteria that reside in our organs and act as the conductors for the immune response in each individual organ. For example our lungs have a diverse micro-biome of bacteria but is different than the microbiome in our intestines. The more diverse bacteria and species the better!
 
I recommend doing the following testing:
Blood: Food intolerance IGG, IGE, IL-6, IL-2, IL-5, IL-10, IL-12, ferritin, CRP, CMP, NK Cells, TNF-alpha,
Stool : complete stool and digestive analysis (CDSA)
 
On a side note, what is unique about coronavirus, and what makes it lethal, is that once you actually contract it, it can activate both sides of this immune system which creates a cytokine storm. This cytokine storm releases lots of inflammation which is why it can be so lethal, especially in areas where there already is lots of inflammation for example in patients with lung or kidney disease.
 
However, TH2 dominance can render you defenseless against many respiratory viruses. TH2 dominance is more likely to occur if you are having lots of allergy symptoms or are prone to allergies in general. This can be pollen or grass allergies, but can be any type of allergy including allergies to food, chemicals, heavy metals, or animals. This is also why if you get a viral infection, allergy symptoms like eczema, asthma and hayfever can worsen and may be life threatening because now your immune system is shifted over to TH1 and you can't control your allergies. Research also shows that air pollution increases rates of dying due to COVID-19. We often talk about air filters here at Beachside Clinic and while expensive is a worth while investment for many issues to reduce pollutants and allergens in your house.
The recent Allergy journal (2) showed both in vitro and in vivo that rats exposed to rhinovirus while having an ongoing allergy response to pollen were less able to fend off the Rhinovirus compared to rats that weren't exposed to pollen. Again, this is not specific for coronavirus but helps us understand the connection right now between allergies and the need for proper immune support. We are still in virus season and peaking in allergy season, so understanding the role of viruses in worsening allergy symptoms and vice versa is vital for understanding our overall health and wellness.
 
Treatment of TH2 dominance -
This includes lifestyle behaviors of:
 
NUTRIENTS:
 
MUSHROOMS- Mushrooms just aren't great for stress management they are great immune support agents as food or supplements:
 
GET SLEEP- meditation before bed, turning off all social medical and computers and phones to both avoid blue light which supresses melatonin and to avoid feeling overstimulated and anxious. Supplements can be supportive but can also be addictive and interactive with other prescriptions . They can cause also cause grogginess so please talk to a naturopathic doctor to discuss your options.
 
Stress, by way of cortisol hormone released by the adrenal glands, also increases Th2 dominance, so when we talk about balancing our immune system, stress management is key!
 
Herbs/Supplements to Help with Stress when you Have Allergies:
ADAPTOGENIC HERBS:
 
 
Other great herbs for overall allergy symptom support:
Boswellia - anti-inflammatory
Quercetin - helps bring zinc into cells
Nettles - anti-histamine (root and leaf)
Vitamin C - 1-2 grams 3-4 times per day
Ashwaganda - 400mg
 
AVOID
 
 
REFERENCES:
 
(1)Contoli, M., Ito, K., Padovani, A., Poletti, D., Marku, B., Edwards, M. R., Stanciu, L. A., Gnesini, G., Pastore, A., Spanevello, A., Morelli, P., Johnston, S. L., Caramori, G., & Papi, A. (2015). Th2 cytokines impair innate immune responses to rhinovirus in respiratory epithelial cells. Allergy: European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 70(8), 910-920. https://doi.org/10.1111/all.12627
 
(2) Gilles S, Blume C, Wimmer M, et al. Pollen exposure weakens innate defense against respiratory viruses. Allergy. 2020;75(3):576-587.
 
disclaimer:
These things are designed to eduate and not intended to replace the specific medical advise of your physician, especially if you are sick or have any medical conditions. This information is not about corona virus specifically or is a treatment reccomendations for any conditions including coronavirus.
Author
Cynthia Preston, ND

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