However, a well-functioning digestive system is very important for good immune balance and when in balance the immune system is less likely to react to substances that should normally be harmless to the body.
Allergic rhinitis or hay fever occurs when the body over-reacts to natural substances like pollen and spores. For some people allergies are a nightmare all year round where they react to pets, dust mites or certain plants and trees. Still, given that all symptoms occur in the respiratory system such as sneezing, wheezing, itchy nose, throat and eyes, how is the digestive system involved?
The lining of the intestines is designed to be a strong barrier against those things passing through the digestive system. It keeps out toxins, parasites and large food particles until they have been properly broken down. Once food is broken down there are special proteins that transport our essential nutrients across the cell membrane into the blood stream. The cells are tightly packed together and are held by what are called tight junctions. These prevent things that should not be absorbed from sneaking through the gaps in the cells.
They do, however, allow small water soluble nutritional substances to pass through selectively, for example glucose. The problem occurs when the digestive barriers get damaged leading to a condition called leaky gut. There are many factors that can lead to compromised gut barriers a few of which are listed below.
Alcohol and caffeine - These irritate the gut wall.
Yeasts and bad bacteria imbalances
Prescription medicine use such as antibiotics, NSAID's (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), the oral contraceptive, antacids, pain medication like aspirin and ibuprofen.
A diet high in refined carbohydrate or junk food.
Insufficient digestive enzymes or weak stomach acid
Chronic stress - Stress reduces blood flow to the gut leaving it unable to repair itself.
Other gastrointestinal disease.
When our strict border control is compromised it means that things that should not get through the digestive system do. This can be food that is not properly broken down, toxins, yeast, bacteria and parasites.
Once in the blood stream the immune system removes these foreign invaders. However as time goes on and more particles get through the immune system becomes over-taxed, but also over-reactive, making it more likely to react to other foreign matter that it comes into contact, namely pollen. Hence the connection to increased reactions when they are inhaled. Also the congestion can lead to general inflammation which does not help the body to respond well. Also with your body responding to allergens you may also find digestion is affected, resulting in gas and bloating.
So from a natural health point of view it is good to tune up the digestive system before the pollen season starts, balance the immune system and even provide some support for the liver before the body becomes too burdened.