Help for This Allergy Season

I love spring, the first blades of grass and new buds on the trees. But I haven’t always been a spring lover. A few years ago, those first signs of spring were met with a different response:


Interestingly, allergies and hay-fever have not always been a human trait. In fact, they’re relatively new to us. Seasonal allergies may have begun as recently as the Industrial Revolution, and—this is the intriguing part—they only hit the upper classes. It was so unique to the upper classes that it immediately became fashionable. Every spring and fall, sneezing and congestion were super posh. Amazing, isn’t it? The power the social status can make almost anything cool. Today it feels much less sophisticated to have allergies because they’re so darn common! Thirty percent of adults deal with yearly allergies and the rates are only going up<1>. What started with only a handful of aristocrats is now so commonplace that commercials fill the airways with allergy remedies. It made me think, What happened? Why are we dealing with so many allergies?

The reason is one of a mistaken identity.

Our immune system is no longer able to see pollen, dust, and dander as harmless invaders and is attacking them like a virus or bacteria. The thing is, pollen and dust do look similar to viruses…but not quite. When our immune system is balanced and happy, it can differentiate between the two properly. But when our immune system is overworked and overwhelmed, it starts to get confused. We’re now beginning to understand why our immune system gets so overwhelmed, and for that answer, we need to take a look at our gut and our gut bacteria.

Our immune system spends a lot of time around our gut.

About 70% of our immune system lives around our small and large intestine, which is also home to our gut bacteria. Our gut bacteria colony is huge, equal to our own cell count and maybe even a bit more. What’s most important is which came first: our bacteria or our immune system? Our bacteria! The primitive immune system developed with bacteria and learned to work with it. Today, our gut bacteria play an important role in modulating, or balancing, our immune system. It literally tells our immune system when to react and when not to react, so a lot of our immune system imbalances, like allergies, auto-immune conditions, and chronic inflammation, stem from an imbalance in our gut. It was a change in the gut bacteria of the upper-class during the Industrial Revolution that triggered those first allergy attacks. And that change came from their cleaner lifestyle. They had access to cleaner water and better sanitation, and they no longer had the same input of day-to-day bacteria they had in their country-life.

Less balanced gut bacteria = more allergies.

So, what can you do if you’re one of the millions of allergy sufferers? All is not lost. We can rebalance our gut bacteria at any time and reduce our symptoms. This process has relieved me of my seasonal allergies, it really works!
  1. Take a quality probiotic

Replace the bacteria we used to get from our less-than-clean water and poor sanitation with a quality probiotic supplement. This will add many new strains of bacteria that can help to repopulate your gut. My favorite is Flora’s Adult Blend Probiotic (US/CA). It’s a human-strain, multi-strain probiotic that really works well.
  1. Feed your gut bacteria with its favorite foods

Your gut bacteria love fermented foods. Some examples are kefir, unpasteurized sauerkraut, and fermented veggies. They create the perfect environment for a good colony of bacteria. They also love plant-based fibers found in fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. The more fiber and fermented foods in your diet, the happier your gut bacteria will be!
  1. Soothe your irritated lungs and nasal passages with Respir-Essence*

Recovering from a bout of allergy symptoms can be as long and as frustrating as recovering from a cold or flu. Respir-Essence (US/CA) is an herbal blend that helps clear out your lungs and soothes your nasal passages and other mucous membranes*. Just take for 8 days and your lungs will thank you. You’ll see many other great side-effects from balancing your gut bacteria, including less inflammation, a better metabolism, and possibly a better mood.
Lisa Kilgour is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN), founder of, and a faculty member at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.