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Immune-calming (Antihistamine, antiallergen, immunosuppressant, hy) - Foods & Herbs ListCLASSIFICATION OF FOOD, HERBS, & LIFESTYLE

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Reported by John Immel, Asheville, NC
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Herbs that interrupt an allergic reaction or calm the immune system, useful in allergies and autoimmune conditions.

The protocol for allergies is similar to the protocol for autoimmune disorders - as both involve the same immune system cascade (IgE antibody). Ayurveda classifies auto-immune disorders as excess Pitta, and tejas burning ojas.

Causes & Pathogenesis

Allergies and autoimmune conditions may be a sign of general immune system overstimulation. The precise cause of autoimmune conditions is still unknown. Practitioners use the term "atopic" as in atopic eczema to describe the condition of immune system hypersensitivity. Some risk factors for immune oversensitivity include:
  • Chronic viral or fungal infection - Epstein Barr, Herpes, toenail fungus, and other chronic infections may put the immune system on high alert, triggering immune hypersensitivity.
  • Toxins - May trigger the immune system. Sources of toxins may include gut fermentation, fungal / bacetrial infection, inflammation, preservatives, pollution, heavy metals, etc.
  • Inflammation - Chronic inflammation (of the skin, lungs, or digestive trigger higher levels of immune activity, and injure tissue, causing an immune response
  • Tissue Injury - Tissue injury can cause a breakdown of barrier membrane integrity, or lead to inflammation.
  • Permeable barrier membranes - Poor connective tissue barriers expose the immune system to allergens. This "overexposure" to allergens provokes the immune system to hypersensitivity. Example: Eczema, leaky gut, asthma and interstitial cycstitis. For example, acute inflammation of the lungs can cause increased sensitivity to dust particles being inhaled. When the dust comes into contact with the immune-stimulating white blood cells (macrophages) in the airways, a strong reaction can be triggered. Similarly, gut inflammation can cause immune system exposure to normal foods, triggering allergies.
  • Stress - Stress can provoke immune hypersensitivity.
  • Lack of early childhood exposure - Moderate exposure during childhood trains the immune system to ignore antigen.
  • Excessive early childhood exposure - Early childhood exposure to molds, pollens, etc. can also increase allergic actions
  • Flareups - Every flareup / allergic reaction creates more antibodies and B cells, making future flareups more severe
  • Dysbiosis - Dysbiosis can cause inflammation, leading to permeable membranes.
  • Treatment of immune suppressing parasites - Parasites such as Blastocystis homininis suppress the immune system. When these are killed, the immune system may become hyperactive.
  • T2 cell levels high / out of balance compared to T1 cells.

Once the immune system is triggered, mast cells release histamine and inflammatory molecules that trigger the allergy symptoms - runny nose, red eyes, hives, etc.

General Remedies for Allergies & Auto-immune Conditions

In allergies and autoimmune conditions, keep your immune system as calm as possible. Here are some traditional methods used to keep the immune system calm:
  • Clear infection - Antimicrobial, Antivirals and antifungals
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Reduce toxins
    • Remove the source of the toxins - Often fermentation in the gut, inflammation, or by products of infections). Given the importance of gut health on immune conditions, probiotics and easy to digest foods should be favored.
    • Clear toxins from circulation with lymphatic cleansers, alteratives, and antioxidants.
    • Improve elimination of toxins with laxatives, diuretics, diaphoretics, and expectorants.
    • Improve the liver's ability to metabolize toxins by 1) cleansing the liver with cholagogues, bitters, and sours; 2) hepatoprotectives, 3) nourishing the liver with sweet and oily foods such as applesauce with coconut oil
  • Repair membranes - Restore the tight cell junction and barrier, improve cell integrity, collagen, and reduce membrane permeability. Antifibrotics and vulneraries may help repair tissue.
  • Manage Stress - Manage stress with adaptogens, nervines, contemplative practice, get adequate rest, etc.
  • Desensitization therapy - Micro-exposure to antigens can desensitize the immune system.
Some western medical immune specialists recommend temporarily shutting down the immune system with anti-histamine pharmaceuticals.

Types of Immune Calming Herbs

  • Mast cell stabilizers - Inhibits release of histmaines and other inflammatory compouns from mast cells.
    • Ashwagandha, Onion, Bishop's Weed, Neem, Bacopa monnieri, Beggar's Ticks, Himalayan Cedar (Deodar), Coleus forskohlii, Turmeric, Gumweed, Inula, Magnolia, Peppermint, Holy Basil, Kutki, Solanum xanthocarpum, Haritak, Guduchi, Nirgundi, Anthrapacaka (Indian Ipecac)
  • Antihistamines - Inhibits histamine at the receptor site.
    • Onion, Shephard's purse, Ephedra, Apple, Ginseng, Kutki, Baical skullcap, Feverfew, Anhtrapacaka, Vaccinium spp.
  • Leukotrine inhibitors
  • Cortisol stimulants - Corticosteroids suppress the immune response but have strong side effects and do not address the underlying cause. Licorice root increases cortisol but with much fewer side effects. Other adrenal-tonic herbs include Reishi, Holy Basil, and Ginseng.

General Diet Tips

  • Avoid butter, nuts and potatoes that can increase immune sensitivity.
  • Favor omega-3-fatty acids, essential fatty acids, Vitamin B, D, D3, A, and zinc.
  • Follow a Pitta reducing diet and lifestyle.
  • Flavonoids - Many flavonoids have an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant effect, optimizing the integrity of cells, and prevent damage to collagen. As they improve connective tissue and cell to cell adhesion, they calm allergic reactions and have an anti-allergen effect.
  • Immune polysaccharides - Reishi, Shiitaki, Maitaki, etc.

Psychology of Autoimmune Disorders

On a spiritual level, auto-immune disorders are similar to self-criticism, while allergies are related to intolerance. Although anger is righteous and can be a healthy affirmation of the goodness that should be in the world, bitterness towards the world denies the goodness of God. The intense rejection behind bitter feelings harms the liver.


1-st generation antihistamines can provoke seizures.


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About John Joseph Immel

About the Author

John Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda biocharacteristics. His approach to Ayurveda is clinical, yet exudes an ease which many find enjoyable and insightful. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda, offering professional clinical training in Ayurveda for over 15 years.

John's interest in Ayurveda and specialization in digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, as well as public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.

John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well. Outside of work, John enjoys spending time with his wife and 7 kids, and pursuing his love of theology, philosophy, and language.

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* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information and products on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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