Is pollen making you allergic to food?
At this time of year I get a lot of people suffering from hayfever come to see me. However, many of these are unaware of a condition called 'food pollen allergy syndrome' which means that people that react to certain pollens may cross react to similar proteins in food - often fruits, vegetables, spices and nuts. Often people only react to raw fruit or vegetables, not cooked and may experience an itching or burning sensation in or round the mouth, ears, eyes, nose or skin. These type of immediate reactions have often already been diagnosed by a Doctor. However, some people react in very different ways and can experience digestive symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, indigestion or stomach cramps or a worsening of eczema or asthmatic symptoms. Hives and low blood pressure can also be symptoms. Some people may experience these symptoms but no classic hay fever symptoms and be completely unaware that they are reacting to pollen.
I use kinesiology to muscle test clients and the types of reactions I get vary considerably. Some people do just react to pollen but no foods. Some people react to pollen and one or two foods. Some people react to pollen and lots of foods. Some react just to raw foods, other raw and cooked. Some have a strong reaction to pollen and minimal to foods, with others it is the other way round and they can have some very strong reactions to foods. Obviously people are exposed to food all year round so whereas the pollen exposure occurs just for a few months each year they may have symptoms related to consuming certain foods all year round.
Here are some of the common cross reactions:
Silver Birch (pollen season typically February to June)
Potential cross reactions to: almond, apple. apricot, avocado, banana, hazelnut, honey, carrot, cherry, fennel, kiwi, nectarine, tomato, celery (plus whole of celery family), onion, parsnip, peach, peanut, plum, potato, pear, spinach, walnut, wheat
Alder (pollen season typically January to April)
Potential cross reactions to: almond, apple, celery, cherry, peach, pear, parsley, hazelnut, strawberry, raspberry
Also potential cross reaction to birch, beech and oak pollen
Grass (pollen season typically May to September)
Potential cross reactions to: melon, orange, tomato, wheat, fig, watermelon, swiss chard
Ragweed (pollen season typically June to September)
Potential cross reactions to: watermelon, banana, melon, chamomile, sunflower, courgette, cucumber, green pepper, paprika, echinacea, artichoke, dandelions, hibiscus, honey, legumes, celery, cumin, hazelnuts, kiwi, parsley, potatoes
Mugwort (pollen season typically June to September)
Potential cross reactions to: apple, carrot, celery, melon, spices, chamomile, watermelon, coriander, fennel, parsely, peppers, sunflower, peach
Often linked to a severe celery allergy - may include the whole of the celery family: celery, carrot, caraway, parsley, fennel, coriander, cumin, dill, aniseed, star anise, parsnip
Potential cross reactions to: fenugreek, paprika, pepper, mango, onion, garlic, leek
Mugwort-mustard allergy syndrome
May include the whole of the mustard family: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, sprouts, cress, watercress, turnip, horseradish, wasabi
Potential cross reactions to: peanuts, almonds
High risk of allergic reaction to: avocado, banana, chestnut, kiwi
Potential cross reactions to: apricot, celery, grapes, sunflower, passion fruit, pineapple, spinach, tomato, papaya, melon, mango, peach
May also be associated with caster bean and mercury reactions
Higher risk of lactose intolerance, fructose intolerance
Potential cross reactions to: rice, dairy, corn, potatoes, quinoa, amaranth
What can be done?
I muscle test all clients to find out what pollens/foods are relevant to them and recommend temporarily avoiding/minimising food from their diet while we work on the immune system. Hay fever and cross reactions to food are a sign that the body is not working as it should be so I will work with the client to identify any nutritional deficiences, structural work, probiotic imbalances, emotional work etc. that needs carrying out to get the body back into balance and to reduce histamine levels. In most cases, unless there is a strict medical recommendation to avoid certain foods, the food can be reintroduced into the diet after a few months.