Somewhere along the line, we started believing that seasonal allergies were normal—a notion perhaps supported by the endless bombardment of allergy drug commercials. We started believing that seasonal allergies are something an individual is going to have to live with for the rest of their life, while medicating themselves. The truth is allergies are far from normal; the fact that they are so common means that many of us do not have an optimally functioning body.
As it relates to our body, Deepak Chopra’s take on asthma and allergies in his “Why is Asthma on the Rise?” article (Chopra.com/CCL/Why-is-Asthma-on-the-Rise) is on point:
“It is indisputable that this kind of inflammation represents a breakdown of the healing process. What is supposed to help the body starts to harm it. In some way, the body’s innate intelligence has made a mistake and keeps making it. The same can be said of allergies, where your immune system attacks harmless dust, pollen and animal dander as if protecting you from a threat.”
The Chiropractic Connection
It is vital for our health that our immune system and inflammation response is well balanced.
The immune system not only destroys foreign tissue but also unwanted parts of our own tissues. Inflammation is the body’s effort to deal with damaged tissue and begin repair. Upset in these systems can lead to our body causing havoc on itself. The body’s lack of ability to properly adapt to the changing environment is what we label as a seasonal allergy. After all, everyone breathes the same ragweed pollen, yet everyone does not have seasonal allergies. This is because some people can adapt and others are not able to do so.
A healthy spine is essential for a healthy nervous system, which coordinates all of the other systems in the body. Only recently have researchers uncovered the molecular connections between the nervous and immune systems and inflammation. As chiropractors, we have a direct influence over the nervous system. We now know through research that chiropractic care has beneficial effects on immunoglobulins, B-lymphocytes (white blood cells), pulmonary function and other immune system processes. Besides the growing research, there are numerous case studies of patients who have seen significant improvement in their allergies from a balanced immune system from regular chiropractic care.
The Role of Breath
The role of proper breathing is not often discussed in terms of seasonal allergies. Most of us are shallow breathers. This is a problem because shallow breathing leads to poor oxygenation of our blood as breathing oxygenates every cell of our body. Poor oxygenation means that the body is not able to function optimally—affecting everything from our muscles to our metabolism. Therefore, the easiest way to get more oxygen into your body and into every cell of your body is to breathe properly. Proper breathing dramatically increases exercise endurance and mental clarity, elevates our mood, and helps the body detoxify more efficiently.
Diaphragmatic breathing is a different way of getting oxygen to our cells from a physiological standpoint. This breathing is deep; it causes the belly to push out rather than the chest to rise up. This breath is accomplished primarily by the contraction of our diaphragm—a muscular umbrella at the bottom of your ribcage that separates your chest and abdomen; it pulls air in and gently massages our internal organs in a rhythmic way. This is the way children breathe, and it’s how we were meant to breathe most of the time. It triggers the parasympathetic nervous system for rest and repair.
Here’s how to get started with diaphragmatic breathing:
- Assume proper posture by standing (or sitting up) straight and dropping shoulders back and down
- Inhale slowly through your nose, trying to get the air down as far as
possible into the belly
- Pause for a second or less
- Exhale slowly through nose—this should last twice as long as inhalation
- Repeat five to ten times
- Try to repeat this breathing exercise every hour—even practicing diaphragmatic breathing just twice a day can make a big difference