If you suffer from seasonal allergies or food allergies, you know the symptoms of an oncoming allergy attack. Whether you experience a runny and or stuffy nose, watery and itchy eyes, a slight cough, a rash, digestive difficulties, or even something more severe, you try to avoid those symptoms at all costs, right? Well, I have some surprising news for you. There’s a missing piece to your allergy puzzle that you’ve likely never considered. Did you know that there’s a connection between your stress and allergy symptoms?
I know it may sound like a stretch, but science has proven that when you’re stressed, you’re actually more likely to experience allergy symptoms. But how is that possible? How on Earth could stress make a difference in your allergy symptoms? We’re going to take a closer look at how stress and allergy symptoms are linked and also how supporting your body’s ability to handle stress can actually help you lesson allergy symptoms and flares!
Stress and Allergy Symptoms
Let’s begin by revisiting the link between stress and your immune system. As you may recall, your adrenal glands work with your brain to control your body’s intelligence department. So, whenever you’re under stress, your adrenal glands receive a notice of a threat and determine its value.
When your adrenal glands trigger your immune system, your body produces inflammation to fight the stressor. This inflammation triggers your white blood cells and other immune complexes to flood a specific area to protect you. Have you ever woken up with a sore throat or increased mucus production without an explanation? Well, sometimes when your immune complexes flood a certain area, it can result in a random mild sore throat or more mucus in your sinuses for a day or two. You can recognize this because it doesn’t have an accompanying fever and your symptoms don’t worsen over time.
Now, what you may not realize is that histamine is released along with the immune complexes that are signaled by your body’s inflammatory response.  Histamine is a chemical released by your body in response to encountering an allergen. And when you experience a symptom, that’s simply the increased levels of histamine in your body alerting you to a “threat,” or allergen. Your histamine is calling for increased inflammation or even mucus production to help fight off the allergen.
So, if your body releases histamine anytime you’re in a heightened state of stress, you’re going to be more prone to allergy symptoms should you come into contact with an allergen during times of stress. Not only that, but increased stress and the resulting histamine release can even cause false symptoms—meaning you can simply experience the symptoms of encountering an allergen even if you didn’t, due to increased mucus production.
This is why you may have noticed a link between heightened stress and allergy symptoms. Interestingly, scientists began to notice this link as well, and they’ve conducted research to determine just how strong this connection really is.
Multiple studies have confirmed that people are more likely to experience common allergy symptoms during periods of high stress. In fact, a 2014 study of 179 people revealed that those who experienced allergy flares during the study period also had higher levels of perceived stress compared to the group without allergy symptoms.  But the link between stress and allergy symptoms extends beyond just causing flares.
Did you know that prolonged, or chronic, stress can actually make your allergy symptoms more severe and last longer? A 2009 study revealed that those experiencing persistent stress and anxiety not long took longer to recover from their allergy symptoms but also enhanced the symptoms. 
As you can see, there’s a strong link between stress and allergy symptoms in more ways than one. But what are you supposed to do about it? Well, by supporting both your stress response and lowering inflammation in your body, you can help lessen the frequency and severity of any future allergy symptoms. So, let’s discuss exactly how you should do that!
4 Natural Ways to Reduce Stress and Allergy Symptoms
If you’ve noticed a link between your stress and allergy symptoms and you’re looking for relief, I have some great news for you! Because your body is naturally built to adapt to its surroundings, you can create a more calming environment by supporting your adrenal health. In turn, this will help reduce your allergy symptoms. Here are a few of my top recommendations.
1. Eat adrenal-supporting, anti-inflammatory foods.
There are certain foods known to support your adrenal health and stress response due to their nutritional content. You see, in times of stress, your body loses the nutrients it needs to function and keep you healthy. By replacing these nutrients, you’re not only replenishing your body’s supply, but you’re also supporting your adrenal glands’ ability to manage the stress you’re under. Amazing, right? You can check out a list of these foods here.
If you find you regularly experience allergy symptoms such as a runny nose or postnasal drip, it’s also important to eat anti-inflammatory foods. These will help to cut down on your inflammation and histamine production. Some of the top anti-inflammatory foods include avocados; vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and leafy greens; berries; and even vegan dark chocolate! Who says healthy eating has to be boring?
2. Avoid inflammatory foods.
Certain foods such as dairy, soy, corn, eggs, sugar, wheat, and processed foods are known to promote inflammation. Interestingly, these foods are also most commonly linked with food allergies! So, it’s better to avoid them altogether.
The great news is that there are some simple swaps you can make so you don’t feel like you’re missing out. Check out these six food swaps to help you get started!
3. Include stress-reducing and anti-inflammatory herbs and spices.
To further prevent feeling the effects of stress and allergy symptoms, you may want to take a look in your spice cabinet! Spices such as cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, garlic, and even black pepper have all been known to contain anti-inflammatory compounds. For example , a 2014 study determined that out of 115 foods tested, cinnamon was one of the most potent anti-inflammatory options to consume. 
You can also incorporate several relaxing and calming herbs into your daily routine. One of my favorite herbs to use for relaxation is rhodiola, which is known to help your body manage stress. Even more, it’s been shown to help decrease fatigue and anxiety while helping to boost your mood! 
Other top stress-fighting herbs include lavender, ashwagandha, and schisandra berry.
4. Take time for yourself.
The mind-body connection is very real and very important. Taking a few moments for yourself can help you to de-stress and unwind, which will help to lower your stress levels.
The important thing to remember here is that you should do something that you enjoy and that will benefit your needs. So, may you like the calming quiet of meditating, journaling, or walking in nature. Or perhaps you prefer to do something more fun, such as watch a funny movie, dance, or take a walk in nature. Whatever you choose, taking some time to reconnect with the things you enjoy and having a few moments to yourself will greatly benefit your stress and allergy symptoms, along with your entire wellbeing.
- Science has proven that when you’re stressed, you’re actually more likely to experience allergy symptoms.
- In times of stress, your adrenal glands trigger your immune system into action, which increases your inflammation and histamine production.
- You can fight both stress and allergy symptoms naturally by consuming adrenal-supporting and anti-inflammatory foods, spices, and herbs. You can also support your mind-body connection by taking some time to yourself each day.