Allergies and our menstrual cycle

Whether it’s seasonal allergies caused by pollen or the pet hair when you visit your neighbour’s house, allergies are horrid.

Allergies are usually a side-effect of something else going on in the body.

The more inflamed your body is, the more it will over-respond to allergens in your environment. Most anti-histamine treatments are just a band-aid, blocking your histamine receptors. What we need to think is, “why is my allergy bucket so full and causing me these problems?”.

Life is BUSY for everyone and suffering is not nice. So here are some easy things you can do right now to help your allergies:

  • Twice daily (am/pm) asal flush using a spray like this or a neti-pot using a saline solution
  • High dose Vitamin C breaks down histamine
  • Reduce dairy, gluten, sugar and alcohol (yes, sorry, all the fun stuff, hey?) as these are inflammatory
  • Limit fermented food (like kombucha and sauerkraut), avocados, spinach, tomatoes and citrus fruit as these stimulate histamine
  • High cortisol levels correlate with high histamine so try ways to calm your nervous system (which I appreciate is easier said than done when you are having a full allergic reaction!)

You may have noticed that your allergies change through your menstrual cycle. 

During the follicular phase of our cycle (which is from Day 1 of your period to ovulation) you have higher levels of antibodies and also rising oestrogen levels which together cause an increased inflammatory response in the body. The theory is that during this time your body wants to fight off all foreign invaders so that you can stay healthy enough to ovulate and then become pregnant.

Many people notice that their allergies, eczema and immune issues flair in the week leading up to and around ovulation. The reason for this is the close relationship between oestrogen and histamine.

As well as pollen and pet hair, oestrogen also triggers the release of histamines from the mast cells in our uterus and ovaries. The more oestrogen we have the more histamine is produced. Unfortunately, there is a feedback loop here and the more histamines you have, the more oestrogen is produced, and around it goes in a vicious cycle. Aghhh!

This is called histamine intolerance and it can present itself as headaches, fatigue, bloating, itching, insomnia, irritability and gut issues during middle of your cycle, around when you ovulate and your oestrogen is highest. Also it can be a reason for period pains.

Women moving through perimenopause have way higher levels of oestrogen than ever before. It can cause your allergies to be way worse or indeed appear out of nowhere for the first time.

As well as the low histamine diet I suggest above, ways to support this high oestrogen/high histamine imbalance include: prioritising your sleep, supporting your gut and level health and having daily habits which reduce your stress.

This whole topic of histamine can be really bloody daunting but remember to be gentle with yourself and take things at your own pace. If you’d like company while navigating your hormonal health, you’ll love Embrace Your Cyclical Power where you are be part of an awesome group cheering each other on for 6-weeks.  

“PMS kind of switched me into a Mr Hyde every month and I was very upset about it - I felt I was fighting a losing battle of self-control. Now I have learned to be kinder to myself and I can handle PMS and perimenopause much better”.

Christel Ong, Massage Therapist, Singapore