With our hectic lifestyles and our increased exposure to toxic substances that overload our immune system, more and more people are living with chronic allergies that significantly impact their health and quality of life. Seasonal allergies, sometimes called hay fever or rhinitis, affect more than 50 million Americans and are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S. 

Your immune system is designed to protect your body from what it does not recognize as “self.” When your body comes into contact with a foreign invader (by being swallowed, inhaled, injected, or coming into contact with your skin, eyes, or airways), your immune system becomes activated, triggering a process that results in the release of histamine. This leads to an array of symptoms, including nasal congestion, runny or itchy nose, sneezing, watery or itchy eyes, coughing, skin rashes, swelling, and more.

The complex functions of your immune system effectively protect your body against parasites and pathogens, but they can also mistake harmless substances as dangerous invaders and cause an overreaction. When you combine seasonal irritants (like pollen) with the collection of environmental toxins we encounter every day (mold, dust, animal dander, air pollution, insect venoms, beauty product ingredients, certain foods, etc.), we’re left with the perfect formula for an aggravated immune system and intensified allergy symptoms. 

In order to effectively treat the root cause of your allergy symptoms, we start by addressing the most common lifestyle factors that have been found to intensify immune reactions. Here are some tips you can begin working on at home to help lessen your allergy symptoms. 

Tip 1: Heal Your Gut

60% of your immune system is located in your gut. When inflammation allows undigested food particles to leak past your intestinal barrier and into your bloodstream, the gut-associated immune system is exposed to a wide variety of metabolic toxins. This activates a histamine-releasing immune response. If you are experiencing this “leaky gut” phenomenon and, as a result, increased histamine levels, your immune system is on high-alert and will continuously overreact. There are steps you can take to help heal your digestive system and experience allergy symptom improvement. 

  • Avoid food triggers. Seasonal allergies can be exacerbated by food sensitivities or allergies. Your nutritionist may suggest completing an Elimination Diet, which involves removing common food allergens for a short period of time, and then carefully reintroducing them to identify any allergy culprits.
  • Eat “clean” as much as possible. Reduce or avoid pro-inflammatory foods, like sugar, flour, gluten, processed foods, and food additives. Choose organic options to reduce pesticide exposure.
  • Eat anti-inflammatory foods. Include lots of colorful vegetables that are high in anti-inflammatory flavonoids or antioxidants. Choose wild or grass-fed animal foods, find dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and use lots of herbs and spices.
  • Eat anti-histamine foods. There are many natural foods that contain Quercetin or Anthocyanins, which have anti-histamine or mast-stabilizing properties, such as apples, broccoli, citrus, fennel, red onion, berries, red cabbage, wild rice, parsley, turmeric, and ginger.
  • Support your intestinal barrier. You can read about how to repair and support your gut lining in our blog post on Leaky Gut
  • Hydrate. Proper hydration reduces the histamine response. Aim to consume about half of your body weight (pounds) in fluid ounces throughout the day. 

Tip 2: Support Your Immune System

If you have allergies, your immune system is experiencing dysfunction, and you may need extra support. Research shows certain nutrients may help with allergic responses:

  • B Vitamins 
  • Fish Oil
  • Magnesium
  • Quercetin
  • Selenium
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Zinc

You can purchase these supplements at both our Boise and Meridian locations or through our website.

Tip 3: Limit Allergen and Toxin Exposure

Sometimes the best defense for minimizing allergies is to simply reduce your exposure to the offending substances. Many of our patients participate in an Elimination Diet to identify the food allergies or sensitivities to remove from their diet, but we need to limit exposure from external sources as well. 

  • Keep you doors and windows closed in allergy season
  • Avoid artificial fragrances from cleaning products or air fresheners
  • Shower when you come inside at the end of the day or before to remove pollen, especially from your face or hair
  • Wash your pajamas and bed sheets more frequently
  • Keep up with the maintenance on your HVAC system and filter your indoor air using a HEPA filter
  • Research the personal hygiene products you use on your skin, hair, or teeth to ensure they do not contain toxic chemicals. You can reference the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database to search for non-toxic hygiene products. 

Tip 4: Manage Stress

Stress, even “perceived” stress, can drive allergy flares and raise histamine levels. Work with a health coach to find stress management tools that work for you:

  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Deep Breathing
  • HeartMath
  • Gratitude
  • Yoga
  • Mindfulness
  • Sleep
  • Develop supportive relationships

If you are experiencing allergy symptoms and making these lifestyle changes has not helped, you may need to be tested for bacterial overgrowths, viruses, yeast, parasites, or mold. FMI is here to partner with you to identify the root issues, create an individualized treatment plan, and guide you on your healing journey. Start making positive changes towards optimizing your health today!

References:

Josiah Smith, PA-C

Josiah Smith graduated with his Bachelor of Science degree in Physician Assistant Studies from Drexel University in 1998. He continued his education and received his Master of Physician Assistant Studies in 2007. He served as a medical officer with the Army National Guard and earned the rank of Captain. He started his career in Family Practice and moved onto Emergency Medicine and Urgent Care. When he experienced overwhelming life stressors ten years ago, he sought out conventional medical care and all that was offered were several “pills.” Not satisfied that this would fix the “root” cause of his symptoms, Josiah found a Functional Medical provider that transformed his wellbeing through a lifestyle and root cause resolution approach. Impressed with his health transformation, he started his own pursuit of being trained in Functional Medicine.

Josiah opened his own functional medicine consulting practice in Las Vegas with several health coaches. His professional pursuits continued into learning how to optimize the body’s healing potential via other therapeutic interventions. He uses regenerative medicine for aesthetics, sexual wellness, repair and recovery of the body. These include peptide therapy, hormone optimization, IV infusions, Acoustic Wave Therapy, and other cellular interventions to enhance vitality and longevity.

In his personal time he enjoys international traveling and exploring cultures, history, and cuisine with his wife and four teenagers. Josiah also enjoys hiking and skiing.

Kristin Gomes, APRN-CNM

Kristin is a Certified Nurse Midwife.  She received a bachelor’s of science in nursing from California State University San Bernardino.  After working as a registered nurse in transplant, oncology, and palliative care Kristin switched her focus to gynecology, labor, and birth.  Recognizing the need to emphasize health, wellness, and prevention in our culture, she saw an opportunity to impact the health of women and their families through education focused, more personalized, family centered care. Thus, Kristin pursued a graduate degree in nurse midwifery at New York University and graduated with honors in 2014.  She has practiced as a nurse midwife in the Treasure Valley since 2015.

Throughout her years of practice Kristin has always strived to provide an inclusive and holistic approach to healthcare. She aspires to meet each woman where they are and collaborate with them on their health journey.  She has seen the profound difference in treating a symptom vs treating the cause while supporting the body.  The desire to support the innate healing and protective qualities of the body through evidenced based care led to her discovery of functional medicine.  In late 2020 she began her training through the Institute for Functional Medicine which she completed in the winter of 2022.  At Functional Medicine of Idaho alongside the community of practitioners, nutritionists, nurses, and health coaches Kristin has the opportunity to provide a personalized and integrative women’s health experience focused on individualized wellness. 

Kristin feels deeply connected to nature.  When she’s not in the mountains camping, hiking, kayaking, or fishing you can find her tending her garden beds or on her yoga mat.  Her favorite season is winter, preferably one with lots of snow, and her happy place is on her skis with her husband and daughter.

Stephanie Ritari, PA-C

Stephanie Ritari is a board-certified Physician Assistant who offers primary care for adults at the Functional Medicine of Idaho Meridian Wellness Center. She specializes in Internal Medicine and has spent the majority of her career in the field of cardiovascular disorders.

Stephanie has more than 15 years experience as a Physician Assistant in a variety of medical areas, including cardiology and electrophysiology. Holistic practices have long been a part of Stephanie’s lifestyle, with a particular focus on clean living and nutrition. She has embedded functional principles into her conventional medicine practice throughout her career. After watching family members struggle to find answers for their chronic illnesses, Stephanie became more interested in finding ways to take a root cause approach in her own practice. Wanting to provide a proactive, comprehensive, and preventative scope of care for her patients, Stephanie began studying functional medicine. In 2021, she joined Functional Medicine of Idaho, where she is able to provide evidence based, root cause medicine.

Stephanie earned her Bachelor's of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Montana and her masters in Physician Assistant Studies from Rocky Mountain College. She is currently working towards her certification with The Institute for Functional Medicine. 

In her spare time, Stephanie enjoys spending time with her husband, son, and dog doing outdoor activities including biking, hiking, and skiing. She also loves interior design and traveling, and is hoping to start her own garden in the near future.

Dr. David Musnick, MD, IFMCP

David Musnick is a board-certified medical doctor who offers in-person and telemedicine care from the Functional Medicine of Idaho Eagle clinic. Dr. Musnick offers Functional Medicine, Sports Medicine, Functional Immunology, and Primary Care for adults and teenagers. He specializes in sports medicine, internal medicine, frequency specific microcurrent (FSM), scars, homeopathy, prolotherapy, and low-level laser treatments. 

Dr. Musnick is interested in getting to the root of underlying causes and factors that affect healing, including diet, sleep, exercise, stress, GI health, brain region health, toxins, hormones, infections, and electromagnetic fields (EMF). In medical school, Dr. Musnick spent a year studying nutrition. He has always been interested in the complex interrelationships of different systems of the body. Taking on challenges in the past, he created new treatment programs to heal the brain after concussion, treat chronic pain, arthritis, and tough SIBO and IBS cases. Dr. Musnick wants to help his patients achieve the highest level of health, vitality and function. 

After his internal medicine residency in Seattle, Dr. Musnick completed a fellowship in sports medicine where he became interested in helping patients get back to optimal musculoskeletal health and eventually back to their favorite activities. He quickly learned that many areas of the body were interrelated and started learning more about nutrition, supplements, and other facets of functional medicine. Dr. Musnick has more than 24 years of experience in Functional Medicine and achieved a very high level of both experience and expertise with many health conditions. He is also the author of the book, Conditioning for Outdoor Fitness, and helped in writing textbook chapters on arthritis and concussions.

Dr. Musnick received his Doctorate of Medicine from the University of California, San Francisco. He is certified through the Institute for Functional Medicine as an IFMCP. He also studied in the French school of Homeopathy. He is uniquely rare in that he teaches Frequency Specific Microcurrent (FSM) and how to integrate it with functional medicine. 

In his spare time, Dr. Musnick enjoys hiking, nature photography, cooking healthy food, mountain biking, and skiing.

IFM Certified Practitioner

Aaron Dykstra, DNP, FNP-C

Aaron Dykstra is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. He offers pediatric primary care, including well-child checks and acute visits, in the Pediatric Department of the Functional Medicine of Idaho Meridian Wellness Center.

Functional and alternative therapies were a part of Aaron’s life from a young age, and he has implemented these principles into his conventional medicine practice throughout his career. Aaron has more than 8 years of experience in a variety of medical disciplines, including pediatrics, obstetrics, mental health, and nutrition. He has practiced in rural health clinics in California and Oregon. For the last 5 years, Aaron has had a passion for working with children and implementing positive change through the family unit. Aaron joined the Functional Medicine of Idaho Pediatric Team in 2021. His enthusiasm for educating children and parents about living a healthy lifestyle allows him to provide preventative and acute care for infants, children, and adolescents. 

Aaron obtained his Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Brigham Young University. He earned both his Master’s of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice through the University of Arizona. He has obtained a Family Herbalist and Family Nutritionist certifications through The School of Natural Healing by Dr. Christopher. He is currently working towards his certification with The Institute for Functional Medicine.

Outside of work, you will find Aaron spending time with his wife and 5 kids, mountain biking, running, or camping in the backyard. Aaron is a big fan of Master Chef and enjoys cooking.

Nadia Kravchuk, DNP, FNP-C

Nadia Kravchuk is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. She offers functional pediatric primary care, including well-child checks and acute visits, in the Pediatric Department of the Functional Medicine of Idaho Meridian Wellness Center.

Nadia and her family immigrated to the United States in 1989 where they first settled in Oregon and then moved to Idaho in 2001. Complementary medicine practices were embedded into her lifestyle at a young age, and she has implemented these principles into her conventional medicine practice throughout her career. She has more than 15 years experience in a variety of medical environments, including emergency room, intensive care unit, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, family practice, and aesthetics.

Nadia joined Functional Medicine of Idaho so that she can combine functional principles with the foundations of conventional medicine to address the underlying causes of disease and promote optimal wellness. As an avid gardener, beekeeper, and sustainable living enthusiast, she understands the importance and role of optimizing nutrition, sleep, physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being. She has a passion for pediatric functional medicine and understands that early recognition and interventions can correct imbalances, prevent chronic illness, and improve overall outcomes for children.

Nadia obtained her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Northwest Nazarene University. She earned both her Master’s of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice through Frontier Nursing University. In 2017, she was the recipient of the HCA Excellence in Nursing Award. She is currently working towards her certification with The Institute for Functional Medicine.

Outside of work, you will find Nadia working on her urban homestead, hiking, foraging, camping, snowboarding, and spending time with her husband and her dog, Wolfy. She is also fluent in both English and Russian.