Allergic rhinitis (hay fever) in children is a common condition, present more often during certain times of the year, when allergens such as pollen, mould, and dust are in excess. Immunologically it is characterized by a Th2 polarized immune response and Ig-E antibody production.
1 in 5 people in the UK experience symptoms of allergic rhinitis which is characterised by the inflammation of the nasal mucous membrane and can also involve the eyes, ears, sinuses, and throat. Commonly linked to conjunctivitis and asthma, allergic rhinitis is a long-standing condition frequently undetected in primary care settings.
The classic symptoms of the disorder are frequently confused with other respiratory or rhinitis-based symptoms, such as congestion, rhinorrhoea, sneezing, and itching. Thorough physical examinations and allergen testing are recommended for the detection of the condition. Unfortunately, the mainstay treatment of second-generation antihistamines and intranasal corticosteroids are frequently inefficient as a long-term solution.
Increasing Prevalence of Allergic Rhinitis
Research indicates that up to 40% of the population may already be influenced by rhinitis in some way, characterised by inflammation of the nasal mucosa. Studies also indicate that the prevalence of the disorder is increasing and may be responsible for numerous significant long-term impairments.
One study into children with allergic rhinitis demonstrated significant learning impairment influenced by the acute symptoms of the condition. Symptoms, including inflammation of the eyes, sinuses, nose, pharynx, larynx, and various areas of the respiratory system, impact concentration. Systematic reviews indicate that frequent exposure to these conditions can be detrimental to sleep, quality of life, and performance in work or school.
Unfortunately, concentration and quality of life impairments appear to be exacerbated by the use of traditional antihistamine-based treatments. One study found a negative impact on clerical accounting, visual attention, auditory and visual memory, and mathematical skills when taking antihistamine substances.
Previously, allergic rhinitis was considered a disorder localized specifically to the nasal passages, but further study indicates it may be a component of a systematic airway condition, involving the entire respiratory system. Evidence further shows that inflammation in the upper airway caused by allergic rhinitis may also lead to inflammatory processes in the lower airways, supporting the connection between rhinitis and asthma.
The Importance of Immunomodulation
Where traditional treatments of allergic rhinitis may have lasting side-effects, natural solutions in the form of medicinal mushrooms could offer a risk-free alternative. Allergic responses stem from hypersensitivity to substances that would otherwise pose no danger to an individual in the environment.
Common allergic disorders, like allergic rhinitis in children, are influenced fundamentally by the immune system and the body’s production of histamine. Mycomedicine, or the use of medicinal mushrooms, provides timely support for seasonal and year-round rhinitis issues. The Royal Sun Agaricus (Agaricus Blazei Murill) offers proven antihistaminic and immunomodulatory effects as a nutraceutical for allergy treatment.
The Agaricus blazei mushroom stimulates weakened immune system and brings balance to the Th1 and Th2 responses in the body, which is predominantly Th2 in an allergic rhinitis. Therefore, its supplementation is useful as an immunomodulator that acts as a natural anti-histaminic remedy. Further biocomponents in the mushroom reduce the release of histamine release in mast cells, lowering allergic response. A clinical study in 2019 showed a reduction of general allergy, asthmatic symptoms and even permitted a reduction in the use of the medication when supplemented with a concentrated mushroom extract based on Agaricus blazei.
Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) further reduces inflammation and reduces the release of histamine release by mast cells. Reishi is also an adaptogen, capable of adapting to various sources of stress by adjusting altered bodily states. Reishi is further suitable for reducing feelings of stress, which can further exacerbate allergic conditions.
Addressing Inflammation and Microbiota balance
Inflammation is a significant side effect and symptom of allergic rhinitis in children. When exposed to allergens, the body releases substances like histamine which influence swelling. There are various natural approaches to treating inflammation, like eating more foods with anti-inflammatory qualities such as flaxseed and fish. Natural extracts like Reishi mushroom can modulate the immune system response and reduce inflammation simultaneously.
The high content of anti-inflammatory bioactive compounds in Reishi, triterpenes, gives Ganoderma lucidum an anti-inflammatory action comparable to hydrocortisone without the side effects. Triterpens, or commonly known as terpens, work alongside other beneficial substances to address the underlying issues of allergic rhinitis in children.
The consumption of vitamin C alongside mushroom solutions for allergic rhinitis will increase the absorption of some of the bioactive compounds in the substance, such as beta-glucans. Supplemental substances that combine medicinal mushrooms with vitamin C can therefore enhance the natural response of the protocol. Including prebiotics like medicinal mushrooms within the treatment strategy further promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the microbiota.
The development of beneficial bacteria can balance the intestinal microbiota which has a long-term impact on children’s health, and their ability to identify viruses and bacteria and differentiate between dangerous and safe entities more effectively.
Medicinal mushrooms, which are natural prebiotics, together with vitamin C could deliver a long-term solution for allergic rhinitis in children that has none of the dangerous side-effects of traditional treatment routes. These solutions can further be combined with other natural products which offer supportive flavonoids (antioxidants) for helping with inflammation in this condition.
When dealing with natural products such as medicinal mushrooms, however, it is crucial to ensure the synergised blend of products used in the treatment are concentrated in high quality nutraceuticals, without chemical additives, being as natural as possible and which have been standardized in their active compounds. Preference for organic extracts and quality seals like gluten free or vegan will always indicate that the product has been made with maximum care.