A Functional Medicine Approach to Allergies

profile view of a smiling girl holding a golden retrievers smiling face with her hands with green grass behind them. Showing that allergies can be addressed through functional medicine.
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As the result of an underlying immunological issue, allergic and atopic diseases increase inflammatory burden and put patients at risk for developing other conditions.1,2 With health resilience playing a crucial role in the outcome of disease, treating the underlying causes of atopic diseases may modify the immune system response. As seasonal irritants like pollen begin to emerge, patients may be experiencing allergy symptoms that could be confused for more serious illness and might prevent the immune system from mounting a robust response to novel infections.

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Atopic diseases such as asthma, allergic rhinitis, and atopic dermatitis are common childhood chronic conditions.3 Commonly known as an “atopic march,” allergy-related illness often begins in early life and can disrupt general development and well-being;1,4-6 it is all too common for clinicians to see adult patients who have been suffering from allergies for most of their lives.

IFM educator Kara Fitzgerald, ND, IFMCP, describes such a case, in which a 60-year-old female patient experienced hay fever, asthma, and chronic allergic sinusitis. Dr. Fitzgerald used a “6R protocol,” which is an enhanced version of IFM’s “5R protocol” for gut health, to address the root cause of the patient’s atopic disease. Treatment included appropriate laboratory testing, targeted supplementation, and steps to reduce gut inflammation. Thus far, the patient has reported only occasional asthma flares and no further sinusitis episodes.


Read more about Dr. Fitzgerald’s approach to asthma and allergic sinusitis

How can functional medicine help patients in your office experiencing allergic symptoms? At IFM’s Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice (AFMCP), you will learn how to use the functional medicine approach to many common ailments you see in your practice, including allergies and atopic disease. By looking upstream to identify and treat root causes, you can create a downstream impact that can dramatically improve patient outcomes. Join us at AFMCP to learn personalized assessments and evidence-based interventions and lifestyle modifications to help your patients maximize their quality of life. Learn more in the IFM articles and podcasts below.

Learn More About Functional Medicine

Related Articles & Podcasts

Environmental & Lifestyle Determinants of Allergic Diseases

Functional Approach to Ragweed Allergy

A Proactive Approach to Pediatric Atopy, Rhinitis, and Asthma

Pathways to Well-Being Podcast: Pediatric Allergies, Atopy, & Autoimmunity


  1. Moreno MA. Atopic diseases in children. JAMA Pediatr. 2016;170(1):96. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.3886
  2. Davis DMR, Drucker AM, Alikhan A, et al. American Academy of Dermatology Guidelines: awareness of comorbidities associated with atopic dermatitis in adults. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2022;86(6):1335-1336.e18. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2022.01.009
  3. Simon D. Recent advances in clinical allergy and immunology. Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2018;177(4):324-333. doi:10.1159/000494931
  4. Hill DA, Spergel JM. The atopic march: critical evidence and clinical relevance. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2018;120(2):131-137. doi:10.1016/j.anai.2017.10.037
  5. Yang L, Fu J, Zhou Y. Research progress in atopic march. Front Immunol. 2020;11:1907. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2020.01907
  6. Li H, Dai T, Liu C, Liu Q, Tan C. Phenotypes of atopic dermatitis and the risk for subsequent asthma: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2022;86(2):365-372. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2021.07.064

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