A Functional Medicine Approach to Allergies

Children allergies and antibiotics

As the result of an underlying immunological issue, allergic and atopic diseases increase inflammatory burden and put patients at risk for developing other conditions. With health resilience playing a crucial role in the outcome of disease, treating the underlying causes of atopic diseases may strengthen 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.

Atopic diseases are the leading reason for clinic visits as well as for emergency room and hospital visits, and they are the most common childhood chronic condition.1-3 Commonly known as an “atopic march,” allergy-related illness often begins in early life and can disrupt general development and well-being.1,4

It is all too common for clinicians to see adult patients who have been suffering from “seasonal allergies” all their lives. IFM educator Kara Fitzgerald, ND, describes such a case, in which a 60-year-old female patient experienced hay fever, asthma, and chronic allergic sinusitis. Dr. Fitzgerald said she 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.

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-authored articles below.

Learn More About Functional Medicine

Food reactions, eczema, and migraines

Functional Medicine approaches to ragweed allergy

Dust, allergies, asthma, and children

Improving pediatric asthma care


  1. Stone KD. Atopic diseases of childhood. Curr Opin Pediatr. 2002;14(5):634-646. doi:1097/00008480-200210000-00012
  2. Thomsen SF. Epidemiology and natural history of atopic diseases. Eur Clin Respir J. 2015;2(24642):1-6. doi:3402/ecrj.v2.24642
  3. Simon D. Recent advances in clinical allergy and immunology. Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2018;177(4):324-333. doi:1159/000494931
  4. Moreno MA. Atopic diseases in children. JAMA Pediatr. 2016;170(1):96. doi:1001/jamapediatrics.2015.3886

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