In the past I have commented on a curious relationship I had observed between the onset of allergies and changes in a woman’s menstrual cycle. This relationship is no mere coincidence. Once again, estrogen dominance plays a role. Maggie, whose story opened this book, developed allergies after giving birth to her first child. Gail’s allergies emerged in her midthirties, around the time that she began experiencing painful periods and other symptoms of estrogen dominance.
One explanation for the link between estrogen dominance and allergies is that estrogen promotes the release of histamine, the chemical that is responsible for troublesome allergy symptoms such as nasal congestion, watery eyes, coughing, and wheezing.
Another explanation, which I’ll be discussing in greater detail in the next chapter, has to do with the relationship between progesterone and the adrenal hormone cortisol. Cortisol, which is made in the adrenal glands from progesterone, is the body’s natural anti-inflammatory hormone. In fact, synthetic drugs, commonly called “cortisone,” are sometimes prescribed for bronchial asthma, a severe allergic condition, because they mimic the anti-inflammatory action of the body’s own cortisol.
Because cortisol is made by the body from progesterone, a decline in progesterone levels will result in a decline in cortisol levels as well. It is not surprising, then, that new mothers, women in their middle years experiencing anovulatory cycles, and menopausal women whose ovaries are no longer producing progesterone may also have insufficient cortisol and begin experiencing allergies to substances that were previously innocuous to them.