If someone is purely paleo, should they by definition be immune to seasonal allergies to pollen and grass etc? And if not, are there paleo solutions to the seasonal allergy problem? Would paleolithic man have dealt with allergies? What's the story here?
Paleolithic man probably would have been immune to allergies to stuff in his native lands but all bets are off given that a lot of us are living now in places far away from where our ancestors evolved and/or surrounded by plants, animals, cigarette smoke, etc. that wouldn't have been around back then.
Digging into the Wikipedia article on Ragweed backs this up as it identifies two North America ragweeds as the most noxious and mentions the effect of the introduction of these variants to Europe. Here's an interesting news article about Europeans facing an increase in ragweed allergies due to the invasion of ragweed from America. So there is an example of allergies resulting from people being exposed to a plant that is outside their evolutionary scope.
I think this is directly analogous to one of the basic premises behind the Paleo diet -- don't expose the body to stuff that it hasn't evolutionarily adapted to being exposed to. Unfortunately, it's a lot easier to modify diet to avoid bad stuff than to avoid allergens so I think those of us who suffer from allergies can't expect a miracle with even a 100% perfect Paleo diet.
On the other hand, my personal experience suggests to me that diet can at least improve the situation. I used to have really nasty sinus, eye, nasal, throat, etc. irritation throughout the allergy seasons. Headaches, burning eyes, runny nose, congestion, etc.. Since improving my diet, I have found this mostly limited to itchy eyes. I'd like to think that the dietary changes are what helped!
Allergies are essentially a misbehaving immune system. Regardless of the cause (diet and stress are, IMO, the prime suspects more often than not), once the immune system gets screwed up it may or may not be possible to correct it. So if someone is raised "paleo" from day-1, I'd say allergies are unlikely. (And indeed, I haven't seen reports of allergies/asthma amongst H/G tribes.) But if you've been raised "western" and you have the allergies to show for it, paleo might not be able to fix them.
Just because a way of life can prevent you from getting a given disease doesn't mean it can cure that disease. As always, depends on the individual.
I doubt that the proverbial Grok would have used a neti pot, but it's a good thing to try, far better (and more effective, at least for me) than Sudafed or something.
I don't know as I'm still stuggling to be 100% compliant. One thing that is non medical that helps me is a salt sinus rinse such as the Neil Med brand. It's similar to swimming in the ocean so I guess it is semi paleoish.
Similar to bee pollen, I've heard that local honey can help acclimate the body to local allergens. Of course, don't go too crazy with it! Honey harvest tend to happen in the fall. Perhaps the use of honey through the winter builds up one's immunity for the spring's annual release of pollens?
My allergies have certainly gotten better, but they are still there and sometimes I have to use the neti pot...like today. One thing that is blazingly clear about mine is that they are a morning thing. I wake up all bleary eyed and stuffed up, use the neti pot, and I'm fine for the rest of the day. Maybe mine are mostly indoors? But either way, I wouldn't be surprised if they went away if I slept more paleolithically, IE, not on a mattress. Don't think my boyfriend is up for that though...
To answer your question, I do not think paleolithic man had allergies, I think that is a product of modern living, but I believe that he would have been able to find a cure in nature for most ailments he suffered from. Unfortunately, most of us grew up in modern society and carry allergies with us as a result - could the paleo diet and lifestyle cure us? Quite possibly. I have found a massive improvement in my summer allergies since going paleo - however, I also take bee pollen (details of research into bee pollen and allergies on this link) - from local bees because it gives me the extra help I need to stop my eyes and nose itching.....
I recently asked a question about honey and hive products on paleohacks and the general consensus was that all things 'hive' were just not utilized by Paleolithic man. But I still think it is an amazing foodstuff; pollen contains a myriad of amino acids and natural anti-histamines that helps with allergies.
There is something about the action of the flower pollen mixing with enzymes in the bees' stomach that scientists have yet to identify fully; we do not even know how to go about naming many of the compounds found in bee pollen yet, let alone completely understand what benefit they have to humans. But, there is no doubt about it, bees and human beings still have a very close mutually cooperative relationship with each other as they have had throughout history and taking bee pollen is similar to a vaccination against flower pollen in the air.
I had mild to moderate hay fever all my life -- until I moved into a home with hardwood floors. I will never live in a house with wall-to-wall carpeting again. Environmental irritants, dust, dust mites, pollen, etc.: your carpet hangs onto to them, no matter how diligently you vacuum. I have no problems now when the seasons change.
I doubt Paleolithic man suffered from allergies. If he did, no one would want to produce offspring with him. They'd see him sneezing, sniffling, etc. and conclude that he wasn't healthy. Also, do you think females would think a male with allergies would be able to protect her and her offspring? No. So such individuals would've been selected against and, assuming that there's a genetic component to suffering from allergies, that trait wouldn't be passed on. My feelings on allergies is that it's simply the result of a malfunctioning immune system. Sure, most of us are living in an area where our ancestors didn't. But I still think they could've handled things like grass pollen and weeds. If you look at grains, they have toxins to keep from being eaten. Only moronic humans eat something that nature is trying to keep them from eating.