Food allergies and food sensitivities (also referred to as intolerances) are terms often used interchangeably. Technically, a food allergy is a measurable immune response to a normally harmless food. Symptoms include itchy hives, lip swelling, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, wheezing, and difﬁculty breathing. Common food aller- gies are to peanuts, wheat, milk, eggs, MSG, and shellﬁsh. Scientists are not sure what exactly causes food allergies. Since many allergies tend to run in families, there appar- ently is a genetic component. There is also evidence that some allergies are the result of exposure to a certain food or foods too early in life, before the immune system is fully developed. Many infants who are given cow’s milk instead of breast milk in the ﬁrst months develop an allergic reaction; the same goes for children who are fed wheat, eggs, peanut butter, or other products before they are ready. At any age, the overconsumption of a food is thought to lead to allergies. Wheat, for example, is a common allergen in the United States, because most people eat it at every meal and snack.
Food sensitivities are reactions to food where there is not necessarily an immune response, as measured by standard lab tests. These symptoms are not life threaten- ing but are bothersome. These include, but are not limited to, abdominal cramps, bloat- ing, headache, mood swings, reoccurring infections, joint pain, runny nose, skin rashes, dark circles under the eyes, and fatigue. Symptoms may occur up to thirty- six hours after ingesting the offending food. Common food sensitivities that we see with patients are to cow’s milk, wheat, corn, soy, chocolate, citrus fruit, and artiﬁcial sweeteners and preservatives. Most food sensitivities are acquired throughout life. A lack of variety in the diet, poor digestion and detoxiﬁcation, and genetics are often the underlying causes. Most people who have multiple food sensitivities have an underlying condition known as leaky gut syndrome. This means that foods are not being broken down effectively (especially proteins), and once absorbed, they cause a heightened immune reaction. The key to these cases is to heal the gut lining and improve food breakdown, something that natural medicine is very effective for. Many cases of food sensitivities can be eliminated or improved with natural therapies.
Do be aware that hundreds of conditions can be at least in part caused or worsened by food allergies or sensitivities. Common exam- ples include
Arthritis Asthma Attention-deﬁcit hyperactivity disorder
Food allergies and sensitivities can sometimes be difﬁcult to identify. Immune responses to food may take hours or days to develop, and they may be mistaken for seasonal allergies or for other diseases associated with their symptoms: colds, ﬂu, skin problems, chronic fatigue, and many others. And allergies aren’t just triggered by the consumption of large quantities of a problem food: you can have a reaction from a minute quantity or even from simply touching or inhaling an allergen. Use the elim- ination diet given here to determine which food or foods, if any, you are allergic to.
Also, speciﬁc testing with blood, electrodermal, skin scratch, or applied kinesiol- ogy by a holistic practitioner or a doctor can help you quickly identify your problem foods. They can then be avoided or you can desensitize yourself to them.
Food allergies can produce a number of symptoms. The most common are listed as follows:
Canker sores Colic Constipation Depression Diarrhea
High blood pressure
Hives Hypoglycemia Irritable bowel syndrome
Inﬂammatory bowel diseases (Crohn’s, ulcera- tive colitis)
Multiple chemical sensitivity
• Nasal congestion
• Red, itchy, or watery eyes
• Dark circles or pufﬁness under the eyes
• Sore throat
• Difﬁculty swallowing
Common symptoms of food sensitivities:
• Abdominal cramps and bloating
• Mood swings
• Reoccurring infections
• Joint pain
• Overconsumption of a certain food
• Introduction of a food too early in infancy or childhood
• Stress, which depresses the immune system
• Hives, rashes, eczema, or other skin eruptions
• Nausea or vomiting
• Fluid retention
• Swelling of the throat and the tongue
• Runny nose
• Skin rashes
• Dark circles under the eyes
• Poor digestion and detoxiﬁcation
Reﬂux and ulcers Sinusitis Weakened immunity
If you experience difﬁculty breathing or develop hives that spread rapidly, get emer- gency help at once. Allergic reactions like these can be quickly fatal. If you know you have severe reactions to certain substances, talk to your doctor about emergency adren- aline kits you can keep on hand.
Obviously, the most important step in treating allergies is identifying them. Once you’ve identiﬁed the offending substances, adhere to the following suggestions to keep
Elimination Diet to Detect Food Allergies
Although it takes some time and dedication, an elimination diet is the best way to uncover any hidden food allergies. The ﬁrst step is to come up with a list of possible trigger foods. Do this by keeping a food diary, writing down everything you eat each day for a week (or longer, if you sense that one week can’t adequately represent your eating habits). At the end of the week, note
the foods you’ve consumed most often during the week. This is your list of possible triggers.
Next, you should eliminate all the suspect foods on your list from your diet for a total of two weeks. For most people, this stage is difﬁcult, as you’re asked to give up the foods you love and rely upon the most; try to keep in mind that you’ll be able to return to your usual diet, perhaps with
a few modiﬁcations, soon.
If, after two weeks, your symptoms have disap- peared, you know that you are allergic to at least one of the foods on your list. To identify which food or foods is the culprit, reintroduce the sus- pect foods to your diet one at a time. When
reintroducing foods that have been eliminated, be sure to use the purest form of the food. For exam- ple, if milk is on your list of suspects, add whole milk back to your diet, not skim. If you’ve elimi- nated wheat, reintroduce it by eating cream of wheat or shredded wheat. Allow two full days to pass between reintroducing foods, as it may take
a while for symptoms to manifest themselves. Should your symptoms reappear, you can assume that the food most recently reintroduced is an allergen, and you should banish it from your diet or work to have your immune system desensitized to it. Continue to make your way through the list, however, as you may be allergic to more than one food. Wait at least forty-eight hours after the onset of symptoms before reintroducing the next elimi- nated food.
At the end of the elimination diet, you will know which, if any, foods produce an allergic response in your body. Depending on your reac- tion, you can avoid or reduce your intake of this food.
them out of your diet and to reduce your chances of having a bad reaction, should you be accidentally exposed. Food sensitivities can generally be improved or cured by rotating foods in the diet, improving digestion and detoxiﬁcation, and using the desen- sitization techniques described in this chapter.
Fortify your immune system with a healthful, wholesome diet. Eat foods that are high in immune-building nutrients: seafood, beans, and nuts for magnesium; green leafy vegetables and brewer’s yeast for B vitamins; and plenty of fresh fruits and vegeta- bles for vitamin C.
A varied diet will discourage the development of allergies, so try to eat different foods every day.
Breast milk is best for infants. If, for some reason, you are unable to provide your baby with mother’s milk, use a cow’s milk alternative or a predigested, hypoallergenic formula.
Drink a glass of clean water every two waking hours to ﬂush allergens out of your body and to encourage overall health.
Food to Avoid
Of course, you must avoid the foods that trigger a severe allergy response. In general, it is best to buy whole foods and prepare them yourself, so that you are aware of their content, but if you must buy packaged food, learn how to read labels and scrutinize
The following tests help assess possible reasons for food allergies/sensitivities, as well as determine the offending foods:
Digestive function and microbe/parasite/candida testing—stool analysis
Food allergies/sensitivities—blood (IgE and IgG4), electrodermal, skin scratch
Hormone testing (DHEA, cortisol)—saliva, blood, or urine them carefully. Food preservatives and artiﬁcial colorings or ﬂavorings can be at the root of food reactions.
Food sensitivities can generally be rotated in the diet, until you become desensi- tized to the offending food.
If you have recently suffered an allergy attack, go on a short, twenty-four-hour juice fast to cleanse the body of allergens. For chronic allergies, undertake a one- to three- day cleanse every three months.
Studies done with infants and nursing mothers have found that probiotics help improve food aller- gies. It appears that probiotics directly reduce the immune response to food allergens and indi- rectly improve symptoms, due to improved food digestion.
Super Seven Prescriptions—Food Sensitivity
Super Prescription #1 Digestive enzyme complex
Take a full-spectrum digestive complex with each meal.
Super Prescription #2 Protease enzymes
Take 1 to 2 protease enzyme capsules between meals two to three times daily. When taken on an empty stomach, protease enzymes are believed to metabolize food antibody complexes that cause symptoms. Do not use if you have an ulcer or gastritis.
Super Prescription #3 Homeopathic Desensitization Drops
Take a homeopathic dilution of the food(s) you are sensitive to, up to three times daily or as directed on the container. This approach of like cures like helps desen- sitize the immune response to sensitivity reactions.
Super Prescription #4 Probiotics
Take a product that contains at least 4 billion active organisms daily, thirty min- utes after a meal. These good bacteria favorably alter the way the immune system perceives foods and also helps with their metabolism and digestion.
Super Prescription #5 Gentian root (Gentiana lutea)
This improves stomach-acid levels and overall digestive function. Take 300 mg in capsule form or 10 to 20 drops ﬁve to ﬁfteen minutes before meals. It can also be used as part of a digestive bitters formula.
Super Prescription #6 Thymus (Thymus vulgaris) extract
Take 1 to 2 capsules or as directed on the container three times daily on an empty stomach. Thymus extract balances an overactive immune system.
Super Prescription #7 Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)
Take 1,000 mg twice daily. MSM has a natural antiallergy beneﬁt that includes food sensitivities.
L-glutamine repairs the lining of the small intestine for improved absorption. Take
500 mg three times daily.
An adrenal glandular supplement supports adrenal gland function and allergy con- trol. Take 1 capsule three times daily between meals.
Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) supports adrenal gland function and allergy control. Take 500 mg three times daily.
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) supports liver function and detoxiﬁcation. Take
250 mg of a 85 percent silymarin extract with each meal.
Betaine hydrochloric acid improves stomach-acid levels. Take 1 to 2 capsules with each meal.
Quercitin has antiallergy beneﬁts. Take 500 mg three times daily.
Vitamin C with bioﬂavonoids reduces allergy reactions. Take 1,000 mg two to three times daily.
Pick the remedy that best matches your symptoms in this section. For acute food reac- tions, take a 30C potency four times daily. For chronic food sensitivities, take 6x, 12x,
6C, 12C, or 30C potency twice daily for two weeks to see if there are any positive results. After you notice improvement, stop taking the remedy, unless symptoms return. Consultation with a homeopathic practitioner is advised.
Note: Homeopathy is not a replacement for medical treatment for serious acute food allergy reactions.
Lycopodium (Lycopodium clavatum) is for people who have problems with food reactions and also suffer tremendous bloating and gas. They crave sweets. Symptoms are usually worse in the early evening.
Nux Vomica (Strychnos nux vomica) is for people with multiple food sensitivities and digestive problems, such as heartburn, reﬂux, constipation, or stomach cramps. They tend to be chilly and irritable.
Urtica Urens is helpful if you have welts or hives with itchy, burning skin, espe- cially after eating shellﬁsh. If your hives or welts are rapidly spreading, get emergency help at once.
See pages 668–675 for information about pressure points and administering treatment.
• Large Intestine 4 relieves headaches and sneezing.
• If you have fatigue, swollen eyes, or head pain, use Bladder 10.
• Triple Warmer 5 fortiﬁes the immune system.
• Stomach 36 strengthens the entire body and promotes a healthful balance.
If food allergies have left you chronically or severely congested, consider a percus- sive massage to help break up mucus.
Percussive motions are best used on people who are relatively strong and healthy. If you are frail, thin, or elderly, check with your massage therapist about the suitabil- ity of this treatment for you.
To reduce stress, get a relaxing massage that incorporates any of the soothing essen- tial oils listed in the Aromatherapy recommendations.
See pages 686–687 for information about reﬂexology areas and how to work them.
To ease allergic reactions in the upper respiratory tract, work the big toes and the inside of the heels.
If you have been exposed to an allergenic food, work the liver and the colon to speed the processing and the release of toxins.
Use melissa in a bath, an inhalation, or a massage oil to reduce the intensity of an aller- gic attack.
Lavender and chamomile will relax and soothe the body after the stress of an aller- gic reaction. Use either oil according to your particular symptoms. If you have acne, mix into a lotion and apply directly to the skin. For other reactions, you can use a com- press to apply the oil to a speciﬁc body part, add to a bath, or use in a massage for all-over relief.
If you’re congested, try any of the following oils in a steam inhalation, a bath, a diffuser, or a massage: eucalyptus, peppermint, melissa, and tea tree.
General Stress-Reduction Techniques
Stress can impact your immune and digestive systems and can contribute to food sen- sitivities. Read the exercise and stress reduction section in Part Two and choose a cou- ple of stress-reduction techniques you’d like to try. Once you’ve found one or two that you like, incorporate them into your daily routine. Regular practice will help you han- dle daily tension with detachment and equanimity.
Bach Flower Remedies
According to Bach Flower Remedy philosophy, intolerance of other people is a cause of most allergic conditions. If you have little patience for others, use Beech or Impa- tiens to expand your sense of goodwill. To take Beech or any other Bach remedy, place
10 drops of the liquid under your tongue. Hold the drops in place for thirty seconds and swallow. Use as often as needed.