An allergy is the result of an overaggressive immune response to a substance that is inhaled or ingested, or that comes in contact with the skin. While one person can walk into a dusty room and have no reaction because her immune system cells (e.g., lymphocytes and phagocytes) are able to engulf or otherwise disable the antigens in the dust, another individual has an allergic responseupon entering that, same room because her immune system is not as efficient.Allergies are so common that almost everyone has them to one degree or another. When we hear the word allergy, most of us think of classic, or ﬁxed, allergies, such as hay fever or immediate reactions to certain foods. But we are less familiar with cyclic food allergies and chemical sensitivities.
Different types of allergies are described below
About 37 million people suffer from this seasonal condition. During the spring and summer, people react to the germination of ragweed, which ﬁlls the air with microscopic particles. These substances enter the body and combine with immune cells known as immunoglobulin’s (speciﬁcally the type called IgE). Then they undergo chemical reactions, ending with the release of histamine. This causes an allergic response and a person experiences sneezing, itching, and an obstruction of the nose. If hay fever goes untreated, more serious problems, such as asthma, can develop.
Sometimes a food allergy is obvious because it causes an immediate response after a food is ingested. For example, strawberries are eaten, and an individual breaks out in hives. This is a Type 1 or ﬁxed allergic response because it occurs each time strawberries are eaten. Other food allergies are more difficult to diagnose as symptoms do not usually appear right after eating the offending substance, but rather hours or days later. Also, reactions may change with age, season, stress, and a host of other factors. Further, they can move from one organ system to another. Thus milk may cause an asthmatic response‘ in a young child, and skin disruptions in the same person as an adolescent, for example.
These masked, or cyclic, allergies are responsible for most reactions. In fact, some reports indicate that as many as 90 percent of common complaints heard by general practitioners are related to food allergies, although they are often not understood as such by mainstream doctors. Seemingly unrelated allergy symptoms can include depression, headaches, joint pains, muscle pains, and abdominal complaints.
Food allergies can be linked to what is known as leaky gut syndrome. This is the result of a long history of insults to the gastrointestinal tract, to years of eating and drinking sugar, caffeine, reﬁned foods. And other toxins. Leaky gut syndrome is also provoked by foods that are eaten repeatedly on a daily basis, such as wheat and milk products. After much abuse, the tiny openings of the semipermeable membrane in the small intestine expand, allowing large undigested food particles to pass through. These particles then settle in different parts of the body. If they lodge in the skin. They can then cause skin allergies. If they lodge in the brain, cerebral allergies result. In time, they can cause a host of diseases, including chronic fatigue syndrome, epilepsy, and attention deﬁcit disorder. Instead of being nourished by food, the body is now harmed by it.
Reactions can be brought on by substances in the environment, such as photocopy machines at work, dust and mold in the home, and pesticide residues on foods. Today, people are routinely exposed to thousands of such toxins. As a result, immunity may diminish and gradually disappear. The immune system reacts to one thing, then two. Then more. Eventually, in the most extreme form of environmental illness, a person can become nonfunctional.
Type 1 allergies, the classic type, are IgE-mediated. IgE is an antibody, or immune cell, that binds to an irritant, such as a food or pollen. High IgE levels, which are detected by blood tests, are conﬁrmation of Type l allergies. However, the type of blood test used does not generally identify cyclic food allergies.
Cyclic food allergies can be identiﬁed by both objective and subjective methods. Complementary physicians measure IgG food antibody levels or white blood cell reactions to antigens. Skin testing may also be done to check ﬁat reactions to foods, chemicals, pollens, dusts, molds, and other agents.
Underlying problems, such as parasitic infections, candida, and the insufﬁcient secretion of digestive enzymes may be identiﬁed and treated as well, because improvement in these areas may improve absorption and lessen reactivity to foods. In addition, patients answer questionnaires to help determine the cause and extent of the problem.
Applied kinesiology is another technique sometimes used as an allergy test. This diagnostic procedure has a patient place a food under the tongue while lowering an outstretched arm against the resistance of the doctor. Difﬁculty lowering the arm indicates that the food is causing weakness.
Allergies produce stimulating effects, followed by degenerative ones. Doctors rate severity on a scale of one to four. The ﬁrst level of stimulation, in which a person remains relatively symptom-free, is called +1. The person is active, alert, and responsive, and behaves normally. At the +2 stage, a person becomes hyperactive, irritable, hungry, thirsty, tense, jittery, talkative, argumentative, and overly sensitive. With a +3 reaction, an individual becomes hypomanic, toxic, anxious, egocentric, aggressive, loquacious, clumsy, and apprehensive. An extreme +4 stimulation causes mania, excitement, agitation, and possibly convulsions.
At the degenerative end of the scale, a -l reaction gives an allergic manifestation that might include a runny nose, hives, gas, diarrhea, frequent urination, or various eye and ear symptoms. At the -2 stage, there are systemic allergic reactions, such as tiredness, mild depression, swelling, pain, and cardiovascular effects. With a -3 reaction, there are depression, disturbed mental processes, confusion, moodiness, and withdrawal. Finally, at the -4 stage, severe depression, and possibly paranoia or even suicide, can result.
There are several ways to check for food allergies on one’s own. One is with the Coca test, based on Dr. Coca’s observation that a person’s pulse rate increases after eating a food to which he or she is allergic. The test consists of taking your pulse before eating, and every 30 minutes thereafter, for up to two hours. Normally, the average person’s pulse is between 70 and 80 beats per minute. After eating a food to which one is allergic, however, the pulse can increase signiﬁcantly, to a count that’s 20, or even 40 beats above the normal level.
Another effective diagnostic measure that can be self-administered is the elimination test. Here, suspected allergy-producing foods are eliminated from the diet for four days. Every ﬁfth day, one of the foods is added back in to see if an allergic reaction occurs. So if, for example, wheat is eliminated, on the ﬁfth day a bowl of cracked wheat can be eaten. (Bread should not be used for this purpose because the person might be reacting to the yeast, sugar, or additives.)
It is helpful to keep a food diary to isolate those chemicals and foods that make you ill. Ask yourself, Do I get bloated? Tired? Headaches? Even if symptoms are not immediate, write them down. If you are allergic to a food, patterns will begin to emerge. A wide array of symptoms can occur, depending upon which systems are most affected:
ADRENAL SYSTEM REACTIONS
Low energy or chronic fatigue is a common reaction, with immune dysfunction being at the most severe end of the spectrum. Another possibility is obesity, which can stem from a tendency to overeat in response to low glucose levels.
A hypoglycemic person eats to raise the blood sugar and overcome inertia, and exercises too little because not enough energy is available.
CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM REACTIONS
Brain allergies occur when molecules, breathed in or eaten, leave the blood and enter the brain. These foreign substances can interfere with enzymes, and lead to any number of reactions—diminished concentration, impaired thinking, spaciness, anxiety, headaches, aggressive or antisocial behavior, depression, rapid mood swings, insomnia, hallucinations, or episodic memory loss. Many children experience hyperactivity or fatigue from allergens. Even serious psychotic problems can result; it is estimated that for over 90 percent of schizophrenics, food or chemical intolerances are contributory factors to their conditions. Unfortunately, many allergic reactions and many psychological problems compounded by allergic reactions. Are mistaken for purely psychological problems.
Some people experience rashes, or skin redness, discoloration, roughness, or inﬂammation.
RESPIRATORY SYSTEM PROBLEMS
There may be wheezing or shortness of breath, asthma, or bronchitis.
These include heart pounding, rapid or skipped beats, ﬂushing, pallor, tingling, redness or blueness of the hands, and faintness.
Numerous symptoms include dry mouth, burping, ﬂatulence, bloating, canker sores, stinging tongue, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, abdominal pain, rectal itching, and indigestion.
Other annoying, uncomfortable symptoms are muscle aches and joint pain, ringing in the ears, and frequent urination.
Unless corrected, subclinical signs can turn into disease states. Most people mask their symptoms with medications instead of addressing the cause of the problem. They do not realize that seemingly diverse conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, asthma, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, adult onset diabetes, and skin diseases, can have food and chemical allergies as an underlying cause.
Most allergies can be traced to an impaired digestive system, the result of toxic buildup within the intestines. Embarking on a cleansing program, then, is a ﬁrst step in overcoming the problem, and can include the following.
Bentonite clay has a negative charge and can therefore attract positively charged particles. Toxins are drawn to the clay and drawn out of the body. Bentonite clay is taken as a part of a drink; use one teaspoon in 10 ounces of water.
A series of colonics and enemas cleanse and restore colon function. As a result, many allergic symptoms begin to clear up.
A short watermelon and lemon fast is a great detoxiﬁer, and will help eliminate allergies.
Detoxifying the home, schoolroom, and place of employment may be equally important, and you can work toward that end in numerous ways. The ﬁrst step is to check the quality of indoor air, to ﬁnd out what pollutants are being breathed in. It is not that expensive to hire professionals who will come in and measure contaminants.Air can be vastly improved with a ﬁltration system. Actually, units with three to four ﬁltering systems are best. Those that ﬁlter down to a level of 3 microns are able to screen out most bacteria, mold, pollens, and animal danders. Placing a ﬁlter directly in a window and sealing the sides will limit the amount of pollutants coming into a room. (Many people mistakenly place air ﬁlters three to four feet away from a window, which prevents most incoming air from being drawn into the system.)Plants are inexpensive natural air ﬁlters that can be extremely helpful. Spider plants will ﬁlter out toxins, including formaldehyde, and produce oxygen in return. Other helpful plants are Brazilian palms, wide-leaf wandering Jews, and marigolds.
A change of diet is often key in overcoming allergies. As mentioned earlier, suspect foods should be eliminated and gradually reintroduced to the diet to check for reactions. The most common allergy producers are sugar, wheat, dairy foods, beef, potatoes, shellﬁsh, eggs, and tomatoes. Coffee, peanuts, soy, corn, yeast, and citrus fruit. Any other food that is eaten daily should be suspect as well.The best menu for preventing allergies is the rotation diet. This involves eating different kinds of foods each day, and not repeating an item for four to seven days. Using grains as an example, if rice is eaten on Monday, you might use millet on Tuesday, wheat on Wednesday. And oats on Thursday, with rice eaten again no sooner than Friday. This type of diet keeps the body from overreacting to most foods, although some items will still need to be completely excluded. Milk, for example, may cause a reaction each time it is taken. But the majority of people can safely enjoy most foods with a rotation diet. Note that besides minimizing allergic reactions. A rotation diet provides the added beneﬁt of ensuring that you consume a wide variety of nutrients.Also, keep in mind that certain nutrients help build up immune response. Such nutrients can be obtained, ﬁrst and foremost. From freshly squeezed juices, sprouts, grains, and legumes.For mild allergies, a few changes in diet alone may be enough; but sometimes a doctor trained to see relationships between individuals and their surroundings, known as an environmental physician, may be needed to help get to the root of the problem.
Neutralization immunotherapy is a way of provoking the body to produce antibodies against offending substances. Once an environmental physician, using blood and skin tests, discovers which foods, chemicals, pollens, etc., are causing allergies, allergy vaccines are administered. These are different from the classical allergist’s treatment in which all patients are given equal amounts of antigens. Here, low doses of speciﬁc dilutions are tailor-made for each individual. When injections are given in small amounts, the body reacts by making antibodies against those allergens. Patients are retested until symptoms disappear. The method is highly effective.
Many of our daily routines involve the use of commercial products with artiﬁcial ingredients that can provoke sensitivities. Fortunately, many safe and inexpensive alternatives exist, such as the ones listed here:
Soaps without artiﬁcial scents and colors can be obtained in local health food stores.
Shaving cream can be made from a natural soap.
Shampoo can be made with Castile soap and olive or avocado oil. A tiny amount of sesame oil can be used as a conditioner.
Toothpaste can be inexpensively made with peppermint extract and baking soda.
Deodorant can be replaced with cornstarch.
Talcum powder should not be used as it may contain asbestos ﬁbers. A good replacement for talc is cornstarch.
Moisturizer can be made from sesame oil, as it contains vitamin E.
Facial scrub can be made from vegetable oil, and applied with a soft loofah to remove dead epithelial cells.
Grease remover can be made from butter.
Room deodorizers can be made from lemon juice and vinegar, spritzed into the air. This will trap and kill many harmful bacteria. Also effective as a deodorizer is baking soda, which can be placed in a room and changed every six weeks. In addition, boiling peppermint oil will act as a deodorizer.
An exhaust fan is useful as well.
Pesticides must be avoided and can be replaced naturally indoors and out. In the house, boric acid can be put down in a pencil-thin line—out of the reach of children and pets-—at the baseboards and underneath places where there is moisture or paper, to get rid of roaches and ants. To prevent them from returning, simply apply a line of garlic powder, mixed with boric acid and Borax, around the perimeter of the room. In the garden, a product called Safer Insecticidal Soap can be used on fruits and vegetables. This nontoxic product is made from natural fatty acids and will kill most garden pests without harming beneﬁcial bugs.
Cleansers made naturally are as effective as commercial brands and far less toxic. Glass cleaner can be made by adding three tablespoons of vinegar to one quart of water. Baking powder can be used in place of scouring powder as an abrasive cleaner in the bathroom and kitchen. And Borax mixed with water serves as an excellent all-purpose cleaner.
In the laundry, pure washing soda will remove residues of detergent from clothing, and clothes can then be rewashed using a mixture of washing soda and soap. One cup of vinegar added to the ﬁnal rinse cycle will serve as a fabric softener, and leave no smell. In addition, some natural soaps and detergent can be obtained that are less chlorinated and less toxic than most commercial brands. Some good detergents are washing soda, Borax, and Bon Ami.
Dry cleaning should be avoided whenever possible. But when clothes must be dry cleaned, they should either be soaked in cold water afterwards to remove some of the chemicals or aired outside in the sun before wearing.
Saturating the system with extra nutrients can be most helpful, especially when allergies are in full bloom. Exact requirements should be given by a complementary physician, but these general daily recommendations can serve as a guideline:
Taking 3,000 mg of vitamin C in divided doses throughout the day is excellent for reducing histamine levels in the blood. More can be taken when ﬁghting off an allergy. Vitamin C detoxiﬁes and strengthens the immune system, and helps overcome symptoms of withdrawal at the start of an allergen-free diet.
Vitamin C works best in combination with 100-200 mg of the bioﬂavonoid quercetin and I00-200 mg of pycnogenol. Quercetin increases the strength of mast cell membranes. Mast cells, part of our connective tissue, contain histamine, which can trigger allergic reactions. By strengthening their membranes with quercetin, one is preventing their bursting and hence preventing the release of histamine. The action of vitamin C and the bioﬂavonoids is further enhanced by the addition of other antioxidant nutrients, such as vitamin E, beta-carotene, and selenium.
Among its many beneﬁts, vitamin E strengthens the endocrine system, and by so doing, indirectly builds immunity. Vitamin E is especially important for women with allergies who are experiencing hormonal imbalances. A good natural source of E is soybean oil, which supplies the body with an unestrofied d-alpha tocopherol. People who have difficulty-absorbing oil—based natural vitamin E can benefit from an easy-to-digest water-soluble form. Women with allergies and hormonal imbalances generally beneﬁt from 600 IU a day. Men usually need 400. Vitamin E works well together with 100 mcg of the trace mineral selenium.
B vitamins work as a team to enhance immunity. Pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), and B12 are particularly effective in immune system rebalancing. B5 is especially important because it is a building block of cortisone, one of the basic defense mechanisms of allergic response.
The mineral zinc may help correct food allergies when the problem stems from undigested food particles that are the result of insufﬁcient production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Another helpful mineral is calcium, in the form of 400-600 mg of calcium citrate or calcium chelate (increased to 1.000 mg during allergic response).
ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS AND GLA
Essential fatty acids found in one tablespoon of ﬂaxseed oil or GLA found in 500 mg of borage, black currant seed, or evening primrose oil play a primary role in restoring immune function.
Digestive enzymes help the stomach and pancreas break down large protein molecules so that they can be fully digested. This prevents large peptides from entering the bloodstream and setting off allergic responses.
Herbs reduce allergy symptoms in a more gentle way than do most medications. Following are some that may prove helpful.
Garlic is the number one herb of all time, and it should be a frequent component of everyone’s diet. Garlic builds immunity and serves as a natural antiseptic agent.
Astragalus is one of the best-researched immune system stimulants now available. It works like echinacea, in that both herbs increase the number and activity of immune cells. However, astragalus concentrates on building the immune system, and unlike echinacea, it can be taken on a daily basis.
Echinacea boosts immune system activity and promotes fast recovery, especially when taken at the onset of symptoms. The most potent formulas have a peculiar tingling and numbing effect on the tongue. Since the body cannot sustain such high levels of activity without rest, echinacea should be used for short intervals at a time. In Europe, where echinacea is extensively used, people take the herb in a pattern of four days on and four days off.
The Chinese say that ginseng builds stamina and endurance by stabilizing the qi (pronounced “Chee”), the life energy of the body. Another way of explaining ginseng’s beneﬁt is that it boosts the immune system.
WILD CHERRY BARK
This one helps hay fever and other allergies by healing irritated mucosal surfaces, including the lungs. It’s also soothing to the skin.
This herb protects the mucous surfaces, including the throat, esophagus, intestines, and lungs. ’
This affects respiration by dilating muscles. Other good herbs for allergies include stinging nettle and capsicum.
What to Avoid
Allergies are exacerbated by stress; physical and psychological stressors should therefore be eliminated as much as possible. Stimulants in the form of caffeine, cigarettes, and recreational drugs are particularly bad. Nor should the same foods be eaten every day. Too much meat, sugar, and reﬁned carbohydrates can lead to a state of acidosis. To neutralize an acidic system and stop an allergic response, a person can take baking soda, buffered vitamin C powder, or pantothenic acid in a glass of apple or pineapple juice.
Allergenic chemicals placed on the skin in the form of soaps, lotions, and shampoos, and those breathed in and found in the water should be minimized, and, when possible, eliminated, through the use of natural alternatives.
Allergy sufferers often need to improve their digestive health. Recommended measures include a cleansing diet with the help of bentonite clay, hydrotherapy, and a short watermelon and lemon fast.
People are commonly allergic to one or more of the following: sugar, wheat, daily, beef, peanuts, shellﬁsh, eggs, tomatoes, coffee, peanuts, soy, corn, and yeast. An environmental physician can check for problem foods, which should be eliminated from the diet or eaten on a rotation basis, once every four to seven days.
With neutralization immunization therapy injections of small amounts of speciﬁc allergens, tailor-made for an individual’s needs, help the body develop antibodies to those substances.
Instead of using chemically laced personal and home care products, we can lessen our allergic load by making or purchasing natural ones.
Cleansing the air with a ﬁltration system and plants lessens the amount of inhaled contaminants.
Nutrients that give our immune system an extra boost include vitamin G, quercetin, pycnogenol, vitamin E, selenium. B-complex vitamins, zinc, essential fatty acids, and gamma linolenic acid.
Herbs that strengthen the immune system include garlic, astragalus, echinacea, ginseng, wild cherry bark, and horehound.