Woodlands Healing Research Center
The cornerstone treatment for food allergy lies in avoidance, if and when possible. If a food causes a definite, immediate severe reaction (like peanuts causing severe asthma reaction) they should be permanently removed from the diet. On the other hand, most delayed type food reaction are not as "serious" or life threatening and if not removed from the diet just continue to contribute to the chronic symptoms and complaints previously mentioned (daily headaches, constant stuffy nose, etc). The more one can eliminate the strong offenders the better he or she will feel. Most authorities recommend complete avoidance of the major foods for 6 months with a trial of reintroduction after that time. While the serious offenders are eliminated, the rest of the foods in the diet (both mild to moderate food reactors and the nonreactors) are rotated. Rotation means that these foods are eaten only on an every 3 or 4 day basis. Some foods may need to be rotated on an every 7 day basis.
This treatment diet is called the Elimination/Rotation Diet. The results from the elimination/challenge diagnostic diet, blood tests, and/or skin testing can be utilized to make an individualized elimination/rotation treatment diet. It cannot be overemphasized that the single worst way that the food sensitive patient can live is by following a pattern of repetition. A varied diet is imperative in establishing and maintaining wellness. For more information on the details of this diet, refer to our separate monograph on this subject. If there are not too many major foods that need eliminated and one takes the time and effort to follow the rotation diet with the discipline required, this treatment method can be very successful in allowing the immune system to "recover and rebalance" itself and clear out some or all of those nagging, chronic symptoms that have been resistant to other forms of therapy.
Other aspects of the diet are also very important, especially the contamination of our foods with pesticides and other foods. As previously mentioned, we are of the strong opinion that these chemical contaminants play a large role in the development and continuation of food sensitivity. It is therefore, imperative to eat as much organic, pesticide and chemical free foods as is humanly possible given each individual's circumstances.
Food Desensitization Immunotherapy (allergy vaccines as our patients like to call them) based on skin testing can be of tremendous benefit in treating both simple and complex food sensitivity conditions. By "neutralizing" the food sensitivity reactions, the person with multiple food sensitivities may need to eliminate only a few "major foods" and rotate others as best as circumstances permit. This food allergy immunotherapy is taken daily under the tongue or they can also be given as shots and allows a much more expanded diet. This is especially important for growing children and adults with marginal nutritional status. Sometimes treatment of other sensitivities, like pollens, grasses and chemicals, are required to obtain the most benefits from food desensitization immunotherapy.
If low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria) is identified or suspected, supplemental betaine HCL or herbal bitters may be helpful in aiding food digestion and breakdown in the stomach. If poor or weak pancreatic function is suspected or discovered digestive enzymes may be helpful in properly digesting and breaking down the food ingested in an attempt to prevent absorption of large food molecules that would more likely trigger an immune system response. If a "leaky gut" is discovered, its cause eliminated, and targeted nutritional therapy given to heal the intestinal lining, one can go a long way in obtaining additional benefits and results. If an intestinal dysbiosis condition exists (overgrowth of bacteria, yeast or parasites in the intestinal tract), targeted treatment will facilitate the intestinal lining and is often a critical step in treating food allergy.
Occasionally nutritional support of the immune system with antioxidants, vitamin c, selenium, zinc, B-complex and thymus extract is helpful. Quercitin (a bioflavonoid) has been shown to stabilize and prevent a certain type of immune system cell (mast cell) from releasing histamine and may offer some food sensitivity patients benefit by decreasing the immune system response to an exposed food antigen in the intestinal tract. Essential fatty acids like flax oil, fish oils, primrose oil, etc., have also been shown to decrease the inflammatory response and normalize an up regulated immune system that is over reacting to exposed substances. Metabolic and nutritional testing may be helpful in pinpointed deficiencies in these essential nutrients and aid in tailoring an individualized nutritional program for the food sensitive patient. Keep in mind, however, that any of these potentially helpful nutritional supplements may themselves be a trigger substance to a food sensitivity reaction in the susceptible individual.
Lastly, the role of stress and a "conditioned" immune and nervous system to react and over-react to environmental stimuli like foods, chemicals and other substances cannot be overstated. We feel it is vitally important to address this side of the neuro-immune system as well as the gastrointestinal side of the food allergy equation. Relaxation techniques, regular exercise, visualization, biofeedback, meditation, devotion, prayer and other similar "autogenic training" techniques all work to uncouple and "tone down" an up regulated, "hyper" immune and nervous system. Although the importance and relevance of these techniques and therapies are questioned by many, we see them work wonders on a daily basis. No matter what type of allergy or sensitivity is present, we urge you to incorporate one or more of these techniques into your everyday life; you will not be disappointed in the results.
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