An allergic response is an inappropriate reaction (exaggerated response) of the body’s immune system to a substance that is normally harmless to the body.
The offending substance is called an allergen and can include; dust, dust mite, grass pollens, certain foods, food additives, chemicals, some metals like nickel, and animal hair to name but a few.
Initial exposure to the allergen leads to the production of specific antibodies. These antibodies attach themselves to body cells (such as mast cells and basophils that form part of our immune system).
On subsequent exposure, the allergens can then bind to the sensitised cells by bridging the antibodies, like a key fits into a lock. Once unlocked, the mast cells release histamine and other inflammatory chemicals.
These chemicals are responsible for such symptoms as inflammation, swelling, redness, itching, dilatation of blood vessels, constriction of the airways and increased mucus secretion.
Typical allergic reactions include; asthma, hayfever, sinusitis, swelling of the throat (anaphylaxis), hives, eczema, migraine headaches and abdominal bloating and cramping.
According to the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy, four in ten Australians suffer with allergies of some sort including cow’s milk, dust mites, pollen, pets, moulds, certain chemicals and food additives.
The Liver and allergies
Allergies are related to poor liver function, which reduces the liver’s efficiency in cleansing the blood of toxins (such as antibodies and chemicals). Such toxins over stimulate the immune system causing it to pour out inflammatory chemicals (histamines, etc) which may cause; itchy rashes, hives, etc.
Some people have multiple food and chemical sensitivities, which makes it difficult for them to follow a set diet. These problems are generally associated with reduced ability of the liver to break down chemicals and proteins (antigens) in the detoxification pathways. Therefore it is always necessary to improve liver function in such cases by improving the detoxification pathways in the liver.
There may be a build-up of fat-soluble toxins (such as insecticides, plastics & pesticides), drug metabolites or waste products of metabolism in the fatty tissues and liver. This slows down the metabolism of the fatty parts of your body and also over-burdens your liver. This means that the liver burns fat less efficiently.
Gentle and regular detoxification is very helpful when trying to balance the immune system.
Drinking plenty of water, raw vegetable juices and taking a good liver tonic will aid the detoxification process. We have had many success stories enabling people to gradually discontinue drugs that they have previously needed to suppress allergic symptoms.
Why suppress the sneeze and wheeze when one can remove the cause?
If you are taking medications for allergies such as hay fever or asthma, do not discontinue them without the supervision of your local doctor because these medications can only be reduced very slowly as you gradually improve.
Healthy Bowel, Healthy Body contains an entire chapter on food allergies and intolerances. Information includes allergy substitutes, a self test for food allergies as well as details on FODMAPs and how they may be causing your dietary intolerances.
Raw Juices Can Save Your Life book contains specific recipes for various health conditions including anti allergy juice recipes designed to calm the immune system. There is also information about juicing and the best juicers to purchase. Raw juices are an incredibly powerful healing tool and can improve the function of the liver, bowels and kidneys to increase the elimination of toxins.
Available Allergy Tests
To identify the possible offending allergens, blood testing (RAST) or skin prick testing can be performed.
Alternatively, to detect food allergies, an elimination diet can be followed. This involves a moderately restricted diet for about three weeks to exclude likely problem foods.
If your symptoms are caused by a food reaction, then there should be some improvement after this time. Now comes the challenge part of the test. Foods are re-introduced one at a time, every three or four days, looking for any recurrence of symptoms.
Always check with your doctor before commencing an elimination diet and do not continue it indefinitely – it is meant as a test only.
It is essential that patients with severe food and/or chemical intolerances consult a specialist in allergies; the specialist will perform extensive tests to accurately determine the offending allergen that must be avoided.
Those with severe manifestations of allergies (such as asthma, severe swelling of the lips and throat, hives) and those on cortisone, can suffer fatal reactions to chemicals, foods and insect bites. These people should remain under the supervision of an allergist at all times. They should carry a syringe of adrenalin for self-injection should an anaphylactic reaction occur and immediate help is unavailable – this is often life saving.
Common problem foods
The most common problem foods include; gluten (found in wheat, rye, barley and oats) peanuts, shellfish, dairy products, eggs, chocolate, yeast, and salicylates (found in many plants and herbs).
Artificial sweeteners and food additives can build up in the body, eventually causing severe allergic reactions. The most common offenders are MSG (monosodium glutamate), aspartame (see www.dorway.com), sulphites, benzoates and nitrites and artificial colourings. Check labels to see if these things are present and if so, avoid them.
Once the causative allergens are known, avoidance is obviously the key. Offending foods should be eliminated. For allergens like dust and dust mites, meticulous vacuuming, airing of bedding and removal of carpets, curtains and blankets or eiderdowns may be required in extreme cases. Low-allergenic pillows and mattresses can be purchased. Damp living conditions will harbor the growth of moulds and aggravate allergies. If animal dander is the cause you may have to find a new home for your pet! Unfortunately, avoidance of pollens is virtually impossible.
Hormonal help for the adrenal glands
The adrenal glands also need to be supported in cases of severe chemical and/or food sensitivity, as they may not be producing adequate steroid hormones such as cortisone, pregnenolone and DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone). This will increase the severity of allergic reactions. Thankfully it is easy to test the levels of these adrenal hormones with a blood test. For more info see my book Hormones – Don’t let them ruin your Life.
The adrenal glands can also be helped with supplemental amounts of essential fatty acids.
Caution: Anyone with allergies must consult their doctor before taking anything new. It is also important to start with very low doses and then slowly increase to the dose where you get good results.