Millions of Americans suffer from the symptoms of food allergy or intolerance (sometimes called sensitivity) and don't know it. Common foods eaten by most people can produce a variety of physical and mental disorders. Much has been learned about treating food intolerance and allergy once they've been discovered. With great patience and good detective work many people are able to discover the offending food items. Naturopathic physicians work extensively with patients to identify and treat food allergy and intolerance.
Allergic reactions can be sudden and serious, producing symptoms such as severe breathing impairment, hives, or even shock. This type of reaction is called an IgE (immediate hypersensitivity) reaction. People who react in this way to certain foods usually know from experience that they have a problem with a specific food, therefore it is relatively easy to identify.
More often, however, unsuspected food allergies produce a variety of milder, annoying symptoms that linger and recur. Most people are unaware that food allergies may also cause a wide range of symptoms such as headaches, asthma, heartburn, arthritis, fatigue, rashes, stuffed nose, insomnia, constipation. These symptoms may indicate an IgG (delayed hypersensivity) reaction or food intolerance.
Mental and emotional problems are common as well. This is because the brain and nervous system are part of the physical body, susceptible to physical as well as psychological influences. Depression, anxiety, irritability, and hyperactivity (ADHD) in adults or children are often caused by chronic food allergies or intolerances.
How can you tell if you have a food intolerance or allergy?
The most accurate (and probably the most difficult) method of detection involves removal of all foods which commonly create problems for at least 3 weeks. Then slowly and individually reintroduce individual foods systematically and watch for the return of symptoms.
You can start by reading or talking to people who know more about the subject. Dr. Mandell's Five-Day Allergy Relief System, by M. Mandell, is an example of one book about food allergies that is practical, informative, and easy to read. Other books include Food Allergies, by N. Orenstein and S. Bingham; Food Intolerance, by R. Buist; Traditional Foods are Your Best Medicines, by R. Schmidt; The Allergy Self-Help Cookbook, by M.H. Jones; Allergy Recipes, by S. Rockwell; andSurviving the Nineties: Coping With Food Intoleraces, by D. Thom.
Some of these books describe ways you may be able to test yourself for food intolerances. In other cases, professional help will be required to accurately diagnose food allergies/intolerances. A variety of testing methods is available for this purpose.
Blood tests such as RAST, RASP, ELISA, and cytotoxic testing have been used to test for food allergies. These may offer some advantages over traditional skin testing, which tests only for IgE allergy and is not very sensitive for IgG allergies or intolerances. EAV (Electro-Acupuncture According to Voll) or VEGATEST-Method is a non-invasive, investigative, energetic evaluation of a patient using a galvanometer. This can be useful for evaluating inhalant and food sensitivities, including food combinations.
If your food intolerance is limited to one or two types of foods, simply eliminating these foods from your diet will often relieve your symptoms. In time you may be able to add these foods back into your diet on an occasional basis. It is beneficial to learn how to eat a wider variety of healthy foods, and systematically rotate food groups. This will decrease the likelihood of creating further food allergies.
At 2bwell, Dr. Julie Brush offers IgG and/or IgE food allergy testing that requires a finger stick or a blood draw, depending on the specific test. The test results arrive within 2 weeks, and she works with you to interpret the test results, apply them to you, and strengthen your digestive and immune systems to repair any damage done by the long-term ingestion of previously unknown allergens. Often, over time, some of the allergic foods may be able to be added back into the diet without adverse reactions.
If food sensitivity (EAV) testing is warranted, Dr. Brush refers patients to one of several practitioners in the Portland area for testing.
Dr. Brush finds that the test results are highly applicable clinically; adults and children feel improvement upon identifying and removing food allergies using these testing methods. If you have additional questions regarding food allergy or intolerance testing, please feel free to contact Dr. Brush at Julie@2bwell.net, or schedule a visit to discuss whether your complaints may be caused by food allergies.