Written for the MS Newsletter ALLERGY THERAPY By Louise Marchionne Dip AT(Dist) MRAT Allergies are now sadly becoming all too familiar to us. An allergy is a condition in which the body’s immune system regards an everyday, ordinary substance as an invader – an ‘allergen’ or ‘antigen’. It responds to it by producing antibodies in an attempt to remove it from the body. The production of antibodies by the immune system also triggers the release of histamine. This release is what causes the inflammation associated with allergic responses, e.g. wheezing, skin rashes, sneezing and hay fever. It is possible for these symptoms to develop into more serious conditions such as eczema and asthma. In an extreme reaction, when inflammation is severe, a dramatic drop in blood pressure may occur, leading to a loss of consciousness known as anaphylaxis. This is obviously serious and can be life-threatening. There are many causes for allergies: genetics, poor weaning, food poisoning, stress, excessive toxins, illness, poor nourishment, and over-exposure to certain substances. It is also possible to acquire intolerances or sensitivities to certain substances or foods which, while they may not provoke such classic allergic responses described above, nevertheless make us feel unwell because the body is reacting to this substance as a toxin. When this occurs, our immune systems become overloaded, and we may begin to experience symptoms which indicate that we are not functioning at an optimum level. This is the body’s way of protecting vital function. The decision to train in Allergy Therapy came about as a direct response to personal experiences of food intolerances and illnesses. As an Allergy Therapist, I have found that a range of troublesome conditions – IBS symptoms, food cravings, indigestion, acne, wheezing, skin rashes, fluctuating weight, insomnia, fatigue, catarrh, thrush, athlete’s foot, aching joints, shaking legs, visual disturbances, mood swings and PMT – may be improved or lessened in their severity by using this type of therapy. Allergy Therapy helps us to understand cause and effect, that is, to make the connection between what we are eating and its impact on our immune systems and general wellbeing. This connection between diet and wellbeing dates back as far as Hippocrates and Lucretius, who in the first century coined the phrase, ‘One man’s meat is another man’s poison.’ It is a phrase that demonstrates an understanding of individual nutritional needs and dietary responses, and since this time several others have made simple and yet ground-breaking discoveries regarding allergic responses, often testing their theories on themselves. It was a Dr Coca who first noted that after eating certain foods, his pulse would increase, and this observation prompted him to write a book called The Pulse Test. In the 1930s, Dr Albert Rowe devised the elimination diet as a way of determining what foods were causing allergic reactions in his patients. However, it was in 1936 that Dr. Herbert Rinkel, after much research and his own personal experiences, presented his theory of ‘masked’ or hidden food allergies. He speculated that there were two types of food ‘allergy’. The first type, which causes an obvious and prompt immune response, had already been recognised. The second type relates to food sensitivity. With this latter type of allergy, foods can provoke a less obvious response. Patients can and do feel a little unwell every day, and slowly but surely acquire symptoms that they learn to accept as part of their ‘lot’. Some common symptoms of food intolerances are digestive disorders, headaches, aching joints, sleep disturbances, mood swings and excessive tiredness. Patients often crave the foods that make them feel unwell and do not make the connection between what they eat and their symptoms. In fact, these patients often go through a withdrawal period if these foods are eliminated from their diets. Ironically they can therefore feel better after they have had their ‘fix’. However, this feeling of wellbeing is only short-lived. The slow but sure accumulation of symptoms and decrease in a sense of wellbeing had been defined and named in 1926 by Hans Selye, who called it the ‘General Adaptation Syndrome’ or ‘GAS’. He studied the effects of long- and shortterm stress on the body. This theory is based on the notion that the body learns to cope with all the stresses it has to deal with, both internal and external. Unless addressed and halted, the body ‘adapts’ to functioning under par but at an eventual and huge cost: the slow but sure depletion of the immune system. When this does finally occur, the body will go into a rapid state of decline (illness). The human body has an amazing natural ability to heal and defend itself; however, sometimes it needs a little extra help and small changes can make a big difference. Allergy Therapy works with the notion that by removing ‘offending’ foods or substances that may be a cause of stress to our body and adjusting our diet, and by the use of some supplements, we may eventually become more able to regain optimum health. Some examples of common food allergens are sugar, nuts, wheat, cow’s dairy, oranges, tomatoes, eggs, oats and yeast. Allergy Therapy, then, is holistic(1) and takes a naturopathic(2) approach. If we correct what is going on internally, then the symptoms that we have grown accustomed to and have learned to live with on a daily basis may lessen in their severity, or may even disappear as we regain our optimum health. In an age where we have more choice available to us than ever before, it may be surprising to learn that we are generally eating a less nourishing diet. One that so often includes foods that are not in season and are, quite simply, confusing to our systems because they are not offering us the nutrients we need from the environment and the climate in which we live. Perhaps, then, we are unwittingly over-exposing an out-of-balance body to a monotonous and potentially harmful diet. It was Theron Randolph who shortly after the Second World War discovered that people who suffered from food allergies often experienced fewer reactions to organic produce than to non-organic, a fact that would now surprise very few. Indeed, most of us are now aware of the health benefits of organic foods, not only because pesticides and other chemicals are removed from the process of food production but also because organically produced foods can support traditional farming methods. Such methods support the level of nutrients that are rapidly disappearing from our soils as a result of intensive farming methods. If the soils struggle to nourish the crops, how can the foods produced by the crops nourish us? Allergy Therapy therefore supports the ethos of eating organic, local and seasonal produce. In a sense, then, the health issue can be seen to have a global dimension. If we are all encouraged to look after ourselves, as well as each other, then perhaps we will feel more inclined to look after our environment. In its process, this therapy offers a tailor-made diet. It recognises that we are all as individual as our thumb prints; that we all have our own strengths and weaknesses. It therefore aims to support those strengths and tries to minimise the weaknesses. The type of Allergy Therapy I practise tests people using kinesiology. This is based on the Chinese Meridian Theory. It is a muscle test, which has the advantage of being quick, painless and non-invasive. It has also proven to be a very effective therapy with children, as it has that ‘magical’ element which seems to capture a child’s imagination. Even with children who may be too young to test, a friend or family member can be used as a ‘surrogate body’ for the testing, and this has proven to work very well. This is also true for any person who may seem too frail to be tested. It is a therapy that can take you on a fascinating journey; you will no doubt experience many peaks and troughs during treatment. For most, however, the therapy proves to be beneficial in myriad ways. If you would like any further information about this therapy, then please visit the website www.foodfitforyou.co.uk. Notes: (1) Holistic – addresses the belief that all of the body’s systems and functions need to be working in harmony with one another in order to maintain a sense of wellbeing. (2) Naturopathic – refers to therapy which aims to (restore and) support the body’s healing power from within using treatments such as nutrition, dietary supplements, medicinal plants, counselling, exercise, homeopathy and treatments from Traditional Chinese Medicine.