Although almost every part of the body can be affected with different symptoms by an allergy, the underlying mechanism is the same – a mistake by the immune system.
We all have blood cells called lymphocytes which are the body’s home guard, constantly on the look-out for invaders such as bacteria and viruses. When lymphocytes come across something they recognize as not part of the body’s own proteins, they produce antigens, which in turn produce antibodies (known as IgE) to neutralize these foreign substances.
When someone has an allergy, for reasons that are not yet clear, normally harmless substances like dust mites, cat hair or shellfish trigger off those antibodies, thus causing physical symptoms. The swelling and redness are caused because the IgE antigens cause cells in body tissue, called mast cells, to produce histamine and other chemicals to neutralize the foreign substances, which can quickly produce all sorts of effects from a runny nose or wheezy chest to skin rash or upset stomach.
The IgE reaction provides the medical profession with a convenient marker of an allergy response.
The Orthodox Approach
The most obvious approach is to find out what is causing the allergic reaction and avoid it. When something is hard to avoid, like pollen, then the most direct way of reducing the effect of histamine is with another body chemical called adrenalin. There is now a range of antihistamine drugs based on adrenalin which are useful for conditions like hay fever or nettle rash.
Another approach is the vaccination. Minute amounts of whatever it is the patient is sensitive to – pollen, bee stings, etc. – are injected so that the body can become familiar with the substances and make necessary defense mechanisms to prevent the real thing from having such a dramatic effect. Corticosteroids are also prescribed in severe cases.
The Hale Approach
Complementary treatments for allergy are safe and more effective at isolating a cause and therefore finding a more permanent cure; orthodox treatment is only symptomatic.
When looking at the subject of allergy; there are three key issues to keep in mind:
1. The identification of the allergy
2. The fact that some people will be allergic to certain substances, e.g. shampoos, no matter how healthy they are otherwise
3. The need to bring the body back to a state where it is not allergic.
The Hale Clinic would recommend a variety of tests to identify the cause of the allergy. The practitioner’s input can be invaluable here, especially if the “agent” causing an allergic reaction is an unusual one. The patient can then either remove the substance permanently from their diet or lifestyle, or have a vaccination which will build up a tolerance to the offending substance.
If a patient wishes to pursue the treatment of allergies further, the question needs to be asked – why are some people “allergic” and some people apparently not? Most allergies are caused by a weakness in the immune system, which is where treatments such as homeopathy, acupuncture, Ayurveda, meditation and colonic hydrotherapy can be of great assistance, strengthening the whole system so that the body is less likely to exhibit allergic symptoms. Supportive Treatments such as healing,Chi Kung, Shiatsu, remedial yoga, and aromatherapy also offer that sort of help – strengthening the body in order to eradicate the allergic response.
If a patient suffers from a multitude of allergies, it is particularly advisable to follow this second approach as well as avoiding the main causes of allergic response. The Hale Clinic would not encourage a course of treatment whereby the patient ended up able to eat only two or three foods. If a patient is that badly affected, it is essential for their immune system to be strengthened, not for foods to be continually removed from their diet.
The digestive system is the key to our health, which is why many of the chronic illnesses and low-grade symptoms – aches and pains, swellings, frequent minor infections, insomnia, regular stomach upsets – are due to hidden food allergies. Conditions associated with food allergies include migraine, eczema, thrombosis, arthritis, colitis, ear infection and childhood hyperactivity. When the digestive system is working properly, allergies are not a problem, but stress, a modern diet of refined foods and high fats, antibiotics, and a range of other factors can reduce its efficiency. When this happens, partially digested food particles can leak from the gut into the bloodstream, where they trigger off an immune response, which resembles an allergic response.
If you have suddenly developed a reaction to food that you used to be fine with, this could be as a result of Leaky Gut Syndrome (increased gut permeability). After taking a full case history, if it is felt that the reaction is caused through Leaky Gut Syndrome, the patient will be tested (non-invasive) at a medical laboratory to ascertain the extent of this. When a leaky gut allows undigested food molecules to pass through the gut wall, the body's immune system sees them as an invader and produces antibodies. The person then gets an unpleasant reaction, whenever they eat that particular food again. A treatment plan is formulated to bring the gut lining back to normal, reducing permeability and inflammation. The foods that the person has had a reaction to may be able to be reintroduced later in the treatment.
‘The Guardian’ - Tuesday 4 January 2011 - Written by Nicole Jackson,
How to cure my allergy - With allergies increasing, asks Nicole Jackson, can over-the-counter tests, private clinics and remedies help?
'When I talk to my GP, he did not think my symptoms could be linked to my gut. But, after months of not being able to go a day without antihistamines, the supplements seem effective, if I follow the diet – which is hellish. When I eventually stick with it, I am impressed.'
Practitioner referred to is Ms Deborah Grant.
Although homeopathy normally takes a holistic, constitutional approach, it is possible to treat the specific symptoms of certain allergies.
A combination of bioenergetic testing and homeopathy can pinpoint and treat not only the allergic reaction but also the underlying cause which originally aggravated it. Unless the endocrine system is rebalanced, the symptoms of one desensitized allergy will quickly be replaced by another. By treating the causative factor, bioenergetics aims to ensure an overall return to health.
This involves a gentle flushing out of the colon with warm, purified water (with the possible addition of herbal or other implants) to remove accumulated matter. The effect of the treatment is the detoxification of the system as a whole and, more specifically, of the colon or large intestine. This allows the colon to function much more efficiently in terms of absorption, mobility, bacterial balance, and elimination of waste. Colonic hydrotherapists also look at the patient’s nutrition and often recommend dietary advice to support general digestion.
There are exercises – which vary for each individual – that will concentrate energy and transfer it to the part of the body that is causing problems. Once mastered, the Chi Kung exercises are ideal for self-care at home.
Eczema, hay fever and asthma are the most common expressions of allergies and all are exacerbated by stress. Shiatsu massage balances and relaxes the whole of the body.
Peppermint is often used to relieve hay fever symptoms, as it helps to clear the head. Camomile and lemon balm are useful both for hay fever and for allergic skin reactions.
Allergies occur as a result of a hypersensitivity in tissues of the body, and yoga is one way to bring the body back to a more centered and balanced response to our environment. Yoga is also valuable because allergies often involve the adrenal system, which becomes overworked by stress, and yoga helps reduce the effects of stress. Allergies create a feeling that the body is under attack and yoga returns an element of control.