Allergies and Digestive Health

Dr. Alison Beach, Naturopathic Doctor
Dr. Clayton Bostock, Naturopathic Doctor
Dr. Faren Brogan, Naturopathic Doctor

The word allergy is derived from the Greek words meaning “altered reaction.”  An allergen is defined as a substance that provokes an abnormal immune reaction.  Having an allergy means that when exposed to an allergen the body is sensitive to, an individual usually suffers physical symptoms (e.g. headache, vomiting, rashes, migraine, asthma, etc.) An allergen can be almost anything from house dust, dog dander, foods, chemicals or even bacteria, just to name a few.  Allergy is quite common and it is estimated that over 20% of the population have allergies (excluding hayfever), with this being quite a conservative estimate.

Food Allergies and Inflammatory Bowel Disease

There seems to be a lot of discussion about food allergies these days and for very good reasons.  Due to the over processing and overconsumption of our food more and more people are beginning to develop food allergies.  When we think of a food allergy we typically think about ingestion causing hives, difficulty breathing, and/or digestive upset.  All of these symptoms can occur; however, food allergies are responsible for many more symptoms than just these.

A food allergy is a reaction of the immune system to certain components of food.  When an individual with an allergy to a food ingests it, their immune system recognizes it as foreign and mounts a reaction to it.  This means that, just as the immune system would react to a virus or bacteria by forming antibodies, the immune system may form antibodies and mount an immune reaction in response to a component of food.  There are different ways in which a food allergy can manifest.allergies digestive R

First there is the immediate food reaction which occurs within three hours after ingestion and is caused by the presence of a high IgE antibody level in the blood, which sets off an immediate allergic response. This is considered the “anaphylactic reaction” and symptoms include shortness of breath, hives, swelling of the lips and throat, and vomiting.  This type of reaction is the one tested for by Medical Doctors using the scratch/prick test.  However, food allergies can also cause delayed food reactions which can occur up to several days after ingestion of the reactive food.  Such allergies are often the cause of many “chronic symptoms” and are mainly mediated by IgG antibodies.  Some common symptoms of food allergies include:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease – ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Infant colic, Skin rashes, or Malnutrition
  • Depression, Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Aphthous stomatitis (canker sores)
  • Asthma
  • Eczema, Psoriasis, Rosacea
  • Attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity
  • Autism
  • Fatigue, Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Intestinal dysbiosis, Candidiasis
  • Migraine headache
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Otitis media (ear infection)
  • Peptic ulcer
  • Urticaria (hives)
  • Inability to lose weight
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Arthritis
  • Autoimmune conditions (Rheumatoid Arthritis)

In order to diagnose food allergies, Dr. Beach, Dr. Bostock, and Dr. Brogan use serum lab testing to assess both IgE and IgG antibodies levels.  If you suspect you have a food allergy the first step is to get tested.  The good news is that if a food allergy is identified there are numerous ways in which we can desensitize your system to minimize or eradicate the allergy and get you feeling better.

Environmental Allergies

Just like a food allergy, an inhaled environmental allergen can cause a hypersensitivity reaction in those sensitive to it.  Some common inhalant allergies include animal dander, trees, grasses, weeds, and molds.  The most typical symptoms of inhalant allergies include nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, itchy nose and eyes, excess tear production in the eyes, postnasal drip, cough, loss of the sense of smell and/or taste, nose bleeds, brain fog, fatigue, sinusitis, and/or asthma.

Dr. Beach, Dr. Bostock, and Dr. Brogan use inhalant allergy testing which are region based and include panels of common tree, grass, weed, ragweed and mold as well as cat, dog, and dust mite antigens.

Allergy Desensitization

Allergy desensitization protocols vary depending on the individual and intensity of symptoms.  Protocols include anything from supplementation, to allergy homeopathic drops to Low Dose Allergen Therapy (LDA).

Low Dose Allergen (LDA) Therapy

LDA is a method of immunotherapy enhanced by a minute dose of the enzyme, beta glucuronidase. The beta glucuronidase activates extremely miniscule doses of various allergens and stimulates the production of T-Suppressor cells, now called T Regulator cells. These cells actively “switch off” helper cells that are erroneously causing patients to be ill by misidentifying normal substances in the body to be allergens. T-Cells may live for long periods of time in the bloodstream, so LDA needs to be administered only every 2 months at first and then less often as time passes, generally with one to three tiny (1/20 cc) intradermal injections on the inner aspect of the forearm.

LDA is used to treat all types of allergies, sensitivities and intolerances to inhalants (pollen, dust, mites, danders, etc.) foods and chemicals. It is used to treat such conditions as hayfever, asthma, all types of food allergy and many other problems including autoimmune conditions.