Allergies occur when our body’s immune (defense) system reacts to something harmless in our environment. Inhalation allergies like pollen can cause mild symptoms, such as red eyes, itching, hives or runny nose. Food allergies are more likely to cause a wide assortment of symptoms (fatigue, pain, nasal congestion, migraines, spastic colon, autism, and many more), and should be considered when your doctor does not know the cause of a chronic problem. In rare cases they can be life threatening (anaphylaxis where the throat swells shut or shock can occur) as occurs in some peanut allergies. For those with the latter type, carrying an “Epi-pen” (preloaded adrenaline syringe) can be life saving.
For sneezing/runny nose type inhalation allergies, standard skin testing works well (i.e., putting a drop of the stuff you’re allergic to on the skin and making a tiny prick with a needle to see if the area turns red). For food allergies, skin testing and most blood tests are not reliable. The blood tests seem to almost randomly pick 30-40 foods and say you’re allergic to them. Repeat the test another day and it may pick totally different foods that it says you’re allergic to. Avoid these tests — they are a good way to make yourself nuts. One possible exception is ELISA/ ACT testing (see link below).
If you do not know what is causing your symptoms, an elimination diet for food and chemical allergies is a good idea. In this, you avoid common allergy producing foods and chemicals for 7-10 days and then retry them one at a time.
For occasional, mild runny nose or sneezing from allergies, simple medications such as Claritin or Zyrtec during the day (not sedating) and/or Benadryl at night (sedating) can be easy and well-tolerated. If the allergies are ongoing and problematic, more effective measures are warranted.
1) MSM is a supplement found in health food stores. Taking 3,000+ mg a day can decrease allergies after 4 weeks of regular use.
2) Vitamin C, B vitamins, magnesium
These and other nutrients decrease allergic reactions as well. These can be found in good multi-vitamin supplements designed for overall nutritional support.
Other Therapies & Advice
Acupressure — NAET
An excellent treatment for determining and eliminating allergies is an acupressure (no needles needed) technique called "NAET." It uses muscle testing to see if you go weak when holding an allergen and then can eliminate an allergy in just 20 minutes by stimulating certain acupuncture points. There are over 12,000 NAET practitioners worldwide. Most people have multiple allergies, so expect to need a course of about 25 sessions. Most people will begin to feel better in just 10 treatments.
More Information Online
Food Elimination Diet: Multiple Food Elimination Diet
Reliable food allergy blood test lab: ELISA/ACT Biotechnologies
Acupressure technique for treating food allergies: NAET
NAET practitioner Laurie Teitelbaum: NAET Hawaii
Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, is a board certified internist and nationally known expert in the fields of chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, sleep and pain. He is author of the popular free iPhone application "Cures A-Z," and author of the best-selling book From Fatigued to Fantastic! (Avery/Penguin Group), Pain Free 1-2-3 (McGraw-Hill),Three Steps to Happiness: Healing Through Joy (Deva Press 2003), Beat Sugar Addiction NOW! (Fairwinds Press, 2010), and his newest book Real Cause, Real Cure (Rodale Press, July 15, 2011).