Dictionary.com defines "allergy" as an abnormally high sensitivity to certain substances, such as pollens, foods, or microorganisms. Common indications of allergy may include sneezing, itching, and skin rashes.

This is most certainly an oversimplification but is a reasonable starting point.  For more details, BecomeHealthyNow.com has a good summary of allergies.  My intent here is not to explain what an allergy is as that information is readily available and well-explained in the link provided.  Rather, I am going to provide information on specific tests and treatments that I have found useful which you may also benefit from.

Common symptoms of allergy may include the more obvious sinus congestion and/or drainage, sneezing, water eyes, cough, fatigue, and headaches.  However, other symptoms of allergies can be more puzzling and complex.  Symptoms of food allergies may include scratchy throat, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, cramps, itching, edema (swelling), hives, shortness of breath, migraines, sleep disorders, dizziness, ringing in the ears, blurred vision, rapid heartbeat, constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, skin rashes like eczema or psoriasis, muscle aches and joint pains, fatigue, depression or any of the symptoms mentioned previously.  An excellent list of symptoms which may occur from food allergy / toxicity can be found here.

With food allergies, it is even more complex as both IgE and IgG mediated allergies can occur.  IgE are the immediate response reactions whereas IgG are longer-term reactions.  It may actually be an allergic reaction to something you ate 2-3 days ago that is making you feel unwell.  These types of reactions are difficult to diagnose when using diagnostic tools such as skin prick testing.

Testing

The first thing to consider when dealing with allergies is what diagnostic testing can be done to help guide the course of action.  I personally like the following options:
 
  • Autonomic Response Testing (ART) from Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt.  It is a means of testing for numerous sources of illness and stressors on the body using the autonomic nervous system.  It is a validated form of muscle testing that has helped thousands of people.
  • ELISA Testing from Immuno Laboratories.  They offer tests for both IgE and IgG responses to various foods and rates the level of reaction as well as providing a recommended diet plan.  The information I gained from doing this test was useful.
  • Genova Diagnostics provides food-antibody assessments.  I like Genvoa as a lab and used them often throughout my illness.  One test that I do think may be quite useful from Genova in this arena is an Intestinal Permeability Assessment.  This test measures markers for Leaky Gut Syndrome.  Leaky Gut Syndrome is when the lining of the digestive tract is damaged such that larger-than-expected particles of undigested material pass into the bloodstream and create an immune response.  If you have leaky gut syndrome, treatment for the condition could lead to significant improvement in food allergy symptoms.  I also STRONGLY recommend the Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis which shows bacterial and yeast imbalance issues which may be related to food allergies.   In the event that the CDSA shows bacterial or yeast imbalances, probiotic supplementation may be warranted.
  • Diagnos-Techs offers a saliva test that tests for food intolerances to gluten/grain, cow milk, egg protein, and soy protein.  As these may cover a significant amount of the allergenic foods, this may be a reasonable test.  I have had this done in the past and found it helpful.  Their expanded panel also helps identify parasites that are often missed by other testing.
  • Metametrix is another lab that offers food allergy testing.  They offer a test for food allergies which is a BloodSpot test and can be done at home.
  • ALCAT has a number of well-respected tests in the area of food allergies.  I have not personally used their tests, but I have heard a number of practitioners that have spoken very highly of their assays.

Since my illness started in 1997, I have had significant allergy symptoms.  I have been allergic to both food and inhalant allergies.  Though I stopped identifying as being "ill" and was living a very healthy life, the allergies were just a part of what I then considered "normal".  When I started my second bout with chronic illness in 2004, I needed to find another way to desensitize my body to allergens so that I could start eating normally again.  At that point, I was on a no wheat, oats, barley, rye, eggs, cheese, milk, yogurt, or soy diet.  Thank goodness there are many allergen-free vendors on the internet with some reasonably good products these days.

Treatment

In all my travels, there are three treatments that I have used and recommend further researching if you have complex allergy problems.  These are EPD/LDA, BioSET, and Allergie-Immun.

I have done EPD (enzyme-potentiated desenstization) in 1999-2000 and though I do believe it helps many people, it wasn't a path I wanted to go down again.  It is, however, a path I would recommend researching if you have chronic allergic problems.  It has now been renamed to LDA (low dose allergen) therapy.  EPD is an injection of very low dose allergens along with beta glucuronidase, an enzyme which potentiates the effect.  It is a very interesting alternative that I know many people benefit from.  In my case, the ultimate problem turned out to be Lyme Disease so it is difficult for me to say how much this did or did not help for me personally. 

In 2005, I was searching for other options.  I read several books about NAET (Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Technique).  The main concern I had at the time was not being able to see concretely what the benefits are.  In other words, I wanted something that was a computerized screening method either using EDS (electrodermal screening) or EAV (Electro Acupuncture according to Voll).  I was not a strong believer in muscle testing or applied kinesiology at the time.  (For what it's worth, I believe that some people are really accurate with muscle testing, but it is more complex than it seems, and the results are often dependent on the experience of the practitioner.)

Essentially, EAV is a modality that was developed by a German man named Dr. Reinhold Voll in the 1950's.    It has always been something I was interested in, though I realize if you search hard enough, you'll find many people arguing that it is pure quackery.  At the stage I was in, I'd like to believe that any option I pursued was well-thought out and logical.  However, you clearly do reach a point where you are willing to try almost anything.  Well, I am glad that I did!

My MD referred me to a practitioner named Anna Manayan J.D., Dipl.Ac., L.Ac. to specifically identify and treat my food allergies using a modality called BioSET.  What I liked about this approach was that I could see and hear the response to many different allergens and micro-organisms on the computerized diagnostic tool.  Ms. Manayan amazed me on my first visit.  After two hours she produced a report that to this day I am still amazed by.  45 doctors and eight years were not enough to find the true source of my ongoing health problems.  In two hours, Anna suggested that I had Lyme Disease and that I should followup with my MD for more testing.  Subsequent results confirmed her theory.  She may have saved my life.  For a review of the initial findings, see below:

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I have gone through more than 60 sessions with Ms. Manayan and I do think that the process works to entrain the immune system and to remove sensitivities to a wide variety of substances and organisms.  I would highly recommend investigating it further.  For me, though I can't say it has resolved all of my allergies, it provided often important information on what issues may be in need of investigation next.  I also found it very helpful in monitoring my overall toxicity levels and determine what to do to support my body to reduce my total toxic body burden.

In 2009, I started a new treatment that is said to be very helpful for allergies.  It is quite complex and somewhat difficult to explain.  It is additionally complicated by the fact that all of the material and results are in German.  Nonetheless, I have heard many good reports on treating allergies with Allergie-Immun.

I've also recently blogged on AllergiCare which is another alternative worth consideration.  Details can be found here.

Allergies are no fun but there are several options available for testing and treating allergic responses.  If you have had success with other options, please contact me with your story.

In Better Health,


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  BetterHealthGuy.com is intended to share my personal experience in recovering from my own chronic illness.  Information presented is based on my journey working with my doctors and other practitioners as well as things I have learned from conferences and other helpful resources.  As always, any medical decisions should be made only with the guidance of your own personal medical authority.  Everyone is unique and what may be right for me may not be right for others.