Natural allergy relief is possible for most allergic conditions with perhaps the only exception being those that are anaphylaxic in nature. Today, there are many ways to diagnose food allergies and evaluate what food or foods or other substances (e.g. pollen, grass, dust, pet hair, etc.) which a person may be allergic to. There are laboratory tests, self tests such as an elimination diet, and neurological muscle testing procedures to investigate this issue. No one test is 100% accurate. Other factors come into play such as the strength of the immune system. A person with a fatigued immune system many times will show up allergic to the majority of foods on a lab test.
Natural allergy relief often focuses on healing the digestive tract. The GI tract is of utmost importance in order to help overcome or greatly reduce food allergies, and even environmental allergies. “Leaky gut syndrome” is a common term given to food allergies as there is an antibody-antigen reaction within the damaged digestive tract. The adrenal glands also play an important role in an allergy response; the more stressed out someone is, the more allergic to foods and their environment they will be.
Allergies affect many people everyday and food allergies are some of the more common allergic reactions. Some estimate that over 28% of children and 55% of adults have some type of allergy. An allergic reaction occurs when a person is exposed to an antigen (food, dust, pollen), and there is an immune response. This differs from a sensitivity or an intolerance that does not result in an immunological response. Most understand a typical allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis from a bee sting or an outbreak of some sort from eating shellfish or peanuts. These are known as immediate onset, Type I reactions that release IgE antibodies. These reactions occur very quickly, usually within 2 hours. Histamine and other chemicals are released from mast cells. Due to their circulation half-life of 1-2 days, clearance of the allergy is rather quick. A person with a Type I allergy usually knows what they are allergic to, or they eventually find out. When a physician performs “skin testing”, also known as a scratch test, where an antigen is injected just under the skin in order to elicit a response (inflammation/color change), this is to check for an IgE type allergy. Type I allergic reactions are not inherited, but are thought to run in families. The symptoms from this type of reaction can be a runny or stuffy nose, chronic ear infections, dark circles under the eyes, joint pain, headaches, and sometimes anaphylaxis. IgE reactions are almost always permanent and require strict avoidance. Making sure the immune system is working optimally is extremely important when dealing with all allergies, particularly this type especially if the Type I reaction is environmental where avoidance is much more difficult than a food product.
Types Of Allergies
There are a significant amount of individuals with IgG type allergic reactions, which can be either Type II or Type III. Type II reactions can also involve IgA and IgM antibodies. They are slow onset and have a cytotoxic response resulting in damage to cells. Type III reactions are of an immune complex type and result in not only IgG antibodies but also IgG immune complexes. These reactions can occur days to hours after exposure and the immune complexes must be broken down by the liver and spleen. Type III reactions will result in tissue damage and inflammation. They are also implicated in many autoimmune diseases. It is estimated that 80% of all antibodies are of the IgG type. The half-life of an IgG antibody is 21 days and the mast cells that release histamine can last 2-3 months, so symptoms can be present for a long time. Many people have IgG allergies that they are unaware of which result in daily, nagging symptoms. Symptoms resulting from an allergy are extremely widespread.
Common Allergy Symptoms:
- Gastrointestinal: diarrhea, gas, constipation, ulcers, weight gain or loss, failure to thrive (children), loss of appetite, infantile colic, celiac disease, IBS
- Musculoskeletal: joint pain, arthritis, bursitis, back or neck pain
- Immune: rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, chronic infections and colds
- Neurologic: headaches (especially migraine), fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression
- Respiratory: asthma, including exercise induced asthma, sinusitis, post-nasal drip, ear infections, coughing, sneezing (especially in series – “I sneeze 5 times every morning.”)
- Dermatological: acne, canker sores, itching, rashes, eczema, dermatitis
- Other: pulse speeding up after a meal (an increase of about 10 beats per minute), frequent yawning, groggy, trouble concentrating, ADD, ADHD, autism, watery nose or eyes, weak thighs or knees especially after eating, “seasonal allergies” (Most people with seasonal allergies have some type of food allergy.)
Food Allergy Causes
Since allergies cause histamine to be released from mast cells, a positive response with an antihistamine medication is surely a clue that an allergy is present. Histamine reactions will deplete levels of folic acid and vitamin B6 in the body, which are very necessary for a variety of bodily functions. Natural allergy relief treatment may include the use of these vitamins as well as other supplements.
The most common allergenic foods, in no particular order, are dairy (cow casein), wheat, gluten (wheat, rye, barley, (some oats), nightshades (tomato, potato, pepper, paprika, eggplant, goji berry, tobacco), corn, soy, egg, citrus, coffee & cocoa bean, and nuts.
The Different Types of Antibodies in Response to An Allergy:
IgA – barrier system – gut, lungs, blood brain barrier
IgE – acute, anaphylaxis, full blown allergic response, genetic sensitivity to substances
IgG – immune response that has lasted months or longer
IgM – recent immune response – within 3 months; presently active / attacking
IgD – Most commonly associated with tartrazine sensitivity (FD&C Yellow #5, E 102)
Sarah W says
Hi Dr. Gangemi,
Thank your information on this, it’s very interesting to me as I have been suffering environmental allergies my whole life. Recently, I was reading several articles that mentioned environmental allergies could be caused by some underlying issue, possibly food allergies. For the past 30 days I have been strict paleo (Whole30 diet I’m sure you have heard of), because people mentioned it helped their seasonal allergies. From what I am reading in this article, are you saying Type 1 allergies are permanent and there isn’t really a way around them?
Whole30 has not improved my allergies at all, I tried not taking my claritin for a couple days and it was an immediate response when I go outside for long periods of time. Inside I am completely fine.
Thank you for your thoughts on this! I am just interested to find out if there is way around it.
Well I’d say the IgE are the most difficult to deal with. Adrenal glands play a big part in allergies, other hormones too.
For environmental allergies that have been diagnosed what approach does holistic medicine usually take for dealing with them? Do you advise taking antihistamines daily along with otc nasal steroids if needed? This is of course after everything has been done that can be environmentally to reduce allergy symptoms.
Definitely not advised for the holistic approach – those meds are conventional therapies. Allergies are either from hormonal stress (adrenal gland fatigue), digestive problems (low stomach HCL), or immune system problems. There are natural antihistamines such as quercetin that can be beneficial (and even good ol’ vitamin C to some extent), but again they don’t “solve” the problem.
I greatly appreciate your knowledge and insight. It has been the consistent information that has led me to improved health. I developed a sinus infection while pregnant 3 years ago and the extreme sinus troubles never left. Never ending runny nose, cough and recurring infections which progressed to EIA, then after a stressful move and another pregnancy, full blown asthma. After nearly 3 months of gluten & dairy free, finally went off all grains and nightshades (Paleo Auto-Immune Protocol). Within 5 days, I awoke symptom free of sinus troubles. INCREDIBLE! I’m sold on Paleo! Despising my dependence on advair, I went off and in the last 4 weeks my asthma has flared dramatically (high pollen season has added to it). Yet no infections or nasal troubles – YEAH! I must admit, I’ve struggled with maintaining the Paleo AIP & don’t know how to bridge that & FODMAPS (they contradict and in trying to do AIP alone, I have lost too much weight, so I know I can’t do AIP & FODMAPS).
I have resisted allergy testing, as I knew the state of my immune system would raise a red flag that I was allergic to everything. Based on my reading on your sight, FODMAPS will heal digestive troubles.
Will following FODMAPS (digestive focus) eventually heal the asthma or should one consider another cause, which prompted the adrenal stress and thus food allergies developed? It feels like the chicken before the egg…
*I am working with a chiropractor and using Standard Process supplements, but have used your insight to select the most accurate approach to my healing.
The diet could help or the asthma could be coming from another source. Usually allergies and asthma are adrenal symptoms but can be gut or immune too.
Silvia Halpern, DC says
Hello Dr. Gangemi
I found your website during a web search.
I like it very much. It has very useful and informative content. If you are willing to share this info, and I would like to know what is the company who put it together for you. Currently, I am looking at changing the website provider and I would like to inquire about the company who helped you put yours together.
Thank you for your reply,
I’ve had what seems to be ice pick headaches – back of head right side – for the past 3 days – every few seconds. Excruciating! My diet is pretty much an anti-inflammatory diet as you describe – a natural COX2 inhibitor diet. Do you have any further insight on how to relieve and eliminate the pain?
Hard to say of course but that can be from general muscle tension. Perhaps you seek the help of a chiropractor or skilled massage therapist.
Hi Dr. Gangemi!
Your website seems like a lifesaver!
I am 29 years old. I became allergic to cats about 4 years ago (I had owned a cat when I was in high school and never had a problem then) and had some trouble with slight allergies in the spring for the past 8 years (though not severe enough to need antihistamines).
Two years ago, I acquired a cough that simply would not go away. I had been running consistently in high humidity (guam) for four weeks prior.
Six months after my cough began, I was diagnosed with an allergy/asthma combo and was told my asthma was caused by allergies to the cats I had been living with and the enviornment. I began to take a daily antihistamine, though I’ve never really felt it helped 100%. I take a steroid inhaler, Qvar 80 mcg 2 puffs 2x a day, for the past year and have noticed relief from this.
My question is, I would love to manage my allergies without an inhaler or antihistamine, and I’ve never noticed any food allergies in my life. Where do you recommend I start with trying to figure out where my allergies lie? Thank you SO MUCH for your help!
Hey Allie – read this article to start: https://drgangemi.com/articles/asthma/
Hello Dr. Gangemi,
Is there any way to heal the exhausted/stressed out adrenals? If there is could you please share and how to maintain after healing? Thank you very much.
Your work is incredible! Great information! Thank you!
See the 4 part series on this site regarding the adrenals, thanks.
Hello Dr. Gangemi,
Just found your website and found it enlightening to the say the least. I recently had blood work done and my IgA was elevated at 686 and my IgM was 7 pts elevated. I have always suffered from gas, bloating, etc. I have read online that these elevations could mean Mylenoma etc. My pcp referred me to a Hematologist. So I am a bit stressed. I have had a few rounds of antibiotics these past few years due to tooth related issues. Your expertise and insight would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
I’d really need to set up a consult for this one to see all the info.
Lori Jean says
I had a hysterectomy six weeks ago and after three weeks of uncomfortable and noxious GI activity, figured out that I was (spontaneously) lactose intolerant. I’m hoping that will go away/resolve as I’ve always been a big milk drinker. I did have a round of Cipro on post-op days 6-13 for a suspected UTI, but the UA was clear so the infection was elsewhere.
A few days post-op I started taking chewable pink fiber pills and a few days later, consequently/coincidentally started getting ice pick headaches (right temple, same place every time). They became more severe over the next 5 weeks, to the point of arriving every 1-3 minutes at times. I had long stopped Ibuprofen for pain and Pepcid at about 2 weeks post-op, thinking that might be the culprit. The only other “new” item was the chewable fiber. I stopped taking those and the ice pick headaches tapered off in frequency & duration over the next five days.
The last two nights, about an hour after taking my PINK multivitamin, I will get 4-5 ice pick spikes (following a day of none). I’m highly suspecting it’s a Red dye #40 sensitivity. Do you think the headaches might fall within the scope of red dye sensitivities?
Dye sensitivities can cause a host of symptoms/problems in people. Lots of multi-vitamins aren’t very good either. https://drgangemi.com/healthtopics/supplements/