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Allergies - Food

Food allergies affect nearly 4 percent of adults and about 7 percent of children under 4 years old. Several studies show that food allergies are becoming more common. For as yet undiscovered reasons the immune system becomes programmed to see certain foods as alien and attacks them, sometimes causing extreme allergic symptoms. Symptoms may include coughing and tingling in the mouth and there are often skin reactions like hives and itching. Increasingly severe symptoms such as nausea and vomiting or stomach pain and diarrhoea may occur. A severe allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis which is rapid and this is a medical emergency. Although uncommon, it is wise to be aware of life-threatening symptoms.These will include difficulty breathing or wheezing due to swelling and narrowing of the airways, and a rapid drop in blood pressure. Peanut and tree nut allergies are the leading causes of anaphylaxis. Children with asthma are particularly at risk for anaphylactic reactions from foods. Other foods that can cause allergies include fish and shellfish such as shrimp, crayfish, lobster and crab; eggs and milk; and soya. Research shows that food allergy is more common if several members of the blood family also have allergies and this includes hay fever. As yet there is no cure for a food allergy and avoiding the trigger food is vital. Blood tests and skin tests to establish allergy are still poorly developed and should not be relied upon. Similarly, food desensitising injections are to be avoided as they can quickly trigger anaphylactic shock (non-food desensitisation has mixed results). An auto-injector device containing epinephrine (adrenaline) is sometimes recommended for allergy sufferers who are at risk from anaphylaxis.

Food intolerances or sensitivities are also increasing. Whereas a true allergy involves an almost immediate and occasionally severe reaction, a food intolerance reaction is a slower and more variable reaction. The symptoms can begin hours after consumption and may last days; for this reason they can be harder to pinpoint to a specific food. Common symptoms of an intolerance can include bloating, diarrhoea/ constipation or other general digestive problems, a rash or itching (but slower to develop than an allergy), general fatigue, headache or migraine, joint pains, eczema and many others. While true allergy to foods is rare (nuts and nut products are an exception) there is a high level of food sensitivity in the general population.

Foods & herbs for the home

  • While the trigger of a true allergy may be quite easy to identify (due to the immediate reaction), an intolerance/sensitivity can be harder to pinpoint. If you feel that you may be intolerant to a food it can be helpful to see a nutritional therapist or naturopath for a consultation to help identify what you are intolerant to, find healthy alternatives and start a healing programme. Otherwise, try keeping a food diary where you note down everything that you eat and symptoms that you experience after eating and during that day, to try to determine the triggers for any symptoms. Another way to approach this is to avoid or cut out some of the foods that most commonly provoke an intolerance reaction (ideally for a period of 1-2 months – but make sure you find healthy alternatives), and see if your symptoms improve. Wheat is the number one offender with dairy products a close second. 
  • Even if you have already identified a food you are allergic/intolerant to, it can still be helpful to avoid foods such as wheat and dairy that can commonly provoke an intolerance reaction and may be hard for the digestive system to process. 
  • Strengthen the digestive system with fresh juice made from seasonal fruits and vegetables.
  • Dr Richard Schulze’s organic Superfood Plus is an excellent food tonic that is highly absorbable and easy to digest; ask us for a sample.
  • Fresh and dried herbs added to foods can give a subtle boost to the immune system. Try Mediterranean Medley and be free with fresh herbs from your garden and window boxes.
  • IntestAble Capsules may be helpful; ask us for a sample.
  • Sour and bitter tasting foods in small quantities can also be helpful: apple cider vinegar, sauerkraut, plums, rocket and wild berries are examples.

Natural healing

Children are more likely than adults to outgrow allergies to milk, eggs or soy as their digestive tracts mature and their immune systems develop.

  • Minimise your exposure to household and bathroom chemicals. Home & Kitchen Concentrate and Bathroom Concentrate were created with essential oils and natural soaps to contribute to overall immunity while providing exceptional antibacterial power.

Additional help is available by phoning the free product advice line at Herbs Hands Healing between the hours of 9.00am to 1.00pm. Tel: 01379 608201.

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Learn more about Dr. Richard Schulze’s Superfood Plus and why we believe this is such a wonderful food by following this link on our website, where extensive information is available. Also please visit our Superfood Plus facebook page for articles and current news.

To learn more about natural healing for this and other ailments, visit Dr Schulze's blog.

If you would like to see videos of Jill Davies showing you plants growing in their natural settings and discussing their medicinal attributes then visit us on facebook. You can also explore additional herbs and their traditional uses by linking to Herbs Info & Photo Gallery and Herb Profiles. Useful additional information can also be found at the Herbs Hands Healing information pages on Detox & Cleansing and Natural Healing.