Allergies are now the 6th leading cause of chronic disease in America, costing U.S. companies more than $250 million annually due to increased absenteeism and reduced productivity. With the incidence of allergies skyrocketing, eliminating the causes and discovering new treatments is the key to bringing the epidemic under control.
What is an Allergy?
When the immune system “mistakes” common substances such as pollens or nuts as a “foreigner”, it can over-react and mount an often violent response to expel the “threatening invader,” referred to as an allergen. An allergic reaction occurs when a specific antibody, IgE, links the allergen to a specialized white blood cell called a mast cell, releasing histamine into circulation. The results are the commonly recognized symptoms of an allergy: itchy, watery eyes, sneezing and a runny nose. Allergic reactions can also manifest as an asthma attack, violent abdominal cramping or an immediate, severe skin reaction recognized as hives. The most severe type of allergic reaction, anaphylaxis, can result in loss of consciousness and even death.
Why are Allergies Increasing…unsuspected causes
Investigators have identified many substances that can induce the production of IgE antibodies. A little recognized cause included the preservatives found in vaccinations. Mercury, aluminum and gelatin have all been reported in the medical literature to increase IgE concentrations, playing a potential role in the development allergies. There is evidence that the MMR can induce IgE antibodies, evidence that childhood viral immunizations can induce atopic reactions (allergies). Children are exposed to these substances beginning with the routine two-month old vaccinations. Because a newborn’s immune system is not fully developed, infancy is a high risk period for allergic sensitization. Events that occur early in life, such as vaccination, have the potential for inducing the development of allergies and asthma later in life.
The incidence of asthma appears to disproportionately affect socially disadvantaged residents of low-income, inner city neighborhoods. A well-documented cause for this is exposure to a protein found in cockroach dropping. One in five children in the U.S. is allergic to cockroach allergens, as indicated by a positive skin prick test. This is believed to be the major risk factor for the development of asthma among children in inner-city homes.
Exposure to antibiotics has been linked to the development allergies. A recently study published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Allergy documents that children given antibiotics during the first year of life are more than four times more likely to develop asthma than children who have never taken antibiotics. When the statistics are adjusted for factors such as gender, ethnicity, family size, family history of asthma and parents’ smoking habits, the risk of developing asthma is six times greater in those who have received antibiotics than the risk experienced by children who have never taken them.
Common health problems: think allergies
Allergies are often the underlying cause of a myriad of seemingly unrelated health problems. Many people do not realize that symptoms such as body aches, fatigue, indigestion, headaches, ear infections, irritability, hyperactivity and learning disabilities can be symptoms of overlooked food and environmental allergies. Studies have revealed the following facts:
- The results of a study involving 104 children with chronic ear infections showed that 78% had positive allergy tests to foods and an elimination diet led to a significant amelioration of symptoms in 86%. The most common allergenic foods were cow’s milk (38%), wheat (33%), egg white (25%), peanut (20%) and soy (17%) .
- An Italian study of 204 babies found that approximately 45% had stomach discomfort caused by cow’s milk.
- Children with inflammatory bowel disease experienced prolonged remission of symptoms with when placed on diets that eliminated grains, dairy products and yeast.
- Professor John Egger reported in the Journal of Pediatrics that epileptics who also have food intolerance symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches or ADHD may have seizures triggered by food additives.
- In addition, many parents don’t realize that hyperactivity, distractibility and aggressive behavior associated with ADD and ADHD can be triggered by food intolerances. These concepts have been around for many years and have been fully discussed in books by two researcher/physicians, Dr. Ben Feingold, author of Why Your Child is Hyperactive and Dr. Doris Rapp, author of Is This Your Child. Dr. Rapp documented in her book that 67% of children diagnosed with ADHD were actually reacting to unrecognized food and environmental allergies.
What can be done?
An unusual but effective way to identify and treat allergies is through the use of kinesiology, commonly referred to as muscle testing. With this method, the patient holds a vial containing a suspected allergen in his hand while the practitioner applies gentle pressure to the opposite arm to measure muscle strength. If the muscle tests weak, a sensitivity to the substance has been identified.
There are several techniques that incorporate the use of kinesiology to relieve allergies. Perhaps the most widely known is a method called NAET, named after its founder, Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techique. Two other similar techniques are BioSET (Dr. Ellen Cutler’s method) and Tenpenny’s Sensitivity Reduction Technique, or T-SRT (developed by Dr. Sherri Tenpenny.) All of these techniques involved the use of kinesiology, homeopathy and acupressure/acupuncture, and are categorized as forms of Energy Medicine.
Allergy elimination using energy medicine techniques work to “re-pattern” the immune system so it no longer reacts to harmless substances as if they were a threat. What makes this form allergy elimination so remarkable is that a successful treatment means you no longer need to avoid the allergen. In a study published in 2001 in Alternative Medicine Review, 87.2% of the study’s 90 participants who eliminated their allergies using an energy medicine approach rated the efficacy of the technique as “good to excellent.”
The alternative treatments for allergies are gradually becoming accepted. Until these methods are embraced by conventional medicine, most will not be covered by standard health insurance. However, if getting well and eliminating allergies is the goal, many will chose to do “whatever it takes” and find a way to incorporate these costs into the family budget. By following a good diet and including herbs, vitamins, and energy medicine techniques into a well-rounded healthcare program, restoring health can be accomplished.
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Senate Finance Committee Hearing transcript, Nov. 18, 2004
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