Understanding & Controlling food allergies
Controlling your food allergies - how to stay well
Dr Keith Scott Mumby - Allergy Detective.
Right, you’ve battled your way through to the point where you are once again reasonably healthy and can enjoy life without endless disheartening symptoms. If you do break the rules and suffer, at least you now understand why and the bafflement is gone. How do you proceed from this point? Is it going to be a nightmare of caution and restriction for the rest of your life, no freedom, no real recovery?
The good news is NO. Almost all allergy problems will settle down and even disappear, given proper control and patience. It may take months or even years but it is very achievable. Partly this is said in the knowledge of the way that homotoxicology can help overcome your tendency to allergy and overload. The word means the study of “self toxins” and there are a great many helpful homeopathic complexes to help overcome this hidden burden. I call sometimes call it deep tissue cleansing because it works deep down in the body’s matrix and interstitial fluid. Medical science ignores this critical body compartment as if it were just an afterthought of Nature, but I am quite convinced of the scientific validity of Professor Alfred Pischinger’s view that it is the matrix which supports and de-toxes the cells and it is therefore vitally important to keep it healthy.
It has changed and dramatically extended my attack on the allergy problem to have become acquainted with this exciting branch of medical science. Incidentally, German doctors have been using it extensively, sometimes exclusively, for over half a century.
The key principle involved in making a full recovery, as always, is total body load. Any means of reducing your health burdens will help reduce your reactivity to allergens. It’s common sense! If you can bring the body load down to the point where your defences can cope, then you will feel OK.
The most important Scott-Mumby maxim of all, based on decades of experience: You don’t need zero allergies to get zero symptoms.
All you have to do is bring the allergy load down to within tolerable threshold limits.
FAQs on the question of long-term management of the food allergy problem:
How long must I avoid a food?
This is one of the most common question asked. It’s like asking ‘How long is a piece of string?’ To give some guidance it may be said that major allergens should be avoided for 6 to 12 months and then tried again, using the challenge test procedure given above. If you still react, wait a further 12 to 24 months before trying again. If it is still a problem, consider this a fixed allergy and keep off it.
Beware of sneaking a food back into your diet by taking tiny amounts at first and then gradually increasing the quantity. This kind of self-deception will only land you back where you started – sick.
What happens if I do eat something I shouldn’t and I am ill again?
Don’t panic. And don’t do anything else adventurous until it settles down. To help symptoms clear more rapidly, take the alkali salts mixture.
If you don’t feel much better within a few hours, take Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) as a laxative and purge that food from your body as soon as possible.
One or two heaped teaspoonfuls in half a tumbler of warm water is usually sufficient; repeat 6- 12 hours until you do evacuate.
It won’t do any harm if I eat just a little of an allergy food now and again, surely? Probably not. If your body load is comfortable, you will probably get away with, though understand you remain highly sensitive to an allergy food for the first few weeks after avoiding it (which is something we rely to make challenge tests work) Do not do this often and do not cheat again if you do trigger symptoms. A sore cannot heal if you keep scratching it.
For less understood food sensitivity / allergy symptoms read this short article.
There is yet another Scott-Mumby maxim here, a big one:
It’s not what you do wrong occasionally that wrecks your health; it’s what you do wrong on a repeated daily basis.
I felt good at first but I gradually became unwell again, despite strictly avoiding the foods I shouldn’t: why is this?
This almost certainly means that you have developed a new allergy among your safe foods. This can be a troublesome problem, since are made to each much more of the safe foods. If you understand cyclical allergies you will realize that eating a lot of a food, even if it is safe at first, could soon turn it into a troublemaker. In this case you will need to rotate your foods, which is covered in detail below:
Have you any advice about eating out in restaurants?
This is a potentially hazardous situation, of course, especially if you react very violently to the wrong foods. It is tempting to avoid all risk and just stay at home. Nevertheless, I consider it vitally important to try and maintain as normal a lifestyle as possible. Otherwise you will develop reclusive tendencies and your friends and relatives will become alienated. The most important advice is: don’t make assumptions. To protect yourself you will need to ask questions: does this dish contain any dairy products? hidden wheat? And so on. You will also need to feel you can depend on the answers. Some chefs are very tricky and may be offended if it is implied that their creation might make someone ill and, I’m sorry to say, lie about what they have done. Many chefs, apparently, have been to medical school and “know” that nobody could possibly be allergic to onions!
Which brings me to the second point: develop a few favourite places you can trust and use them, rather than being too adventurous.
The exclusion diet worked well but once I had tested and re-introduced all the foods, I went back to having symptoms. Why?
The fact that you did feel better means that for sure you did have food allergies. But you failed to detect them with your challenge testing and so allowed unsafe foods back in your diet. There is little choice but to go over the ground once again: re-start the full exclusion diet for a few days, until symptoms re-clear and then re-test all the foods, going more slowly. This time have maybe 2 days of steady eating on each new food, before you pronounce it safe.
Alternatively, you may opt to go straight for allergy testing. In this situation I find that Miller’s method (also known as provocation-neutralization testing) is a fast alternative. In just a few hours you can find out what weeks of dieting and challenge may miss. For more on this testing and similar:
I was doing great until I had a virus. Since then all my symptoms are back. Can an infection really do this?
It certainly can. Your defence mechanisms, especially the immune system, are critical to health function. If your immune system goes under stress, because of bacterial or virus invader, the crisis can trigger the emergence of many allergies, old and new. I usually tell patients to go back on the exclusion program for a few days, until the crisis is past, then go back to the personal food plan. If you are using Miller’s end-point vaccines, you may possibly need to have these re-tuned by your physician.
It will also be very helpful to deploy homotoxicology remedies, to clear the intruder and its toxins as rapidly as possible and defend yourself more effectively against recurring infections.
The personal exclusion plan really works, I feel better but, even though I stick to it, I can feel well sometimes and not at others. Please explain this?
You need to recognize that others factors are important in total body load. Your ability to deal with the allergy burden can be adversely affected set backs such as stress, a virus infection, fatigue, lack of vitamins and minerals or chemical overload. If you cannot maintain wellbeing by dieting alone, then you must bring in management of these other factors too. Stress can be critical; I am on record as saying divorce can be a cure for allergies! I hope you see beyond the joke, into the principle behind this much-quoted remark.
I give many of my patients an occasional “day of rest” from their allergies. It’s a good way to avoid becoming too obsessive about your health difficulties. Many patients grow genuinely frightened of foods and become increasingly unwilling to experiment with new possibilities for the diet. It helps overcome this inertia too. This magical trick is worked by a simple, safe pharmaceutical substance disodium chromoglycate. It is used by asthmatics to block the release of histamine during allergic reactions, and it is surprisingly effective.
Marketed by Fisons as Nalcrom, disodium chromoglycate was expected to be equally miraculous against food allergies. Unfortunately, there turned out to be a big drawback which has effectively killed its success — it works for just a few days and then the protection wears off. This is unfortunate, but doctors like myself make a virtue out of this apparent failing. I do not like the use of any chronic medication since, by definition, it isn’t curing anything (if it did, you wouldn’t need to keep on taking it, right?) But there is a definite place in the armoury for Nalcrom as short-term protection.
One or two capsules a few hours before a danger meal and again just before eating it will usually work well enough to allow the food allergy patient to blow out on all the bad foods that they cannot usually eat. Even if symptoms break through, they are only mild and quite tolerable. That makes it ideal for the occasional anniversary, wedding, birthday bash or romantic night out, allowing the patient to indulge in “treats” that would not otherwise be allowed. Just don’t expect to get away with it more than a couple of times a month.
There is an added plus point, which is that event the most reactionary doctor, opposed to alternative and controversial medical methods will prescribe Nalcrom: it’s on the ethical preparations list and FDA approved for this use.
Rotatory and diversified eating habits
One of the smart ways to keep your food allergy load down is the principle known as rotation and diversification. The exact opposite of the typical way of eating, which is to have a few favourite foods and hammer them over and over and over, thus driving up the burden greatly.
A TALE OF EGGS AND SLIME
The principle of rotation of foods was first explained to us by one of the great pioneers of clinical ecology, a US physician called Herbert Rinkel. As a struggling medical student he was kept fed by enormous numbers of eggs sent from his parents’ farm in Kentucky. Rinkel had appalling catarrh problems and describes how he had to lean forward when unable to blow his nose in the photographic darkroom, because the ropes of mucus catarrh would reach down to the floor. Then one day, when a strike interrupted delivery of the eggs, his catarrh miraculously cleared up. Even then, he still didn’t realize the full significance of this chance occurrence. It was only when he ate his first egg, after many days without one, and promptly passed out unconscious, that Rinkel pieced the whole puzzle together. A good scientific detective, he realized that it was better not to eat a food on a daily basis, but repeat only 2- 3 times a week at most.
Part of the problem is ignorance, most people are completely unaware of the origin of the foodstuffs they are eating; foods appear different and are made to look exciting but essentially they are the same. Bread, cakes, muffins, crackers, pastry, pasta, pizza are all wheat products. To an allergist, bread and whisky are exactly the same (wheat or rye plus yeast); they sure look different! A family may believe each main dish as varied: beef, today, chicken tomorrow, pasta the day after… yet all these servings may contain tomato and onion, which are highly repetitive foods. The problem is made worse by modern food manufacturing. Foods are broken up, processed and the ingredients disguised in the factory; yet there is wheat or corn in virtually everything that comes from a tin or packet: foods as different as tinned soup, bouillon, ice cream and instant coffee may all contain wheat or corn. Check the labels and see: these items appear as vegetable starch or hydrolyzed vegetable protein.
You know what? The virtual allergy epidemic which is sweeping the world only began in the 1950s, right about the time when manufactured foods began to dominate our eating habits. There is a lesson in this.
I like to point out that until the late twentieth century most citizens ate off the land. There was little refrigeration and virtually no vitiation of foodstuffs (vitiation means weakening, in this case by taking out the nutritious substances). Nature had her own cycles and food changed endlessly through the seasons. Foods were very varied and rotated, simply because of what was available at the time. This was a very natural way to avoid the allergy build ups which characterize cyclical allergies. Now we can buy almost any food every single day of the year at the local supermarket. It’s a health hazard that most scientists and doctors are completely oblivious to.
Your answer, as an allergy victim, is to take charge yourself. Make a conscious effort to avoid the same foods day after day. Study food families and learn to vary the content of your diet. This can be pretty informal for some, but if your allergy problem has been severe, you will need to work out a formal planned diet scheme that we call a rotation diet (please note this has nothing to do with the rotation slimming diet that was popular in the 80s). Here’s the dope on how to construct one for yourself.
First, you must know about food families: biological groupings of food substances that behave similarly and can cross-react with each other. That is, if you allergic to one food in the family, others may also cause problems. An obvious food family would be cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower (crucifers). But not so obvious is the fact that potato, tobacco, pepper, tomato, eggplant (aubergine) and chilli are all in the same family – the Deadly Nightshade group. If have listed the main food families here.
It is best to avoid foods from the same family coming up too often. Sometimes it is just not possible to separate them by more than two days; there just would not be enough food. But that is the minimum ideal, for those who are sick. Individuals with milder problem, especially if they do not react to many foods in the family, might get away with rotating one different food from the family each day.
In 1949, Detroit surgeon Harry G. Clark formulated a hypothesis concerning allergic reactions. He reasoned that since the end-products of digestion were acids and since the allergic inflammation process accelerated intracellular breakdown, it must be bringing about an acidic state.
Theoretically then, therapy with bi-carbonate salts of sodium and potassium might be helpful in treating an acute allergic reaction. On this basis they were tried and found to be extremely beneficial. The earlier they are administered the better – after the first 24 hours they may tend to make things worse.
A mixture of two parts sodium bicarbonate to one part potassium bicarbonate is normally recommended. These can be mixed in advance and, indeed, a number of proprietary products are now available with these two salts. Malic acid may be added, merely as a flavour enhancer (otherwise the taste is rather bitter).
The usual dose is a heaped teaspoon in half a tumbler of water. This can be repeated two or three times a day but should not be used excessively, as this can be dangerous.
Also, don’t forget that it makes good sense to take Epsom Salts or some other simple vegetable purge (such as Senokot) if you have swallowed something that has caused a severe reaction. The faster it is cleared from the body, the better.
Dr Keith Scott Mumby