In my personal life I get asked a lot of questions about allergies and food allergies. I’ve had multiple environmental allergies my whole life, but my son Keegan suffered from severe food allergies with unusual reactions as a child.
When he was two years old I was asking my doctor, Kim Webster M.D., for a magic cure for the severe stress I was under due to the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde mood swings of my child. Dr. Webster asked me to describe what was happening. When I was finished he said that it sounded a lot like the kind of allergic reactions he had just read about.
I found so many answers in the book that despite the huge size I read it cover to cover over the weekend. My son had many of the physical symptoms of food allergies, but the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde reactions were what I needed immediate relief from. You can see a good example of what I was going through on the Phil Donahue Show Children’s Allergies to Food & Environment with guest Dr. Doris Rapp.
I immediately started Keegan on the Multiple Food Elimination Diet I found in Is This Your Child. He quickly improved and multiple allergens were identified. Regular allergy testing methods only showed that he was mildly allergic to some pollens.
Dr. Webster sent Keegan to a specialist who used Provocation-Neutralization which reproduces and then eliminates a person’s specific symptoms. But after a few visits the specialist said his case was too severe, his reactions were too extreme and he couldn’t treat him anymore. He told me that Keegan was scaring the other patients who could overhear him when he transformed into Mr. Hyde during the provocation portion.
By this point my son was eating just plain chicken, rice, a small handful fruits and vegetables that were not causing a reaction. Life was somewhat peaceful, but no one can live on such a limited diet, and there are so many hidden ingredients in foods. Dr. Webster helped me find Jean Dugan, an acupuncturist who was using NAET (Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techniques) to eliminate allergies. The entire treatment plan was a double blind study because I didn’t tell Keegan what we were going in for, what it was supposed to do, what foods we were treating for and so forth. In my mind it either needed to work on it’s own merits, without any coaching, or fail. He was cured allergen by allergen, week by week.
Explanation of Allergies and Sensitivities (excerpt from The Art, Science & Business of Aromatherapy)
For those who suffer from allergies, there is a tendency to label ingredients, foods, cosmetics and forth as “bad,” because of their own allergy. I know, because I’ve had my moments as an allergy sufferer in which I want to assume all products that have allergy triggers are bad. But it simply isn’t true. The bad guy in my body really is my immune system and not the allergen.
An allergy is the body’s immune system rejection of a substance. It is caused when the immune system sees a substance as a foreign invader. In reaction to the foreign invasion of allergens, the body sends T-cells—a group of white blood cells—out to fight. In skin allergic reactions, this causes redness and irritation. Your risk of developing an allergy isn’t necessarily related to something being natural or chemical, but instead it is related to your parents’ allergy history.
I am one-quarter Irish and suffer from both sensitive skin and allergy-prone skin. People with red hair, or who have Celtic, Irish, British, or Scottish heritage often suffer from sensitive skin, which is characterized by very thin, fragile and pink colored skins. Sensitive skin is often mistaken for allergy- prone skin. In sensitive skin the blood vessels and nerve endings are closer to the surface of the skin, which causes it to get irritated and redden easily from external or internal irritants. Not only can topical application of a cosmetic cause sensitive skin to redden, but so can eating spicy food, consuming caffeine or alcohol, taking niacin (vitamin B3), exposing the skin to sun, or using tobacco.
Sensitive skin is much more likely to develop reactions and allergies. However, many reactions for people with sensitive skin may not be associated with true allergies. I can attest to this phenomenon. In reaction to some cosmetic ingredients or internal stimulus, my skin just gets a little reddened, while my reaction to others is a rash, welts or hives. It takes special attention to the details of foods and cosmetic ingredients to isolate what is causing simply red, irritated skin versus what is causing a true allergy. Either way, anyone with sensitive skin knows that whether it is a true allergy or simply a reaction from sensitive skin, it is desirable to avoid the cause of the reaction in the future.
Skin allergies are very common, but allergies can impact any area of the body. A skin allergy reaction can appear in the form of a rash, welt or hives. These inflammations of the skin may be in isolated patches or in general areas. In order to have an allergic reaction you simply need to have been exposed at least one time to a substance, at which time your body identifies it as a foreign invader. The next time you are exposed to that substance, your body sends out the troops to protect itself, and suddenly you have an allergic reaction. Your body has an exaggerated immune response. The same substance will cause absolutely no reaction in non-allergic people because the body sees the substance as harmless, because it is if you aren’t allergic to it. Many times an allergic reaction shows up on the skin whether it was caused by topical exposure or not.
I don’t believe in the term “hypoallergenic” for cosmetics, products or foods. It is an oxymoron because there are absolutely no substances on earth that can be guaranteed to not cause an allergic reaction for some people. Hypoallergenic really means that it is less likely to cause an allergic reaction.I am allergic to fragrance oils, but I am not allergic to essential oils. I have known people who are allergic to certain essential oils but not fragrance.
Being hypersensitive or allergic to foods, topical exposure or the environment is frustrating whether is a true allergy or sensitivity. There are options that range from allergy elimination to avoidance.
Helpful Resources for Anyone Suffering
NAET (Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Technique)
Two members of my family would easily be labeled as gluten intolerant, but we have found that if they eat whole grains they are fine. If they eat processed foods they are in agony.