Food allergies are the immune system’s extreme reaction to one or more food proteins.
Foods intolerance is different from food allergies in that it does not involve the immune system. It also produces milder reactions. For many people food allergy is an undiagnosed problem. Here is why: reactions can produce symptoms common to many other conditions
Milder symptoms include
- Breathing problems, including wheezing, nasal congestion, or trouble breathing
- Skin rash, hives, swelling, itching, or eczema
- Nausea and vomiting, stomach cramps, indigestion, or diarrhea
- Swelling of the eyelids, face, lips, tongue, throat, or other parts of the body (called angioedema)
- A metallic taste in the mouth
- Lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting
When symptoms are extreme they can be life threatening.
Extreme allergic reactions (anaphylactic shock) include:
- Swelling of the throat and difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty breathing
- Rapid pulse
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, or loss of consciousness
- Blue color to the skin and nails
Allergic reactions usually come on suddenly, can be triggered by a small amount of food, and happen every time the food is eaten.
Foods commonly producing food allergies include:
- Shellfish, such as shrimp, crab, and lobster
- Tree nuts, including walnuts, almonds, and pecans
- Fruits, particularly strawberries, melons and tropical fruits
- Food additives such as dyes, thickeners, Monosodium glutamate (MSG), and preservatives.
Common Food Allergy Treatments
Conventional treatments focus on reducing symptoms and identifying and avoiding offending foods. Both over-the-counter and prescription antihistamines are recommended for mild itching, swelling, rash, runny nose, or headache. Side effects include drowsiness, irritability, dry mouth, and heart palpitations.
Some doctors may suggest certain herbs and supplements that reduce inflammation.
Epinephrine injection is called for in an emergency.
Acupuncture Food Allergy Relief
As with all Chinese Medicine (TCM) acupuncture’s goal in food allergies is to treat both the immediate symptoms and to rebalance the hyperactive immune system, the root cause of allergies.
The American Academy of Medical Acupuncture endorses the use of acupuncture for food allergies.
A Western medical researcher, Dr. Benno Brinkhaus of the Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics at Charité University Medical Center in Berlin, has written: “From my experience as a physician and acupuncturist, and as a researcher, I would recommend trying acupuncture if patients are not satisfied with the conventional anti-allergic medication or treatment or they suffer from more or less serious sides effects of the conventional medication. Also because acupuncture is a relative [sic] safe treatment.”
Since all allergies involve the immune system, we suggest you also review our earlier entry “Acupuncture and Allergies”.