An allergy is an inflammation triggered by the interaction of a foreign substance (called an antigen) with the body’s defence system. The body has specific white cells that produce chemicals called immunoglobulins, which attach to an antigen and make them recognizable to other defence cells, which then envelop them or destroy them. This reaction is constantly going on throughout the system and is only termed an allergy when the body, by mistake, is overreacting.

The word allergy is commonly used to refer to the running, itching and red nose of a hay fever sufferer. This is correct but allergic reactions can cause symptoms depending on the area of the body the inflammation is affecting. A reaction can be triggered by an antigen or allergen being inhaled, ingested or coming into contact with the membrane. Symptoms can occur anywhere in the body and include skin rashes, asthma, gastrointestinal problems, mood swings, lethargy and tiredness. In fact, any set of symptoms anywhere in the body may be created by allergy. There are four types of allergic reaction as defined by medical science. • Type 1 is called immediate onset allergy reaction. Here, immunoglobulin E attaches to an allergen and causes several body defence reactions. These include the release of histamine, free radicals, lysosomal enzymes and other complicated chemicals. These compounds are produced to attack a foreign substance but they unfortunately and inadvertently damage the local host tissues. The symptoms are felt because these chemicals and reactions cause digestion of cells, increase the blood flow and make capillaries more ‘leaky’ to allow the defence system to get to the area affected. These chemicals also cause constriction of the blood vessels leaving the area in order to stop further spread of the foreign substance, to close down the bronchial (lung) tree and to increase mucus production.

Types 2 and 3 allergic reaction are reactions differentiated by biochemical changes and do not have the same immediate or aggressive effect as type 1. They develop within a few hours and may show up as anything from a mild rash or wheeziness to not being noticed at all.

Type 4 is known as delayed onset allergy and may take up to 72 hours to develop. Being delayed does not reduce the severity, and this allergic response may be as severe as immediate onset but is more commonly noticed as a mild reaction or not noticed at all. Delayed onset or type 4 allergy is commonly associated with foods and may well give rise to chronic conditions such as cancer or diabetes, although this hypothesis has not been fully established.

There is a holistic consensus of opinion that allergy will occur when the body is already primed to fight something else. Everybody comes into contact with pollens and house dust mites but not everybody overreacts. There are certainly genetic tendencies but many families will have some allergy sufferers when other members have no problems, even though they share the same genetic traits. The overresponsive system is generally battling a condition elsewhere, knowingly or otherwise. Hay fever sufferers (who may also have eczema or asthma, as this triad is not uncommon) may struggle because they have an allergy to some food or other input without which they would not react to pollen.

There is strong evidence to suggest that allergies are linked to the psyche. In a well-known study of a psychiatric patient with multiple personalities the allergies would change as each personality took control. Another example was illustrated by an artificial flower triggering hay fever. Hypnosis can achieve the same effect.

One may often hear the term atopic used in conjunction with allergic responses such as atopic eczema and atopic asthma. This simply refers to the predisposition or genetic tendency for that individual to have allergies.

Atopic allergic reactions have been considered to have a genetic element but recent developments have suggested that atopy may also be associated with exposure to common childhood infections. Recent studies have shown that men with antibodies to viral infections and those who had older siblings (leaving them more prone to being introduced to childhood infections) had less atopic allergic responses. This suggests that the more the body learns to fight infections when younger, the less likely it is to overreact as in the case of allergic responses. The prevalence of allergies such as hay fever, asthma and eczema has greatly increased over the last 30 years. This, interestingly but not surprisingly to a holistic practitioner, coincides with the increased use and advent of vaccinations, which has possibly reduced the body’s need to activate an immune response early in life, thereby increasing allergic tendencies. This may mean that we need to reconsider the automatic vaccination of children against measles, mumps and rubella, for example, because the lives we save or improve by protecting against measles may not compensate for the damage and deaths caused by asthma at a later age.

Treatment is, therefore, to illustrate any sensitivities or toxins specific to that sufferer and also to alleviate the symptoms. Never underestimate the potential danger of an allergy. We have all had contact with or heard of people having anaphylactic reactions, sometimes lethal, to eggs, peanuts or bee stings.

Tests for allergies

Testing for allergies can be performed using the following routines:

Skin testing

Hair analysis

Blood allergy testing

Bioenergy computer techniques

Avoidance and restrictions

Skin testing

Small or dilute amounts of suspected allergens are pinpricked under the skin’s surface. The body’s allergic response will occur if immunoglobulins are present in the system. Dilutions are made of the reactive substances to give an idea of how strong the allergic response is. A technique of desensitization (enzyme-potentiated desensitiza-tion) can be used once this diagnostic process has isolated the culprits .

Hair analysis

This is a poorly proven way of testing for allergy but the principle is sound. If the body has poisons in the system it may well choose to eliminate them by combining them with the inert keratin that makes up hair. By taking a hair sample and combining it with immunoglobulins against particular foods, for example, reactions will take place that can be studied under the microscope or in a more sophisticated manner by computer. One may hypothesize that if there is a reaction to the compound in the hair there may well be a reaction in the body, because the body seems to be throwing this particular substance out.

Be wary of hair allergy testing that uses radionics (a pendulum technique) since this has not been shown to be accurate and can lead to aggressive restrictions that have no scientific basis. This does not mean that radionics are not accurate but that they need to be put into the context of a broader and more established allergy assessment.

Blood allergy testing

This is generally performed using accepted and scientifically proven techniques, the most available and sensitive being Enzyme-Linked Immunosolvent Assay (ELISA). It is a complicated technique involving competition between the body’s antibodies and specially ‘labelled’ antibodies. In principle, your blood’s serum will be mixed with a laboratory solution and then passed through a special machine that checks for the presence of a fluorescent dye, which will attach itself to the serum if an antibody/antigen (allergy) reaction has occurred. Many of these tests are qualitative (will tell us whether there is any reaction) but a few are quantitative (will tell us how strong the reaction is) and the latter are very helpful in determining which foods may be troublesome. This method of testing can be used for inhaled pollutants but having this information may not alter any treatment programme because it is often not possible to change the air that we breathe other than by moving to a different location.

Bioenergy computer techniques Computers such as the Voll and Vega machines have now been surpassed by Bioresonance, Bicom and Quantum computers, all of which are capable of measuring electromagnetic changes in the system in response to stimuli such as specific foods and airborne allergens. The individual is attached to the computer, a small electromagnetic current is passed through the system and either different compounds are added to the circuit via the computer or the computer has within its own structure the energetic resonance or vibrations from the electrons from a multitude of substances. These techniques are becoming more available and, although not accepted by the orthodox scientific world, I believe they are very accurate and effective investigations.

Avoidance and restrictions This is not strictly a test but may prove to be a very clear and concise manner of illustrating the foods to which you may be allergic. To test this, make a list of any foods you suspect make you feel unwell, any foods you crave and any foods you eat frequently. Eliminate all of these and set up a five-day dietetic plan that does not repeat any of the foods you are going to eat. Stick to this rotation diet for one month and then introduce one of the ‘forbidden’ foods every five days to see if there is a reaction. If your list of suspected allergens is long or you seem to be cutting out a major food group then this technique should only be undertaken with the supervision of a nutritionist.

Causes of a predisposition to allergy

As I have mentioned, there certainly are genetic tendencies within families but many substances act as a trigger that can predispose any of us to allergic responses.

Principally the problems of allergy will arise when foreign matter, usually protein, gets into the bloodstream or the body is battling some other problems and therefore, being already primed, acts overzealously in defending itself. Very often proteins that should be broken down by the digestive enzymes into smaller peptides or amino acids are absorbed into the bloodstream due to a ‘leaky’ gut. Something, somehow, affects the mucous membrane in the intestinal tract to allow larger molecules to be absorbed, which are then recognized in the same way as bacteria or viruses. This ‘leaky gut syndrome’ can occur through infestation with Candida, parasites or chemical insult from eating contaminated foods. Poor secretion of the stomach acids and intestinal enzymes, alcohol and certain drugs such as aspirin, antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can all have a detrimental effect. See Leaky gut syndrome.

For any allergic condition other than a mild one, place yourself under the care of a complementary practitioner. The cause of most allergies is often deeply buried and needs expert guidance to illustrate.

Avoid orthodox medication except in severe cases until alternative treatments have been used and failed. Orthodox treatments such as anti-histamines block the effect of the body’s attempts to cure itself.

Have a food allergy test and eliminate all foods to which you react strongly.

Do your best to avoid the allergens that cause your problems. Look broadly and consider fabrics, metals such as nickel, aerosols and the cosmetics you should not be using.

Visit a homeopath for an accurate prescription. Minor ailments can be alleviated by considering the use of the following remedies: Allium cepa, Sabadilla, Euphrasia, Apis, Urtica urens and Arundo taken as potency 6 every 2hr.

High-dose vitamin supplementation may be effective: vitamin C (Ig for every foot of height in divided doses with each meal), vitamin B6 (20mg for every foot of height) and vitamin B5 (lOOmg for every foot of height).

Quercetin (150mg per foot of height) taken with breakfast and hydrochloric acid tablets and pepsin with meals are beneficial.

Ensure that you are drinking one pint of water per foot of height per day. Correct hydration is essential for proper immune response but diluting the system can also dilute the allergen and reduce the response.

Acupressure and reflexology points. A point in the web between the thumb and index finger can be very relieving of nasal symptoms.

A nasal washing technique taught by a yoga teacher can be very beneficial for nasal symptoms shows a much lower number of red blood cells. Many of the remaining cells are deformed. Consequently, the oxygen carrying capacity of this blood is drastically reduced.

Causes of anaemia

Blood loss: trauma, ulcers, heavy periods, haemorrhoids and other internal injuries.

Inability to make red blood cells or haemoglobin: disease of the bone marrow and toxins such as drugs.

Disease process: cancer and other chronic diseases.

Malabsorption: disease of the bowel, malnutrition and food allergies.

Physiological: pregnancy and the first few periods.

All food groups are needed to maintain red blood cell production including amino acids, vitamins and trace elements. Certain compounds are particularly important and are needed in quantity. These are:

Iron: offal, red meat, oysters, eggs (principally the yolks), dried peaches, nuts, beans, asparagus, molasses and oatmeal.

Vitamin B]2 – offal, red meat, pork and dairy products.

Folic acid: – deep-green leafy vegetables, carrots, liver, beans, rye and cantaloupe melon.

Establish a cause after a blood test has confirmed anaemia. Many conditions mimic anaemia and a clinical diagnosis is not always accurate.

A pot of plain yoghurt with a teaspoonful of turmeric is an Ayurvedic treatment and is best eaten on an empty stomach any time of the day before the late afternoon.

The homeopathic remedies Ferrum metallicum and Ferrum phosphoricum can help iron-deficiency anaemia and remedies such as Veratrum album, Arsenicum album, Carbo animalis and Cinchona arsenicum should be reviewed to help the symptoms.

Ensure good intake of the foods listed above.

Blood tests can identify the cause of anaemia through deficiency and, having established this, supplements can be taken.

Ensure a vitamin C intake of around lg per meal minimally to encourage iron absorption.