Allergy Relief

Allergies – What Are Your Treatment Options?

Introduction – From the point of view of conventional Western medicine allergies and sensitivities can be controlled to reduce their symptoms but generally cannot be eliminated. For those who come from backgrounds in both Eastern and Western approaches that view the individual as a mixture mind/body/spirit and explore the effects of lifestyle, environment, nutrition and energetics it is possible to not only reduce allergic and sensitivity reactions, it is possible for many people to eliminate them entirely. If you wish to go straight to information on non-invasive relief from allergies please see the NAET® discussion towards the end of this article.

Conventional Treatment

There are three primary approaches to controlling allergies in this context. The first is avoidance of the substance(s) causing a reaction, which is certainly reasonable, although it does not address the underlying problems. The second is medication to control symptoms and the third is therapy to develop immune tolerance.

Avoidance – This is effective but not always possible (e.g. airborne allergens, “hidden” allergens in foods). Once allergies and sensitivities have been identified there are a variety of strategies to avoid or reduce exposure and we will not attempt to discuss them all here. For airborne allergens this can be difficult depending upon the offending substances as well as work and home environments. Staying indoors with the air conditioning on all day during hay fever season is generally not practical or desirable. Allergies to animal dander may affect one’s ability to visit friends’ homes without distress and food allergies can seriously limit what one can eat and affect one’s ability to eat in restaurants or at gatherings. One of the most challenging situations is people who have a reaction to mold which may be present in air in their home or workplace.

MedicationAntihistamines are very common and can be administered orally, by nasal spray or as eye drops. They are mostly well-tolerated although many can cause drowsiness and some people have other side effects. They are effective for sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, hives and swelling and other symptoms. They are not effective for asthma caused by allergies. For some people they do not adequately control the symptoms.

Nasal decongestants – These reduce swelling and congestion in the nose and sinuses and often include pseudoephedrine as the active ingredient. Many products combine a decongestant with an antihistamine. Decongestants may be administered orally or via nasal spray. The nasal sprays should be used for no more than three days at a time or tolerance can occur requiring increasing amounts to be effective and a rebound aggravation upon discontinuance. General side effects include trouble sleeping, headache, increased blood pressure and irritability and should not be used in people with cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, glaucoma or hyperthyroidism.

Corticosteroids – These can be taken as a nasal spray, eye drops, inhaler (for people with asthma) and skin creams. Oral forms may be used in severe situations. Corticosteroids are powerful anti- inflammatory drugs as they suppress immune function and the release of inflammatory chemicals in the body. While short term usage can be effective and done safely, they have a long list of potential side effects and some complications can be severe or life threatening. As a result, most of these drugs require prescriptions and should be monitored by a physician. A few are available over-the-counter (OTC) including some nasal sprays and skin creams.

Epinephrine injections – These are used for those subject to anaphylactic reactions as discussed in Allergies #3. Patients carry an injectable form of epinephrine to counteract the shock and airway obstruction.

Others – Mast cell stabilizers are generally used when antihistamines are not fully effective or well tolerated. They inhibit the release of chemicals that promote inflammation. OTC nasal sprays are available as are prescription eye drops. Leukotriene inhibitors block a chemical that is involved in inflammation and one is approved as a prescription for nasal allergies. Side effectscan include anxiety/depression, sleep disturbance, strange dreams and suicidal thinking or behavior.

Immunotherapy – This involves significant time, energy and cost and as such is often only used when symptoms are difficult to control with drugs or they are not well tolerated. In general, this approach is more effective for airborne vs. food or drug allergies. It has been shown to be beneficial for allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma and insect sting allergies. The treatment involves weekly administration of very small amounts of the allergen in gradually increasing amounts over months to years. It is given via either shots or sublingual tablets. Side effects are usually confined to local irritation at injection sites although anaphylaxis (see Epinephrine above) can occur. Studies have shown 60-70% improvement in symptoms and 70% decrease in medication use. 85% of people with improvement have continued relief after treatment ends. The course of treatment should be at least 3 years for best results.

NAET® – Allergy Elimination Treatment

The diagnosis of allergies and sensitivities with Nambudripad Allergy Elimination Technique® (NAET) is covered in “Allergies – How Are They Diagnosed?” NAET is a synthesis of Western and Eastern concepts in physiology and body energetics. The treatment takes into account the interaction of organ and physiologic systems with special attention to immune and central nervous system function. NAET treatment is designed to reset the individual’s response to substances that trigger allergy or sensitivity reactions so that they no longer occur. The process includes optimizing the function of organ systems and improved utilization of nutrients to support allergy/sensitivity elimination as well as improving overall health.

With treatment the patient holds vial(s) of the offending substance(s) plus organ systems and nutrients as indicated by the diagnostic test. Acupressure points along the spine that correspond to autonomic nervous system ganglia (nerve centers) are stimulated by light tapping. Next, very fine needles are inserted into acupuncture points to regulate the response of the nervous and immune systems to the substance(s). The process takes about 30 minutes and is virtually pain free. Children who might be afraid of needles can be treated with acupressure instead of needles.

Allergens are treated in groups, e.g. tree pollen, grass pollen, food groups, etc. Mild to moderate allergies/sensitivities usually respond well with 1 to 2 treatments while more severe ones may require 3-4. Reactions to more than one group, e.g. pet dander and dairy foods, are treated separately. Prolonged avoidance of offending substances is not required, but food allergens should be avoided for 24 hours after treatment.

Our experience is that most patients who undergo the full treatment will no longer react to the offending substances. The benefits can last for many years to a lifetime depending upon the person’s overall health and subsequent illnesses or medical treatment. In those occasional situations where symptoms reoccur, additional treatments may be done to restore tolerance.

Some studies have been done on the use of NAET® for allergies, including severe peanut allergies, that supports its efficacy and safety although further research is indicated to develop the amount of data that exists for conventional therapies. Individual case reports and my own experience suggest that this treatment is effective for allergies causing life-threatening anaphylaxis, e.g. peanuts, shellfish, latex and others. None the less, appropriate caution should be exercised to avoid the offending substance by people who have such severe reactions. A reasonable goal could be considered as a reduction in the possibility of a severe reaction from chance encounters in the environment while the intent remains avoiding contact or consumption. Any attempt after treatment to test tolerance by consumption or touch should only be done in a physician’s office equipped to handle an anaphylactic response.

This is Part 4 of a four part allergy series by Soaring Crane Acupuncture:

  1. Allergies – An Introduction
  2. Allergies – Why Do We Get Them?
  3. Allergies – How Are They Diagnosed?
  4. Allergies – What Are Your Treatment Options?

Allergies – What Are Your Treatment Options? Read More »

Allergies – How Are They Diagnosed?

Sometimes it is easy to know to what substances you are allergic or sensitive. You get a rash every time you eat strawberries or have sneezing and itchy eyes every spring when a certain tree pollinates. But often it can be difficult to know exactly what your allergens are as there may be multiple substances you react to or the effects may be ongoing as is often the case with food allergies. Then we have to go through a diagnostic process to figure it out.

Symptoms & Signs

Symptoms are changes in how you feel when you have a disease or disorder. Examples include itchy eyes, feeling hot and headaches. Signs are changes that can be observed. Examples include a runny nose, a flushed appearance or a rash. Knowing the common, and uncommon, signs and symptoms of allergies is the first step in the diagnosis of allergies, sensitivities and intolerances (see “Allergies – An Introduction” for definitions of these terms).

Airborne Allergies and Sensitivities – The most common symptoms and signs include sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion and itchy eyes. Coughing and throat irritation can also be present. Asthma with shortness of breath and wheezing occurs in some individuals. Some people also have fatigue, difficult concentration and mood changes, especially when exposure is prolonged. Mold and chemical exposures can have toxic effects as well as allergic symptoms.

Food Allergies and Sensitivities – This is more complex as the signs and symptoms can be acute or chronic (long standing) and involve reactions to multiple foods. They can manifest with GI symptoms, such as indigestion, tingling/burning of lips or mouth, irritable bowel syndrome, heartburn, constipation, and diarrhea among others, as well as signs and symptoms throughout the body. Common problems include headaches (including migraines), fatigue, cloudy thinking/poor memory, mood changes/anxiety/depression, recurrent infections (e.g. bladder, respiratory, ear), poor sleep, menstrual disorders, skin diseases (e.g. eczema, psoriasis, hives, etc.) and many others. They may even contribute to severe conditions such as autoimmune disorders and seizures.

Anaphylaxis – This is a sudden, severe allergic reaction that is life threatening. It usually occurs within a few seconds to a few minutes of oral, blood or skin exposure although it may take up to a half hour or longer. The person manifests symptoms and signs of shock with a severe drop in blood pressure, severe shortness of breath (may die of asphyxiation), rapid heart rate and dizziness or weakness. There may also be a skin rash, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. It may be caused by certain foods, commonly peanuts, tree nuts, fish/shellfish, eggs and milk, and occasionally others. It may also be caused by exposure to certain drugs, insect stings and latex. People subject to anaphylactic reactions need to carry epinephrine (Epi-Pen) for emergency injection upon exposure. While not actual anaphylaxis, airborne allergies, especially to animal dander, can trigger life threatening asthma attacks.

Conventional Diagnosis

Allergists employ different strategies to test for allergies.

Skin testing involves pricking the skin, or using patches, to expose the person to possible allergens and then measuring the size of any reaction on the skin to determine if an allergy is present. This is commonly used and sometimes yields useful information. But there are many false positives and some false negatives, consequently the results cannot always be relied upon.

Blood testing involves drawing blood and then measuring levels of antibodies that react with suspected allergenic substances. This is usually done only if skin testing has not yielded satisfactory information or if it is not done for some other reason. The challenge with the blood tests is that while they measure the presence of antibodies that does not always correlate with allergic reactions as it sometimes just indicates past exposure to a substance. These tests do not detect sensitivities, only true allergies.

Elimination testing is done by discontinuing one or more foods for an extended period of time to see if symptoms and signs improve. This is the most definitive of these approaches and works best for food allergies and sensitivities. It is, however, time consuming as exposure must be discontinued for a month or more in the case of foods and it is not practical for seasonal pollen or mold allergies to determine specific offending substances. For reactions to animal dander, the individual must be removed from the environment, or the animal removed and the house thoroughly cleaned, for a month or more. Some practitioners may only have the food discontinued for a period of days to a few weeks which is not always adequate. It is difficult to be certain all offending foods are identified unless one goes on a very restricted, hypo-allergenic diet for a month or more. If one is willing to be disciplined enough to meet these requirements,it can be very successful in identifying offending foods.

Challenge tests are not commonly done as they carry some element of risk depending upon the severity of the reaction. A person is exposed to increasing amounts of a food to see if a reaction occurs. This may follow an elimination test or be used to see if desensitizing treatments have been effective. They are done in a doctor’s office in case of severe reactions.

NAET® Diagnosis

Nambudripad Allergy Elimination Technique was developed by Devi Nambudripad, DC as a synthesis of concepts existing in Western and Chinese medicine. The treatment component is discussed in “Allergies – What Are Your Treatment Options?“. The diagnostic method is non-invasive (no skin puncture or blood draw) and can usually be accomplished in one visit, although complicated cases involving multiple allergies occasionally require additional testing as treatment progresses. It utilizes a Muscle Response Test (MRT) in the presence of substances suspected of causing allergies or sensitivities. The substances are present in liquid form in small vials held by the patient while the practitioner tests muscle strength. If muscle strength weakens when in contact with the vial, this indicates the presence of an allergy or sensitivity to the substance. It detects both allergies and sensitivities without differentiating between them. This is not a concern as NAET treatment is effective for both. Conventional testing, with the exception of elimination diets, will detect only potential allergies and not sensitivities. Underlying nutritional and metabolic imbalances will also be part of the NAET test (vitamins, minerals, hormones, organs, etc.). Addressing these weaknesses is part of the treatment and greatly improves results and overall health. This approach can also be used to identify allergies or sensitivities to substances not usually considered. We have experience with diagnosing and treating adverse reactions to joint replacements, jewelry, dental work, perfumes and chemicals.

This is Part 3 of a four part allergy series by Soaring Crane Acupuncture:

  1. Allergies – An Introduction
  2. Allergies – Why Do We Get Them?
  3. Allergies – How Are They Diagnosed?
  4. Allergies – What Are Your Treatment Options?

Allergies – How Are They Diagnosed? Read More »

Allergies – Why Do We Get Them?

Right at the outset it must be said that for many people there are multiple factors that contribute to the development of an allergy or sensitivity to a substance. Please see the blog post “Allergies – An Introduction” for the definitions of allergies, sensitivities and intolerances. The causes described below are not mutually exclusive and often one or more are involved for any one person. It must also be said that while we can see some of the reasons that allergies develop, how these factors, and likely some yet to be discovered, interact is still being explored. It should also be noted that allergies can develop at any time in life, not just childhood, and that a pollen, food or drug that used to be okay now causes a reaction.

Genetics – We know that allergic tendencies can run in families and inherited genetic traits are major players here. Having a familial history of certain types of allergy can make you more susceptible to developing allergies but it does not always happen. Some of the causes discussed below can have an additive affect on one’s risk for actually developing an allergy or sensitivity. Likewise, modification of these other factors may reduce the risk of allergy occurrence.

Epigenetics – This is the effect of one’s environment on how genes express themselves. In other words, how the environment (nutrient availability, disease, stress, etc.) affects what the genes actually do. This can affect individuals during their lifetime and it can be passed down through generations. The implications of this go far beyond allergies to affect risk for diabetes, cancer, heart disease and many others. Some of the factors discussed below contribute to this in addition to their direct effects on the functions of the immune and other systems.

GI Microbes – The fancy term for this is the “gut microbiome”. This is a hot area right now as research is showing how the balance of bacteria and other microbes in the GI tract can affect many aspects of physiology including immune function, digestion, mood, cognitive ability, weight gain, and risk for heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and many other conditions. An imbalance of microbes is called dysbiosis. The balance of beneficial, neutral and potentially harmful organisms may come to favor those that adversely affect the GI tract and other organs and systems. Causes of this include diet, stress, lack of exercise, antibiotics, lack of sleep, drugs and alcohol, and contaminated food and water to name some of the most common contributors.

Stress – Severe stressful events, such as major accidents, deaths in the family, job loss, etc. can affect the immune system and promote the development of allergies, especially those linked to food. Prolonged (chronic) stress can also promote allergies as it alters the function of the immune, nervous, endocrine and GI systems over time and weakens the body with ongoing increases in adrenal hormone production. Finding resources to cope with stress, acute or chronic, can help to prevent both psychological and physical problems from developing. These can include yoga, Qigong, meditation, mindfulness, counseling and exercise among others.

Diet – There is probably no such thing as the “perfect diet” for everyone due to our differences in genetics, epigenetics and environment. Still, there is no question that modern diet patterns in the US and many developed countries have too many calories and lack adequate vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, detoxifying agents and other nutrients required for good health. Add in lots of deep frying, too much sugar and processed foods and it is a chronic health disaster in the making. In addition to all of the risk for heart disease, stroke and cancer, this increases the risk for allergies and autoimmune diseases (where the body attacks its own tissues). Repeatedly eating the same foods over time can increase the risk for developing allergies to them. As mentioned above, poor or imbalanced diets can disrupt the normal GI bacteria leading to allergies and many other problems.

Lifestyle – As a society we are not very good at taking care of ourselves. We prioritize constantly being busy and many of us don’t often take the time we need to relax, decompress and nourish ourselves. This is manifested in the diet with lots of “fast food” and not taking the time to eat slowly in a relaxed setting with friends or family. This creates an ongoing stress response in the body. Lots of research supports the role of regular exercise in supporting healthy immune function and digestion among many other benefits. Getting enough sleep, 7-9 hours per night is optimal for most people; both more and less can be harmful. Take steps to address acute and chronic stressors in your life. Finding a good balance with time for work, play, relaxation and personal growth is part of our life journey and will benefit our health and well-being.

Environmental Toxins – Sadly, they are everywhere. They are in our air, water, food, soil, oceans, lakes, breast milk, etc. Please don’t let this depress you, but it is important to understand the extent of the problem in order to reduce its impact on our health and to make personal and societal decisions on how to address this. Most of us have relatively low levels of a variety of organic chemicals, heavy metals and microbial toxins in our systems, but they can have a cumulative effect. Some people have much higher levels of one or more based on their work, where they live, food and water they consume, travel and airborne exposure. People can develop allergies to these substances in addition to their inherent toxicity and they may disrupt immune function and promote allergies to other substances. Detoxification may be necessary.

A Final Word – It should be clear by now that the causative factors discussed above can have a synergistic effect in promoting the development of allergies. Other than those individuals with a known family history of allergies, it can be difficult to predict who will develop them or when. None the less, taking steps to improve our diet, lifestyle and environment can reduce our risk for allergies along with many other problems.

This is Part 2 of a four part allergy series by Soaring Crane Acupuncture:

  1. Allergies – An Introduction
  2. Allergies – Why Do We Get Them?
  3. Allergies – How Are They Diagnosed?
  4. Allergies – What Are Your Treatment Options?

Allergies – Why Do We Get Them? Read More »

Allergies – An Introduction

Allergies can be mild annoyances that occur only occasionally or they can be severe, even life threatening, and dominate our daily lives. And just to make it more interesting, some allergies cause chronic problems that are not always easy to connect with the offending substance(s).

Let’s understand the terminology.

Allergy: The body mounts an immune response targeting a specific component, called an antigen, of a substance. This is often a molecule containing a protein, polysaccharide (complex sugar) or a combination. As the immune system learns to recognize the antigen it begins to make antibodies, which are proteins, that cause an inflammatory reaction when they interact with and attempt to eliminate it. This is great if you are targeting harmful bacteria or viruses. This is not so good when the immune system gets disordered and starts responding to common airborne particles such as pollens, dust mites and animal dander, or foods that we eat, and leads to allergy symptoms. These substances are not harmful by themselves, but with an allergy, the immune system becomes sensitized to them and responds as if they were dangerous. The inflammation that results makes you feel bad. The goal of course is to desensitize a person, but more about that in another blog post.

Allergen: This is any substance that causes an allergy. They are often classified based on how the body is exposed.

Airborne allergens are inhaled and enter the eyes as well. Common examples include pollen, dust mites, animal dander and airborne chemicals. Examples of the latter include perfumes and solvents (solvents are also often toxic and irritating).

Contact allergens cause skin reactions when they come in contact with a person. Think of those earrings or bracelets made with nickel as well as poison ivy and various chemicals that cause a rash and sometimes itch.

Foods are common allergens and can cause immediate, delayed and/or chronic symptoms. They may affect not only the GI tract but also the skin, nervous system, mood, concentration, memory, sleep, and just about any system in the body.

Drugs can cause allergies as many people know given how all of the drug ads on TV constantly remind us to tell our doctor if we are allergic to them. Also many chemicals are good at being allergens and/or irritants and/or toxic.

Irritant: This is any substance that can cause, you guessed it, irritation to the body. This is important here because sometime the symptoms caused by irritants are the same as those the result from allergies. As an example, if you are caught in a cloud of dust while cleaning your attic you may sneeze and cough and your eyes will water and feel gritty, just like hay fever. It could be that taco with extra habañero pepper sauce causing heartburn or the dreaded double burn (just what you think). This is due to physical or chemical irritation, but is not due to a specific immune response. Of course, if the dust cloud contains substances to which you are allergic, you get a double whammy (yes that is the proper medical term).

Important Note: The terms “food allergy”, food sensitivity” and “food intolerance” are often used loosely and somewhat interchangeably by non-medical people and sometimes even by those with medical backgrounds. Allergies are defined above, and below are good working definitions of the other two.

Food Sensitivity: People may react adversely to foods even when they don’t have a true allergic reaction or food intolerance (see below). The causes for this are varied and depend upon the individual and the specific situation. It may be tied to imbalanced GI bacteria (Dysbiosis), emotional responses, stress, how the food is prepared, contaminants, the environment in which one eats (eg relaxed at home vs while driving) and physical or chemical irritation. Symptoms may be caused by poor digestion/absorption as well as physical or chemical irritation and/or non-specific immune response to the food leading to inflammation. Reactions may occur repeatedly with certain foods or only occasionally. Symptoms may be similar to those of true food allergies but conventional food allergy testing will not reveal the problem as it does not involve an immune response targeting a specific antigen in the food.

Food Intolerance: With this a person has an adverse reaction to a food based on an inability to properly digest and/or absorb it. As an example, lactose intolerance affects the ability to digest lactose, a sugar in milk, which leads to gas, bloating, diarrhea and possible malabsorption depending upon the severity. Fat intolerance may occur in people with disorders affecting bile production which aids fat digestion.

This is Part 1 of a four part allergy series by Soaring Crane Acupuncture;

  1. Allergies – An Introduction
  2. Allergies – Why Do We Get Them?
  3. Allergies – How Are They Diagnosed?
  4. Allergies – What Are Your Treatment Options?

Allergies – An Introduction Read More »

Coronavirus vs Allergies

Coronavirus or Allergies?

We are entering the time when seasonal allergies are on the rise.  My treatments can eliminate your allergies permanently and help you maintain a healthy immune system at a time when we all need as much immune resistance as possible during the pandemic. Let’s talk about the allergy season causing allergy sufferers extra concern due to the conflicting symptoms with COVID.

Allergy vs COVID-19 Symptoms

Most of you with seasonal allergies are familiar with your annual symptoms such as sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, scratchy throat, sinus congestion and sometimes a foggy brain and/or feeling tired.  Those with asthma may also have a cough and shortness of breath.  While some of these may occur with the virus, allergies do not manifest with fever, body aches and pain, moderate to severe sore throat, severe malaise and fatigue and shortness of breath.  For those with asthma, shortness of breath due to COVID-19 will generally not respond well to your usual asthma medications.

Allergy Treatment

This is an ideal time to eliminate allergies for the whole family permanently with my gentle and effective treatment without drugs or shots. You do not need to know what pollens or foods you are allergic to.  Tree pollens are out in force right now, including our ubiquitous Douglas fir trees.  I have compressive test kits and can perform an accurate, painless and non-invasive test without side effects from skin scratch testing. Please visit the Allergy Relief page on the Soaring Crane Acupuncture website for more information.

Coronavirus or Allergies? Read More »

Relief for Red, Itchy Eyes

It’s sure to be a robust tree pollen season this Spring. For those with allergies and those without, this years high pollen counts will likely cause discomfort for just about everyone. If you haven’t gone through our amazing NAET Allergy Elimination treatment to be rid of your allergies permanently its never too late to get started.

Here’s an acupuncture point that will offer some relief from itchy eyes:

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