Most patients have trouble imagining that headaches (sinus and migraine), joint pains, muscle pains, stomach aches (including irritable bowel and other inflammatory bowel diseases), facial puffiness, (and overall water retention), chronic runny nose, palpitations, arrhythmias, ringing in the ears, thyroiditis (the main cause of hypothyroidism), asthma, eczema, psoriasis, acne, hives, chronic infections, and other problems may actually have something in common!
What is common among these ailments are food and chemical “allergies” or hypersensitivities. Actually, a person may be more allergic to what is in their food than to the food itself! For example, you could be allergic to food preservatives, flavoring agents, as well as heavy metal, pesticide and herbicide contaminants. Our food, water and drinks are loaded with these chemicals. What most people do not know is that allergic or hypersensitivity reactions are not limited to stuffy noses, watery, itchy eyes, asthma and eczema. There are actually four different kinds of allergic reactions. First are the immediate reactions that take place within two hours of being exposed to the reactive substance. Delayed reactions are labeled as Type 2, 3 and 4 and can occur any time from two to 72 hours after exposure. Because the reaction is so delayed, often it is difficult to make the connection between the substance and the symptom.
Now we can. There is a blood test that I utilize with my patients called the Elisa/ACT test. This highly sophisticated test is the most reliable in assessing food allergies. Developed from 1977-1984, this test checks for delayed hypersensitivity (Types 2, 3,and 4) to most all foods, as well as additives, preservatives, chemicals (such as pesticides, soaps, solvents, exhaust fumes), and others. Elisa takes the guesswork out of identifying substances that lead to allergic reactions.
“Becky” for example, is a patient who came in complaining of irritable bowel syndrome (bloating, diarrhea alternating with constipation and abdominal pains). She had done some research and on her own discontinued wheat products (bread in particular) with a good reduction in symptoms. But her Elisa test revealed she was not allergic to wheat or gluten, but actually to calcium propionate, a preservative that is present in most commercial breads!
“Cynthia” had suffered from migraine headaches for the last 20 years, often as frequently as twice a week. Increasingly, they were interfering with her work as a schoolteacher. Many days it was hard for her to concentrate because of the pain. Often she would leave work early, or call in sick and remain at home. Her headaches sometimes lasted for longer than two days! Cynthia’s Elisa test revealed she is allergic to many of the foods she was eating every day, including dairy products, peppermint in her toothpaste as well as chemicals (aspartame in diet soda). At first she was dismayed, but then became determined to be free of pain. The good news, I told her, is that usually when a patient completely avoids the foods they are allergic to for a period of time, the body “forgets” the allergy. Once this happens, it’s possible to back to eating those foods. Unfortunately, if you do eat a food or chemical inadvertently it sets you back in the process from a week to a month. Six weeks after getting her test results, Cynthia came back with a smile on her face. She had only one headache since I had seen her last and that was because she had eaten something she was allergic to! Now her headaches are rare, brought on by eating the food allergy substances, a lot of sugar, or sometime from extreme stress. However, even when she does have a headache it is now much less severe and is much easier to control.
“Tom” is a semi-retired musician who for many years played the drums. In his middle fifties, he recently appeared with one of the louder bands in a television special. After this experience, he developed loud ringing in his ears (tinnitus). He had had this condition in the past for short periods. This time the ringing would not go away. He said it was driving him crazy and he was afraid of playing the drums or going into a recording studio. On a scale of 0-10 (10 being the worst), he rated his discomfort at a level of 8-9. He found out on his Elisa allergy test that he was allergic to a number of foods and some chemicals. Staying away from these foods helped a lot, and staying away from alcohol (even wine) and foods that contained refined sugar helped even more.
“Kathy” just turned 51 years old and started to develop assorted aches and pains. Her knees and fingers hurt, she was especially stiff in the morning limiting her activities and ability to exercise. She had gone through menopause within the last two years and thought it was normal for her to have more aches and pains, as she got older. I explained to her that she must have food allergies and the sinus trouble she had for many years was a forerunner for joint pain, muscle pain, and arthritis just before and after menopause. I explained that the loss of certain hormones allowed the inflammation caused by the allergies to express themselves in different ways than before causing the new pains. After eliminating the foods and chemicals listed on the Elisa test, and balancing her hormones, she was able to go back to all of her prior activities.
At its best, the doctor-patient relationship is a partnership with a common goal: the pursuit of optimal health for the patient. Elisa is a welcome addition to that relationship, providing information based on technology that is of great benefit to my patients and me.