Allergies: A Holistic Approach by Dr. Martin Martin, OMD, LAc
Allergies can be divided into two general groups: food allergies and environmental allergies. Environmental allergies can be further divided into airborne and household. Airborne allergies consist of pollens, dust, exhaust fumes, etc., and household allergies include animal hair, mites, molds, detergents, cleansers, bedding, synthetic fibers in clothing, etc.
My approach to curing allergies from the holistic perspective is two-fold. First, is to eliminate the allergen (i.e. the irritating substance). Second is to strengthen your body so that the allergen no longer bothers you. In my practice, I have seen many people cured of all types of allergies using natural methods without the use of drugs.
Symptoms of allergy are highly individual. The most common symptoms are nasal congestion, sore throat, coughing, red and itching eyes, headaches, depression, fatigue, muscle cramps, indigestion, acne, runny nose, skin rash and hives, mental fog, irritability and anxiety. But there are many other symptoms experienced by different individuals.
There are many ways to “test” for allergies. These include blood tests, skin scratch tests, pulse tests, dowsing and muscle testing. Depending on the person and their financial constraints, I use any variety of these test in my practice. Each has certain strengths and weaknesses.
Food allergies are treated by eliminating the suspected foods while at the same time strengthening the digestive system. Often there is “Leaky Gut Syndrome” and we need to treat that as well.
The most common foods that people are allergic to are dairy, wheat, gluten, chocolate, citrus fruits, sugar, red meat, and barley. Other common food allergens are eggs, shellfish, tomatoes and potatoes.
The reason a particular food manifests as an allergen in your body is because your digestive system is sensitive to that food and cannot break it down into its basic parts. As a result, whole food “particles”, so to speak, enter the blood stream as poisons and then circulate throughout the body to produce allergy symptoms in the weakest area of your body. We call this Leaky Gut Syndrome. And there is a blood test we can use to detect and accurately diagnose this condition.
The treatment used to cure food allergies is to strengthen the digestive tract, which will help with the breakdown and assimilation of food. This is done by treating the weak meridians using acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas. Digestive teas, specific enzyme formulas, probiotics, and homeopathics are also used. Some of the most common herbs used include mint, gentian root and ginger root.
Depending on the individual symptoms, the following homeopathic remedies may also be used:
1. Pulsatilla: when fats are the major problem, in a person who craves fats, and is emotionally rather soft, needy, or desiring a lot of support;
2. Nux vomica: for toxicity in the liver with a craving for spicy foods and stimulants; constipation; rather angry and irritable emotionally and tends to be a workaholic type;
3. Lycopodium: for a lot of flatulence, right sided pains, sciatica, shoulder pain, irritability, craving for sweets and an explosive temper, but only around those he or she is close to; can be emotionally very sweet at work and social situations;
4. Carbo veg: for flatulence and general indigestion with bloating and a slow metabolism;
You can also use homeopathic remedies which are made from the foods you are allergic to, in much the same way as allergy shots work.
Allergies to airborne and pollens are also treated very effectively with acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and homeopathy. Specific homeopathic remedies for airborne allergies may include the following:
1. Pollintinum: composed of a variety of the most common pollens;
2. Histaminum: to suppress the histamine reaction of watery and itchy eyes, asthma or runny nose;
3. Euphrasia: for red, burning or itching eyes;
4. Allium cepa: for a runny and burning nose with much coryza;
5. Sabadilla: for uncontrollable sneezing;
6. Baptisia: for a skin rash and hives with itching;
7. Cat or Dog Hair: to desensitize you to an allergy to cats and dogs.
Depending on the individual symptoms, I also often use Chinese herbal formulas.
Usually a person with allergies also has toxicity in their liver meridian andherbs to detoxify the liver can be very helpful.
When you are allergic to household products, the treatment approach is to try to eliminate all the offending products, while at the same time work to boost your immune system. The basic treatment consists of herbs and nutritional supplements and lifesyle counseling. Acupuncture is used at well to balance and strengthen immunity.
Nutritionally, foods to avoid when trying to build your immune system include sugar, excessive red meat, coffee, dairy products and fats, but this list varies tremendously from person to person.
And, of course, acupuncture is very effective at healing allergies. Many of my patients ask me to add extra allergy points when I am treating them for other problems.
Specific vitamins and herbs which may be used to boost immunity include vitamin C (buffered), vitamin E (dry), beta carotene, zinc and selenium. Bee pollen, barley green, sun chlorella, acidophilus, ginseng, codenopsis and astragalus are also commonly used as tonic herbs.
If you think you are experiencing allergies, please talk to me or another trained medical practitioner who has experience diagnosing and treating allergies. It is often difficult to differentiate allergic reactions from Candidiasis (a yeast infection), dysglycemia (blood sugar swings), Epstein Barr Virus and (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). So these problems must also be considered.
Here are the two most common herbal products I use for allergies: