Allergies. People live with them, deal with them, hate them, and become accustomed to them. Spring and Summer are just around the corner and allergy season is almost here! So, this is the main time to begin dealing with allergies.
What is an allergy? Why do they pop up suddenly or develop over time? And what can you do about it? So, what are some tools one can use to deal with allergies.
A 55 year old woman (we will call her "Gretchen"- her name has been changed for privacy) comes into the Alaska Center for Natural Medicine for allergy treatments. She has been tested, and knows she has allergies. She wants help.
The first and most important thing that needs to be done is to define what an allergy is in the first place. Often, people think that allergies are just something "bad," or something your body reacts poorly to. The definition I use for allergies is an over-reaction of a person's immune system to a specific substance that would cause no reaction in a normal circumstance.
Allergies can cause a wide range of symptoms, from coughing to sneezing, from sinus problems to body aches and inflammation. There are also allergy sensitivities and intolerances. To be short, allergies are difficult and painful to deal with.
Gretchen begins to explain her case, and we talk to find if there was a particular cause or point when her sensitivities began. We also go over why allergies happen and why certain "antigens" or proteins that are in allergic substances enter the body.
At that point, the body uses it's own "tag" or antibody, to bind to the substance. Basically, your body spray paints the substance as bad. Then the body releases certain chemicals, which cause allergic symptoms.
Next, I discussed with Gretchen different testing approaches and we looked over her past allergy tests. We also do something called muscle testing. Allergies are diagnosed in a variety of ways. Most common is a blood test. For immediate allergy responses, a scratch test is often performed.
In certain cases, a doctor will sometimes have the patient avoid substances for 3 months and slowly reintroduce them. With certain techniques, such as NAET (Nambudripad's allergy elimination technique), muscle testing is performed. The theory is that the body and muscles will weaken in response to a certain allergen.
Okay, so that is how allergies work and the ways to identify them. With Gretchen, the next step was to treat her allergies. We used a natural approach called NAET, which resets the nervous system and desensitizes her to certain substances. We went through basic substances and the things she was allergic to.
After 3 months of treatment, she was 90% better with all of her allergies! There are multiple ways people deal with allergies. First and most obviously, is to avoid the allergen. This is much easier to do with food allergies then environmental ones.
In other words, I can avoid seafood but not so much pollen. This is often an effective way to help reset the bodies immune system. Another choice in dealing with allergies is medication.
Unfortunately, medications for allergies can often cause side effects. Natural supplements may also be used for allergies. These often have less side effects and can be highly effective. As an Acupuncturist, one of my specialties is treating allergies naturally.
As discussed earlier, I will use multiple techniques including NAET, Acupuncture, or Acupressure (for those afraid of needles). I have seen many people benefit from this natural approach to allergy treatment. Gretchen is an excellent example of this!
The important thing to remember, no matter what decision one makes, is to know that there are options in treating your allergies. Go to your local allergy professional and find help for your allergies. Take charge of your health!
Michael Johnson is a licensed Acupuncturist at the Alaska Center for Natural Medicine. He specializes in allergy treatment and pain management. He practiced in Seattle, WA for over 2 years before coming to Alaska with his wife Kim. Michael has had training in allergy treatment techniques in California. To find out more, check out his bio here or make an appointment by calling 907.452.3600!