By Jim Paoletti, B.S. Pharmacy, FAARFM, FIACP | Director of Education, Power2Practice
Allergies have become much more prevalent in patient populations over the last few decades. Unfortunately, conventional medical approaches do not attempt to explain this increase, explain the cause of allergies, or coordinate treatment of other health conditions and symptoms that accompany allergies.
Allergies are most commonly treated as an isolated issue whose treatment is to identify and then avoid the allergen(s). An integrated, functional approach to the treatment of allergies and sensitivities can often provide improved therapeutic outcomes.
Underlying Allergies – a Sneaky Culprit
Allergies occur when the immune system overreacts, releasing antibodies and triggering the inflammatory cascade when the allergen is not life threatening. There is much more to the allergic reaction than the inconvenience of nagging symptoms to the patient, such as congestion, runny nose, rashes, scratchy throat, hives and swelling.
Primarily due to the activation of the inflammatory cascade, chronic allergic reactions can be one of the most important causes of a number of illnesses and diseases. Allergic responses and the resulting inflammation can lead to:
- hormone imbalance
- neurotransmitter imbalances
- respiratory issues
- skin issues
- GI issues and more
The Conventional Approach
Conventional diagnosis of allergies involves testing the level of IgE antibodies, either in venous serum or as a skin (scratch) test. Allergens are identified and the patient is told to avoid the offending agent(s). In some cases a desensitization protocol is used to attempt to get the immune system to modify its response to the allergen.
This conventional approach most often only tests IgE antibodies and misses many allergies and most sensitivities that are associated with IgG, IgA, IgM and IgC antibodies. These antibody reactions occur at a delayed basis and a more subtle basis than IgE antibody reactions.
A conventional approach determines whether a patient is allergic by testing for a reaction with typical allergy symptoms (rash, hives, swelling, etc.). Anything less and the patient is determined not as having allergies.
This process ignores the reaction and inflammation causes by more subtle immune reactions, or even more severe reactions that produce non-typical allergic responses. Whether the response is an allergic reaction or a sensitivity is a matter of the immune system responding to some degree whether the reaction causes typical “allergy” symptoms or not.
Symptoms of Sensitivities
Symptoms of sensitivities to food or chemicals vary greatly from patient to patient. They can be consistent in their presentation, or cyclic in nature. Sensitivities symptoms can include:
- GI disturbances (gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation)
- joint pain
- mood swings
- anxiety depression
- difficulty losing weight
- bad breath
A Functional Approach to Treating Allergies & Sensitivities
A functional approach to allergies includes looking at all the factors that may be contributing to the immune response and inflammatory reaction, including:
- psychological and physiological stressors
Factors that can cause food sensitivities to develop include:
- unbalanced gut flora (antibiotic use)
- poor digestion
- chronic stress
- immune system overload
- overexposure to chemicals
Upon exposure to the causative food, histamine and other chemicals are released from immune cells to destroy the “invaders” and tissue inflammation and damage occurs, leading to symptoms.
Jim Paoletti, BS Pharmacy, FAARM, FIACP, is the Director of Education at Power2Practice and a nationally-recognized expert in pharmacy, BHRT and custom compounding, and has previously served as Director of Provider Education for ZRT Laboratory and Education Director for the Professional Compounding Centers of America. At Power2Practice, Jim applies his wealth of knowledge and experience by hosting live webinars and creating clinical support tools, such as podcasts and blogs.
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