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Allergies: What is really bothering you?

Allergies:  What is really bothering you?
By Clark Zimmerman, LAc.

A lot of people are mystified by their allergies.  When I ask patients about their allergies, I often hear stories of congestion and irritation of varying degrees caused by hay fever, pet dander, food sensitivities, mold in the house, etc.  But often times they are puzzled by the nature of the issue, and therefore have little direction for how to change the situation.

Allergies can effect so many things in the body.  They can create symptoms in the skin, digestive system, immune function, ears, eyes and respiratory system.  Though it usually involves doing some detective work, with dedication and direction there is a lot that can be done to treat allergies.  The first step in treatment is to identify the problem.  You begin with the most obvious things, examining your environment.  Do you live in a moldy house, do you live with pets, are you being exposed to toxic things in your home or work place?  If something is bothering you, then you need to avoid or limit your exposure to the allergen.  This sounds like common sense, but we often can overlook things that are in our environment.  Just as our surroundings can contribute to allergies, foods can too.  Many people find that working with their diet can drastically improve chronic health problems.  Foods that are common allergens include gluten, dairy, eggs, corn, soy, and sugar.  There are several ways to diagnose a food allergy.  These include:  blood tests, muscle testing, skin tests, elimination diets, and cleanses.  While each method has its strengths, I believe that the most reliable method of discovering food allergens is the elimination diet.   An elimination diet involves avoiding suspected foods for 2-3 weeks, then reintroducing possible allergens one at a time.  If someone has a food allergy, it will typically show symptoms within 3 days of eating a certain food.  This is true detective work that can absolutely change someone’s life for the better.  Some people may also benefit from doing some sort of cleanse.  A cleanse is a way to clean out the toxins that may be stored in your body.  Toxins in the body can contribute to many health conditions, including allergies.  A cleanse typically involves some combination of herbs and dietary supplements and possibly saunas, exfoliation, and colon hydrotherapy.  It is helpful to work with someone who is knowledgeable about cleansing to create an individualized program that will work for you.  In addition to cleansing, it may also be helpful to strengthen aspects of the digestion and immunity by using supplements, herbs, massage, acupuncture, or homeopathy.

Perhaps the most important factor that can contribute to allergies is our emotions.  While we often search for causes in our external world, excessive worry and stress can cause us to be “sensitive” to the world around us.  If people feel vulnerable to the world around them, it can manifest as physical symptoms.  In this situation, it is important to change the aspects of life that do not feel supportive, and invite in more experiences that truly nourish our soul.  This is where meditation, yoga, massage, counseling and prayer can be helpful.  It is also helpful to create and nourish healthy friendships and community;  The more we feel supported in our life, the less we feel the need to react to stress that occurs.  It is truly amazing how cultivating happiness can positively effect our physical health!

allergies, balance, mental health

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