Is immunotherapy safe and effective? (Can immunotherapy reverse food allergies?)
written by Nina Shantel, blog: RealDietHelp.com, published July 5, 2022
If you prefer to watch a video instead of reading this blog post, scroll about 3/4 of the way down this page, past “How to make a safer environment for people with food allergies.”
For people with severe allergic reactions to foods, immunotherapy may be lifesaving and enticing. Being able to eat any food without getting sick and being able to live a normal life is possible for some people with food allergies, but not all, and the desensitization process includes risks, out-of-pocket financial costs, time, patience, physical pain, and no guarantees. In addition, there is no long-term data that show any desensitization program allows a person to continue eating the allergic food, or that continued ingestion or application (like a patch) of the allergic food will not result in future medical problems.
What causes allergies?
Allergies may be triggered by a leaky gut due to antibiotics, ibuprofen, bacteria, chemicals, toxins, saturated animal fat, gluten, viruses, animal products, excessive bad gut bacteria, and/or not enough good bacteria from plants.
As someone who was born with a severe dairy allergy whose anaphylactic reaction to eating a small amount of dairy, typically in the form of milk, cheese or butter, resulted in swelling of the tongue and throat, elevated heart rate, and profusive vomiting, food allergy is something I can discuss first-hand, and dealt with my entire life (and I wrote a book about what I went through called The High-Five Diet, for those with autoimmune, which includes my favorite dairy-free meals and snacks. Book is available for purchase at www.thehighfivediet.com )
My trauma with food allergies, fear of cross-contamination and getting sick often, resulted in panic attacks and refusal to eat.
If I were forced to endure an oral tolerate test to confirm my food allergy (even though I had safe blood and scratch tests, which led to my diagnoses), and was subjected to injections, patches, or sublingual tabs, or drops, with small, but increasing amounts of the isolated milk protein that cause me to become violently ill, without wanting immunotherapy, that would be traumatic. The objective of immunotherapy is to either reduce the severity of the allergic response, or to allow the food to be eaten in the future, but even armed with this information, I probably would have ran away from home, had severe stress, PTSD, mental health issues and additional medical problems.
If your child has an allergy, make sure your child knows everything that’s involved in immunotherapy and wants this treatment because forced immunotherapy can cause more harm, physically and emotionally.
While immunotherapy may be a smart choice and a good investment for food allergic individuals and families, I believe certain foods like dairy, fish, eggs, chicken, meat, and gluten should not be intentionally reintroduced.
Food allergies are an IgE autoimmune reaction in response to a protein the body believes is harmful. Dairy, gluten and animal flesh can trigger autoimmune diseases in people of all ages; these foods trigger autoimmune conditions, such as Type-1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), lupus, multiple sclerosis (MS), and cancer, to name a few. Dr. Brooke Goldner, Dr. Alan Goldhamer, Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, and other doctors aware of the nutrition/gut/disease correlation, have been able to reverse many of their patients’ “incurable diseases” by removing inflammatory foods from the diet.
Those with autoimmune conditions, like asthma and food allergies, are more likely to acquire new autoimmune diseases as they age. As a child I had asthma, food allergies, hay fever triggered by pet dander, dust, smog, and inhaled airborne dairy particles.
In my twenties, I became allergic to eggplant with a milder anaphylactic response than dairy. In my thirties, I was diagnosed with Type 1.5 diabetes, which is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the pancreatic beta cells which produce insulin. In my forties, pain and swelling in my fingers and toes led to two new autoimmune diagnoses of erythromelalgia and Raynaud’s.
Recently, I removed all animal products, oil, gluten and reduced total daily fat intake between 10-20%, which got rid of the pain in my fingers and toes completely and substantially reduced the swelling and redness. My blood sugars, cholesterol and body fat are now at healthy levels.
A person may look healthy, like me, but you cannot tell if a person is in excellent health by how well they appear, or by what exercises they do. People frequently tell me they watched one of my YouTube exercise videos and see that I’m healthy now. I’m healthier than I was, but I still have issues to resolve.
Two doctors told me I have a leaky gut, which surprised me at first because my stomach didn’t hurt and my bowel movements are normal and regular, but now the puzzle makes more sense.
While growing up with severe allergies was, and still is harrowing, dangerous, frustrating, and debilitating, at times, if I were not allergic to dairy and consumed it frequently, like most people do, I could have suffered worse autoimmune conditions triggered by dairy consumption, such as cancer, MS or lupus. Certain foods, such as dairy, should be avoided by everyone, regardless of an immediate negative autoimmune response.
When our bodies react, it is telling us something needs to change. When we are tired, we need to sleep, yet many of us stay up late to watch a show or get more work done. When we have a cold, we need to rest, but most people still go to work. When we drink alcohol, and get a headache or hangover the following morning, that’s your body screaming, “stop making me drink poison!”
We need to listen to what our bodies tell us, as our gut can inform us what to stop doing. Doctors will prescribe medicine, which has side effects, or a treatment, that has risks, so listen to your gut and don’t dismiss the pain.
How to make a safer environment for people with food allergies
There are ways to make accidental exposures less likely, through science, society, and government intervention.
What we can all do as a society is to be more compassionate and make all schools and public places peanut-free. Allowing kids to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at lunch at school, when they can just swap out peanut butter for almond butter, is not a big ask. No one needs to eat peanuts at a ballgame to enjoy the sport. While I used to enjoy Cracker Jacks while watching a film at a movie theater, I would be just as happy eating Skittles or Jordan Almonds candy. Peanuts are a high calorie food that’s not necessary and should only be eaten in small amounts anyway.
Laws should be in place and enforced for bullies and selfish people who put those of us with allergies in dangerous situations. I’ve heard of people bringing peanuts to ballgames even though it was clearly announced that game was to be peanut-free, that people ate peanut butter or peanuts on planes when peanuts were forbidden, and school children were thrown the allergic food on them. Putting someone else’s life in direct danger is an assault and should be punished accordingly.
Creating allergy-free foods
I am against making a peanut, or any food, allergy-free by modifying its DNA, because that would change the molecular structure of the food which could damage our DNA. More and more evidence show that GMO’s, genetically modified organisms, like foods, cause us harm.
In addition to governments banning GMOs, other strategies to protect us, is to put in place laws and strategies to reverse global warming because higher temperatures cause plants to adapt by creating more proteins, and the proteins in foods are what triggers an allergic reaction in some people.
Food allergies are serious and should be taken seriously, by everyone.
Not everyone will have access to immunotherapy. Certain individuals may not be good candidates for immunotherapy, or may not want to go through immunotherapy, so strict avoidance of an allergen would be the only option. Cross-contamination for an allergic individual is not an inconvenience, it could be the difference between life and death.
Proceeding with immunotherapy (IT) is a personal choice and no one yet knows who, or if it’s a beneficial lasting treatment. IT could be a positive, life changing outcome, depending on the individual, and the type of allergy.
Are you considering IT for yourself or for someone else? Are you in IT treatment currently? Do you think IT is good or bad? Let me know in the comments below.
Source: Nadeau, MD, PhD, Kari and Sloan Barnett. “The End of Food Allergy, Featuring Immunotherapy. The First Program to Prevent and Reverse a 21st-Century Epidemic.” Penguin Random House, 2020.
If this post is located on any other website other than mine, which is RealDietHelp.com, it’s been unauthorized, plagiarized (copied without my permission). The other social media sites where my articles and videos are approved to be published are on my YouTube channel (Nina’s Nutrition & Exercise Videos), my Fit Girl Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TheHighFiveDiet/ and my Twitter account https://twitter.com/medairyfree