Allergies: How can we identify them?
Allergies: How can we identify them?
Based on the differing definitions for allergy it is easy to see why various schools of Clinical Ecology disagree with each other and will at times outright condem certain methods of testing. But who is right? Well, they all are, partially. They all contain aspects of the full picture and they defend that viewpoint as being the 'right' one. But how can that work? Quite simply because the body is far more complex than we really give it credit for. There are multiple lines and levels on which phenomina can arise. The difficulty that is created by a reductionalist/rantionalistic/conventional perspectice is that it often postulates that there can only be one right view. But Integral Theory and specifically the AQAL lens shows us there can be a range of dimension perspective that all offer a part of a more complex puzzle of which the scientific/rationalistic constitutes a part (although is whole within itself).
So lets start there and work on:
The types of testing that have been most commonly heard of are the skin (prick/scratch) tests and the blood tests. These are by far the most invasive and the most widely used in medical circles. These make up part of the circle of challenge tests which involve a person demonstrating a physical response to a suspected allergen.
With scratch tests, a series of small pricks or scratches are made in the skin, often on the arm or back, and then monitored often over a period of about an hour to see what reactions occur on the skin. On Allergy UK this is considered as a test looking for IgE antigen reactions, which generally only show up for more severe (but not necessarily more harmful) reactions. The size of the reaction on the skin is measured to confirm the diagnosis of allergy. The bigger the reaction the more positive the diagnosis for allergy is.
One of the big difficulties is it relies on you having an inflammatory reaction there and then. As we know from the previous post, you may not have an inflammatory reaction and it may occur any time upto 72hrs after exposure. It is also relying on the triggering of IgE antigens and not any other antigen reaction (of which there could be 5).
The last factor which creates an anomoly here is that the vast majority of allergic type reactions are as a result of digesting or inhaling a substance. This severely limits the benfits of this test as very rarely are we injecting foods into our bodies or breathing in through our skin. All this test confirms is the presence of one type of antigen in response to a dermal exposure. And as an opinion if I was trying to injest wheat through my arm, I thinkI would be glad of my immune system telling me something wasn't right.
An extension of this test is the patch test, where a sample of the suspected allergen is placed on a small metal disc and stuck to the body, sometimes for as much as 4 days, to see what reaction is caused. These are generally liquids, so there will be some absorbtion into the blood. As with the prick tests, the size/severity of the reaction is used to guage the level of allergic response. Similar limitation to the prick tests really but at least a slightly more realistic exposure. What I can't find reference to is whether or not a control with an untreated disc is also carried out to account for any reaction to the metal of the discs, which could be highly likely if they are metal alloy with nickel or tin compounds present.
Both of these tests have limitations in regards to age of receipiant, pregnancy, medication, skin condition, presenting symptoms and state of disease.
Blood testing is often considered easier in that it can be used irrespective of those factors. Although it would be foolish not account for the fact that many of those factors could give rise to great variations in results. But they are a useful alternative when due due to skin condition it is impractical to test like that. Also much less stressful for a child to have one blood test rather than multiple prick tests. The relief I have had for many children who I have preformed Kinesiology testing on when they learn they will not get stuck with anything.
There are various ways of them being carried out but at a basic level the blood is examined for levels of IgE in response to exposure to substances. The results are often back within 14 days and can be used to advice on possible sensitisation to substances. The difficulty again here is that high IgE levels are not only present in allergy. But it can be used to indicate whcih people are more likely to have high sensitisation generally and could therefore be more likely to react. But my experience also suggests your dietary state, emotional state etc can also alter those levels naturally. So your results are also partly luck of the draw and false positives and false negatives have been recorded.
Challenge testing is considered by some a 'Gold Standard' test and was the basis for most of Theron Randol's work. This is best done after some avoidance or fasting from suspected allergens. Then the suspected substances are introduced back into your environment and you are monitored for possiblke reactions. This should always be done with appropriate supervision but is also carried out by individuals looking at less severe reactions.
Some of the limitations with this are that, especially with foods, it could only be specifically sourced or prepared samples (those you useually encounter) which if not used by those testing you may report no reaction. Randolph was the first physician to show that there was a difference in foods produced in different parts of the world, i.e apples grown in different climates. He was also the first to show that a patient could react differently to organic and non-organic version of the same food, to cooked and uncooked versions of the same foods. We also have to think carefully in that sense then about what vessel the foods are cooked/stored/transported in, as through leaching, can change the nature of the foods significantly.
Another quite significant limitation is that there can be reactions to all foods in a food family, in which case the whole family would need avoiding/reintroducing to get an accurate test. Also people can be sensitive to Phenolic Food Compounds. these are a natural phyochemical that give food its colour/flavour and affects how it decomposes. There can be versions of these added to processed foods but generally naturally occur. A single compound such as Tyramine, can be found in as many as 20 foods. If this is the aspect that creates a reaction then unless you remove all those foods which have it in and then reintroduce them you can end up with very poor results.
People also when using fasting tests can cut out one thing and increase another nutritionally abused food to 'fill the gap'. This may also contribute to the symptoms being experienced. And the simple removal of nutritionally abusive foods such as tea, coffee, sugar, alcohol, wheat, dairy, corn/maize, may make people feel significantly better, just because they are poor quality foods that cost a lot to metabolise, not because we have an allergy or low tolerance to them. That said we will always be better off limiting foods that cost a lot to metabolise and don't really give a lot in terms of nutrition.
In the non-conventional testing there is quite a range of possibility. Many of these are difficult to confirm because the funding and acceptable methodology to research how they work. I say acceptable methodology because I look at the Integral view with show 7 other methodological frameworks which all give reliable data which are not from an empiricist perspective.
Tests such as Vega (Electro-acupuncture according to Voll) Testing, Cardiac reflex method, hair analysis and kinesiology, all have their pros and cons based on the definitions they use and assertions they make on what they are discovering under the name of allergy. This point is one of the most useful to highlight as using the same word but meaning different things gives rise to arugment on who is right about what they discover.
A better question would be based on the results not the methodlogies. Do these approaches give beneficial results to the recipients? This might just be down to the removal of overly used commonly available foods which are over processed and nutritional stripped foods from a diet, which do typically come up in many of these tests. Many of these tests are also actually identifying low tolerance, which remember is a matabolic load issue, not a recognition issue.
My experience extends mainly to using kinesiology for testing and over the last 10+ years I have had to date over 8,000 clinical hours of testing. This means I have tested a lot of muscles on a lot of people and I have found this method to be fairly reliable. See this section for more on kinesiology.
Using techniques developed by the founder of Health Kinesiology, I have repeatedly tested a wide range of substances with muscle testing. I have repeatedly found that avoidance of substances so identified show an improvement of both symptoms and over all health of those individuals and reintroduction of those substances will often cause a return of sysmptoms and a reduction in health. I have also seen that when further kineiology techniques are applied specifically for those substances, that individuals can go back after a short period of time and not have any further reaction to that substance. This has been the case even with clients with anaphylaxis based reactions on some occsaions. Do I really kjnow
In my testing I give a range of information that I think is pertinant to this discussion.
Firstly, the samples that are being used for testing (in any form of test) are a significant limitation. You may or may not react to my sample of 'Apple', but you may have a different repsonse to non-organic pink lady apples from new zealand. This is the same across the board. The responses are sample specific and differing samples can and will give differeing responses. There are more than 70,000 potential allergens out there and no test is currently that comprehensive.
Secondly from an integral perspective, there will be more things creating the current state of health than just an individual compound. What makes the ground susceptible to growth, a range of factors including our mental/emotional state, relationships and environment must be taken into account for why we respond as we do and we shall examine some more of this in the last post in this series on emotional allergy.
It will always take a period of time, often 4-6 weeks to see significant chanes once potential allergens have been identified. It can take as much as 12 weeks in individuals who are holding a large amount of cellular toxicity to clear the system on the basis that there is decreased stress placed on it. But any reintegration of substances (without futher stabilisation work with kinesiology) will generally show a reaction of some kind within 48hrs.
Within the standard test of 420 different substances that I test in a session, I am not looking for what you have in your diet/lifestyle. I am looking to see what distrubances in body energy are triggered by the substances I have. Therefore you could end up seeing substances that you don't come into contact with or eat. You could also have a range of foods that are considered healthy, but for you as an individual you are not going to recognise or metabolise them acurately. I often use the example that I don't have an allergy to arsenic but it would still poison me. The recognition is there but not the ability to counteract its action on my tissues. So this doesn't mean that chemicals that you don't have a confirmed allergy or low tolerance to wont do you any harm, just how they do it will be different.
And yes it is true to say that other testing methodlogies can give differing results, but again this is not due to one being right or wrong, just an unacknowledged difference in definitions and focus of what they are trying to discover but all under a common name. It is very important to remember that all of the methodoligies have a complete but partial view on this area and thay no one method will ever come out as being THE right one.
In the next post in this series we will examine methods of managing allergy.
Please feel free to post comments and quesitons on this surprisingly complex and difficult area of work
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