Food allergies on the rise

Refined carbohydrates are the root of many cases of allergies.

by Dr. Martha Grout — 

Every year, allergy medications are among the best-selling drugs in the U.S. If you count asthma, eczema and food allergies, almost one out of three Americans has some sort of allergy. This condition is of relatively recent origin — homeopathic doctors in the early part of the century rarely described allergic diseases or hay fever. It is not such a mystery why modern-day allergies are so common. The groundwork is laid in infancy.

Much of what makes up our immune system comes from the intestines. Early on, the intestines produce B lymphocytes which migrate throughout the body, eventually returning back to the intestines in the form of secretory IgA-producing cells that serve as gatekeepers, telling the body which substances are healthy to absorb, and which need to be kept out.

Our grandparents, many of whom lived to ripe old ages, were of a generation when babies were fed good fats — cod liver oil, farm-fresh butter, eggs from chickens raised naturally outdoors — and good minerals from homemade soup broths. Little, if any, food was processed.

Contrast that with many of today’s babies who are raised, at least in part, on commercial baby formula, which is usually high in processed sugar, mainly derived from corn. Refined sugar is harmful to the immune system because it is highly inflammatory, and stimulates the immune system to go on high alert. In addition, we start feeding allergenic foods to infants — corn sweeteners, wheat cereals and the like. The early feeding of these foods, significantly different from breast milk, can start a cascade of problems, beginning with irritability and frequent earaches in infancy moving on toward reflux, chronic diarrhea or constipation, often resulting in behavioral problems starting as toddlers, and eventually, by age 4 or 5, the commonly recognized “allergy” symptoms — runny nose, sinusitis and asthma.

If children develop ear infections or other maladies, pharmaceutical antibiotics are often given. These alter the intestinal flora, killing off many of the good bacteria needed to pull nutrients out of food as it moves along the intestinal tract. Now the susceptibility to food allergy is increased.

The intestinal tract is one source of defense against allergies, and the adrenal gland is another. The adrenal cortex makes a number of hormones such as cortisone that calm inflammatory responses. Adrenal hormones also regulate sugar and mineral balance. When the adrenal gland is weak or underactive, then inflammation is on the loose.

The adrenal cortex is also very sensitive to blood sugar levels. What are some of the top-selling foods for kids? Bread, pasta, sugary cereals, fruit juices and even soft drinks — all loaded with refined carbohydrates, which quickly turn into sugar in the body. Refined carbohydrates are the root of many cases of allergies.

Children sometimes appear to outgrow asthma because the child grows and weighs more, therefore it takes more allergen to provoke a visible response. But that does not mean the immune system has corrected itself. There is often ongoing inflammation fed day after day by allergic foods. Resulting behavioral problems can continue on through adolescence and even into adulthood.

Inflammation and high cortisol levels result in fat accumulation around the waist and abdominal organs. We become heavy, then overweight, then obese. The advantage of obesity is that there are more cells in which to store the toxins to which we are all exposed daily. The disadvantage is that obesity is associated with high triglycerides, high blood pressure, high insulin levels and eventually high blood sugar — the diabetes epidemic.

As middle age approaches, people may develop chronic inflammatory disease. This can show up as arthritis, osteoporosis, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, colitis, Crohn’s disease, type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome, multiple sclerosis, brain fog, memory loss or a whole host of other diseases that are inflammation based. And the most frightening aspect of this whole epidemic of inflammatory disease is that we are seeing it now in our children, not just in the middle-aged.

It is clear that allergic reaction begets inflammation, which begets yet more of a predisposition to allergic and inflammatory reaction. Even at this late date, and even if there is actual organ damage, if the food or chemical allergy is diagnosed and the offending food or chemical is removed, substantial recovery is possible — often complete recovery.

Because food manufacturers do not have to clearly identify every ingredient, many parents and adults, want to avoid hidden food ingredients, which in some cases will cause significant reactions. Many people who tried standard allergy shots and found they did not help are finding that customized antigens are a better answer.

So, what is the best way to diagnose these allergies? The standard “scratch” or “prick” test is marginally adequate. The problem is that it may tell whether there is a lot or a little skin reactivity, but it does not give any clue as to where to start treatment. The dose injected is variable, and the test is quite unreliable.

A much more accurate way of testing is to do tiny injections of substance within the layers of the skin. Since these layers are loaded with dendritic cells, a form of immune system cells, the entire body is instantly aware of the antigen that has just been injected. The body can respond violently (we call this anaphylaxis), somewhat (we call this allergy), or not at all.

If there is a response to the antigen, the homeopathic physician will look for the specific dilution that causes the body to stop responding — the “neutralizing” dose of antigen.

Immunotherapy uses these very diluted solutions of the substances to which you react. A homeopathic physician will find the level just below that which causes a reaction, and give you a customized mixture at that reduced level, so your body can “learn” again how to tolerate the substances.

Removing offending foods and chemicals, and using antigens to desensitize foods, chemicals, pollens, molds, dust mites, etc., goes a long way toward healing the body. Learning how to use foods to build a strong immune system, and learning how to take stress out of the lifestyle, will take pressure off the adrenal glands and can resolve almost all allergy problems.


Dr. Martha Grout, M.D., M.D.(H), has two decades in emergency medicine and a decade in homeopathic medicine. or 480-240-2600.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 27, Number 2, April/May 2008.


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