Frequently Asked Questions - Allergies
Candida Related Complex and Food Allergies
by Tarilee Cornish, CNP
CRC (Candida Related Complex) increases strain on your intestinal health and your immune system. This added strain can result in an increased vulnerability to food and environmental allergies and intolerances.
Food sensitivities can be caused by a temporary loss of intestinal integrity (i.e. mild damage to your intestinal lining caused by the mycelia of the candida fungus). However, it is not unusual for hidden 'allergies' to be identified for the first time during CRC recovery. Long standing allergies may require permanent avoidance but you may find that some allergens can be consumed on a rotational basis after recovery. In some cases, food intolerances can completely resolve.
As you cleanse your bowels and liver, remove the toxic strain from the candida metabolism; boost your digestive and immune health and clean up your environment, your level of health can rise well above what it was before you developed symptoms.
Is it a 'real' allergy?
There is controversy about how a food allergy should be defined. There are, in fact, many different types of allergy-like immune reactions. The medical definition of a typical "allergy" is limited to antibody mediated reactions that trigger specific immune cells. These allergies usually manifest symptoms within several seconds to several hours after exposure. There are other types of immune reactions to substances that can affect the body/mind in different ways, including in the form of a delayed reaction. Intolerances like these may not be recognized by some medical professionals. Environmental Medicine specialists and Naturopathic Physicians may offer more help in diagnosing and treating food intolerances. Symptoms of food intolerances may include any one of several hundred physical and emotional responses requiring self-sleuthing and a food diary to sort out.
In the information below I will refer to actual antibody mediated allergies as "allergies" and to non-antibody-mediated reactions as "intolerances". When I am referring to substances that cause reactions (all kinds), I will use the term "allergens".
Medically recognized allergy
The medically defined allergic reaction is the IgE antibody-mediated reaction. However, over 80% of food reactions do not involve IgE. If your body produces an IgE antibody as a defense against a substance, the allergy can be easily diagnosed with a skin scratch test. Reactions to exposures to EgE allergies vary from asymptomatic to life threatening.
These resources can help you achieve your health goals by guiding you as you explore your own best approach to successful food therapy and self-care. If you experience symptoms of a serious eating disorder, please be sure to see a physician.
Other antibody reactions
There are four other types of antibodies; IgG, IgM, IgA, and IgD. Any one of them may can be involved in your reactions to foods but an intolerance involving these antibodies will not be identified using the standard scratch test.
Non antibody-mediated intolerances may be severe and can be either immediate or delayed. They can take from seconds to several hours or days to appear. When delayed they can be particularly confusing as they are harder to trace.
Allergic/intolerance reactions involve a broad range of reactions and immune chemicals involved include: histamine, bradykinin, leukotriences, prostaglandins, immune complexes and thromboxin. Each one of these substances has a particular defensive role to play in 'protecting' your body from foreign substances.
The associated biochemical actions often result in uncomfortable symptoms like swelling, itching, pain, nausea, blood vessel dilation, diarrhea, etc. The list of potential symptoms from exposure to food allergies and intolerances are surprisingly diverse.
Symptoms of Food or Chemical Intolerances may include:
Aphasia (inability to find words)
Disorientation / confusion / dyslexia / memory problems
Leaky Gut Syndrome and the Birth of an Allergy
Food allergies can be particularly severe in the case of CRC (Candida Related Complex) or any other severe intestinal imbalance. This is because the intestinal wall becomes weaker, reducing its integrity and sometimes its impermeability. This condition is called, Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS).
If allergies are caused by LGS, they could be temporary in which case they will resolve themselves as your condition improves. Chronic intestinal stress from candi-toxins, putrefaction and related indigestion can inflame the intestinal wall and make it super-reactive to irritation from antagonistic foods. In addition, the fungal form of candida has the ability to actually penetrate the intestinal walls, damage them and cause a leakage of undigested food substances into the bloodstream. Normally food is broken down into its smallest components to a form the digestive system can recognize.
Foreign substances (like undigested food particles) stress an already fatigued immune system. If food particles leak through the permeable intestinal membrane before being thoroughly broken down into hydrocarbons (amino acids, simple sugars and fatty acids), the immune system cannot recognize the particle as nutrition. Thus it triggers a rejection by the body in the form of specialized immune cells.
Once a food has leaked out of the digestive system, the body can develop a memory of the food and it will develop antibodies that will be triggered next time you eat this food, sometimes more quickly and possibly more severely. This is one way that an intolerance or allergy can form.
A leaky gut related food allergy can be more common during recovery from a candida infestation. This is because of the perforations in the intestinal tract caused by the dying fungus. When anti-fungal therapy is used, the candida is killed off. The roots (or mycelia) that hold the fungus onto the intestinal wall shrink and then release from the intestinal membrane. This can leave intestinal perforations behind.
Four day rotation diet
If you are experiencing an increase in allergic or intolerance responses to your foods, a hypoallergenic, four day rotation diet may be helpful. It is sometimes recommended during a candida purge because eating foods less frequently can reduce the potential for the immune system to develop defenses against them.
How can I determine if I have food allergies?
There are a number of medical and non-medical approaches to allergy testing, none of which are known to be 100% accurate. As mentioned above, the scratch type medical test is specific to one type of reaction only. This clearly does not offer a complete picture, especially since false positives are common (i.e. you might show allergic but not experience symptoms).
There is no one test I know of which provides a thorough look at all the potential food allergens and food intolerances. A very expensive barrage of testing and lab work would be required to diagnose a significant number of problem foods and you will still have some mystery reactions to uncover and potentially conflicting test results to reconcile.
Alternative 'diagnostic' technology - Electro Dermal Screening (EDS)
There is however, a testing technology that is able to pick up a broader range of suspect foods and for much less cost than the medical tests. It will register a positive intolerance response for any type of intolerance that causes stress to the body, regardless of the type of reaction. This technology is more commonly used by naturopathic physicians rather than medical doctors.
Because of the broad range of reactions that Electro Dermal Screening (EDS) can pick up, it may be the most accurate of all of the testing methods available. The equipment needs to be well-maintained and the technician highly skilled, committed and concentrated on the well-being of the patient. The more modern versions of this equipment have built-in indicators that help to reduce the margin for operator-caused error.
The test identifies numerous intolerances and allergies regardless of immune reaction but it also identifies them by priority - according to the degree of stress with which the body is currently reacting to each food (or other substance).
For DIY home testing, there are a variety of methods that can be helpful. Through careful and thorough observation using a food diary and various methods of food elimination and reintroduction, you can get some important information. You can also try learning muscle testing, a sort of body-dowsing method to estimate the effect that a substance will have on your body. There are credible organizations that offer workshops to help you develop these skills with the support of an instructor and a group.
If performed with methodical care, these self-testing methods can be just as accurate as other testing methods (or more so). The food diary is a very helpful approach to diagnosis, yet it is time consuming. Recording meals and symptoms consistently and analyzing the data takes organization and determination. It is useful in that it can match symptoms to foods - unlike any of the other methods. Thus even if all of the allergy testing options have been utilized, the self-testing may be the only approach that can clarify what affects particular foods are having.
Allergy Testing Methods Available
Skin Scratch Test
The skin test involves applying a drop of antigen to the skin surface after pricking or scratching it. The results are then observed. A skin reaction indicates a typical allergy. The reaction is only caused if IgE antibody levels are high there will be a histamine reaction. Since over 80% of food allergy and chemical allergies are non-IgE mediated, this test is not conclusive.
Radioallergosorbent testing (RAST) is a highly specialized blood test to uncover IgE antibody allergic responses. It is not appropriate for food allergies, but useful for inhalant allergies. The test can produce 20 percent false positive and 20% false negatives and is very expensive.
This is a blood test for foods. Live white blood cells are mixed with individual food antigens. A reaction to the combination indicates the presence of a sensitivity. This test is expensive and can show false negatives of food that has not recently been consumed. The skill of the technician reading the slides is crucial.
The pulse test is done for one food at a time, usually after a fast (allergists use anywhere from a four hour to a four day fast). The pulse is counted every twenty minutes for an hour after exposure. If the baseline pulse reading increases or decreases by 20 or more beats per minute after exposure, an intolerance is presumed.
The Rotation Diet (a food is only eaten once every four days), the food diary (every food item consumed is recorded in a diary, along with symptoms) and the two-week elimination test (foods are systematically reintroduced after a two week abstinence) are all examples of elimination diets. These tests are slow and require a strong commitment from a patient. They are not completely objective but perhaps are at least as objective and accurate as any of the more clinical tests. The main advantages of this type of approach are the ability to connect a specific allergen with a specific symptom and the ability to conduct the test at home, at no charge.
Electro Dermal Screening
As mentioned above, this method involves registering the patient's response to the electromagnetic frequency of foods, inhalants and other environmental substances. A probe is used to direct a response signal into a specific acupuncture point on the hand or foot. The response is then displayed on a corresponding computer. This approach has a comparatively high accuracy rate. The accuracy is based on the technician's skill and the quality of the equipment. False negatives may be registered if the patient has not recently been exposed to a specific substance.
Antigen Leukocyte Cellular Antibody Testing (ALCAT)
This is a blood test based on the incubation of serum and white blood cells with a food or mold impregnated disc. Evidence of significant changes in cell size and numbers are indicators of sensitivity.
The antigen (for contact allergies) is placed on a patch applied to the skin for 24 to 28 hours and reactions are noted.
Provocative Neutralization Test
A dilution of the antigens tested is administered in drops under the tongue or by injection.
In my opinion, the electro dermal screening and the elimination tests provide the most empowering results and are the most affordable.
Four Day Rotation Diet
The four day rotation/elimination diet provides not only a diagnostic tool but an approach to treatment. Once CRC is resolved, most people can tolerate many more foods than they could during their acute illness.
The investigation of potential health stressors* (allergies or intolerances) that may cause symptoms as minor as a sniffle or as life-threatening as anaphylactic shock can be a mind-boggling process. There are a number of factors that will prove helpful to keep in mind as you work to get clarity about the best foods for you.
Too much of a good thing?
The frequency with which you eat a food can affect whether you have a reaction to it or not. Some foods may be tolerated if eaten infrequently (every 4-14 days). The more often you eat it, the more likely it is to cause a problem.
Cooked or Raw?
You may tolerate a cooked food while the same food eaten raw can produce symptoms, or vice versa.
What season is it?
You may become more sensitive to certain foods during a particular time of year due to the additional stress of inhalant allergens. You may even find that some allergies are only a concern for you at one time of year. Hay fever season can trigger certain food allergies as can the indoor winter season, when we are breathing more dust and indoor pollutants. A high-quality air cleaner with a charcoal and hepa filter can help to reduce the additional stress of inhalant allergies. Blue Air is a high quality brand of air cleaner.
Feeling a buzz?
You may crave foods that you react to and you may experience days of withdrawal when you eliminate them. Eating these foods can even produce a sort of high. Stay alert to your most urgent cravings, as well as to altered states created by eating certain foods. Chances are, if a food leaves you feeling noticeably stimulated or sedated, you have sensitivity to it.
Become an avid label reader and ask before you eat! You may think you are allergic to Chinese noodles or something in them but in fact you may be allergic to the MSG in the sauce that is poured over them. Hidden additives can be as much a problem as the foods themselves. Learning about dangerous additives and where to look for them is key. When eating out, ask your server to help you check for potential allergy hazards in your food. And don't forget your reading glasses when you go to the grocery store!
Agrichemicals, packaging and processing
Pesticide-residues or irradiated foods may cause reactions in some people. Organically grown foods that are not sprayed or treated may be well tolerated while their conventionally-produced counterparts cause serious discomfort. Use organically grown foods in their most natural state with as little packaging as possible to reduce the potential for reactions.
Also, packaging additives may be made from allergenic substances such as cornstarch used to powder cereal bags and milk cartons. Chemicals leached from the inside of a can or from plastic wrap may be an issue for you if you are severely sensitive. Again, eating foods in their most natural state is the most cautious approach.
Remember, you may have the same symptom in response to several kinds of food or a specific symptom for each different food. Keeping your reactions (both negative and positive) to foods recorded in your food diary is the best way to match specific allergens. Write down how you feel if a symptom develops even if you aren't sure if it is related to your meal. The diary can also be a place to record your other investigations (supplement and cosmetic trials, chemical sensitivity concerns, etc.).
Immune system recovery, restoration of intestinal integrity and healthy flora are the most important and most effective strategy. In addition, there are other emerging treatments for food allergies. One is called NAET, Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Technique. This is combination of Kinesiology and acupuncture that can be used both to detect and treat allergies. I'm not personally convinced of this approach but it may be worth looking into for some. You can find an abundance of information about this technique on the internet.
Enzyme Potentiated Desensitization (EPD) is another treatment approach. Again, I recommend researching this method yourself to learn more.
And finally, remember that the stronger your digestive health, the less likely you'll develop intolerances. See the Candida Diet FAQ’s
The Whole Approach store sells two anti-inflammatory products that can be beneficial for the intestinal system. Quercetin and Bromelain or Smooth Operator.
Adding digestive enzymes to each meal can also reduce reactions by helping your digestive system optimally break down the foods you eat.
AbsorbAid digestive enzymes are a potent and additive free enzyme formula can be very helpful to your energy, immunity and digestive ease. with each significantly sized snack or meal and take extra if you accidentally encounter a food to which you know you are allergic to. Quality enzymes can sometimes be helpful when you get digestive discomfort after a meal though it’s best taken with the first couple of bites of food. If you have stomach ulcers you should use caution with this product and increase your dosage slowly while carefully observing your response to it.
Buffered Vitamin C
Buffered vitamin C is an excellent support the immune system, support the detoxification process, and reduce allergic reactions. You can take anywhere between two and six per day on a regular basis and you can also use it to lessen an allergic reaction if you have accidentally been exposed to a substance that is a problem for you. Just take three to four capsules as soon after exposure as possible. Even though this is a neutral pH vitamin C, it does still have some bowel loosening properties. Depending on how loose your stools are, you may need to build up your tolerance to it gradually to prevent diarrhea. Buffered Vitamin C
To stay symptom free during your recovery from food allergies and CRC, your best defenses are knowledge and self-awareness. The following books can provide excellent guidance on your healing strategies.
- Allergies, Diseases in Disguise, by Carolee Bateson-Koch
- Food Allergies Made Simple, by Austin, Thrash MD and Thrash MD
- Allergy Relief and Prevention, by Jacqueline Krohn MD
- Additive Alert, by the Pollution Probe
- A Consumer's Guide to Food Additives, by Ruth Winters
- The Safe Shoppers Bible, by Steinman and Epstein Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia and Environmental Illness, by Future Medicine Publishing
Tarilee Cornish is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner with a special interest in immune and digestive recovery including general detoxification and recovery from food allergies and candida overgrowth. She is especially passionate about pure healing food choices that have a democratic, ecological and compassionate production and distribution chain. Tarilee is a moderator on the WholeApproach Support Forum.