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Allergies and Asthma

Published by Dr. Meghan Haggarty

Allergies

Allergies are a growing epidemic and can mask a child’s true nature. Reversing the effects of a chronic exposure to an allergen is of tremendous benefit to the child. Our naturopathic doctors in Calgary test for three types of allergic reactions:

  • IgE – immediate allergic reactions
  • IgG – delayed reactions that may not occur for hours or days after an exposure
  • IgA – these antibodies are produced in the highest amount in the GI tract and mucous membranes

In our naturopathic doctors’ experience, patients have some idea regarding their potential IgE allergies. However, our Calgary naturopaths note it is very difficult for patients to connect a food or substance as an IgG allergen due to the delayed timing of the reaction. As much as sixty percent of individuals with food sensitivities experience delayed (IgG) rather than immediate (IgE) reactions. Environmental allergies are also commonly tested to identify what in your children’s environment is affecting their immune response. Some things that your child may be exposed to daily that can cause a reaction include mold, cats, dogs, trees, grass etc.

Nutritional testing is also used to identify deficiencies that a child may have. Specific nutrients and vitamins can affect the immune system and how we respond to allergens. Nutritional testing that our naturopaths recommend examine a variety of different areas that may include amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. If a child is deficient in any of these their body doesn’t respond in a normal, healthy way to an allergen. Identifying any deficiencies allows for our naturopathic doctors to recommend individualized naturopathic supplementation to correct these deficiencies and therefore the underlying cause of the allergy.

Chronic infections are another possible underlying cause of an imbalanced immune response. Infections from yeast, mold, bacteria or viruses can remain in the body for a long time. In this case the immune system is constantly “on” to fight the infection and becomes hypersensitive causing heightened immune response and allergies. The naturopaths at the Nardella Clinic in Calgary test for these chronic infections using blood, nasal, stool and urine testing.

Exposure to toxins is a growing concern for children. Toxins from foods, cleaning products and the air increase the total toxic load on a child’s system and also impair their ability to detoxify. Testing for exposure to metals (lead, mercury, etc), pesticides, and other chemicals is important. If the child has been exposed to these toxins the immune system recognizes them as foreign and imbalances are created. This too can cause a heightened immune response leading to or increasing the severity of allergies. Naturopathic detoxification therapies help to remove these toxins from a child’s body and normalize the immune response.

Asthma

Allergies are the leading cause of asthma in children. Although other triggers may cause asthma attacks, children who suffer from asthma often have underlying allergies that are causing an imbalance in their immune response. This causes them to react to these triggers. By using naturopathic therapies to address the child’s allergies and their immune system asthma symptoms can be better controlled.

When treating Asthma, our naturopaths use therapies that aim to eliminate the sources of the problem and improve and sustain the immune system.

Diet Modification and Nutrient Optimization

After the completion of naturopathic assessment and diagnostic testing, the required tools are available to move forward with an effective treatment plan. Dietary advice is given to help eliminate foods and environmental exposures that cause allergic reactions and trigger the child’s asthma. Patients are guided through appropriate food choices and nutritional supplementation designed to promote a healthy immune system and reduce inflammation. The benefits are a significant improvement in the child’s asthma.

Improving Detoxification

Effectively removing harmful substances that a child has been exposed to is a crucial part of regulating the immune system and controlling asthma. Toxins accumulate in our cells affecting biochemical health and organ function, such as the lungs. Naturopathic detoxification is comprised of treatments that are tailored to each individual child. When cell toxicity is decreased the cells can use nutrients more effectively, helping the body to have a more appropriate immune response. Each child has a unique capacity to detoxify. At the Calgary clinic our naturopaths have the expertise to assess a child’s toxicity and detoxification potential and determine how to improve their ability to detoxify. When working with children with asthma, our naturopaths combine supporting the patient’s detoxification system with natural anti-inflammatory treatments.

Gastrointestinal Treatments

Impaired gastrointestinal function may be a significant contributor to the presence immunological disorders. An immune system response that is triggered in the gut may contribute to local and then more generalized inflammation. This is termed an inflammatory cascade. A more sensitive or hyper-responsive immune system may result.

Case Studies 

4 Year Old Boy with Asthma

A 4 year old boy came to the clinic for a naturopathic consultation in Calgary with difficulty breathing after having a cold a few weeks before. The child was recovering from the illness but was still wheezing and having trouble sleeping at night. The family doctor diagnosed the child as having viral induced asthma and prescribed a steroid inhaler. The parents brought the child in interested in naturopathic support in addition to the inhaler. A history was taken and it showed a history of eczema since birth and a family history of allergies. The child was tested for food and environmental allergies to identify stressors on the immune system. He was prescribed a regime of naturopathic supplements. These helped to decrease inflammation, support the immune system, relax the lungs, and decrease mucous production. The parents noticed an improvement in his ability to breathe within a couple of days and the child was able to sleep better at night. A care plan was developed and the parents continue to notice an improvement in the child’s energy, sleep quality and immune system.

Therapies Used for the Treatment of Allergies and Asthma

  • Chelation
  • Pharmacological, Herbal and Nutrient Therapy
  • Detoxification Therapy
  • Nutrition Optimization