Can Food Allergies Be Treated With Chiropractic?
“Today, I’m so excited to have a guest post by Dr. Brent Wells.”
Living with food allergies is a struggle that sufferers are reminded of at every meal. Families and people living with food allergies have to change the way they look at food as they have to learn to read labels and ask plenty of questions when they eat at restaurants.
From peanut-free schools to gluten-free bakeries, food intolerance and food allergies affect more than just the small percentage of people who suffer from them.
There are two big questions surrounding food allergies.
- Why do people get them?
- How are they cured?
Researchers have been dutifully studying food allergies to get to the root of the problem. Allergists, immunologists, nutritionists, chiropractors, and other health care providers have worked with people who have food allergies.
Since reactions to foods like peanuts, shellfish, and other common allergens can be deadly, researchers have worked hard to find answers and debunk bogus theories.
Learning how to prevent food allergies
According to the results of a study conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, there appears to be some developing understanding of how parents can prevent their children from developing a peanut allergy.
In this study, 640 children under one year of age were put into two groups. One group did not eat any peanut products for five years, while the other group ate peanut products several times per week.
Those who avoided them were 80% more likely to develop the allergy than those who ate them. The children who were selected for the study had histories of allergies, asthma, and eczema in their families.
While this study recommends that young children have early exposure to peanuts to avoid developing a food allergy, the study did not reveal any insight into curing those who already have the problem.
Traditional Chinese Medicine and NAET
As parents want their children to be able to eat healthy foods and not have to worry about anaphylaxis or other reactions, parents often turn to homeopathic and alternative medicines for relief.
A study published in Global Advances in Health and Medicine looked at Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techniques (NAET). According to the study, “Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techniques (NAET), developed in 1983, is an unconventional treatment for food allergies that combines aspects of traditional Chinese medicine with nutritional and chiropractic principles.”
The technique uses acupuncture and can be noninvasive. During the treatment practitioners apply ”firm, rapid pressure stimulation that is applied to the “Hua To JiaJi” points from traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), as well as designated points down the spine and along the paraspinal muscles which help stimulate the intercostal nerves.”
To fight food allergies, the technique is performed while the patient holds a vial of their allergen.
Unfortunately, the NAET study did not produce positive results. The patient who was involved in the case study continued to have food allergies, but she did have a subtle reduction in her IgE serum levels.
The study revealed that most people with peanut allergies do not experience IgE reductions. However, at this time, the only option for sufferers of peanut allergies is to avoid the allergen.
Chiropractic care and food allergies
Parents often turn to chiropractic care for their children who suffer from asthma and environmental allergies. We see them at our clinic Better Health Chiropractic in Juneau.
Like other chiropractors, we see that children have a better quality of life when they pair their traditional asthma treatments with spinal manipulation therapy.
A study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapies saw the same thing. This study revealed that children who paired spinal manipulation therapy with their asthma medication felt better.
Children reported that their asthmas was less severe than before they began chiropractic treatment. While chiropractic medicine did not cure their asthma, but it improved their lives.
Despite the positive experience for people with asthma, researchers have yet to prove that chiropractic care can be an effective treatment for food allergies. In fact, a study published in the BMJ showed that practitioners of alternative medicine should be careful in claiming they can treat or cure allergies.
The study found that “many of the interventions advertised by naturopaths, homeopaths, acupuncturists and chiropractors lack evidence of efficacy, as we found to be the case for allergy and asthma.”
As parents of young children suffering from allergies and asthma look for answers, they could do more harm than good by turning to unproven methods.
The best treatment is avoidance
Research, like that published in the Pediatric Clinic of North America, continues to inform people with food allergies that the best choice is to avoid eating foods that trigger reactions. Patients need to read labels and learn how to use their EpiPens. Unfortunately, this can cause anxiety because of the constant vigilance.
This study, published in 2015, looked at a variety of clinical trials and the history of food allergy research. The results found that the most promising treatment is immunotherapy, but more research needs to be conducted.
This treatment includes controlled desensitization, but it has not be tested on people with severe food allergies due to ethical and safety considerations.
With science being unable to find an effective treatment to food allergies, parents should take heed when turning to alternative medicine’s claims of cure.
When working with children who have food allergies, research shows that being safe is best. If a child is allergic to a food, the child should not eat the food.
How chiropractic care can help food allergy suffers
Of course, children with food allergies can benefit from chiropractic care for other problems. Since researchers saw a correlation between anxiety and food allergies, children could benefit from the relaxation techniques that chiropractors share with their patients.
This will not cure their food allergies, but research shared in the BMJ showed that massage therapy can help improve relaxation and sleep. Because of safety issues relating to food allergies, chiropractors should be very clear about how their techniques – even those that help with relaxation – benefit patients who have serious food allergies.
About Dr. Brent Wells
Dr. Brent Wells is a graduate of the University of Nevada where he earned his bachelor of science degree before moving on to complete his doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College. He founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in 1998. He became passionate about being in the chiropractic field after his own experiences with hurried, unprofessional healthcare providers. The goal for Dr. Wells is to treat his patients with care and compassion while providing them with a better quality of life through his professional treatment.
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