Allergy and Reactivity

Allergies are considered one of the fastest growing chronic diseases in Australia. More than 20% of the population in industrialised countries suffer from food intolerance or food allergy.1 
Symptoms of allergic disease can range from allergic rhinitis, hayfever, digestive disorders to eczema and asthma, or life-threatening anaphylaxis.

 

 

Allergies occur when a person’s immune system reacts to proteins in the environment that are harmless for most people,2 such as house dust mites, pets, pollen, other insects, moulds and foods.3 

 

 

An intolerance is considered a ‘chemical’ reaction to a substance, commonly food, and does not show up on a traditional allergy test.4 

 

 

The term ‘sensitivity’ is less clear, however in complementary medicine it is commonly seen as a delayed and milder reaction, and will be used in this sense here.5 

 

 

The possible manifestations of a food reaction are widespread and also non-specific, they have been linked to gastrointestinal symptoms, skin complaints, respiratory issues, fatigue, headache, migraine, cognitive deficits, neurodevelopmental disorders, anxiety, depression, joint pain, muscle pain, and endocrine disturbances.6,7,8 

 

 

Regardless of the cause, be it environmental or food-induced, the impact on an individual’s quality of life can be considerable. An allergic reaction involves a complex interplay between antigens, immune cells (e.g. T cells, Immunoglobulin E (IgE), Immunoglobulin G (IgG), Immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies) and effector cell activation (mast cells, basophils, eosinophils).

 

 

This results in an inflammatory response (a reaction), with localised and systemic symptoms. The consequential sustained inflammation may act as a potential driver exacerbating other chronic conditions.