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Allergy Treatment

You would probably agree that allergies have a major impact on our lives, because they limit the kinds of contact we can have with the outside world. Allergies can make you feel cautious and insecurity, with a peanut, gluten or latex allergy. The potential for a severe reaction leaves us feeling vulnerable to the outside world. The major focus of standard therapies is the identification of allergens (the substances that cause an allergy) and controlling the inflammatory symptoms of allergy. Most medications prescribed for allergy suppress the reaction of the immune system (steroids and anti-histamines). But placing all of our attention on avoidance, and on symptom control--the very beginning and very end of the process--means that we are missing a whole range of activity in the middle. Too much emphasis on avoidance ultimately leaves us feeling trapped and depressed. Medications that blunt the immune system's inflammatory symptoms (like redness, swelling, itching or wheezing) may not feel like they are really addressing the problem, only holding it at bay. But there are other ways to work with allergy in the middle of the process, that are strengthening and empowering. We just have to start looking at allergy in new ways.

One place to start is by recognizing that allergy has been changing. Allergic illnesses are much more prevalent today than they were in the past. Estimates say that rates of pediatric allergy have increased by 600% since 1970, so that a child today is about seven times more likely to have an allergy than 40 years ago. This includes things like asthma, eczema, and hay-fever (allergic rhinitis), as well as dietary and environmental allergies. So something has been changing about how we are able to take in the outside world and respond to it. An allergy shows that in some way our border has been disrupted. Normally, we should be protected from pollen, food or chemicals from coming too far into the body, but that protection is too often broken.

Some of this comes from us being exposed to things too soon. When exposures follow a healthy developmental progression, we are only exposed to something when our body is able to meet and digest it, not before. But on many levels we, as a modern society, have ignored this and been fooled into thinking that sooner is better. Recent studies show that there introduction of solid foods, too early, can be associated later in life with allergy. Additionally, disruptions to the development of bacteria in the gut are associated with allergy, either when we do not receive that bacteria (which happens through a Cesarian section delivery and there is no passage through the birth canal) or when they are killed (through repeated exposure to antibiotics in the first year of life). There is a wisdom to protecting a young child's physiology in order to allow it to mature. This is one aspect for working with allergies, which means not bringing things too soon. For an older child or adult, identifying sensitivities (for example through food elimination diets) is a way that we very commonly work to try to identify problem foods or substances, take them out, then work to heal the gut, skin or respiratory tract.

Click Here to see a study how anthroposophic treatment of asthma can lead to long-term improvements of symptoms and quality of life.

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A second aspect is knowing when a healthy boundary should be open, and when it should be closed. In many ways this is like driving--knowing when to brake and when to accelerate, or in a conversation--knowing when to speak and when to listen. That may sound abstract, but it has real physiologic importance. We are much better able to take something and properly work with it when our body knows that it is coming. Your own body digests something so much better when there has been time for cooking and setting the table with wonderful smells and sights. Then the digestive juices from your mouth, stomach, liver and pancreas are ready to eat the food. And you eat your fill, feel satisfied, and then are done. But what happens if you were exposed to rich food and smells all day long? Or to artificial smells in the background? Or your were forced to eat a little bit, constantly, all day long? Sometimes our body is overwhelmed. It's true that today we have an incredible number of things coming towards us all the time, which we need to protect against (pollutants in the air, additives in food, chemicals in things we work with). But there are also an equally incredible number of things competing for our attention which we are supposed to pay attention to all the time (noises, traffic, schedules, voice mail). And that modern combination confuses our healthy experience of boundary. We are required to simultaneously be totally open to the things we have to pay attention to, and closed and protective against all the foreign substances we encounter. Like pushing on the brake and the accelerator at the same time. An important step for addressing allergies is to look at the ways we are expected to interact with our environment, and makingsure that we consciously support our boundaries, so that there are times when we are really open and actively receptive, and other times when we can be closed and totally protected. Anthroposophic medicines made with natural ingredients (lemon, quince, silica and others) support and strengthen our experience of self and outside on a physical level. Anthroposophic therapies, including Collot therapeutic painting, help to reinforce that same process on a mental and emotional level as well.

 

A third step of allergy is the compensatory reaction against what is foreign, and this process is what we usually experience as the actual allergy symptoms. The immune system meets, then tries to break down and eliminate what does not belong in the body. In many ways this needs to be a digestive process but it may not be happening in the right place. The eyes, nose, lungs and skin are not very good digestive organs. The challenge is that when we routinely suppress inflammatory processes in the body--with antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, anti-pyretics (fever reducers)--we may hamper the body's own ability to meet and transform what it encounters as outside substance. Our immune system needs the practice, to be better able to determine what is inside and what is outside. Then it can function in a balanced way. Being exposed to a wide variety of outside substance is not the main problem, as a study actually showed that children living on a farm had significantly reduced risks of hay fever, eczema and asthma. (Allergy. 2006 Apr;61(4):414-21. Allergic diseases and atopic sensitization in children related to farming and anthroposophic lifestyle--the PARSIFAL study.) There are also studies showing that restricted use of antibiotics and anti-pyretics is related to a lower overall risk of allergy, and that routine dosing of Tylenol at an early age is associated with an almost two-fold risk of asthma symptoms by age nine. Using the right natural medicines supports the immune system's ability to properly break down and digest foreign substance, which helps reduce allergy symptoms. We provide home care guides to help you work with common acute inflammations (like fevers and ear aches) in ways that support and guide inflammation, instead of just suppressing it.

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What Clients Say...

... Dr. Blanning was able to help manage serious medical conditions for not one, but both of my children (separate illnesses at separate times). We had spent *thousands* of dollars at Children's Hospital and our Pediatrician and not been able to manage their illnesses. If you are considering an Anthroposophic doctor, I couldn't possibly encourage you more to see Dr. Blanning. YES!...Read More