Halloween Can Be Very Scary — If Your Child Has Allergies or Hypersensitivities!

Halloween can be scary indeed — particularly the day after as attested to by every teacher I’ve ever met.  You’ve heard the stories — or perhaps you’ve even happy_jack_o_lanternwitnessed them personally.  Why is it most young children behave so badly:  Allergies/hypersensitivities to the chemicals called “salicylates” that permeate the candy they’ve been given, along with a whole lot of sugar.  Both salicylates which include food coloring (especially yellow dye #5 and #6) and flavorings spike a chemical in the brain called “glutamate”.

Here’s an excellent peer-reviewed journal article entitled Sensitivity to food additives, vaso-active amines and salicylates: a review of the evidence

Here’s some information from http://fedup.com.au/factsheets/additive-and-natural-chemical-factsheets/salicylates:

What are salicylates?

Salicylates are chemicals that occur naturally in many plants – they’re a kind of natural pesticide – to protect the plants against insects and diseases. Salicylates are just one group of the hundreds of compounds in foods that can have varying effects on us, depending on how much we eat and how sensitive we are.

     What kinds of foods/products are they found in?

Salicylates are found in foods from plants: most fruit, some vegetables, herbs, spices, tea and flavour additives. For example, citrus fruit, berries, tomato sauce and mint flavouring are naturally high in salicylates and so are processed foods with those flavours.

Salicylates are also found in medications, fragrances, industrial chemicals, plastics and some pesticides, and can cause adverse effects when inhaled as well as eaten.

     What are some of the symptoms of salicylate sensitivity?

  • headaches or migraines
  • itchy skin rashes such as hives (urticaria), eczema and others
  • irritable bowel symptoms – reflux in babies or adults, nausea, vomiting, stomach bloating and discomfort, wind, diarrhoea and/or constipation
  • bedwetting, cystitis
  • asthma, stuffy or runny nose, nasal polyps, frequent throat clearing,
  • behaviour problems such as irritability, restlessness, inattention, oppositional defiance, symptoms of ADHD
  • sleep disturbance – difficulty falling asleep, night terrors, frequent night waking, sleep apnoea
  • anxiety, depression, panic attacks
  • rapid heart beat and arrythmias
  • tinnitus, hyperacusis, hearing loss (hyperacusis is a sensitivity to noises)
  • joint pain, arthritis, and more ….

As you can see from the last list, uncorrected salicylate sensitivity can result in many profound changes, and can continue into adulthood with many serious effects long-term.

The Feingold Diet Program has a great deal of information on this problem, especially in relationship to ADHD.  For more information, go to their website – www.feingold.org.  A good piece of information to download is their “Blue Book”.

There is also a connection between salicylate sensitivity and sulphite sensitivity, as noted on this youtube channel.

One of the worst salicylate food colorings are yellow dye #5, also known as tartrazine, which is known to produce symptoms of ADHD and other bad effects.

So, if your child gets any symptoms noted above, even after Halloween, you should bring them in and have them checked for salicylate or sulphite sensitivity.

PS.  For more information on food colorings and other food chemicals, this Slate article entitled “Food Doesn’t Have to Wear Makeup” is worth a read.

Seasonal Allergies: It’s Going to Be a Heckuva Season

Sneezing GirlThe Problem

With the fourth mildest winter in recorded history behind us, the seasonal allergy problem is, so to speak, in full bloom.

An interesting article was published on March 13th in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Allergies:  The Season’s Public Enemies” by Laura Landro made some interesting observations:

As many as 30% of children and up to 40% of adults suffer from seasonal allergies that cause reactions such as sneezing, itching, stuffy nose, and watery eyes. Trees are one of the earliest plants to release pollen, followed later by pollen from grass and flowering plants. For example, high concentrations of tree pollen in Kansas City, Mo., Tuesday came mainly from juniper, elm and maple trees, according to data compiled by the National Allergy Bureau, part of research group American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Ditto for Atlanta, where the top

offenders were pine, oak and birch.

California Oak Tree

photo by Phillip Bouchard on Flickr

In the beautiful City of Thousand Oaks, California, this can be a problem (yes we have AT LEAST 1000 Oak trees, and hundreds of persons reacting to them).

And it appears the season will continue longer than usual.

What to Do?

The article in the WSJ talks about the typical treatments:  antihistamines including eye drops, nasal sprays and the like can reduce the symptoms of allergic rhinitis otherwise known as “hay fever”, but that doesn’t solve the real problem — what’s actually creating an abnormal immune response on some people when it doesn’t in others.  Various medical treatments including subcutaneous(under the skin)  or sublingual (under the tongue) immunotherapy works, but takes awhile to work — again, according to the WSJ article:

Unlike medication, allergy shots can potentially lead to lasting remission of symptoms after three to five years.

So, if you have time enough to wait, this might be a viable choice.

Other Choices

Most people don’t know that acupuncture has been one of the most high effective methods of treating allergies for centuries.  In an interesting article entitled Acupuncture and Traditional Oriental Medicine for Seasonal Allergies, author Jillian Capodice, LAc demonstrates a number of research articles on the subject.  The efficacy of acupuncture in regard to seasonal allergy is also mentioned on the prestigious WebMD site in an article entitled Relieve Allergies the Natural Way.

But, if you’re needle-phobic like me, you are probably looking for another way to deal with this problem.

Acupuncture points on back

© nebari – Fotolia.com

There are a number of techniques that utilize principles from acupuncture without actually using needles.  The premier technique is called “NAET” – an anacronym for “Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Technique”.  It uses another form of treatment to stimulate acupuncture points, specifically points on the back called “Shu” points which connect with the various energy meridians on mammals, including humans.  This treatment is a form of acuPRESSURE which is the manual stimulation of acu points with pressure.

NAET seems to have a balancing effect on the Autonomic Nervous System. It can desensitize your response to environmental (and other) allergens quite quickly.  However, one must also keep in mind that other issues need to be addressed for a “permanent” elimination.

That will be the subject of our next post.