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Food Allergy (Aaharaasatmyata)

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Food Allergy - Aaharaasatmyata

Food Allergy refers to the hypersensitivity reaction of body towards various types of food stuffs. The major etiology of food related ailments are incompatible food habits or incorporation of foreign and unfamiliar food. The food allergies may show minor or acute symptoms. Even ifindividuals feel some discomforts after consumption of certain food,it may notbe countedas a food allergy.AaharaAsatmyata or Virudha is the term mentioned in Ayurveda to denote Food Intolerance or Food Allergy. Dr. Gupta’s IAFA suggests to take a detailed examination with an Ayurvedic allergy specialist for understanding the root cause behind ailment. IAFA ensureseffective treatment in various food allergies.

 

Most people think that the food they eat is the culpritof food allergies. If someone has allergy to some food and if they assume that its treatment is to “Just avoid that Food”, it is not the correct way of management.  The “Culprit is not Food; the Culprit is Human Being itself”. The way humans do genetic mutation to crops, the way humans are using pesticides or herbicides, the way humans are using preservatives, the way humans are eating unnatural or synthetic foods, the way of cooking they had adopted like microwaves etc. are the major causes for food related discomforts. The most common among them is to have food combinations which are incompatible like dairy products with meat, milk with sea-foods etc.

Causes of Food Allergy

An allergy is caused when body’s immune system is inappropriately activated. The immune system is formulated to attack bacteria, viruses, parasites etc. Sometimes, body’s immune system reacts to certain food items. This is called “food allergy” or “food intolerance.”When the immune system is activated, antibodies or immunoglobulin are produced against antigen or allergen. Antigen-Antibodies reaction in turn triggers an inflammatory response. Inflammation causes pain and tissue damage, leading to increased mucous production. Further, symptoms like rash, itching, or severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis may occur.
When a food eaten is broken down and absorbed by gastrointestinal system, it is distributed through bloodstream to all body tissues. Therefore an allergic reaction can occur just anywhere in the vascular body.

 

Ayurveda suggests that the reasons for food allergy include intake of incompatible food items, unfamiliar food, improperly cooked food, untimely food etc.  Ayurveda outlines a number of foods that on combination may become unhealthy and ill effecting. Combinations of some rasa are incompatible like madhura (sweet) with amla (sour), madhura with tikta (bitter) etc. 

 

Causes of food allergy are divided into three parts as per dosha dominance:

  • Vatarelated reasons in Food AllergyVata gets aggravated in Vata dominant body type people by consuming spicy, dry, bitter, astringent, raw and cold food items.
  • Pitta related reason in Food Allergy Pitta gets aggravated in Pitta dominant body Type people by consuming excessive spicy, sour, salty, fermented, deep fried food items, raw vegetables, etc.
  • Kapha related reason in Food AllergyKapha gets aggravated in Kapha dominant body type people by consuming excess milk products, excess sweets, sour, salty, cucumber, watermelon, cold items.

Ayurvedic Reference of Food Allergy- AaharaAsatmyata

Classification of Food Allergy

Any food can cause an adverse reaction. But according to the International Standards, eight types of food are considered as the reason for about 90 percent of food allergy events. They are:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Fish
  • Shellfish

  • Peanuts
  • Tree Nuts
  • Wheat
  • Soy

Certain seeds, including sesame and mustard seeds (the main ingredient in the condiment mustard) are also common food allergy triggers and are considered as major food allergens in India.

 

In Ayurveda, on the basis of dosha dominance, food allergies are classified into:

  • Vata Related Food Allergy 
  • Pitta Related Food Allergy
  • Kapha Related Food Allergy

Symptoms of Food Allergy

Mostly food allergy symptoms occur within two or three hours of ingestion or often start within minutes in some patients. Delayed reactions by four-six hours or even longer are typically seen in children who develop eczema or any other skin related ailment as a symptom. Some common symptoms that can help to diagnose food allergies are:

  • Vomiting and stomach cramps
  • Hives and angioedema
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing sound in lungs
  • Low blood pressure
  • Shock or circulatory collapse
  • Throat congestion; difficulty during swallowing
  • Repetitive cough

  • Repetitive cough
  • Swelling of the tongue, difficulty during talk
  • Weak pulse
  • Pale or blue coloring of skin (Cyanosis)
  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Anaphylaxis – a potentially life-threatening reaction 
  • Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES) – a severe gastrointestinal reaction.

Symptoms of Food Allergy according to Ayurveda are explained on the basis of type dosha vitiation.

  • Vata Related Signs in Food Allergy:bloating stomach, flatulence, nerve pain, tingling sensation, loss of sleep, twitching muscles, joint’s pain.
  • Pitta Related Signs in Food Allergy:Urticaria, allergic dermatitis, eczema, diarrhea, and pustule formation. 
  • Kapha Related Signs in Food Allergy: Asthma, sinusitis, bronchitis, rhinitis, cold, cough, sleeping disorders.

“Our digestive system is designed to work on wholesome and compatible food. The food that we eat determines our state of health and Illness. Use of unfamiliar and unaccustomed food items will disturb our digestive system and results in various allergic manifestations. Have a healthy diet and own a healthy life. IAFA is always at your help for the prevention as well as management of all types of Food Allergies”.

IAFA holds your hand for an allergy free and healthy life !

 

-Allergist, Dr. Sahil Gupta

Bachelor of Ayurveda Medicine & Surgery
Master’s in Health Administration

Ayurvedic Concept Of Food Allergy (Aahar Asatmya)

The term Satmya is used in Ayurveda which means tolerance to anything. The term used Asatmya means Intolerance to something. Satmya and Asatmya towards any food, weather or any habit is basic principle in terms of food allergy in Ayurveda. Thus Aahar Asatmya term in Ayurveda is a defined as Food Intolerance or Food Allergy. Asatmya is a result of weak digestive fire or agni. Body’s digestive fire (agni) becomes weak due to ama visha (toxin) formation in the body because of imbalance in body doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha are life forces). Maximum allergic problems are common in people whose body contains ama visha (toxins) in the body. Aam visha the hard rock that originates first and then gradually accumulates in your body is due to ingestion of food in inadequate combination that is asatmya aahar.

Adequate Food Combination the Ancient Eating Principle of Ayurveda

The digestive tract and immune system are interlinked, adequate food combination (historical as per Ayurveda principles) can provide essential support by helping us to improve digestive health, which in turn can improve immune health.

 

Ayurveda divides Food (Ras) Tastes into two Group 1 and Group 2 as below:

Food (ras) six tastes of tongue
Group 1
Group 2
1. MADHURA (SWEET)- like sugar, honey, sugarcane juice, rice, wheat, milk and fruits like mango
4. KATU (PUNGENT)- like Chili pepper, and black pepper ,spices such as mustard, ginger, garlic and onion
2. AMLA (SOUR)- Citrus fruits like limes, lemons and oranges, sour cream, yogurt, vinegar & fermented food.
5. TIKTA (BITTER)- like bitter gourd and bitter melon, Herbs like neem.
3. LAVANA (SALTY)- Sea salt, rock salt and table salt
6. KASHAYA (ASTRINGENT)- like Unripe banana, chickpeas, alum and okra.

Ayurveda outlines a number of foods that, while perhaps fine to eat individually. The three ras of same group 1 madhur, amla and lavan are incompatible to eat with one another like madhura with amla and are compatible to eat with another three ras of different group 2 katu, tikta and kashya like madhura with tikta. Inadequate combination (virudha aahar) of ras (food) leads to food allergies. That’s the ancient principle of aahar-vihar of ayurveda.

Diet in Food Allergy

Do’s (Pathya)

  • Consume properly cooked food
  • Drink sufficient quantity of water
  • Includebitter,mildly spicy food.
  • Consume warm and fresh food.
  • Include herbal tea with ginger, cumin and lemon in diet
  • Use warm water for drinking and external use
  • Take food on time
  • Avoid bathing just after food
  • Include fruits and vegetables in diet
  • Mild exercises (Eg: Brisk walk 20 minutes/day)
  •  Adequate sleep
  • Proper toweling after head bath
  • Working atmosphere should be open and or properly ventillated

Don’ts (Apathya)

  • Excessively spicy, salty and sour food
  • Fermented food
  • Cold and refrigerated food
  • Diary products like cheese, milk, yoghurt.
  • Avoid excess of sweet, sour, salty tastes
  • Day sleep
  • Late night work
  • Junk food
  • Regular restaurant food
  • Fried and bakery food
  • Mixture of different types of food
  • Mixture of non-vegetarian food with milk and other sweet items
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Raw food
  • Travelling to places with high humidity
  • Having food before digesting previous meal
  • Sedentary life style without exercise
  • Mental stress
  • Regular use of A/C room

Yoga and Pranayamain Food Allergy

Yoga is an effective stress management technique that helps to get relaxed and to achieve control over mind and emotions. Yogaregulatesbody’s immune system that controlsvarious allergic reactions. Following yoga procedures are especially beneficial in Food Allergy:

  • Halasana
  • Matsyasan
  • Sarvangasana
  • Suryanamaskar
  • Adhomukhasvanasana
  • Shalabhasana
  • Pavanamuktasasana
  • Savasana
  • Sukhasana
  • Padmasana
  • Bhujangasana

Ayurvedic Treatment for Food Allergy

Ayurveda has effective treatment for allergies caused by various food items. The Ayurvedic treatment protocol is unique and it includes various procedures and medicines used internally as well as externally. A combined therapy of all these ensures complete cure from allergic reactions.

Internal Medicines

Following medicines can be advised in food allergy according to the condition of the patient.

  • PatoladiKwath
  • Vilwadigulika
  • Kaisoraguggulugulika
  • Dooshivisharigulika
  • Dasamoolaharitakilehya
  • Manibhadragula

  • Punarnavasava
  • Mustarishta
  • Kutajarishta
  • Abhayarishta
  • Dasamoolarishta
  • Jeerakarishta

External Medicines

Following medicines can be given for external procedures. Medicines and their method of use depend on condition of patient as well as stage of allergy. 

  • Eladiganachurna
  • Triphalachurna
  • Vilwadigulika
  • Dineshavalyadikera
  • Nalpamaradikera

  • Nimbadichoorna
  • ManjishtadiKwatha
  • Aragwadhadikwatha
  • GuduchyadiKwatha

External Procedures

Various procedures as explained below can be administered in patients suffering from food allergy as and when required.

  • Lepana (Application of medicinal paste)
  • Abhyanga (Oil massage)
  • Dhara (Pouring medicated water)

  • Kshalana (Washing with medicated liquids)
  • Swedana (Sweating therapy)

Purification Therapy

Various purification procedures are done based on the age and health status of each patient. Purification therapies help to expel vitiated doshas and toxins from the body. They include:

  • Vamana (Emesis)
  • Virechana (Purification)
  • Vasti (Enema)

  • Raktamoksha (Blood-letting)
  • Nasya (Nasal administration of medicines)

Single Herbs in Food Allergy

Judicious use of various medicinal herbs helps in the management of various allergic reactions. Following are some single herbs that are proved to have tremendous effect in the management of Food Allergy.

  • Haridra (Curcuma longa)
  • Khadira (Acacia catechu)
  • Raktachandana (Pterocarpussantalinus)
  • Aragwatha (Cassis fistula)
  • Yashtimadhu (Glycyrrhizaglabra)

  • Guduchi (Tinosporacordifola)
  • Sirisha (Albezialebbeck)
  • Punarnava (Boerhaviadiffusa)
  • Manjishta  (Rubiacordfolia)
  • Nimba (Azadirachtaindica)

Article Written By: Dr. Sahil Gupta, Ayurvedic Allergist

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What are the reasons for increasing occurrence of Food Allergy?

Answer: Due to inappropriate food combination allergy has increased so rapidly in recent years, significantly in young kids. It can be probably due to changes in life style leading even to genetic changes.  

Question: Are all food allergies severe?

Answer: No. Fortunately, the majority of food allergies are not dangerous. Mild symptoms include hives, sickness in the stomach or vomiting. However, symptoms such as difficulty in breathing due to throat swelling or asthma, or dizziness due to a drop in blood pressure, indicate a potentially life threatening severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Question: What happens if the allergic food is used continuously?

Answer: It can cause severe symptoms and can even lead to a life-threatening reaction.

Question: What is gluten intolerance?

Answer: Gluten intolerance is not an allergy. Gluten is a type of protein found in most of the grains, like wheat, oats, triticale, barley and rye. Some persons might be allergic to wheat, but he or she may not be having gluten intolerance. Gluten allergy is a misleading term many people’s commonly confused with wheat allergy, or may sometimes with celiac disease. There is no such thing as a gluten allergy, but there is a condition called Celiac Disease. Celiac Disease is a digestive condition in which after eating gluten-containing products, a rash, severe diarrhea, severe weight loss or failure to properly gain weight, and abdominal pain occurs, that is potentially serious if not diagnosed or treated. 

Question: Is Ayurvedic treatment effective for food allergy?

Answer: Yes. Ayurveda is effective in the management of food allergy. Ayurveda has combination of internal as well as external therapies and purification therapies to get rid of all allergies.

Question: Are there any foods that should be avoidedto feed children when solids are introduced?

Answer: IAFA recommends the introduction of complementary solid food around six months.It should not be given before four months and ideally breastfeeding is to be continued.After six months, familiar, easily digestible, common food items can be introduced. Meat, fish, egg, sea food, wheat, soy etc. should be avoided in initial stage.

Question: Are all reactions to milk caused due to allergy?

Answer: No. Lactose intolerance is a condition caused by the lack of the enzyme lactase, which helps to digest the milk sugar lactose. The symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and gas, which are similar to some of the symptoms of milk allergy. This condition is uncomfortable but not dangerous, and does not cause symptoms of food allergy such as hives, swelling or anaphylaxis. In lactose intolerance, small amounts of cow’s milk are usually tolerated, and yogurts and hard cheeses are usually better tolerated than milk, as they contain less or easier to digest lactose than cow’s milk. 

Question:Are allergic reactions to inhaled food allergens common?

Answer: No. Allergic reactions to food in the form of air borne or fine dust are very uncommon. Mostly all food proteins are quite heavy and do not easily disperses as aerosols. Sometimes people with severe food allergies find that even the smell of foods can trigger symptoms. Fortunately, this is a relatively rare complaint and symptoms that are almost never dangerous or severe. 

Question:Can I use a hand sanitizer to remove food allergen from my hands?

Answer: When it comes to avoidance or minimization of allergen, the aim of hand washing is to remove allergens rather than to disinfect. Soap and water are ideal, but if they are unavailable hand sanitizer or wipes may be used. Liquid sanitizer (not wipes) that is not rinsed off is not recommended.

Question:What is Pollen Food Syndrome?

Answer: About 1 in 10 people with allergies to some grass or tree pollens will complain that some uncooked vegetables or fresh fruits and nuts will make their mouth and throat itchy or swell. This is known as Pollen Food Syndrome (also known as Oral Allergy Syndrome). In this condition, people are allergic to proteins that are present in pollens as well as these foods. Usually the allergy to the pollens precedes the food allergy symptoms. If the food is heated, the protein is often destroyed, as the cross reactive proteins in pollens and food are often quite fragile. This is why many people with PFS can eat the cooked food without a problem. It is rare to have serious allergic reactions in PFS, but some foods which commonly cause PFS can also cause normal food allergy and can give rise to anaphylaxis. It is important that your doctor confirms what type of food allergy you or your child suffers from. 

Question: Is Oral Allergy Syndrome or Pollen Food Syndrome is food allergy?

Answer:This can be not a food allergy, though the symptoms occur from food you eat, which might be confusing. This is a pollen allergy.  The symptoms of oral allergy syndrome are generally short-lived and are itchy mouth or tongue, or swelling of the lips or tongue. These symptomsbecause of cross-reacting allergens found in both pollen and raw fruits, vegetables, and some tree nuts are quickly digested, and do not involve any other part of the body, so cannot be accounted in food allergy.

Question: Can food allergies develop in adult age?

Answer: Yes. Shellfish – Crustaceans and Mollusks, as well as tree nuts, and peanuts are most food allergies develop in adults. The symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea can be mistaken for the flu or food poisoning.

Question: Is my child’s food allergy will be lifelong?

Answer: No.  This is an important question in every parents’ mind. Children most probably, but not always, outgrow allergies to some food like milk, egg, soy and wheat. Almost 30 percent of children may outgrow their peanut allergy, with slightly fewer expected to outgrow a tree nut allergy. There is no need to take tension that your child’s food allergy will be lifelong, though for many, this may be the case.

Question: What is FPIES?

Answer: FPIES is  Food Protein-Induced EnterocolitisSyndrome (FPIES), a severe gastrointestinal reaction that generally occurs two to six hours after consuming any untolerated food like milk, soy, certain grains and some other solid foods. It mostly occurs in young infants who are being feeder to these foods for the first time in life. FPIES babies often involve repetitive vomiting and can lead to dehydration or in some cases, will develop bloody diarrhea. Diagnosis of FPIES may be difficult, because the symptoms resemble those of a viral illness or bacterial infection, FPIES is a medical emergency.

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