What is Food Allergy?
Food allergy is defined as an allergic reaction that manifests by an abrupt onset of symptoms within minutes to hours after ingesting the food. The list of foods implicated in anaphylactic reactions varies from individual to individual. These abnormal responses could be either due to food hypersensitivity or food intolerance. There is a difference between food allergy and food intolerance. Food intolerance means that the body has not the ability to digest food leading to discomfort whereas, in food allergy, there is a severe allergic reaction even with a very small portion of the food allergen.
Particular foods such as lentil, black gram, mustard, radish, French beans, horse gram etc. are found to be major allergenic foods in India. Cereals such as wheat, rice, barley etc. have also been reported to cause allergic reactions. In addition, food colours like tetrazine dyes, caramine etc. cause food anaphylaxis.
Types of Food Allergy
According to Ayurveda, food allergies can be of three types depending on the dosha dominance.
- Vata related allergy: People having vata dominance dosha are allergic to dry, bitter, spicy and astringent, cold and raw foods.
- Pitta related allergy: People having pitta dominance dosha are sensitive to sour, salty and spicy foods, citrus fruits and fermented foods.
- Kapha related allergy: All factors that aggravate Kapha dosha like consumption of sweet, salty, dairy products, cheese, yogurt, milk etc. may lead to allergic reactions.
Causes of Food Allergy
Ayurveda considers toxins (ama) to be the root cause of allergies followed by low digestive fire. When these toxins settle in various tissues, there are different symptoms at each level.
Other factors such as genetics, age or gender can also influence an allergic reaction which can be acute or chronic.
Symptoms of Food Allergy
- Atopic dermatitis
- Gastrointestinal disturbances
- Anaphylaxis of varying degree
Treatment of Food Allergy
In modern medicine, the only proven treatment for food induced allergic reactions is the strict elimination of the suspected food that causes allergy but it is very difficult to follow strict elimination. Modern treatment includes the prescription of anti-histamines, corticosteroids etc. which have severe side effects. So patients look for alternative treatment for food allergies, herbal remedies for food allergies, herbs for food allergies, natural treatment of food allergies, etc.
The experience of Ayurveda can be utilized in the management as well as treatment of food allergies. The Ayurvedic treatment for food allergies is safe, effective and deals with the root cause of the problem.
In Ayurveda, various allergic conditions can be corelated with ‘Udarda’, ‘Kotha’, ‘Sheeta Pitta’ etc.
There is a concept of virudhh ahara (incompatible food) in Ayurvedic texts. It clearly defines the role of certain diet and their combinations. It is a very important issue as it is the cause of various systemic disorders as per Ayurvedic literature. The food which is wrong in combination, consumed in incorrect dose and in wrong season can lead to Virudhha Ahara. For example, eating sugars and acid fruits hinder the action of enzymes ptyalin and pepsin, which reduce the secretion of saliva and delay digestion. Another example of virudhha ahara is taking tea and milk together.
Therefore, while treating food allergy, ayurvedic physician trains the patient to avoid such etiologic factors as it is an important aspect of today’s improper dietary habits.
Ayurveda recommends that strengthening the digestive fire and avoiding the accumulation of ama (toxins) can help in the treatment of food allergies. Diet that is full of prana, natural and organic is the ideal way to prevent food allergies. Foods that are processed, canned or full of preservatives and chemicals must be avoided. In addition, drinking sufficient quantity of water is also advised.
The natural treatment for food allergies is holistic in nature as it deals with the root cause of the problem. Instead of providing symptomatic relief to the patient, herbal treatment for food allergies focusses on the overall condition of the individual. So what are you waiting for? Click here to consult our vast experienced ayurvedic doctor – Dr. Sahil Gupta.