For nearly 6 months now I have not had an allergic reaction to any of my known allergens. I don’t believe it myself. Something happened and something changed but I don’t believe it.
My list of ‘allergens’ is not a long one but it has been a unique one. By definition, an allergen is something your body has a histamine reaction to. Generally a histamine reaction shows up as runny, stuffy noes, itchy skin, hives, or in bad cases anaphylaxis which can result in breathing stopping. Generally, people who have sensitivities to foods, such as an upset stomach after eating, may not be having a histamine reaction. Sometimes bloating, irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, and leaky gut symptoms will be mild histamine reactions resulting in inflammation.
Regardless of where the line between sensitivity and allergy is I was having reactions to a number of foods and environmental substances. When I was young I would get itchy eyes when I was around dogs and seasonal allergies from pine pollen. When I was in high school I found my second allergen. I discovered I would break out in hives when I would eat seaweed. This has been my hardest allergy to deal with. It means that sometimes I cannot eat sea salt and I also cannot have many vegan products that use carrageenan in place of gelatin because carrageenan is sourced from seaweed. This began to really reduce my food options. Testing individual foods and brands has been my best way to determine if I am going to react to these.
In graduate school, studying Herbal Medicine, the fateful day arrived when we did a blind taste test and after trying a mystery herb I couldn’t breathe! With some water the herb was washed down my throat and I stopped having the reaction. I still do not believe this was a histamine reaction. Ginger powder caused my throat to constrict. With further investigation, cardamom also would do the same thing but less severe.
Other less severe sensitivities and allergens have shown up since then as I explored my other health concerns. Slowly as I detoxed from the prescription medications I had been on through college my body healed. I love to experiment so I would still try foods I thought I might react to just to see. After learning that potassium bromide in foods was causing problems for me I started eating more grain products from my local Korean grocery store; Potassium bromide is not allowed in products produced in Korea. Months later I was reading a food label of a snack I frequently had and I realized there was seaweed in it. I had been eating it for months and not had a reaction! What!
I stayed with a friend who had a dog……no reaction.
Repeat: again no reaction with a different dog that I previously reacted to.
I had tea blends with ginger in them….no reaction.
It has been 6 months now since I have reacted to something!
Allergies are complicated. With a true allergy your body stores information about what you are allergic to and every time your body sees it it will react. Those small molecules that respond do not go away. They reproduce on their own but their numbers can dwindle if you do not see that allergen for some time. I don’t think my allergens are gone but I am not going to push it. I am not gonna go eat ginger covered sushi today and expect to be fine. I could drink a cup of tea with a small amount of ginger and not worry about it. But the more I expose myself to these allergens again the more likely I think they are to come back in full force.
Learn about your body. Pay attention and see what changes work and don’t work. You are the person that knows the most about your experience in the world. Take control and do what your body needs to stay healthy, safe, and happy.
Jillian Carnrick, founder and manager of The Dancing Herbalist, has a Masters of Science Degree in Herbal Medicine, practices as a nutritionist, and is a Certified Personal Trainer and Exercise Is Medicine Professional through the American College of Sports Medicine. The Dancing Herbalist posts on this blog every Thursday. For more of our posts, join us on Patreon. Jillian also presents regular live classes in The Dancing Herbalist’s home herbalist courses online. For more learning opportunities or to work one-on-one with Jillian with her wellness and herbal consultationsvisit The Dancing Herbalist.com.