We all know the typical allergy symptoms. Runny nose, watery eyes, itchy skin, sneezing, post nasal drip, all the little annoying things that scream “allergy”. We also know or have heard of the severe food allergy anaphylactic type reactions. What most people are unaware of are the symptoms that our body gives us that do not scream “allergy”. This group of symptoms is often referred to as Cerebral or Brain Allergies.
Cerebral or Brain Allergy symptoms include but are not limited to the following: brain fog, dizziness, imbalance, blurring of vision, headaches, migraines, sleepiness, drowsiness, sluggishness, depression, crying, tension, anxiety, restlessness, inability to concentrate, mood swings, irritability, and more.
We often hear, “I had allergies as a kid but I outgrew them”. Upon further investigation, what we usually find is that the allergies are not gone: they have just changed from first line symptoms to cerebral symptoms. If your allergy symptoms were, for example, runny nose and itchy eyes, and these symptoms are gone, but now you are foggy and always tired, guess what, the allergies are not gone!
In a study, a patient was diagnosed with manic depression at the age of 15. At times she would become completely hyperactive and manic, and at other times become completely depressed. She was put on three drugs --- Lithium, Tegretol and Zirtek. These helped control the severity of her manic phases, but she was still frequently depressed and anxious. Two years later, she consulted a nutrition counsellor who found she was deficient in many nutrients, especially zinc, and that she was allergic to wheat. As soon as her nutrient deficiencies were corrected and she stopped eating wheat, her health rapidly improved. She was able to stop all medication and, provided she stays off wheat, no longer gets depressed.
The idea that food affects the mind is an alien concept to many people. But since the brain is perhaps the most delicate organ of the body, using sometimes as much as 30% of all the energy we derive from food, this should be no surprise. Allergies to food can upset levels of hormones and other key chemicals in the brain, resulting in symptoms ranging from depression to schizophrenia.
The knowledge that allergy to foods and chemicals can adversely affect moods and behavior in susceptible individuals has been known for a very long time. Early reports, as well as current research, have found that allergies can affect any system of the body, including the central nervous system. They can cause a diversity of symptoms including fatigue, slowed thought processes, irritability, agitation, aggressive behavior, nervousness, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, hyperactivity and varied learning disabilities. Food intolerance, lack of absorption of food, and relief with fasting are three key pointers to the food-allergic patient. These patients usually have a low blood histamine, a fast pulse, and food idiosyncrasies which may be expressed as strong likes and dislikes. Favorite foods are often the offending foods so the patients is like an addict, eating the offending food to obtain a psychiatric high.
The allergic child may suffer from the so-called ‘allergic-tension-fatigue syndrome’ which results in irritability, hyperactivity and impaired concentration, thus adversely affecting school performance. The most convincing evidence that this is indeed so comes from a well conducted double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial by Dr. Egger and his team who studied 76 hyperactive children to find out whether diet can contribute to behavioral disorders. The results showed that 79% of the children tested reacted adversely to artificial food colorants and preservatives, primarily to tartrazine and benzoic acid, which produced a marked deterioration in behavior. However no child reacted to these alone. In fact, 48 different foods were found to produce symptoms among the children tested. For example 64% reacted to cow’s milk, 59% to chocolate, 49% to wheat, 45% to oranges, 39% to eggs, 32% to peanuts, and 16% to sugar. Interestingly enough, it was not only the children’s behavior which improved after the individual dietary modification. Most of the associated symptoms also improved considerably, such as headaches, fits, abdominal discomfort, chronic rhinitis, body aches, skin rashes and mouth ulcers.
A similar syndrome in adults has been called simply ‘cerebral allergy’. The allergy often appears in a masked form, in which the individual actually feels better after ingesting a favorite food. However, in a variable number of hours, a severe let-down occurs and the patient experiences symptoms which may be diffuse and nonspecific and often include headache, depression, nasal stuffiness and sleepiness.
Sources: thehealingpartnership.org, alternativementalhealth.com