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Allergies Su B

There are lots of ways to test for allergies or sensitivities, from patch testing on the skin to hair analysis to kinesiology.

One practitioner I know even tests over the phone, using a pendulum, without seeing the patient at all.

You can end up with a long list of foods to avoid, or airborne allergens which are less easy to dodge. But they all have one thing in common. Unless you have an outright allergic reaction – to bee stings or peanuts, for example – or you lack the ability to digest a particular food, as in coeliac disease or lactose intolerance, that list will vary from month to month, and certainly from one test to another.

Why is this?

It’s not so much about particular foods, although some are definitely more likely to cause trouble than others. It’s more about your own reactivity. And that varies according to how tired or stressed you are, the time of day and time of the month, what else you’ve eaten, and a whole host of other factors. So the test you take today is just a snapshot. And if you take several tests in one day, you’re likely to get several different answers, though that might say more about the quality of the test than about you!

The thing is, it’s much more useful to go deeper, and try to support your system to become less reactive. Abstaining from problem foods can help in the short term, but quite often you can start reacting to other things, and so your diet gets more and more restricted. From a herbal point of view, we always look to strengthen and support the digestion, with herbs like Chamomile, Lemon Balm, Liquorice, Fennel and a host of others, depending on your constitution and the particular problems you are having. And probiotics may help, too.

In my experience, as you get stronger over time, it becomes possible to cope with ‘problem’ foods, as long as you don’t go overboard. You come to recognise your body’s signals better, and then you can make conscious choices. And if your digestion gets stronger, a whole lot of other things will work better as well.

Meet The Author...
Su Bristow
Who Am I?
I studied at the School of Herbal Medicine for four years, and qualified in 1989, becoming a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists ( The road to herbal medicine led from my early interest in organic gardening and healthy eating, through the study of social and physical anthropology at Cambridge, where I specialised in medical anthropology. What fascinated me was how people deal with their health problems when they have only the natural resources around them, and their own ingenuity. I went on to learn massage and reflexology, and worked at a residential naturopathic clinic, where I learned about the use of diet and other natural ways of healing. After qualifying as a herbalist, I set up practice in mid-Devon. Since then I have continued to expand my expertise, with counselling skills, first aid, and knowledge of the Chinese and Ayurvedic systems of herbal medicine. Besides one-to-one consultation, I have also taught evening classes, students of the Westcountry Massage Association, and various private courses.
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