This article was originally written on request of Revital Health, a health food store chain based in the United Kingdom. Thierry Clerc was asked to do a series of talks and sessions in some of these stores to address food intolerance issues. This articles is re-published on this website.
Thierry Clerc practices in Cambridge (UK) as a clinical homeopath and a nutritionist. He is a regular contributor of several national and international health magazines.
What is Food Intolerance? What is Food allergy?
Holistically, these two terms describe the same issue but with different forms of severity:
– Food intolerance is a mild abnormal digestive reaction to certain types of food, often resulting in bloating, wind, constipation or diarrhoea.
– Food Allergy leads to a more severe reaction, including an immune reaction, which can range from a mild skin rash to an extreme anaphylactic shock where the lips, tongue and throat swell up. In that latter case, it must be treated as a medical emergency at A & E.
In clinical homeopathy, what is seen as the cause of food intolerance or allergy?
Both conditions are usually due to poor intestinal flora, the good bacteria that live in a healthy digestive system. When this bacterial flora is so weak that the digestive system cannot work properly, the intestinal lining tends to open and let larger food particles through the gut wall. These enter the blood where they are regarded as foreign objects, triggering the immune system.
Our intestinal flora is made of hundreds of micro-organisms, present to process the food and protect us from harmful pathogens. The following will impact our gut intestinal flora:
– food poisoning and exposure to harmful bacteria (such as E-coli)
– sugar and processed food: they usually feed the wrong kind of micro-organisms, such as candida
– pesticides or preservatives (as their role is to eliminate micro-organisms)
– long-term or chronic stress
– some illegal drugs and medications (primarily antibiotics and the birth control pill).
What are the most common food that people are intolerant or allergic to?
The most common intolerances seen in my practice are cow’s milk; dairy; sugar; wheat; fish/shellfish; peanuts; and other nuts. Far behind come strawberries (and other berries); eggs; and soya. This list is very similar to the list describing the most heavily processed foods and/or pesticide-hungry crops!
What are the Symptoms of Food Intolerance?
Mild symptoms include bloating; wind/flatulence; constipation; and diarrhoea. There will often also be a craving for sweet foods. Long term complications include:
Emotional issues (as our nervous system is not being properly nourished): depression, anxiety, irritability, lack of concentration, poor memory, numbness/tingling, headache or earache
Digestive issues: IBS, bloating, pain
Skin complaints: athlete’s foot, acne, eczema, psoriasis
Hormonal issues: thrush, premenstrual problems, irregular menstruation, infertility or endometriosis.
Immune issues: sore mouth/throat, sinusitis, rectal irritation, muscle pain/weakness, joint pain/stiffness, fatigue.
What are the natural ways to deal with food intolerance?
If the issue is recent, and comes after a course of antibiotics, or a period of intense stress, a good quality probiotics should clear it quickly.
However, very often there is a long history of toxicity and bad diet. One would not expect someone to run a marathon after just 2 hours of training, if they had never run in their life! The same logic applies to a rectifying a long-term digestive issue: it requires a proper plan to nourish the intestinal flora, repair the intestinal linings and support positive lifestyle changes.