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Check Out This Great Ted Lecture by Dr.Terry Wahls

Some sobering thoughts here.


Test or Not Test, That is the Question

Regular allergy tests could misdiagnose treatment, result in ill-advised restrictions

The following is an interesting article on the subject of the reliability of testing.
By Ernie Shannon on December 27, 2011 – 11:25am

Two allergists are cautioning clinicians against making an allergy diagnosis based solely

courtesy Wikipedia

Skin Prick testing - Courtesy Wikipedia

on traditional blood and skin-pricking tests.

Johns Hopkins Children’s Center’s Robert Wood and Scott Sicherer of Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City are warning that allergy tests relying only on those two methods could result in misdiagnosis, ill-advised food restrictions, and unnecessary avoidance of environmental exposures. Their comments appear in the January issue of Pediatrics.

Instead, the researchers are urging physicians to weigh heavily the patient’s symptoms and medical history and employ, if a food allergy is suspected, a food challenge. This involves consuming small doses of the suspect allergen under medical supervision. Then, the long-time practice of skin-pricking and the more recent diagnostic tool using blood tests can be used to confirm the suspicion.

According to Wood and Scherer regular allergy tests can expose whether an individual is sensitive to a specific substance, but cannot reliably predict if a patient will have an actual allergic reaction, nor can they foretell how severe the reaction might be.

As a side note, most tests, with just two exceptions, seem to be unreliable.  One of the tests mentioned here is provocation testing.  I have personally found skin prick testing (still the “gold standard”) and IgE and IgG blood testing to be much less accurate, especially in regard to false positives.

“Allergy tests can help a clinician in making a diagnosis, but tests by themselves are not diagnostic magic bullets or foolproof predictors of clinical disease,” Wood said. “Many children with positive test results do not have allergic symptoms and some children with negative test results have allergies.”

This is important because at least six percent of all children have one or more food-based allergies, according to the latest estimates from the National Institutes of Health.

Skin and blood tests are proxies, the researchers say, that detect the presence of IgE antibodies that are immune-system chemicals released in response to allergens. Skin testing involves pricking the skin with small amounts of an allergen and observing if and how the skin reacts, Wood says. “A large hive-like wheal at the injection site signals that the patient’s immune system has created antibodies to the allergen. Blood tests, on the other hand, measure the levels of specific IgE antibodies circulating in the blood.”

The scientists also say in the Pediatrics Journal article that many people who have positive skin tests or measurably elevated IgE antibodies do not have allergies. For example, past research has found that up to eight percent of children have a positive skin or blood test for peanut allergies, but only one percent of them have clinical symptoms.

In their report, Wood and Sicherer say skin and blood tests can and should be used to:

· Confirm a suspected allergic trigger after observing clinical reactions suggestive of an allergy. For example, children with moderate to severe asthma should be tested for allergies to common household or environmental triggers including pollen, molds, pet dander, cockroach, mice or dust mites.

· Monitor the course of established food allergies via periodic testing. Levels of antibodies can help determine whether someone is still allergic and progressively decreasing levels of antibodies can signify allergy resolution or outgrowing the allergy.

· Confirm an allergy to insect venom following a sting that causes anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction marked by difficulty breathing, lightheadedness, dizziness, and hives.

· Determine vaccine allergies (skin tests only).

At the same time skin and blood tests should not be used:

· As general screens to look for allergies in symptom-free children.

· In children with a history of allergic reactions to specific foods. In this case, the test will add no diagnostic value, the experts say.

· To test for drug allergies. Generally, blood and skin tests do not detect antibodies to medications.

Provocation testing is reliable, but difficult at best.  It involves removing a suspected food from the diet for a period of roughly a month and then re-introducing it into the diet and gauging the response one has.  If the person is sensitive to the food, their reaction might be so mild as to not be perceived.  A gluten sensitivity reaction often doesn’t present as a gut problem, but can present as a mental/emotional/mood problem.  If you’re not experienced enough to look for problems, then you might miss it.

So what other method can be used to determine sensitivity to foods, or to anything?  We’re going to discuss that in future posts.


Great Article from Wired Magazine

To begin with, I’d like to share a great article from Wired Magazine, December 2011 entitled “Trials and Errors:  Why Science is Failing Us”.  This article by Jonah Lehrer does a fine job of describing where Science has brought us, and why there’s a problem.  Here are some excerpts with comments:

This assumption—that understanding a system’s constituent parts means we also understand the causes within the system—is not limited to the pharmaceutical industry or even to biology. It defines modern science. In general, we believe that the so-called problem of causation can be cured by more information, by our ceaseless accumulation of facts. Scientists refer to this process as reductionism. By breaking down a process, we can see how everything fits together; the complex mystery is distilled into a list of ingredients. And so the question of cholesterol—what is its relationship to heart disease?—becomes a predictable loop of proteins tweaking proteins, acronyms altering one another. Modern medicine is particularly reliant on this approach. Every year, nearly $100 billion is invested in biomedical research in the US, all of it aimed at teasing apart the invisible bits of the body. We assume that these new details will finally reveal the causes of illness, pinning our maladies on small molecules and errant snippets of DNA. Once we find the cause, of course, we can begin working on a cure.

Clearly what is needed, rather than a reductionist view of health and disease is a vitalistic view.

Mr Lehrer continues:

The truth is, our stories about causation are shadowed by all sorts of mental shortcuts. Most of the time, these shortcuts work well enough. They allow us to hit fastballs, discover the law of gravity, and design wondrous technologies. However, when it comes to reasoning about complex systems—say, the human body—these shortcuts go from being slickly efficient to outright misleading.

The most complex interactions in living beings are those of the nervous and immune systems.  This is what we will be discussing in the future.

…we live in a world in which everything is knotted together, an impregnable tangle of causes and effects. Even when a system is dissected into its basic parts, those parts are still influenced by a whirligig of forces we can’t understand or haven’t considered or don’t think matter. Hamlet was right: There really are more things in heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy.

We look forward to sharing information as it comes “down the pike.”  Look forward to meeting you in the future.

My First Post to Balanced Immune System

The purpose of this site is to discuss articles appearing across the Net on immune system dysfunction, and what non-pharmaceutical interventions are available to help one to deal and heal, if possible, from imbalances in immune function, whatever the imbalances are called, inside or outside the ICD-10.

A little about me…

I am a licensed Chiropractor, currently practicing in Thousand Oaks, California, USA.  I have used structural, nutritional and energy psychological interventions with my practice members for over 40 years.  For the past 12 years I have devoted my practice to working with people suffering from  immune dysfunction, especially children, ranging from simple food and other hypersensitivities(IgG)  to outright allergies to tree nuts, peanuts and other IgE reactions.  Additionally, I’ve worked with children who had learning difficulties, many bearing the diagnoses of ADHD, Autism, and “Bi-polar” and other “Disorders” who also suffered from often-undiagnosed food allergies and sensitivities.  I’ve also worked with numerous people with auto-immune disorders including fibromyalgia, thyroid dysfunctions, multiple sclerosis, lupus, AIDS and many others.  Most experienced improvement in their health and vitality.

My goal with this site is to share what the vox populi and technical journals are currently saying about the “A” diseases, such as ADHD, Autism and Asperger’s, Asthma, Auto-immune and Alzheimers (among others), and looking at the immune system dysfunction from a more broad perspective.

I appreciate your opinions, even if you disagree with mine.  I’ve always had an open mind and have never met a person I couldn’t learn something from.

All the best,

Dr. Gary

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