Food Allergy and Herbal Remedies

Most of the people believe that they are allergic to certain foods. But what they considered to be food allergy is only some intolerance to certain type of food. True food allergy have less than 1% of people. Allergy, unlike food intolerance, involves the immune system.


A food allergy occurs when the body’s immune system reacts to harmless substances in certain foods. A food allergy is an immunologic response to a food protein. In other words, it is an abnormal response to a food triggered by your body’s immune system.

Different people have food allergies of one type or another, most of the conditions are mild, but there are cases with serious reactions (such as anaphylactic shock). Allergic reactions to food can sometimes cause serious illness and even death.

Food allergies affect mostly young children (6 – 8 %). The most common food allergies in children are:
– milk,
– peanuts,
– eggs.

The risk to get an allergy is very high in infants and young children. But in most cases they have all chances to outgrow their food sensitivities.

Two percent of adults have food allergies. The ‘dangerous’ products are:
– peanuts and tree nuts (by the way, the leading causes of deadly allergic reactions called anaphylaxis),
– shellfish, fish (some other see food),
– eggs,
– sesame seeds,
– soy allergy,
– wheat allergy.

The number of those who have food allergy is constantly rising. There are some other products that can trigger the allergy (although over 90% of all food allergies are caused by the list of food mentioned above). For example, celery allergy in Central Europe, or rice allergy in East Asia.

How do allergic reactions to food work? The allergens in food (the components that are responsible for an allergic reaction) usually successfully resist the heat of cooking, the acid in the stomach, and the intestinal digestive enzymes. As a result, the allergens survive and, through the gastrointestinal lining, enter the bloodstream.

Though the blood, allergens target different organs, thus causing allergic reactions throughout the body. An allergic reaction to food involves two components of the immune system (one is immunoglobulin E (IgE),a type of protein, which circulates through the blood; the other is a specialized cell that is in all tissues of the body) and heredity. It also explains the fact that allergic people generally come from families in which allergies are common (not necessarily to food, perhaps just to pollen, fur, feathers, or drugs).


The reaction to a certain food could be not an allergy, but rather food intolerance. The symptoms can look and feel almost the same, only a little bit milder. Symptoms of a true food allergy usually involve the skin and intestines. The reaction typically begins just after eating, not longer than two hours following ingestion of the particular food.

Common symptoms include:

– Hives, itching (of the mouth, throat, eyes, skin, or any other area), or eczema
– Nausea and vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea or indigestion
– Swelling of the entire face or some parts of it (eyelids, lips, tongue, throat) or other parts of the body
– Lightheadedness, dizziness
– Nasal congestion, or trouble breathing
– Mood swings, depression
Call a medical emergency response unit immediately in case of the following:
– You experience swelling of the throat and could not swallow easily
– It is difficult to breathe
– You have a rapid pulse
– You loose your consciousness
– Your skin (or nails) becomes blue
– You experience an anaphylaxis, the severe reaction of the whole body, that can result in death

The time when the reaction appears on certain food (and the location of this reaction) depends on the process of eating and digesting ‘dangerous’ food. The reaction can take place within a few minutes to an hour.
What kind of people tend to have food allergies?
– patients with the atopic syndrome,
– those who have eczema and asthma,
– patients with allergic rhinitis and conjunctivitis,
– those who inherit the condition (family history have cases of allergic diseases), a person with two allergic parents is more likely to develop food allergies than someone with one allergic parent.


So, what is the top 10 list of food allergy causes?

1. Shellfish (such as shrimp, crab, and lobster)
2. Tree nuts (namely, walnuts, almonds, and pecans)
3. Peanuts (which are legumes, not true nuts)
4. Fruits (particularly strawberries, but also pineapple, melons, and other tropical fruits)
5. Tomatoes
6. Fish
7. Eggs
8. Food additives (such as dyes, thickeners, and preservatives; monosodium glutamate)
9. Cows milk and other dairy products
10. Wheat (and other gluten-containing grains) and corn products

In most cases, allergies occur when an individual who has a genetic sensitivity to certain allergens is exposed to certain food or, it is better say, substance. Once activated in a histamine reaction, the immune system will react every other time it sees any ‘foreign’ protein. As for the children (especially infants), it is very important to introduce every other new product in its right time, and only when child’s immune system is ready for complex proteins in a new food.

Medical Approaches

Nowadays, there is no cure for food allergies. The only treatment available is to avoid the ‘dangerous’ products, all forms of the food to which someone is allergic. The choice of medication and how it is given depends on the severity of the reaction.

– Epinephrine – the drug is given only in very severe reactions (such as anaphylaxis). It is injected and acts as a bronchodilator (dilates the breathing tubes), also constricts the blood vessels, thus increasing blood pressure.

– Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) is used for a less severe reaction involving the respiratory tract. This drug reverses the actions of histamine. It can be injected (when quick action is required) or given by mouth (for a less severe reaction).

– Corticosteroid – the group of these drugs (not be confused with steroids) is usually given IV at first for rapid reversal of the effects of the mediators. It reduces swelling and some other symptoms of allergic reactions. Oral corticosteroids are often given for less severe reactions, in case of skin reactions – a corticosteroid cream or ointment is used.

Alternative Approaches

You treat some mild allergic reactions at home (after getting advice from your health care provider). If the symptoms do NOT get worse do the following:
– Take cool showers or apply cool compresses
– Change your cloth, put on light clothing that doesn’t irritate your skin
– Try do not think much of the condition. Take it easy. Stay come
– Take an antihistamine (1-2 tablets or capsules of diphenhydramine if you can swallow without difficulty
– Lie down and raise your legs higher than your head to help blood flow to your brain, not to loose your consciousness.

What herbal remedies may be useful in case of food allergies? There are a wide variety of herbs that a qualified herbal specialist might consider to help treat your food allergies and your symptoms based on his or her clinical experience.

1. In case you have digestive symptoms – bowel-soothing products will help. It can help relieve symptoms such as diarrhea, gas and painful digestion.

1 part marshmallow root, 1/4 part licorice root, 1/2 part peppermint, 1/2 part camomile flowers, 1/4 part fennel. Simmer the roots and seeds for 30 minutes, add chamomile and peppermint. Remove from the heat and let steep for another 15 minutes. Strain and store the tea in quart jars. Make a fresh batch every 5 days and drink 3-4 cups of the tea a day.
– marshmallow and licorice – have soothing properties for the mucous membranes;
– camomile is relaxing to the bowels and contains proven antiinflammatory substances;
– peppermint can relieve gas and intestinal spasms;
– fennel helps remove gas and stimulate the production of digestive enzymes.

You can also use tinctures, or liquid extracts (that will work especially well for digestive herbs, because they are quickly absorbed). In the liquid form, the herbs can be taken any time, in the form of capsules or tablets – with meals.

2. Liver and bile herbs are traditionally recommended for food allergies, as they help the liver to work efficiently. When it is working properly, potentially allergenic substances are more likely to be eliminated before they can become a major problem.
– dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
– burdock root
– artichoke leaf
– little licorice and ginger root (fresh or dried)
Blend the herbs to make a tea. Or take the herb separately in other form.

3. Bitter tonics or „bitters” are excellent remedies for all kinds of allergies, including food allergies. They improve the vigor and function of all the digestive organs, and even the part of our immune system associated with the digestive tract.
– gentian
– artichoke leaves
– orange peel
– cardamon seed
– ginger and fennel

These main herbs should be blended (1/4 part gentian with 1 part of the other herbs) in some brandy or vodka. Let the herbs soak or macerate for 2 weeks. Then, strain off the liquid and use it (1 tsp) before meals.
Such herbs as German (Matricaria recutita), Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) and Flaxseed ( Linum usitatissimum) are also beneficial.

Some other useful notes:
– You should be aware not only of the food, but of the families of foods to which you are allergic
– Take Vitamin C. Some experts believe it may be helpful for allergic conditions such as food allergies.
– Acupuncture can help restore normal immune function, thus helping you to treat food allergy.

Remember, that like medications, herbs may produce side effects or interact with other substances including drugs. Use it with caution and only under the guidance of a professionally trained and qualified herbalist.
ayesh2011-06-11 01:48:57
i have a animal food allergy.pls tell me the herbal medicine for that.
sien2011-02-14 21:03:41
I heard reishi or lingzhi mushroom tea can occur all allergy if you drink it everyday as tea, you can buy the lingzhi mushroom at the chinese herb store, one handfull of cut lingzhi mushroom cook with 2 red date, 2 black date and 2 brown date. you can cook on the slow cooker in high for about four hour. the tea can drink it in warm or cold. hope will help out
Steph2010-11-18 14:17:09
I became allergic to Prawns about 10 yrs ago, 5 yrs ago I became allergic to sesame seeds nuts and kiwi fruit. Are you aware of any update regarding the Chinese herbal formula FAHF-2. I’m nearly 41 will I continue to develop allergies to food
Violet2010-02-03 00:42:33
My allergies are food related as well as medication related. As an infant into my early 20s I have had food allergies that started as hives when I ingested any kind of milk product. Antibiotics have also caused anaphylaxis reactions to me since birth. After years of avoiding food in general my food allergies disappeared by 21 years old. I did not have to have a precription at all until 2009 when I started taking a Z-pack for an infection. On day one I had swelling of my face, throat, and hives all over my body. Needless to say I could not finish my antibiotics and I was referred by my doctor to see an allergist. This allergist did a skin allergy test which concluded that I was allergic to: asprin, ibuprophen, dust, mold, pollen, tomatoes, shellfish, cocoa, and dust mites. My doctor stated that allergy shots would help me build up a tolerance to all of these items. I have had less severe reactions but I am still getting hives almost every day and my lips are swelling up when I eat peanuts now. So now that I am paying almost $13/shot four or five times a week I am getting frustrated. Does anyone have any advice? I have heard that taking vitamin C and honey will help and I have been doing this every day. Does anyone have any advice? Please help!
Mel2009-07-23 00:17:51
I have a moderate allergy to pineapple and its juice. Touch and ingestion. I washed two items in a sink used to wash dishes that had some pineapple juice on them and suffered a moderately severe reaction. Within 5 minutes My arms itched from hands to elbows. Within 45 minutes I itched from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet.. I made a „tea” bath using chamomile, fennel, ginger, basil, marjoram, and rosemary. While this helped it was not perfect. I went from so itchy that I could not sit still to being almost completely itch-free. This is an effective natural remedy to un-ingested food allergies. You need to make a cereal bowl half full, evenly matched amounts of herbs, and add 7 chamomile and mint teabags (larger baths may reguire more herbs). Use very hot water as the tea needs to steep into the water. Bathe for 20 minutes, minimum, using the bowl to ensure that all parts of your body recieve the benefit of the tea. Thank you for your list of antihistimine herbs it was a great help in creating my bath.
Greg2008-06-19 17:56:11
FAHF-2 is effective in animal studies, it is currently under clinical trial for safty at Mount Sinai. The herbs themselves are safe, but the FDA wants to make sure the combination is safe. The trials end in 2009, so do no hold your breath.
Ange2008-03-14 13:48:25
I have severe food allergies and those herbs do nothing to relieve symptoms. However I am interested in the Chinese herbal formula FAHF-2. Do you have any info?