Food allergies are a hot topic these days. From milk to eggs to nuts to shellfish and everything in between, many people suffer through mealtime. Parents send their children to school afraid that they may touch or accidentally ingest an allergen that could be potentially life-threatening. And children with allergies often live their lives with this same fear. Food issues extend beyond allergies, too. Some people are not exactly allergic but have sensitivities or intolerances to certain foods, which makes for troublesome digestion. For example, lactose, the natural sugar contained in cow’s milk, is difficult for many people to digest.
According to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), up to 15 million Americans have food allergies, and that number is continually rising. Studies have shown that allergens and the severity of a person’s reactions to a given allergen can change (they usually lessen) throughout his or her life. And where children used to outgrow many allergens by age 5, many reactions are now found to linger long past this age. People with severe allergies are warned to avoid the trigger, if at all possible, and often carry medication as a precautionary measure.
But food is not meant to harm, it’s intended to nourish—the body, and often the soul. So what is the link here? Why do these food allergies form? What is it that allows these allergens to become less severe over time? And how do we treat (or even prevent) allergic reactions to food in the first place?
TCM views food allergies as a symptom of a greater, deeper imbalance. Food allergies are not an external problem, but an internal one—and these allergies can be reversed. And while we don’t suggest that you eat a whopping forkful of a food your body cannot yet tolerate, changing your diet to avoid allergens does not get to the root cause of why the allergy occurred in the first place.
Food allergies are an indication that your Stomach Qi is low and there is an imbalance in your digestive system. This does not mean that there is a problem with your actual organ. Instead, it means that the energy (or Qi) that helps your stomach to function at its optimal level is low. Because this Qi is low, your stomach function is not reaching it’s potential, meaning it cannot fully process certain foods. But as you coax your Spleen/Stomach partnership back into balance, you will help your organs function properly and your Qi will flow more freely. You might just find that your allergy symptoms subside or disappear entirely.
Here are a few tips to help boost your Stomach Qi and get your digestive system back on track:
- Warm it up! The Stomach loves warmth. Avoid cold foods, raw foods, and ice-cold drinks, even in the summer months. Add warming foods, like ginger and cinnamon, as often as possible.
- Feed Your Stomach/Spleen: Incorporate other foods that serve to boost your Stomach/Spleen Qi, such as ginger, dates, Chinese barley, lotus seed, organic peanuts, sweet potato, and watermelon.
- Practice Qigong! Energy healing movements, such as Wu Ming Qigong, work on your meridian system to release blockages and move Qi throughout your body. Free-flowing Qi is essential to a body in balance.
- Trace it back! Take a look back a couple of hundreds of years. You are part of the bloodline of many generations of ancestors who ate these same foods, likely without problems. Why is it that you suffer an allergy to a food your ancestors were able to easily digest? These bloodlines pass to you. When you eliminate a food, you are eliminating all of the wisdom that was passed down in your genes. Through these reactions, you can discover how to balance the body and harmonize with the environment.
- Limit Stressors: Ask yourself, how can you change your life? How can you free yourself from stress and worry? Practice meditation, take walks in nature, and break eggs to release your stress! Removing stress and worry from your life is more important than the limitations of foods.
Your body was born with wisdom—and this wisdom will allow you to heal at a deeper level. Don’t get caught in the cycle of thinking foods are “poison” for your body. Right now, these foods are difficult for your body to break down and digest. But you’ve embarked on a great healing journey, and you can reverse these allergies. Who knows, maybe a food you’re severely allergic to today will one day become your favorite food. You have the power to fix your body. Start now!