Natural Health July/August, 1999
This Spring the city of Atlanta clocked a breath-catching pollen count: slightly more than 6,000 grains per cubic meter of tree and other pollen, the highest ever measured in that area. To the west, Tulsa, Okla., posted a count of 10,000. This is especially remarkable when you realize that counts above 1,500 are considered “very high” and promise to clobber almost everyone who is sensitive to pollen with runny noses, watery eyes, itchy throats and noses, and multiple head-rattling sneezes.
“Even people who had been very stable-people who’d been on allergy injection therapy once a month and had not had a problem for several years-these people were coming out of the wood- work” seeking relief, says Tulsa-based allergist and immunologist David Hurewitz, M.D., of spring’s allergy Armageddon. ‘And my two associates noticed the same thing.”
Anyone who battles seasonal allergies in even normal-count years welcomes the latest research- and possible cures-for them. Yet usually overlooked by allergy doctors are certain natural therapies that provide permanent relief more than 8o percent of the time. Following are three of these therapies: the Nambudripad Allergy Elimination Technique (more commonly known as NAET), traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), and homeopathy. Instead of temporarily suppressing allergy symptoms, each of these therapies works by marshaling the bodies own defensive weapons to win the war against pollen.
To determine which of these three to try, ask yourself some questions: Do you have other allergies besides seasonal ones? If so, NAET may be best to try because it acts against allergies of all kinds, including food allergies. Does the comprehensive system of Chinese medicine, which shores up the body’s overall energy reserves, appeal to you? Then TCM with its wide-ranging treatment options, including acupuncture and herbs, maybe for you. Do you prefer the simplest approach-taking pills? If so, you’ll probably be most comfortable with homeopathy.
Whichever you choose, you¹ll be ready-and breathe easier-when the weed and grass pollens hit most of the country in the coming weeks.
The Nambudripad Allergy Elimination Technique (NAET) uses muscle testing to diagnose an allergy, and acupressure, acupuncture, or chiropractic techniques to eliminate it. While a patient holds a via] of a suspected allergen-from food to pollen-the practitioner applies pressure to the arm to see if the muscles weaken. If they do, the patient is allergic. An allergenic substance is believed to disrupt the flow of vital energy, or qi, in the body. Acupuncture, acupressure, or chiropractic is then used to correct these disruptions so the body no longer reacts inappropriately to the allergen.
The Origin of NAET
Devi Nambudripad, Pb.D., D.C., L.Ac., R.N., a chiropractor, acupuncturist, and registered nurse, discovered NAET almost by accident in 1983. She understood the workings of the body but couldn’t heal herself of the chronic bronchitis, migraine headaches, depression, and sinusitis that had plagued her since childhood. One day, while an acupuncture student in Los Angeles, she got an extreme reaction while eating a carrot, so she immediately gave herself an acupuncture treatment. Noticing that she felt exceptionally vital and healthy after the acupuncture, Nambudripad saw that a small piece of carrot was still clinging to her skin. It then occurred to her that acupuncture in the presence of the allergen could have a powerful effect.
Your First Visit
Since food allergies often masquerade as seasonal allergies, Nambudripad would first test you for allergies to about a dozen samples that contain foods, food additives, and food byproducts, including:
Protein. This food sample contains eggs, chicken, feathers, and tetracycline, an antibiotic for livestock. Some people are allergic to tetracycline and not the food that contains it, Nambudripad says.
Calcium, specifically milk products.
Vitamin C. Many seasonal allergy sufferers are actually allergic to fruits and vegetables containing the vitamin, she says.
B Complex, including grains and wheat.
Nambudripad says food allergies may make someone sensitive to other allergens. So you could be allergic to many weed pollens before treatment, but once your food allergies are eliminated, fewer weeds trigger your allergic reactions.
If you test positive to any of the food samples, Nambudripad would give you an acupuncture, acupressure, or chiropractic treatment. Each treatment needs 25 hours to take effect, since it takes 24 hours for qi to circulate through your body’s meridians. She adds one extra hour as insurance. During this period, you would be instructed to avoid the offending foods.
Only if clearing your food allergies doesn’t work will she bring out the heavy artillery: a sample containing 900 different types of pollen gathered from across the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia. If you receive pollen treatments, Nambudripad will advise you to wear a face mask, long-sleeved shirt, and long pants, and to stay indoors as much as possible during the following 25 hours.
Although some patients get relief after one visit, it can take from 10 to 40 visits for complete success-the more substances a patient is allergic to, the greater the number of treatments. Nambudripad says at least go percent of her patients experience complete relief from symptoms with NAET She has taught her technique to approximately 1,000 licensed medical practitioners-including chiropractors, medical doctors, and acupuncturists-and she says that her students’ success rates are as high as her own. About 100 patients a day visit her clinic in Buena Park, Calif. During the spring and summer months, Nambudripad says, half of those patients are seeking relief for seasonal allergies.
Nambudripad says that NAET has a long way to go before it’s widely accepted. She and approximately eight other NAET practitioners are doing clinical trials, which should be finished by the end of this year.
Most licensed NAET practitioners charge from $125 to $225 for the first visit and from $55 to $75 for follow-up visits.
Where To Turn:
To find a NAET practitioner, go to www.naet.com. For more information, read Nambudripad’s book Say Goodbye to Illness (Delta Publishing, 1993).
It was just last month that 45-year-old Steve, a Chicago real estate broker, took part in his first tennis tournament. Although he lost, Steve views his participation as a great victory. Why? Two years ago, he was so exhausted from wheezing and coughing that on some days he couldn’t walk even two blocks. A physical revealed Steve’s asthma. “I was shocked,” he recalled. “It seemed impossible that a 43-year-old like me could develop asthma.” Ruth, a retired Boston teacher, was visiting her sister in Orange County, Calif., lost fall when she suddenly collapsed in her sister’s garden. With chest pain so intense that she couldn’t breathe, Ruth assumed she was having a heart attack. But after being rushed to the hospital, extensive heart and lung tests revealed Ruth’s heart was fine. The villain was asthma. Ruth was surprised by the diagnosis.
“Whenever I had difficulty breathing, I had always assumed I had a lingering cold or bronchitis,” she said. “I thought only kids get asthma.”
Asthma on the Rise:
Ruth and Steve have lots of company: more than 17 million Americans have asthma – at least twice the number as in 1988. What¹s more, this serious respiratory disease is increasing among all age groups. From 1982 to 1994, the
National Institutes of Health reported that asthma rose 24 percent among those over 65, and 49 percent for people aged 40 to 65. The sharpest rise was among children under 10, a staggering 72 percent increase!
Women and minorities have been especially hard hit. Today, women account for 55 percent of asthma patients – and their death rate is twice that of men. Afro-Americans experience three times the rate of hospitalization and twice the rate of emergency room visits as do whites. Moreover, the number of Americans with asthma may be even higher than the statistics show, according to Dr. William W, Busse, president of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI).
“Asthma is often overlooked or misdiagnosed,” he explained, “because people assume they have chronic colds, bronchitis or other diseases instead. They may experience wheezing, coughing and other symptoms of asthma only when they exercise or have a respiratory infection. By the time they do seek medical attention, the symptoms have disappeared-so asthma doesn’t get diagnosed,”
Researchers ore trying to unravel the mystery of why asthma is increasing,
Genetics and Environment:
“Nobody knows for sure what causes asthma, but we think it may be a multifactorial disease like heart disease and cancer,” said Dr. Jonathan W. Becker, clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Seattle, and a member of the AAAAI. “Genetics may predispose you to asthma; then to set off an attack, some trigger in the environment must be present.”
“The immune system also may play a major role in setting the stage,” said Dr. Busse. “One of the great mysteries is why children who have measles and chicken pox and lost-born children subject to numerous viral infections passed on to them by older siblings don’t develop asthma.” A theory as to why this occurs is that there’s some crucial point in a child’s life where the immune system is turned on by having to fight infectious diseases, like measles and chicken pox. But if the child does not develop these diseases because of, say, vaccinations, then the system is turned on by substances like pollen, dust mites and other seemingly innocuous materials-resulting in an allergy that can lead to asthma.
For years, pollution and smoking have been cited as major contributors to asthma. “More children are admitted to emergency rooms on days when pollution levels are high,” said Dr. Becker, who also is on the staff of the Northwest Asthma & Allergy Center in Seattle. And, “More teenage girls are smoking today, which may be a big factor in why we’re seeing asthma rising among women.²
One fact is certain: Allergies play a major role in the increase. Eighty percent of patients with asthma are allergic to one or more allergens. A study of Australian children with asthma found ci strong link between exposure and sensitization to house dust mites and severity of asthma symptoms.