According to National Research and Advocacy Organization for Food Allergy Research and Education (or FARE), about 6 million children and youths under the age of 18 months show harsh allergic reactions to at least one food allergen. When adults are included, this number reaches 15 million in the United States alone.
Despite these worrying statistics, there are currently no FDA-approved medications for food allergy preventions. The only available medications are for treating allergic responses, side effects, and for immune system suppression.
This has prompted many people to turn to alternative approaches to manage their allergies. And many people have turned to acupuncturists for treatment and advice.
So, can acupuncture alleviate food allergies?
Well, before answering this question it is vital to understand what food allergy is. Essentially, food allergy is a reaction of the immune system to harmless elements in certain foods. Although most food allergies are mild, some can cause serious and sometimes life-threatening reactions.
How Acupuncture Works
While conventional Western medicine focuses on reducing symptoms of an allergic reaction and identifying as well as avoiding offending foods, acupuncture focus on finding the root cause of the problem and treating the core imbalance that produces the food allergy symptoms.
According to Chinese medical theory, food allergies may be a result of a blockage in the flow of energy by chemical, emotional, physical, or other noxious stimuli.
The stimuli are ingrained in our memory systems, and when we come in contact with these elements, our body cells trigger physical symptoms.
Chinese medicine approach involves the application of light acupressure along the sides of the spinal column in the area where the nerve roots intersect with nerve flow.
This is done to ‘teach’ the body or mind not to overreact to the above-mentioned stimuli.
After the acupressure treatments, kinesiologic tests may be done to establish whether the allergy has been removed. Acupuncture needles may be inserted for about 20 minutes to stabilize the treatment.
If effective, the patient may no longer need to avoid allergens or go through long-term fasting.
The best evidence of acupuncture efficacy in the treatment of food allergies comes from the following studies:
- In a 2002 study, Chinese medicine was used to treat 20 patients suffering from food allergens. The patients (all between 6 and 67 years) were given a daily formula of prepared Chinese herbs. The study reported a 95 percent efficacy rate.
- In another 2013 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and carried in a group of 422 people, researchers found out that 71% of patients who received real acupuncture showed significant improvement in their symptoms than other group that was treated with sham acupuncture.
- The American Academy of Medical Acupuncture also notes on their website that acupuncture may an excellent alternative to routine care and treatment for moderate allergic sinusitis and can go a long way in eliminating the need for medication and releasing patients from exacerbation-remission cycles.
Clearly, acupuncture may help relieve the symptoms of food allergies. However, before you opt for it, endeavor to discuss the therapy with an integrative medicine practitioner or a primary care physician.
Since acupuncture is growing in popularity, your physician may know more qualified practitioners in your area and be able to offer a professional recommendation based on your symptoms and medical history.