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Naturopathic Allergy Testing Q&A with Dr. Meghan Haggarty, Naturopathic Doctor

The naturopathic doctors at The Nardella Clinic in Calgary focus on allergy testing for food and environmental sensitivities, and intolerances. Testing will help identify what is out of balance and how to correct it with diet and nutritional supplementation. Testing for food sensitivities and intolerances measures different immune markers than hypersensitivity or allergy.

Reactions to food sensitivities and intolerances are delayed sometimes for hours, days or even weeks. Whereas, the response to a food allergy is immediate.

Delayed reactions can show up in the skin as itching or rashes, including eczema and psoriasis; in the intestines as nausea, constipation, or diarrhea; or as inflammation that triggers the immune system and causes all sorts of symptoms like fatigue, fibromyalgia, irritability, IBS, recurrent colds or ear infections, postnasal drip, and more.

Diagnostic testing can reveal the most common, undetected sensitives and intolerances, including gluten and dairy. Many people have undiagnosed sensitivities and intolerances that can make their lives miserable. If you or your children aren’t feeling well, it could be something you eat every day that is causing the problem.

Read the Q&A interview about naturopathic allergy testing with Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Meghan Haggarty

Q: How do you test for food sensitivities and intolerances?

A: Blood tests are used to measure IgG and/or IgA antibody levels for individual foods. High levels of antibodies produced against a specific food, indicates intolerance to that food. Finger stick tests can also be used for children who can’t have a regular blood draw.

Q: What symptoms would make you suspect food sensitivities in my child?

A: Symptoms of food intolerances are varied but common symptoms include eczema, psoriasis, diarrhea, constipation, sinus congestion, headaches, reflux and bloating/gas. As a naturopathic doctor I also focus on the brain-gut connection. Therefore food intolerances may also be considered in children with hyperactivity, ADHD and Autism.

Q: What are sensitivity and intolerance triggers?

A: Triggers for sensitivity and intolerances are primarily foods. Although common intolerances are gluten, dairy, soy and eggs, even uncommon foods can cause intolerances such as blueberries, beef or broccoli.

Q: Do you offer nutritional testing to identify deficiencies?

A: We offer a variety of nutritional testing. Basic nutritional testing may include nutrients such as B12, iron, zinc and Vitamin D. Comprehensive nutritional testing is also available and tests many more nutrients including omega fatty acids, red blood cell minerals, B-vitamins, amino acids, CoQ10 and Vitamin A, C, and E.

Q: How do you test for sensitivities and intolerances? Blood test? Stool test? Urine test?

A: Sensitivities and intolerances are tested using blood tests that measure antibody production against specific foods.

Q: What is IgE and what does it mean if the test is positive?

A: IgE is the antibody produced by the immune system related to a true allergy. Antibodies are like soldiers that our immune system makes to protect us from foreign invaders, such as infection. In the case of an allergy or intolerance the immune system is inappropriately fighting against something like food or pollen. If IgE is positive it indicates an allergy to a food, or environmental allergen. Total IgE can be used as a screening tool. If total IgE is elevated further specific IgE testing would be indicated.

Q: What is IgG, and what does it mean if the test is positive?

A: IgG is one of the antibodies produced by the immune system against a perceived threat. Positive IgG antibodies can indicate previous exposure to an infection. In the case of food intolerances specific IgG elevations indicate intolerance to that specific food.

Q: What is IgA, and what does it mean if the test is positive?

A: IgA is another type of antibody produced by the immune system. IgA is specifically produced on endothelial tissues, or mucous membranes in the body. These include the GI tract, sinuses, lungs and the uterus. Elevated levels of IgA to specific foods are associated with inflammation and damage to endothelial tissue.

Q: Do you test for yeast, mold, bacteria and viruses that can remain in the body revving up the immune system and causing hypersensitivity?

A: Chronic infections such as yeast, mold bacteria, and viruses can definitely contribute to immune hyperactivity. Yeast can be evaluated using urine, stool or blood tests. Mold exposure is different than a mold allergy and is tested using urine testing for the presence of various mycotoxins including ochratoxin, aflatoxin, gliotoxin and tricothecene. Bacteria and viral testing is done using blood tests. Examples of infections tested for include Epstein-Barr Virus, Lyme Disease (Borrelia burgdorferi), Bartonella, Babesia, Ehrlichia/Anaplasma, Mycoplasma, C. pneumonaie, Streptococcus, Staphyloccocus, CMV, and HHV-6.

Q: Do you test for environmental allergies like yeast, mold, dog, cat, tree and grass?

A: Yes, environmental allergies can also be tested using a blood test that measures specific IgE levels to potential environmental allergies including various animals, pollens, and molds.

Q: Do you test for toxins from heavy metals, pesticides and other chemicals that cause allergies?

A: Yes. Testing for pesticides and chemicals involves a combination of urine and blood tests to identify different chemicals. Toxin exposures that are measured include pesticides, PCBs, volatile oil compounds, phthalates and parabens, and organophosphates.

Heavy metal testing is done using pre and post-provocation testing. Provocation is the administration of a chelating agent that helps to pull heavy metals out of tissue and binds to the metal to be removed in the urine. Common chelating agents include DMPS, EDTA and DMPS.

The Nardella Clinic is a center of excellence in digestive disorders, acute, chronic and degenerative diseases and wellness. Patients with chronic Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases have a safe home at The Nardella Clinic. Dr. Haggarty, Naturopath specializes in children with chronic diseases. Dr. Nardella, Naturopath focuses on the immune system, chronic disease, and integrative and naturopathic cancer care. They solve tough cases and can help you and your loved ones to achieve health and wellness.

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