I’ve had food allergies for approx 30 years. I was diagnosed with allergic rhinitis, had my (nasal) turbinates removed, acne rosacea, blood tests suggested I was heading towards Lupus and I’ve also had cancer scares.
Over the years I reacted to a range of foods, dust, pollen, chemicals. As time went on my reactions became worse and ended in throat swelling. I suffered anaphylactic reactions and visited various hospital emergence departments. I became very good at excluding foods from my life and ended up with not much to eat.
I consulted 3 allergist/immunologists and numerous other doctors – none helped. I’ve had heaps of IgG and IgE (food panel) and skin prick tests (interesting but not helpful). I’ve taken cortisone nasal spray (had to stop because of bad bruising), cortisone tablets on and off (it ‘calmed’ my volcanic reactions), antihistamine (regularly for 30 plus years but it didn’t help me get better), cortisone creams (superficial) and had desensitization (didn’t work for me).
Then I was exposed to mould in the environment at my work. This is when my real problem began. I became ‘intolerant’ to very many things I could previously take, eat and be around. I was diagnosed with ‘environmental illness’ by my immunologist and put me on Ketotifen (a mast cell stabiliser – no help to me). I progressively became more sensitive (intolerant) and nutritionally deficient (no vitamins or pharmaceuticals for me). Life was a prison – I even reacted to drinking water.
Serendipitously, I located some US and UK medical centers which specialised in ‘environmental’ illness. I flew with oxygen to the US. I stayed at a ‘safe house’ but unfortunately the US clinic didn’t help. My next destination was Breakspear Hospital UK. It was the place where my recovery began!
After careful evaluation Dr Monro recommended low dose immunotherapy. My first weeks of testing were exhausting, but, the more I tested the more robust my immune system became. The internal war in my body was gradually stopping.
In keeping with Dr Monro’s philosophy I first tested the foods I ate (including the foods that I wasn’t obviously reacting to) and then those foods I wanted to eat. I also tested for vitamins and pharmaceuticals and some chemicals. The more things I tested and the longer I took my daily dose of low dose immunotherapy, the more I found I could tolerate the things to which I had previously reacted. It has taken time and lots of patience.
With the low dose immunotherapy in my life, my life has steadily expanded (it’s still expanding) to eating, taking vitamins etc, adopting a holistic health care approach and going to places I thought would never be possible.
Thank you Dr Monro, Low Dose Immunotherapy, the doctors at YourHealth Brighton, my dear husband and family for their enlightenment and support.
Sofia’s journey – food intolerances, asthma and eczema
A few months following the birth of my beautiful baby daughter (now 20 months old), we started to notice red areas in a number of creases around Sofia’s neck, back of the legs and elbows. These red marks progressed over the months. We thought it was just a heat rash, until the red mark on her neck progressed to constant weeping and driving her to distraction. Then she started to get eczema on her belly, spreading to her ankles, parts of thighs, back and underneath her arms.
We didn’t fully understand what this all meant until we took her to Emergency Department at the Royal Children’s Hospital (Victoria) one day for a cold where she was experiencing difficulty in breathing. There the ED doctors stated that given the extent of her eczema and allergies (at that stage just potatoes, kiwi fruit and avocado), it was most likely she had asthma – at the tender age of 15 months. Our paediatrician recommended we commence food allergy testing asap, particularly following a particularly nasty week long infection of her eczema on her entire front part of her torso.
I heard about Low Dose Immunotherapy and decided to give it a go since no needles are used with kids. Sofia turned up for the first testing session with red, sore eczema and asthma. After the first lot of drops under her tongue (wheat) were given all of a sudden the asthma simply stopped.
We then tried tuna, where she started head butting me and got quite aggressive until the drops found her end point and she went back to the happy, delightful girl that I know. When we tried her with tomato, the eczema on her chest flared angrily until again, the end point was found and the eczema went dull. We have discovered Sofia is allergic to quite a few things.
Since starting her on the treatment her eczema over her entire body has completely disappeared. She’s had a number of colds with asthma, but the last cold her asthma did not appear to be as bad. We are still needing further testing and treatment, but it has been fantastic to touch clear, soft skin – this is something I took for granted with my first child and have embraced it wholly with my second.
Julian’s experience : Bloating, gas & discomfort… then… after around 4 months I was able to eat nearly all foods with little to no reaction
For 9 years I went misdiagnosed as having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome whilst living in Australia. Then in 2005 I moved to London where I found the Breakspear Hospital in Hemel Hempstead, who correctly diagnosed me with Lyme disease.
By this time I was close to death and unable to function. The bacterial infection had severely affected my digestive system causing leaky gut syndrome, food intolerances & chemical sensitivities.
In fact nearly everything I ate or drank caused me bloating, gas and discomfort. It was affecting my ability to absorb the nutrients from the food and it was lowering my immune resistance. I tried cutting out diary, wheat, sugar and meat to see if it would stop my symptoms all to no avail. I even got tested for Celiac and Chrohns disease to rule them out.
It was at this point in time, October 2005, that I began Low Dose Immunotherapy (also known as the provocation/neutralisation technique) at the Breakspear. The initial testing took around 3 days & then I was given vials of the endpoints to self inject on a daily basis. The recovery process wasn’t overnight but after around 4 months I was able to eat nearly all foods with little to no reaction.
Not only did the antigen vaccines heal my gut problems but it also played an important role in my overall treatment of Lyme disease as it boosted my immune system to be able to handle the intensive course of antibiotics I was later given to kill the Lyme Borrelia and the co-infections.
I could not recommend Low Dose Immunotherapy highly enough and would fully encourage anyone with food & chemical sensitivities to try it out for themselves.
Kate : I found they helped me to tolerate drugs and foods much better, but also had an impact on my symptoms, reducing inflammation, and swelling over a longer period of time
I became ill with numerous symptoms including swelling, joint and muscle pain, chronic fatigue etc. After a while I was diagnosed with lyme disease, which can be a chronic infection, however, I clearly also had additional problems and seleque that would not entirely disappear with antibiotic other antimicrobial treatment. It turned out, that I had sensitivities to foods, chemicals and drugs. I obviously had a tendency towards this as I had been on gluten free food for some time due to previous problems with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This made taking my medication for my complex condition, including pain control drugs, very difficult.
In order to cope better, I started on the multiple allergen Low Dose Immunotherapy, and used these over a period of time. I found they helped me to tolerate drugs and foods much better, but also had an impact on my symptoms, reducing inflammation, and swelling over a longer period of time.
I now consider them an essential part of my treatment ‘wardrobe’. When I stopped them recently, they found that my reactions had increased. This treatment does help to ‘moderate’ immune reactions of various kinds, including some subtle reactions such as headaches, dizziness, nausea etc from drugs.
Brighton, United Kingdom
Lisa : I was ‘blue lighted’ to hospital on 6 occasions due to restricted breathing. I could no longer work and constantly in fear of being rushed to hospital … Following initial treatment, my health improved dramatically to the point that within four months I was working again and feeling much better
I first became unwell in August 2008 when I reacted to Penicillin V. Over the following months, my condition deteriorated rapidly and I was reacting to numerous foods. I was blue lighted to hospital on 6 occasions due to restricted breathing. I could no longer work and constantly in fear of being rushed to hospital. This had a massive impact on my ability to care for my children and support my husband in his demanding career.
On each occasion the medical staff could give no other reason for my restricted breathing. I was supplied with epi-pens and corticosteroids and told to expect things to get worse.
Fortunately, due to my work as a Dietitian I was aware of the Breakspear hospital in Hemel Hemstead, UK. The doctors at the Breakspear are able to desensitise allergies and in the summer of 2009 I became a patient. I was given Low Dose Immunotherapy as the mainstay of my treatment, together with nutritional supplements.
Following initial treatment, my health improved dramatically to the point that within four months I was working again and feeling much better. Since undergoing treatment at the Breakspear I have been able to eat all the foods that were affecting me without any adverse reaction. More importantly I have been liberated from the intense fear that what I am putting into my mouth might result in causing death or serious illness requiring hospitalisation.
I am now healthy, extremely positive and look forward to a future in which I can enjoy my family and support them through life.
Pam – 6 years ago when I arrived at Breakspear a trip to the local supermarket was exhausting and the highlight of my life … now I am delighted to say I am symptom free and living the normal life of a 28 year old
Over 7 years my health had begun to deteriorate with little help and sympathy from my local GP. Like many of you I had a bumpy road to travel before my health journey went in the right direction. I tried many conventional and unconventional therapies some which gave me a very temporary energy boost but others just weren’t right for me.
One day my Mum showed me an article she found in a national newspaper about a girl who had similar sounding symptoms to me. She claimed to have begun to get her life back slowly due to a treatment facility called Breakspear Hospital.
At this point I was struggling to complete my university course and was missing out on the university lifestyle that so many people my age were having. I wasn’t living the life of a 20 something year old more like someone 60 years my senior. Mum didn’t mention it again until a couple of months later when I was having a bad day. This time I gave in and agreed to at least listen to what Dr Monroe (the Director) at Breakspear Hospital had to say.
Dr Monroe explained that they had a treatment (Low Dose Immunotherapy) that might be able to reduce my symptoms and in time keep them at bay. When I heard the word needles I have to say panic struck in and I needed a lot of reassurance. I was very dubious about the whole process but I decided I didn’t have much to loose at this point and should give it a go. She informed me that my body was having reactions to food because it was so tired of fighting to keep me well. She went on to say that if I could have the Low Dose Immunotherapy it could give my body a chance to recuperate and she had seen many cases where this had turned out to be true. I really wasn’t even aware I had food intolerances until arriving at Breakspear but I have come to realise that it underlies many illnesses and in my case was crucial to my road to recovery.
In fact I was so sensitive in the beginning of my treatment process that I couldn’t even have the solution injected in my body and they had to place it on the back of my hand. This is a very rare occurrence and only highlighted the fact that I badly needed this treatment.
The most important thing I took away from my conversations with patients was the fact that this is not an overnight process. Your symptoms do not disappear overnight….it took you body quite a while to get into this state and therefore you must allow your body a while to recuperate as well. Once I had excepted this I began to see small improvements and with every visit to Breakspear I became stronger and stronger.
6 years ago when I arrived at Breakspear a trip to the local supermarket was exhausting and the highlight of my life –how things have changed!!! I now delighted to say I am symptom free and living the normal life of a 28 year old. I was dismissed from my Rheumatologist 2 years ago and no longer clog up the waiting room of my GP. I have gone on to train as a Primary School teacher and have the mountains of energy needed to keep up with 4-7 year olds. I moved out to Melbourne in August 2010.
If my mum had never seen that article I dread to think how my health might have deteriorated. I feel blessed to have found Breakspear and a treatment that gave me my life back.
The United Kingdom and Melbourne