Reintroducing food after hookworm treatment for food allergy/intolerance
John Scott explains.
The following guidance for reintroducing foods following inoculation with hookworm (Necator americanus) is based on my personal experience of using hookworm to successfully treat both IgE-mediated food allergy and food intolerance.
Anyone with an IgE-mediated food allergy and a history of anaphylactic reactions should discuss with their doctor the reintroduction of any foods that are known, or possible, triggers of anaphylaxis. Depending on the severity of past reactions, it may be necessary to arrange medical supervision at the time of reintroduction. At the very least, the anaphylactic individual should ensure that they have two in-date epinephrine autoinjectors to hand, and have someone else present who understands what steps to take in the event of a reaction occurring.
Whether or not you have anaphylaxis, it is highly unlikely that any consistent improvement in tolerance to food will occur in the first 12 weeks after inoculation with hookworm, so it would seem pointless to try, during this time, any foods that previously caused a reaction. And as some helminth hosts may take much longer than 12 weeks to begin to regain tolerance, caution is required, even after 12 weeks.
Once the first 12 weeks have past, small quantities of foods that previously caused a reaction can be tested, one food at a time. If several new foods are eaten together and one of them does cause a reaction, it will not be clear which one was responsible.
It will help in planning the reintroduction of foods to make a list of all those that previously caused a problem, then highlight those that caused the least severe reactions, and begin with these latter foods. If food intolerance developed gradually over a period of time, also mark those that began to cause a reaction most recently, as tolerance to these may be regained sooner than to foods that have been a longstanding problem. If your allergy/intolerance was total, then it may be best to start with the foods that are known to be the least allergenic, such as lamb, rice and pears.
The return of tolerance is likely to be very gradual so, if you try a food and find that it still causes a reaction, just avoid it for a while longer and then try it again at a later date, when your tolerance will likely have increased further.
If a reaction does occur, this may be relieved to some extent by taking a mixture of alkali salts, sometimes referred to a "turn-off" solution. This can be produced by combining 2 parts potassium bicarbonate, 3 parts sodium bicarbonate and 1 part calcium carbonate. One teaspoonful of the resulting tri-salt mixture should be taken in 1/2 glass of water and drunk while it's still fizzing.
If any food is found to still cause an adverse reaction, it may be worth waiting before trying other foods belonging to the same food family. So, if you find that cabbage causes a reaction, it might be best to defer trial of rapeseed, canola or horseradish, all of which are botanically related to cabbage. And arguably of even greater importance than botanical family connections are protein similarities. For example, apple skin contains the protein, Mal d 3, which is very similar to the Pru p 3 protein in peaches, so, if one of these causes a reaction, it may be wise to also avoid the other one for a while.
There are several online lists of botanical food families, arguably the best of these being: Calgary Allergy Network and the AllFam database of allergen families lists the most up-to-date cross-reactions that have been found for each type of protein. Selecting 'plants' or 'animals' as the allergen source, and 'ingestion' as the route of exposure, will return a list of all the proteins involved, and clicking on any protein will reveal a list of the foods linked to that particular protein.
A more controversial method of charting one's course through the food reintroduction minefield is to use dowsing, a technique that, in competent hands, can indicate which foods are likely to be safe, or not safe, for any given individual. Of course, there are sceptics who won't hear mention of this technique, but it has worked consistently well for several people I know who have very severe reactions to food, and it proved invaluable during my own 30 year battle with overwhelming food allergy and intolerance.
Whilst, in theory, anyone can learn to dowse, many people find that, in practice, the technique doesn't work well when they use it to test foods for themselves, and I am one of this group. I have therefore always used someone else to do my dowsing for me, and the professional dowser whom I have used for a number of years has proved to be over 95% accurate.
There is an article here explaining the use of dowsing for food intolerance.
Registered dowsing practitioners can be found in the UK via the British Society of Dowsers' website. The American Society of Dowsers have a list of members showing those who are particularly interested in dowsing for "Personal well-being", but membership of this or any other organisation is no guarantee of expertise. I encountered one BSD-registered dowser who was utterly useless, but have also met ordinary folk with no group affiliation whose dowsing was spot on. So caveat emptor!
One of the conveniences of dowsing is that it can be carried out at a distance by a dowser who has never physically met their client, so one is not limited to using dowsers from one's own locality.
As I was reintroducing foods after my own gut buddies had got into the swing of modulating my immune system, I had a full list of foods checked by my dowser approximately every three months. Each time, the results came back with a longer list of 'safe' foods - and an astonished comment from my dowser, who has helped a number of others with food intolerance but says she has never before seen the problem reversed in such a spectacular way!
Having the guidance of this dowser considerably reduced the risk of me eating foods that were not yet safe, something for which I'm extremely grateful.
First published in February 2012