When only fresh will do ....
We met Anna Locatelli, an elegant and attractive Italian lady, at the Allergy Show last year when she told us about her dramatic food reactions. We asked her to put her experiences on paper for us.
I have suffered from an allergy since the end of 2002 when I began reacting violently and systematically, both in the UK and abroad, to virtually all foods including, unfortunately, many of the organic foods that I had been eating for over 20 years without any problem.
They would start with an itching or a burning sensation, followed by the appearance of hives or ‘tram-lines’, which often developed into deep gashes (like being slashed with a razor-blade) or abrasions which took ages to heal.
My lymphatic system would also be affected as my glands would swell, particularly in my neck.
There would be a dramatic loss of flora in the gut, due to an overactive bowel, and abnormally heavy sweating as if I had malaria. This would then lead to a rapid weight loss. I also had terrible insomnia and when I finally managed to fall asleep, I’d have hallucinations.
When things got really bad, I’d feel as if my insides were burning or badly damaged (as if there were lesions, obviously due to the depletion of flora) and the nerve endings in my feet and hands became painful as if I’d been subjected to electric shocks.
I would also lose weight incredibly fast - up to 10 kilos in one week. But, by the same token, I could also regain it just as quickly if I could find something that I could eat.
During these episodes I could feel my immune system going into overdrive, reacting to something it perceived to be highly toxic. I would be left looking ghastly and feeling totally wiped out.
The doctors were baffled. They suggested in the interim taking Clarityn and corticosteroids, which I refused as medication has never agreed with me. For this reason, since childhood I have been treated homeopathically for any ailments (our family doctor was a conventional physician and was based in Harley Street). I knew therefore that in my particular case suppressing the symptoms would not have dealt with the root cause but only served to drive back into the body what it was trying to eliminate.
It was also suggested that I should undergo gene therapy to replace a faulty gene. In other words, as more is being done to the food chain, I am being asked to adapt my body to its changes, which I find crazy. Wasn’t the food industry originally meant to serve us and not the other way round? This is not, I hasten to add, to criticise gene therapy as such, as for many people it may be a life saver.
In addition to conventional medical tests, I was also tested for allergies in two different laboratories; the first told me I am allergic to everything and the second to nothing. Interestingly, both diagnoses were correct.
I finally decided, having spent considerable time and money consulting different specialists, none of whom had been able to help me, that I would have to solve the enigma myself.
Self Diagnosis & Treatment
It was the farmers’ markets which saved my life and for three years I was able to build up my immune system again and felt fine. Lately, however, I have begun to find that my symptoms are returning and that my hitherto reliable sources of food are now not so safe. My fear is that, in order to comply with directives regarding food sanitisation standards, even the seeds may now be affected.
Once again, I am finding it difficult to survive and on occasion have only been able to eat food which is totally fresh - fruit picked straight off a tree, for example which still has a ‘vibration’ to it. Good red wine and dark chocolate (both powerful anti-oxidants) have on occasion saved me from going under too.
I would argue that nobody in their right mind would want to complicate their life in this way. I have to take my own food with me wherever I go - this has made me a very cheap guest! Moreover, I’m Italian and am therefore typically mad about food. I adore cooking and have always had a voracious appetite and a fast metabolism. Not being able to eat normally has become a nightmare.
A few years ago, I became a reflexologist and Reiki master, and must strive to be a good advertisement for what I do. It is obviously in my best interests to look better rather than worse than the client! When I am affected by the allergy I am unable to work as it takes me quite a time to recover.
Being so sensitive personally to chemicals, for me the techno-fix is not the answer - I need to look elsewhere. I’d be extremely interested to hear if any other readers have experienced similar problems.
Dear Foods Matter -
You can contact Anna via us here at Foods Matter, 5 Lawn Road, London NW3 2XS, email@example.com 020 7722 2866
First published in 2006