Food Allergies and Anxiety
“Viviana” was a 40 year old mother, who had recently started up her own alternative healing center. She had a history of digestive issues, including ulcers, H. Pylori, abdominal pain, sour taste in the mouth, and lately had been developing food sensitivities that were quite immediate.
She would develop a red rash of hives on her face immediately after eating common foods. She had been to the ER, and had all manner of medical tests done on her.
She was developing severe anxiety and panic attacks as a result of all the stress around eating and never knowing which foods would be safe.
She had basically been eating only chicken breast as that didn’t seem to set her off. And she was sick of feeling trapped.
Quite a fascinating case, actually, as the more I listened to the nuance of her condition, the more a much larger picture began to emerge.
She had a lot of stress in her home life, and that stress was the primary cause of most of her digestive issues (ulcers etc). The skin rash was a recent development that she says only started after she began working with a client who had a similar presentation.
Healthy boundaries are important for a stable sense of self.
An often observed phenomenon is someone in the health care field (massage therapist, nurse, etc) feeling drained by their patients, or starting to develop similar symptoms as their patients.
I’m not talking about catching a cold from someone sick.
This is more along the lines of being around people with migraines all day and then you start having migraines for the first time in your life. Or developing hives.
Whether you believe we can “pick up” mechanisms and conditions from others or not, the timing sure was interesting.
Additionally, food allergies and sensitivity are also a boundary issue. Any condition having to do with an errant immune system would be. Self vs. non-self is the main driver in immunology.
Seeing a larger pattern here, how her boundaries at home weren’t healthy, boundaries at work weren’t healthy, and boundaries in her small intestine weren’t healthy, we used a threefold approach for treatment.
Acupuncture and herbal treatment were directed at regulating her immune system, decreasing inflammation, and soothing the anxiety (which helps shift the body to better digestive function incidentally). I kept the herbal formula extremely simple to avoid setting off her immune system.
Besides acupuncture and herbs, we also incorporated some Qi Gong standing meditation to establish a more grounded sense of self. There are also exercises for developing an energetic shield around yourself which I have found helpful in similar cases.
Within the first 2 weeks of treatment she began to eat a more varied diet, with no reactions. However she did have a panic attack that really frightened her. After the anxiety had decreased so much I was curious as to the cause of the panic attack. The only thing she had done differently was a Kundalini Yoga class.
Anxiety and panic are seen as conditions of unsettled energy rising in the body. A lot of the treatment I had given so far, and the Qi Gong meditations on grounding were designed to help sink and root her. I advised her not to repeat the Kundalini exercises as they are specifically designed to raise energy in the body.
Without the stable base, those types of practices can cause more harm than good.
At her follow up appointment, she reported being able to eat without the rash, and that she had been steadily increasing the scope of her diet.