Some old knowledge is very valuable, but is forgotten. Dr. Walter Alvarez, a
well-known physician of the Mayo clinic and popular medical writer for several
decades, provided a personal perspective on food-mind interactions, many years
ago, in his introduction to the text, "Allergy of the Nervous System": "For
years I knew I was highly sensitive to chicken, I suffered from what I called
"dumb Monday," when I was too dull to do much constructive work like writing.
Finally, I discovered that bad Mondays were due to the Alvarez family's habit of
having chicken for Sunday dinner... My most remarkable personal experience with
brain dulling due to food allergy came many years ago when... I ate a whole
broiled chicken. Next day I had severe diarrhea and with this I became so dulled
I could not read with comfort. And that night I had a hallucination of sight,
such as I had never had before and haven't had since."
Alvarez and other astute physicians knew about food allergy and its mental
effects for many years. Food allergy was implicated in depression,
anxiety, hyperactivity in children, epilepsy, migraine, Meniere's syndrome,
Multiple Sclerosis, and Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Unfortunately, this wisdom,
shared by many prominent physicians for many years, has somehow been lost to
subsequent generations of physicians and needs to be renewed.
Immune activity produces mental-emotional symptoms. Anaphylaxis victims are
said to have "panic attacks" if they end up in the psychiatry department.
Children with food allergy may have nightmares, tantrums and fail to learn at
school because of attention deficits. Some of these children grow into troubled
adults with "learning disability". Others remain hyper, moody, and volatile.
Delayed pattern food allergy patients are sometimes described as "depressed" or
"neurotic". Migraine sufferers may have neurological symptoms that suggest a
stroke or a seizure. The occasional patient will have food-triggered epilepsy.
Changes in sensation, motor control, balance and vision accompany food allergy
and may suggest the diagnosis of serious neurological diseases such as Multiple
Sclerosis or Alzheimer's disease.
Our food allergy model postulates that foods immunize us against a large
number of protein antigens. This continuously changing immunity produces
dysfunction and disease. Brain dysfunction is expressed as disordered thinking,
feeling, behaving and remembering. Food allergy illness patterns involve typical
clusters of digestive, respiratory, skin and behavioral disturbances. The
illness patterns occasionally involve inhalant allergies, defined in the usual
way by skin and blood tests, but more often operates independently through
other, more complex immune mechanisms.
Food-provoked symptoms are not "psychological" as many physicians have
claimed. Adverse immune reactions to foods or "food allergies" have a
physiological basis and can be explained by insightful medical biology. Dr. Aas,
a Norwegian allergist and researcher, remarked at the Marabou symposium on "Food
Sensitivity" : "In my institute I am the only experimental monkey that we have
and from several passive transfer experiments on myself, with occasional rather
severe reactions, I am the first to admit that allergic reactions are
accompanied with intellectual and emotional disturbances. If you have not
experienced that, I ask you to be a volunteer in my laboratory."
Dr. Joseph Egger, who published excellent studies showing the effect of foods
in children who developed migraine headaches, epilepsy, and hyperactivity,
stated: "Taken together, the available research suggests that particular types
of adverse food reactions sometimes correlate with neurological and psychiatric
symptoms. The diversity of foods involved...is suggestive of allergy, and the
adverse effects may correlate with immunological abnormalities."
The concept of allergy as reacting defensively to foreign materials can be
extended to the nervous system which also reacts with defensive procedures. Both
immune and nervous systems interact when things go wrong at the level of
molecules and cells. The molecular-cellular mechanisms are monitored (but not
controlled) at the level of consciousness. The experience of symptoms is the
monitor image in consciousness of problems at the molecular-cellular level. In
technical terms, we can speak of information and noise in the system of person
and environment. Information noise is the disorder and chaos in experience that
confuses or interferes with a successful relationship with our environment, the
achievement of our goals with associated peace of mind. Molecular noise is the
disorder or chaos created by substances flowing through our body-brain.
Information noise is equivalent to molecular noise. At the level of equivalence
we cannot tell the difference between a molecular problem and a personal
problem. As noise increases, the system becomes more unstable or hypersensitive.
This instability is expressed as emotional disturbances associated with physical
Listen to the Connection Food Allergy and the Brain
You are viewing the Brain Mind Center at Alpha Online.
Understanding the human brain is essential to become a well-informed, modern
citizen. Stephen Gislason MD, the author of
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