ARE ELIMINATION DIETS REALLY NECESSARY?
Disclaimer: this article is for information purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any medical condition.
In my practice I see many patients with issues related to food intolerance: eczema, IBS and many other auto-immune conditions. Most of those conditions are aggravated by certain types of food: dairy and gluten are the usual culprits but often nightshades like tomatoes and aubergines and even certain fruits can make the symptoms worse.
Often my patients are already following a diet prescribed by a functional medicine doctor: the elimination diet. In essence, this is about eliminating the offending food types for a period of time and then graduallty re-introducing those foods once the system has had time to recover. In theory this makes perfect sense: take away what is hurting you, let your body recover and then see if it’s strong enough to deal with whatever was hurting you before.
However, it doesn’t always work. Why?
Nutrition is certainly an essential tool in our overall health and that is why I decided to qualify as nutritionist after becoming a homeopath. When I decided to get my son tested for food allergies, many years ago, he was already on a gluten free and dairy free diet. Brown rice was what I had replaced pasta with, so I was really surprised to see that the test showed he was intolerant to brown rice, not gluten or dairy! I asked the doctor how that could be and I was told that when you eliminate certain allergenic foods for a while and replace it with something neutral for your system, what can happen is that you become allergic to that “neutral” food as well!
In other words: you are restricting your food options more and more. This is because it is not the food that is the problem; it is your response to the food, ie, your immune system cannot handle that type of food. Therefore, the answer should really be: let’s fix the immune system!
Homeopathy to the rescue!
Recent case: lady with IBS going back years
This lady was in her early forties and suffered with IBS symptoms since her college years. Certain foods made the symptoms worse: gluten, dairy, sugar mainly. She had been following a diet prescribed by her functional medicine doctor for months, however, could see no relief and even the foods she was allowed to eat were now causing her stomach pain. This was not how things were supposed to work out! She could now only eat a very restrited list of foods that was getting shorter every day, which was depressing and of course did nothing for her social life!
She was then advised to see a homeopath, for a more holistic approach and that’s how she came to see me.
As always, the approach that homeopathy takes is to look at the whole individual. In my experience, GI issues are often caused/worsened by emotional issues. Therefore I was not surprised to learn that this lady had been in an unhappy marriage for many years and had recently gone through a bitter divorce. She was far from over it emotionally, the stress was very severe.
Therefore I decided to prescribe according to the overall symptoms, emotional and physical and gave her Ignatia to begin with. Ignatia is well known as remedy for grief and emotional issues, however, it is also a well indicated remedy for digestion disturbances, particularly when linked to emotional trauma.
By the time of the first follow up, her symptoms were already better, however, she was still experiencing a lot of sadness, bouts of depression and the stomach symptoms had not disappeared completely.
Lycopodium was the next remedy I prescribed, which took care of the physical symptoms. I also asked her to continue with Ignatia, because her recent grief was a reaction to the remedy: her emotions were coming to the surface. She had been trying to suppress her grief and sadness in order to “get on with it”, however, these things need to be processed and that can be uncomfortable. In order to help process her emotions, I also added one dose of Rose Quartz.
The second follow up she sent me the following text:
Good morning! I’m glad I stuck with what you gave me. I’ve been feeling great (both mentally and physically).
I then asked her how she would quantify her improvement, to which she replied it was about 75%.
This improvement took about two months. She can now start to re-introduce more foods that she couldn’t tolerate before!
Does that mean all diets are unnecessary/useless? No, I do not think so at all. Often, it is indeed necessary to temporarily eliminate one or two types of foods in order to give our system a break! This, combines with the introduction of ad hoc healthy food and supplements, can work very well on its own. Homeopathy, however, heals the whole of the individual and the result can be quicker and more permanent.
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