Relieve Chronic Symptoms and Suffering: Understand Immune Antibodies, Food Allergies, Sensitivities, and Intolerances
An allergy is an overreaction of the immune system to substances (like food or the environment) that are usually harmless. The brain and the organs function as if the allergen is an assault from a pathogen. The body presents with different symptoms or reactions: hay fever, eczema, headaches, dermatitis, hives, rashes, asthma muscle and joint pain, sinusitis, cough, digestive disturbances, or anaphylaxis,
There is a lot of confusion with allergies compared with sensitivities, intolerances and the symptoms that can occur as a result. This confusion can be cleared up by understanding the antibodies involved. Many people know of the IgE antibodies classically tested with traditional allergy testing however, there is also IgM, IgG, IgA — each have roles in the immune system and relate to the allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances.
IgM: The Rapid Responders
Immunoglobulin M (IgM) is the first antibody produced when the body encounters a new pathogen or first exposure to an antigen (a substance that touches or enters the body). IgM is particularly effective at clumping together microbes, (bacteria mostly, some parasites, fungus, and viruses) for efficient removal by other immune cells. Having a normal IgM response is important for the body’s ability fight infections and maintain homeostasis.
IgA: The Guardians of Mucosal Barriers
Immunoglobulin A (IgA) is specialized in protecting mucous membranes lining various entry points of the body, such as the respiratory and digestive tracts. Found in high concentrations in saliva, tears, and breast milk, IgA acts as a first line of defense against pathogens attempting to breach these sensitive surfaces. Levels decreased during stress, lowering resistance to infection.
IgG: Most abundant, Second line of defense, & Immune cell memory
Immunoglobulin G (IgG) is the most abundant antibody, representing approximately 75% of the total antibodies in the body during secondary immune responses. IgG provides long-term immunity by recognizing and neutralizing a wide array of pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, and toxins. This antibody is a key player in the adaptive immune response, forming memory cells that enable the immune system to remember and respond more effectively upon subsequent encounters with familiar threats. IgG is the only antibody to pass the placenta from mother to fetus and into breast milk providing some immune protection.
IgE: The Allergy Mediators
· Immunoglobulin E (IgE) may be infamous for its role in allergic reactions, but it serves a vital purpose in the immune system. IgE is involved in the defense against parasitic infections, animal venoms and plays a central role in allergic responses by triggering the release of histamine, mast cells and other types of cells. Ige antibodies are responsible for the adaptive immune system, which allows for immune responses that are highly specific to each pathogen the body has encountered. This more specific response also includes a memory system to protect against pathogens like the Measles, one exposure creates lifetime protection. The problem with this specific IgE adaptive system response is when the cells involved cannot distinguish harmful from harmless foreign molecules; the result of this are symptoms of hay fever, asthma, rashes, hives, or anaphylaxis. IgE is a small percentage of the antibodies but is involved in the most severe reaction of anaphylaxis and many common allergy symptoms.
With the explanation of these 4 main antibodies, this helps clarify why there is confusion with the term’s allergy, intolerance, or sensitivity. The most traditional use of the term “allergy” is based on the IgE antibody. As functional and integrative medicine brings into light the different ways the body systems work there are alternative tests to help manage symptoms. Food allergies are tested with IgE blood tests or skin scratch tests the reactions usually occur in minutes. The most common food allergy symptoms are swelling around face or mouth, wheezing, hives, itching, stomach pain, vomiting and if severe anaphylaxis. Food sensitivities can be tested using the IgG or IgA antibodies these responses are more delayed and can be a couple hours or up to 3 days for the reaction. Possible symptoms include headaches, fatigue, bloating, gas, eczema, psoriasis, systemic inflammation, acid reflux, constipation, difficulty with concentration, joint pain, and others. Food intolerance is sometimes used for a milder reaction to a food however, it is also about lacking enzymes to break a food down such as for lactose and dairy.
Understanding the different antibodies that are involved in the immune system help in explaining the cause of different symptoms. NAET allergy treatment practitioners can utilize these different tests to help in coming up with the best plan to help treat allergies. In addition, NAET practitioners can muscle test using kinesiology to test many different allergens. Following this with holistic treatments to help relieve the symptoms.
To speak with a NAET practitioner about your specific symptoms and reactions schedule a FREE NAET consultation
Written By: Randee Engelhard, MPT, PAS, AET, NAET