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Naturopathic insight with food antibody testing, more

Shelby Ramsey

Special to the Village News

Are you familiar with allergic reactions to food? You know, when someone eats a particular food then immediately breaks out with a rash, has trouble breathing, or becomes ill? Those are very obvious.

What about foods you ingest that create a delayed reaction within your body? How do you know that a food is giving you a problem if the reaction isn't immediate?

Dr. Kaycie Grigel, ND, is well-versed in this as she has been working with patients in naturopathic medicine since 1999.

The key to understanding how a food can create a delayed reaction in the body is antibodies. "If you're not familiar with antibodies, they are something your immune system produces to tell your body to have a reaction," she said.

Grigel performs specific testing for these. "It's called IgG: That's a delayed sensitivity antibody."

How delayed could these sensitivities/unpleasant symptoms appear? She said, "You may eat something and ... you may not react for a few hours or even a couple of days."

If you're one that has constant and ongoing inflammatory issues – Grigel said this testing can be a rewarding one, resulting in positive change.

Some of the common symptoms her patients come in for include "chronic skin issues – like itchy eczema, any chronic joint or muscle pain; migraines certainly can fall into that category," she said.

For individuals who live with migraine, she confirmed that migraine "often has that underlying inflammatory component."

There are a multitude of symptoms that the food antibody testing can provide much clarity on. For example, those who experience:

● Chronic digestive issues

● Chronic allergies

● Chronic sinus infections

● Asthma

Grigel said she has found "even taking out common allergens will relieve things like fatigue for folks."

The food antibody testing can be done using 96 different foods or a broader test is available with 144 foods. It is performed via a blood test.

When asked what has been the most surprising food(s) out of the 96/144 upon receiving testing results that patients would never have guessed could be the culprit of their unpleasant immune reactions, her answer shocked me.

"The #1 allergen which people are sometimes unaware of is egg."

This is more complicated than one might initially think. As "eggs are sneaky because they are not just scrambled or fried, but they are in all sorts of baked goods; there are components of eggs put into all sorts of processed goods," she said.

Of course many of us are aware that dairy and gluten play a role in a lot of individuals' immune reactions. She confirmed those two are quite common to see in individuals' results.

But the food antibody testing results frequently return elevated amounts when it comes to "almonds, bananas or things people put frequently in their breakfast or lunch but may not have an immediate [thought like]: 'Oh yeah, that's an allergen too.'"

When individually reflecting, it may be hard to figure out why your stomach is upset or why you experienced a different unpleasant reaction when it potentially could have been a small baking ingredient from two days prior. Now might be the time to examine ingredients.

When undergoing the more expansive (144 foods) testing, it takes a look at vegetables, quinoa, nuts etc. Getting a clear picture of 12 dozen foods is magnificent and could really serve as a powerful catalyst when compiling our meal plans to adhere to what best suits our internal system.

Grigel's priority, she said, is to "help optimize hormone function by supporting whole body health."

A few of the conditions she works with include hormone imbalance following breast cancer treatment, hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue and burnout, menopause, and anxiety.

Grigel worded it succinctly, "We are looking for this long-term healthy journey." She uses a multitude of tests, depending on the individual's symptoms.

Another option she uses is neurotransmitter testing. This "is a test that looks for metabolites" via urine samples. The neurotransmitter testing "measures the chemicals in your brain that influence mood, energy, wakefulness etc."

Educating us on metabolites, Grigel explained, "Metabolites are found in the urine [and are] chemicals that your body breaks down."

Results from neurotransmitter testing offer patients the ability to take actionable steps to aid in their wellness.

What exactly are practitioners analyzing within the results? "One of the really important things about hormones and neurotransmitters is they have to balance relative to one another," Grigel said. This involves them looking "back at the biochemistry."

"One of the great things about the neurotransmitter testing is that when we look at these metabolites, we can see what's elevated relative to one another (in terms of elevated or depressed) [regarding] all these different neurotransmitters that [a person] makes," she said.

Through this testing and post analysis, remedial options may include suggesting "extra vitamins, minerals, or other sort of components of the neurotransmitters themselves, to build more or balance out the different levels for folks." This is of course on a patient-by-patient basis with a practitioner.

When we look at the tools at our disposal for our overall health – do you draw from many different pockets? Many of us have primary care available, along with the general diagnostics our health insurance companies are willing to cover a portion of costs for; we each choose our daily habits and influences (food, movement, stress, sleep); and then there is (certainly last but not least) natural remedies like Grigel's practice offers.

As you continue to learn more about the featured testing in this article and how quickly the unpleasant symptoms you may have been experiencing for years could be flipped on their head – in a very short time period – it is my hope that it inspires you and your inner circle to seek out consultation and/or continued care from a naturopathic provider.

Taking a cursory review at these types of tests that are offered by naturopathic providers may open up a new, helpful window.

The type of tests offered by Grigel and other talented naturopaths can help "find things that are out of balance [in a person] and then we can really move forward to help people feel better in a more profound way," she said.

Once again, stress emerges as a major player in one's health.

"As we all know, stress is a very big component of our modern lifestyle," said Grigel. "And we all are impacted by the stressors that come with our modern life."

The stress center within the human body is our adrenals, she said. "They make all our hormones that are associated with the stress response."

The neurotransmitter testing offers a plethora of information and can "certainly start to elucidate the health of our adrenal glands," Grigel said.

This is where adaptogens come into the conversation. "An adaptogen is any sort of vitamin or supplement that will help your adrenals get stronger and our adrenals are our stress centers," she stated.

If you've been wondering whether to incorporate adaptogens into your wellness regime, Grigel said, "Adaptogens are really, really valuable for healing up the adrenals."

There are three types of adaptogens she uses in practice:

● Relaxing adaptogens: "Generally botanicals that we can use that will help our adrenals to get healthier, by telling them this is a good time to rest"

● Balanced adaptogens: "That help the adrenals get a little more energy, but also just help keep them getting healthier over time"

● Stimulating adaptogens: "Almost a little more coffee-like that they give you energy at the time. [These tend to be] particularly for people who are extremely fatigued."

The interesting thing about adrenal glands is it's "an overarching condition – adrenal fatigue," she said. And "It's not an on or off sort of a thing; it's a process."

The adrenals are two glands that sit atop the kidneys. "Adrenal glands produce hormones that help regulate your metabolism, immune system, blood pressure, response to stress and other essential functions."*

Grigel simplified the stages of adrenal fatigue:

● Earlier in the process: "A lot of times your adrenals are over-functioning" and symptoms can include feeling anxious, having trouble sleeping, your brain having difficulty calming down, or feeling overwrought. Her approach: Relaxing adaptogens.

● Later in the process: "People just get exhausted" from "this prolonged stress for over a long period of time." Her approach: Stimulating adaptogens.

A test in her practice she really places high regard on is stool testing, specifically microbiome testing.

The National Institute of Environmental Health stated, "Microbiome is the collection of all microbes, such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and their genes, that naturally live on our bodies and inside us."

Stool testing, i.e. microbiome testing, looks at three things:

1) Beneficial flora – What is "supposed to be growing [i.e.] probiotic bacteria."

When analyzing a person's beneficial flora, Grigel said it makes it really nice that if it is low, she can easily match you with a probiotic that is a good individual fit to "grow your microbiome." This is instead of the alternative of trying various probiotics wondering if they are really helping you.

2) Dysbiosis bacteria – What can "make you sick" – think along the lines of yeast.

At this sector, Grigel said it entails testing "both prescription and natural types of microbials against that stool sample" in order to pinpoint what is growing there and approach appropriate treatment.

As she said, "It's really nice to get that specificity."

3) Imbalanced flora – "Which won't make you sick but can indicate that your microbiome is out of balance."

There are many contributors to our healthy/unhealthy levels of microbiome. A few include what we consume, any medications we take, stress, our environment, and the way in which we were born.

"Our diet absolutely impacts our microbiome because we have to eat [certain items] to grow a healthy microbiome," she said. Helpful foods that have healthy bacteria include fermented foods like kefir and yogurt, she said. In addition, fiber is important as that is "what our microbiome likes to eat."

Any prescription medications we take, whether short or long term, "can definitely impact the microbiome, especially if taking a bunch of antibiotics," Grigel said.

And never to be overlooked by its powerful impact, "Stress itself will decrease the microbiome," whether it be environmental, chemical, or just feeling stressed.

Understanding how full circle microbiome really is, she explained that "our first exposure occurs during childbirth." Both the method in which you were brought into this world (natural vs. cesarean) as well as feeding (nursing vs. bottle) play a role.

If born via cesarean, she said the child "do[esn't] get that first exposure to that healthy bacteria as [if] they come through the birth canal."

Nursing "helps to set up a really healthy microbiome, both because the baby gets healthy bacteria off the mother's skin and also because of the immune component that comes from the milk itself that comes from lactation."

Painting a clear picture, "healthy microbiome does start at birth," she said.

The great thing is that once microbiome testing is done and analyzed, Grigel often finds she is able to help patients correct the issues within a month or two. As she said, "The testing makes a huge difference." Of course if your system gets out of balance, re-testing a year or more later is always an option.

With plentiful experience in naturopathic medicine, Grigel is passionate about women's health, in particular hormonal health.

One of her priorities is helping women "get back to health after breast cancer treatment." The numbers alone are staggering as "1 in 8 women will have breast cancer in the US (12.5%)," she said.

Grigel said, "There are so many good, natural options after you go through [breast cancer] treatment" to get back to a natural state of balanced health.

"Hormones play a very big piece of the puzzle," she said. Grigel is a breast cancer survivor herself.

For interesting reading, Grigel's website is https://www.goldenholisticmedicine.com/.

She also said that the Natural Medicine Journal is an up-to-date reliable source on the latest research.

"I know it can be very frustrating and feel very lonely to figure out what is going on for you," she said. But "having some of these more nuanced types of tests can really make a difference in finding your path back to health." *https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/adrenal-glands#:~:text=Adrenal%20glands%2C%20also%20known%20as,stress%20and%20other%20essential%20functions.

Shelby Ramsey is the author of the blog, thehonestmigraine.com, which features interviews with patients and medical experts.

 

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