Alpha-Gal Syndrome . Food . Environmental
An allergy occurs when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance known as an allergen. Allergies are prevalent in the US, with over 50 million Americans suffering from various types of allergies, making it the sixth leading cause of chronic illness. Allergies can be triggered by ingesting, inhaling, injecting, or touching a substance, leading to a range of symptoms, including coughing, sneezing, hives, rashes, itchy eyes, runny nose, scratchy throat, and, in severe cases, low blood pressure, breathing difficulties, asthma attacks, and anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal reaction.
In 2018, approximately 8% of adults and 7% of children were diagnosed with hay fever, and roughly 32 million Americans were affected by food allergies. Anaphylaxis to food results in 30,000 emergency room visits in the US each year. About 5% of the US population experiences an insect sting allergy annually, with medicines, food, and insect stings being the leading causes of anaphylaxis. However, a study conducted between 1999 and 2010 showed that medicines cause the most allergy-related deaths. Although there is no cure for allergies, they can be managed through prevention and treatment. Despite being among the most common diseases in the country, allergies are often overlooked.
"What is food to one man is bitter poison to others." -Roman Philosopher Lucretius
Alpha-gal syndrome (AGS) is a type of food allergy that is caused by the immune system's reaction to a type of sugar molecule called alpha-gal. This molecule is found in mammalian meats such as beef, pork, lamb, and venison.
The scientific mechanism of AGS is not fully understood, but it is thought to be related to the bite of a specific type of tick, the Lone Star tick (Amblyomma americanum). This tick is known to carry the alpha-gal molecule, and when it bites a person, the molecule may be introduced into their bloodstream.
Once alpha-gal is in the bloodstream, the immune system may recognize it as a foreign substance and produce antibodies against it. The next time the person eats mammalian meat, the immune system will react to the alpha-gal in the food, causing an allergic reaction.
This reaction is a type of delayed hypersensitivity reaction, which means that symptoms do not occur immediately after eating mammalian meat, but instead develop several hours later. The symptoms can range from mild to severe and can include itching, hives, swelling, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and in severe cases, anaphylaxis.
AGS is an uncommon condition, but it is becoming increasingly recognized as a food allergy in certain regions where the Lone Star tick is prevalent. Lastly, more research are being conducted to fully understand the scientific mechanism of AGS and to develop effective treatments for this condition.
Alpha-gal allergic reactions can occur after exposure to:
Mammalian meats, organs, and blood
Dairy products, gelatin, and other foods derived from mammals
Foods that contain mammalian byproducts
Drugs, medical products, personal care, household and other products with mammalian ingredients
Products containing carrageenan, which isn’t from a mammal, but which contains the alpha-gal epitope
“Unlike more traditional food allergies where consumption of an allergen produces symptoms within minutes, AGS reactions typically occur 3-8 hours after eating. Thus many patients fail to consider food as a possible trigger and many healthcare providers do not routinely recognize the characteristic delay–both issues can prolong tie to reach a diagnosis.” -Dr. Scott P. Commins, MD PhD
Environmental & Food Allergies
Environmental allergies, also known as seasonal allergies or allergic rhinitis, refer to a group of conditions caused by an overactive immune system responding to substances in the environment such as pollen, mold, dust mites, and animal dander. These substances, known as allergens, are typically harmless but trigger an immune response in individuals with allergies, resulting in symptoms such as runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, throat irritation, and coughing.
Environmental allergies are common and can be seasonal or year-round, depending on the type of allergen and the individual's sensitivity. While environmental allergies are not typically life-threatening, they can significantly impact an individual's quality of life and may lead to complications such as sinus infections and ear infections.
Food allergies are a type of immune system response triggered by specific proteins found in certain foods. When someone with a food allergy consumes or comes into contact with the allergen, their immune system mistakenly identifies it as harmful and produces an allergic reaction, which can range from mild to severe and life-threatening.
Symptoms of food allergies can include hives, itching, swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, and anaphylaxis, which is a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that can cause breathing difficulties, a drop in blood pressure, and loss of consciousness.
Common food allergens include peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, milk, eggs, soy, and wheat. Food allergies are diagnosed through a combination of a medical history, physical exam, and allergy testing. Treatment for food allergies involves strict avoidance of the allergen and the use of medications such as antihistamines and epinephrine to manage symptoms in case of accidental exposure. It's important for individuals with food allergies to have an emergency action plan in place and carry an epinephrine auto-injector with them at all times in case of a severe allergic reaction.
How SAAT Treats Allergies
The auricle, or the outer part of the ear, is innervated by various cranial nerves and the cervical sympathetic plexus, which are involved in the auto-regulation of the neuroelectric dynamics of the liver. Physiological phenomena such as referred pain patterns and acupuncture points reflect the bioenergetic embryological derivations of the body and can be used to diagnose diseases. Recent studies have shown that electrical stimulation of the auricle, particularly the vagus nerve, can have health benefits. Transcutaneous Auricular Vagal Nerve Stimulation (TAVNS) is a non-invasive neuromodulation technique that targets the central nervous system, and it may help explain the mechanism by which auricular acupuncture works. Successful auricular acupuncture treatment relies on precise evaluation procedures and needle placement that varies from patient to patient, unlike traditional body acupuncture.
There is evidence to support the somatotopic and somatosensory organization of the human brain, as described in Penfield and Boldery’s 1937 study. Electrical stimulation of a specific area of the brain produces movement or tingling sensations in the corresponding part of the body. Kroeuning and Oleson’s 1980 study at UCLA School of Medicine supports the existence of a somatotopic organization of the body projected to the auricle, with statistically significant accuracy in utilizing auricular diagnosis for musculoskeletal problems. Further studies have confirmed the mapping of the ear with magnetoencephalography (MEG) and functional MRI (fMRI), which have shown that stimulating parts of the ear affects areas of the neck and face. fMRI studies have also provided evidence for the effects of auricular therapy on the brain. Despite decades of medical research documenting the benefits of auricular therapy, it is not widely publicized and deserves greater research effort and funding due to its clinical merits, safety, cost-effectiveness, and vast potential.
Soliman’s clinical correlations are consistent with the phenomenon of liver transplant-acquired allergies and the passive transfer of IgE, which are not observed via transplant of other organs. Prior to Soliman, traditional Chinese medicine-based acupuncture attempted to alleviate allergies, but no consistent, reproducible, and large-scale benefits were documented. Paul Nogier’s designated auricular acupuncture allergy zone was not sufficiently effective either. However, years prior to this study, Soliman and Liebell observed independently, in their respective practices, resolution of mammalian meat allergy via application of SAAT, without specific awareness of alpha-gal’s tick-borne biochemical mechanism. Success was anticipated in its precise application to alpha-gal allergy (AGA).
Source: Liebell, D. (2020). Effect of soliman auricular allergy treatment (SAAT) on IGE-mediated reactions due to exposure to mammalian meat oligosaccharide, galactose-α-1,3-galactose. American Journal of Biomedical and Life Sciences, 8(5), 189.