Dietary avoidance and advice There are some general pieces of advice that fall largely within the remit of conventional rather than complementary medicine. If you have a known food allergen (for instance, peanuts), these must be avoided. We know that food additives, such as preservatives and colourants, have a tendency to make allergic conditions such as asthma worse. In addition, there is now overwhelming evidence that allergic individuals have reduced anti-oxidant status; this means that supplementation with vitamins and a diet that is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, is advantageous to asthmatics for example.
If you are aware that you have specific allergens or that you are following a dietary restriction, then it is important that you seek appropriate nutritional advice to make sure that your diet is adequately balanced. In these instances you should discuss referral to a qualified dietitian with your doctor.
Nutritional Medicine Nutritional medicine usually involves the use of food supplements, vitamins or minerals, given orally, in the form of tablets or liquids. Food supplements include the use of glucosamine sulphate in the treatment of arthritis and essential fatty acids, such as evening primrose oil, for the treatment of eczema. The importance of vitamins and minerals was first identified by James Lind in 1753. He noticed that sailors on long voyages developed scurvy and that this was a disease of nutritional deficiency as it could be remedied by the addition of lime juice to a sailor’s diet. Vitamin C was not chemically isolated until the 20th Century. Nutritional medicine can therefore be used to treat or prevent diseases of deficiency.
It can also be used to help manage chronic illness where the body’s nutritional demand may be distorted by the disease process. For instance, many asthmatics are deficient in magnesium, so the addition of magnesium may help in the management of asthma. We know that the addition of evening primrose oil helps many people with eczema, and some of those involved in nutritional medicine claim that the inflammatory process of eczema means that zinc and vitamin B supplements are frequently required in this condition. The evidence for the use of nutritional medicine in allergic conditions is patchy but encouraging.
If you wish to consult a nutritional practitioner, there are a number of people you can contact:
The Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) registers Nutritional Therapists who have met nationally agreed standards of competence and practice. (The Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC), 83 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0HW, Tel: 0203 178 2199. Enquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org. To find a practitioner near you, use the ‘Check the Register’ facility on the CNHC’s website at: www.cnhc.org.uk ).
The members of the British Society for Ecological Medicine (formerly the Br Soc for Allergy, Environmental and Nutritional Medicine (www.ecomed.org.uk) are all medically qualified individuals. The organisation will providenames and addresses of doctors who can provide nutritional advice and support, the regulation of doctorsis the responsibility of the General Medical Council.
Reflexology Reflexology, or reflex zone therapy, can in theory be applied to almost any area of the body, in practice it is usually applied to the feet. The feet are said to have various zones on them which represent the whole structure of the body. While there is some good evidence that reflex zones exist in the ear, there is no evidence that they also exist in the feet.
Reflexology became popular in the 1960s through the efforts of Doreen Bailey who met one of Joseph Reilly’s assistants and developed and popularised the technique.
The reflexologist massages the tender areas in the feet, sometimes inducing quite a lot of pain, in order to treat and rebalance dysfunction. Unfortunately, there is no evidence (because there have been no clinical trials) that reflexology is effective in the treatment of common allergic conditions.
The Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) registers Reflexologistswho have met nationally agreed standards of competence and practice. (The Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC), 83 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0HW, Tel: 0203 178 2199. Enquiries to: email@example.com. To find a practitioner near you, use the ‘Check the Register’ facility on the CNHC’s website at: www.cnhc.org.uk ).