Friday, March 9, 2012

Uncovering more allergies and Oral Allergy Syndrome

The past few weeks have brought a series of revelations that I'm hopeful will someday soon bring us to a place of healing for Ellie.

How do I sum it all up? The first realization came last month when I realized Ellie was reacting to cinnamon. This opened up a new level of awareness for me that Ellie may have allergies that still have not been identified. I became more observant of symptoms like skin reactions and started to notice some interesting trends.
  • For example, Ellie recently was eating some green beans that had been sauteed in garlic and her hands got red and she started asking us to wipe them off over and over again. I put a split garlic clove on her inner arm and she developed a rash. No more garlic ....?
  • I had taken Ellie off fermented cod liver oil because I had been giving her cinnamon flavored FCLO. The new order of unflavored oil arrived and she started having tummy aches and was complaining the oil made her lips hurt. No more FCLO .... ?
  • A few weekends ago we traveled up to Seattle and in one day Ellie had crab and scallops. That night she was up vomiting for three hours until her poor tummy was completely empty. No more shellfish .... ?
This morning we went back in to Ellie's allergist to see if any of these  problems could be verified by skin prick testing. I came up with a list based on our recent experiences, including the day she got a severe stomach ache from eating a banana, and a random last-minute feeling I had that I should check walnuts.

Interestingly, Ellie tested positive for a walnut allergy. She was borderline positive for allergies to cinnamon, codfish, bananas and oysters. She was negative for garlic, clam, lobster, salmon, shrimp, tuna, crab, scallops, strawberries, baker's yeast, brewer's yeast and ginger.

And in what I can only imagine was divine intervention, Ellie just happened to be eating a raw carrot during our appointment and complained to me that her carrot was spicy. Her allergist quickly made the connection and told me that some people who have environmental allergies can cross-react to foods through something called Oral Allergy Syndrome. Someone with a birch tree pollen allergy, for example, will react to a similar protein found in raw carrots.

For most people Oral Allergy Syndrome only causes symptoms in the mouth, like itching. But for people with low stomach acid, like Ellie, the allergen which should be destroyed in the stomach will continue through the GI tract where the histamine will be released and wreak havoc on the GI tract, causing symptoms like severe indigestion, cramps, vomiting and diarrhea.

Interestingly, we did test Ellie for environmental allergies a few weeks ago (the panel included birch tree pollen) and she was negative for everything on the panel. Her allergist said that test is not 100% reliable, but that more invasive testing, which is more accurate, might not be appropriate for someone as young as Ellie.

The question is, where do we go from here? One possible solution the allergist recommended is just putting Ellie on an allergy medication like Singulair to see if that could help her tolerate more foods. I am leery of modern medicine - frankly - at this point and am reluctant to jump on the prescription medication bandwagon. Our nutritionist says that there are other avenues worth exploring, like supplementing with histidine, which is an amino acid and a precursor to the production of histamine.

The influx of this much information about Ellie's health is overwhelming. On one hand I feel extremely grateful for solid information, which could help guide us to finding a real solution for her. On the other hand, I feel as though I'm drowning as I contemplate the prospect of needing to learn more, consider more and question more in order to help her.


  1. I have a 7 months old little girl and she seems like she has a leaky gut too... and I'm reasearching for GAPS ideas for babies, bc her eczema, or skin rash or who knows what she has is killing me. She developes skin problems to a lot of things I try to feed her, so she is basically on breasmilk the whole time still. I'm glad I found your blog. Now I'll read more and see if I can find something that could maybe help us too. keep on writing!

    1. Hi ZoeHanna -

      I'm glad you found the blog too! I hope it's helpful. Good luck finding answers for your little girl!


  2. it's 3 months since you posted this, so you may already have an answer, BUT, I just wanted to pass along this story from a mom who overlooked minor skin reactions when my kids were in the infant/toddler stage. i wish i had been more focused on solving the problem them, but since their mild eczema didn't really bother them, and they were otherwise thriving, i didn't treat it other than putting cream on it. Fast forward to my oldest being 4 and he was dx with allergies and asthma and medicated for 3 years. my youngest also developed asthma/allergies at 4yo, he's been medicated for 12 months.

    in hindsight i wish i had figured out then that their guts were in distress to avoid the development of allergies/asthma.

    if i were ellie's mom i would keep on with GAPS, restricting the foods she can't tolerate until her gut is well enough to tolerate them. giving her meds so she can eat more foods isn't solving her problem, in fact it would be making it worse.

    also, do you take FLCO as well? it does "burn" a little because it's so strong. it might not be something in the oil she's reacting to if it's just the plain stuff with no added flavors/emulsion. if you haven't tried it yet, take a spoonful so you understand what it feels like to swallow it. if i take it without kraut juice it burns a bit and i burp FCLO taste for a while...

    1. Hi Jenna - I appreciate you sharing what you wish you had done with your kiddos, but that doesn't mean that's what I should do with my kiddo. Our health journeys are all individual, and I don't share ours with the hopes of getting told what to do. That's what our health care team is for. I share it just to testify that this journey is hard, and all of us mamas are doing the best we can for our kiddos.