Alcohol Addiction and Drug Treatment Options – The Benefits and Side Effects

Alcohol Addiction and Drug Treatment Options – The Benefits and Side Effects[EXTRACT]
Today, alcohol addiction is the number one health problem in America and in 40 countries worldwide. Remarkably, only a small fraction of those who suffer with alcohol abuse actually seek treatment. For those who do, the various recovery options are confusing and limited. Support groups and 12-steps programs have been in existence for nearly a century and offer vital emotional support. Yet, they do not offer alcohol detoxification or treatment, which is vital in combating any addiction.To address the physical nature of alcohol addiction, various drugs have been utilized to aid recovery. Not every person is a candidate for medication, and prescriptions only address one component of an alcohol disorder. In reality, alcohol dependence can damage health, relationships, finances, and careers. It often produces self-hatred, shame, guilt, anger, and resentment. And, unfortunately no pill can cure that.Are you one of those individuals who, despite everything you have tried, cannot quit drinking? If so, perhaps you should examine some of the available prescription medications. Below is a comprehensive list of the medications that are currently being used for alcohol addiction:Disulfiram (Antabuse or Refusal) is an alcohol-deterrent developed to prevent relapse. If you drink while taking it, you will likely experience very unpleasant physical reactions, particularly nausea and vomiting. These effects usually occur within 10 minutes and can last several hours. This medication interacts with all forms of alcohol, even tiny amounts. So while taking it, you must avoid alcohol in all forms, including alcohol-free or “NA” beers, which contain 0.1% alcohol. Also check the labels of deodorants, aftershaves, perfumes and mouthwashes to ensure they are alcohol-free. If you drink alcohol while taking this medication and experience severe symptoms, seek medical support at once.

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Chlormethiazole (Heminevrin) is used in alcohol detoxification therapy. It acts to tranquillize the nervous system until the worst of the withdrawal symptoms have abated. The most common side effects during detoxification are drowsiness, blocked nose, dry eyes, headache, and skin irritation.Chlordiazepoxide (Librium) is another medication used in alcohol detoxification therapy. It serves to tranquillize the nervous system until the worst of the withdrawal symptoms have abated. The most common side effects during detoxification are drowsiness, light-headedness, muscle weakness, and memory problems.Acamprostate Calcium (Campral EC) is specifically designed to reduce the craving for alcohol. Its precise mechanism of action is not yet known, but it is believed to affect activity of the neurotransmitter glutamate.Naltrexone Hydrochloride (Nalorex or ReVia) was developed to prevent relapse. It is an ”opiate antagonist” meaning it blocks some of the effects of opiate drugs at the nerve-transmission level in the brain. Nalorex blocks the effects of opiate-based ”pain killing” medications. (So dental injections to block pain will not work if you have taken it). The most common side effects include upset stomach and bowels, irritability and depression.Neurontin (gabapentin) is a commonly used medication found to be useful in chronic pain conditions, including epilepsy, drug withdrawal, and mood disorders. Little has been documented about the effective use of this medicine for alcoholism.GABA is the neurotransmitter-receptor system that has received attention in alcohol research — yet it remains difficult to exploit therapeutically. Its major receptor type, the GABA-A, is involved in many of alcohol’s acute and chronic effects. Medications that block GABA’s ability to bind at the GABA-A receptor do block some of alcohol’s effects. But, because this receptor system plays a role in so many vital brain functions, blocking it creates undesirable side effects. Current GABA-A-blocking drugs can cause convulsions, a side effect that must be eliminated before this receptor system can be targeted for therapy.Baclofen (Kemstro, Lioresal) is a medication used to treat muscle spasms in people with multiple sclerosis. It acts through GABA receptors to inhibit the release of dopamine, thus reducing the desire for cocaine. When combined with counseling, baclofen seems to be most successful with chronic, heavy users of cocaine. Its effectiveness in alcohol abuse is unclear.Immunotherapy (treatment with antibodies such as vaccines) has the potential to deactivate alcohol and other drugs, but has not been approved for use. Cocaine and nicotine vaccines are currently in clinical trials.

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Topiramate (Topamax) is an anticonvulsant used to treat seizure disorders, and works through several mechanisms, including GABA and glutamate, to decrease abnormal brain activity. In clinical trials, topiramate helps prevent relapse to alcohol, opiate, and cocaine addiction. Early research also indicates it may be useful with nicotine-addicted patients as well.Ondansetron affects serotonin neurotransmission, and research on similar drugs points to variable responses to treatment. This medication reduces the activity of a serotonin receptor (5-HT3) on which alcohol is known to act, and it has been shown to reduce the desire to drink.Nalmefene is an opioid antagonist that neutralizes or counteracts the effects of opiates. In preliminary studies, it appears to reduce cravings and prevent relapse in alcohol-dependent patients.One of these medications may indeed be one component of a successful recovery plan for certain people. If you decide to seek a prescription, you must take it under the close supervision of a physician with regular blood tests to monitor your liver function. Also, be aware of both the benefits and side effects before you take any medication.However, medication is rarely the sole solution. Supplementary recovery options must be considered, including approaches based on the latest research in alcohol addiction. In the end, a comprehensive approach that crosses many disciplines may offer the greatest hope to a complete and successful recovery.

Opioid Addiction Draws in Many People, One Drug’s Lure Is Hard to Leave Behind

Opioid Addiction Draws in Many People, One Drug’s Lure Is Hard to Leave Behind[EXTRACT]
OxyContin has come to be seen as a major force in the treatment of pain. When taken as prescribed, it provides relief for chronic to severe pain. Many thousands of people have gotten the medicine from their health care providers.At the same time, OxyContin has become a drug that is widely abused. Some people who started with legitimate prescriptions for it, continued taking it even after the pain treatment was no longer needed. Lying to themselves and their doctors allowed the OxyContin takers to continue its use.OxyContin is an opioid which makes it highly addictive. Like heroin or morphine, it brings on psychological and physical cravings that are real and intense. Even people taking the drug as a pain treatment may have a tough time weaning themselves off it when it is time to leave the medicine behind.Some OxyContin addicts did not start their use of the drug under doctors’ orders. Many discovered the drug through family members or friends who had genuine prescriptions. Stealing from family, friends and strangers to obtain OxyContin happens every day.Office workers have been known to reach into the untended purses of co-workers to steal prescription bottles of OxyContin. Sometimes the addict will take only a few pills at a time, trying to avoid the owner’s discovery that pills are missing. In private homes guests with addiction problems may snoop through medicine chests looking for potent medicines like OxyContin.

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Young people or their friends may come upon bottles of OxyContin prescribed for parents. The age of volatile emotions and experimentation makes sampling someone else’s prescription very tempting. Addiction to OxyContin comes on quickly.In 1995, the government allowed the release of high dose OxyContin. The numbers of addicts increased dramatically after that. Some commentators liken the effects of OxyContin to those of heroin, saying that it acts like the powerful street drug except in slow motion.The human body takes longer to process OxyContin. This makes it even more challenging to leave behind. Some addicts who want release from the drug’s hold try to leave it behind cold turkey.Withdrawal from OxyContin needs to be accomplished gradually, however, to avoid painful and potentially dangerous reactions. These can include fainting, confusion, and seizures. Milder but significant withdrawal symptoms are itching, insomnia, nausea and vomiting.Some of these symptoms may appear as side effects to overdosing as well as allergic reactions to prescribed doses. A physician’s guidance is always recommended for anyone taking OxyContin. He or she can monitor the patient’s responses to the medicine and adjust the dosage if needed or switch the patient to a different medicine.Since many addicts must be secretive about their use of OxyContin, they may very well be alone when any allergic symptoms or overdose complications appear. The medicine distorts brain patterns so users may not register that they are in physical danger. They might try to regulate their discomfort by taking some other drug such as alcohol and end up making a bad situation much worse.Misusing OxyContin can lead to coma or death. The deadly risks increase when the user crushes and snorts OxyContin. Some users mix it with liquid and inject it.When the time-release protection gets thwarted by these abusive tricks, the user may experience euphoria similar to that given by heroin before the deadly or nearly deadly effects set in. All the pain killers pouring into the body at once easily cause overdose. People who have not developed tolerance to the drug are especially at risk.OxyContin overdose can inhibit oxygen intake. This severe depression of the respiratory system can kill a person. When OxyContin gets mixed with other depressants such as alcohol or Valium, breathing can slow to a fatal level.

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Anyone who has suffered through addiction knows how difficult it is. There is pain in the addiction itself, with the user focused each day on how to find the OxyContin or other drug. Perhaps the user must lie to another doctor to obtain a prescription.Maybe the addict will have to search out a street dealer who has illegal OxyContin for sale. There is much fear involved in addiction. The user worries that the next dose will be impossible to find, or that securing it illegally will lead to jail time and public humiliation.Those who have conquered OxyContin addiction know that it is a tough journey to the other side. Admitting to the addiction is a difficult but important step toward recovery. Few manage to kick this addiction on their own, and those who try run the risk of causing themselves medical harm.Seeking help from a clinic, a private doctor, or an addiction-breaking support group are safer options for quitting. Support group members have been there themselves and understand what it is like to leave behind an addiction. Medical professionals can help addicts leave the drugs behind on a gradual basis so that their bodily systems are not compromised.

Powerful Medicine to Treat Drug Addiction Needs to Be Treated With Respect

Powerful Medicine to Treat Drug Addiction Needs to Be Treated With Respect[EXTRACT]
Methadone is a powerful drug that can be used to treat addiction to opiates such as heroin and morphine. It was developed during World War II by German scientists working to create a synthetic substitute for opium products that would be hard to come by during the war. In 1947 it first became available in the United States.Although problems accompany methadone, it has proven itself a worthy foe against severe and chronic pain. It has also found significant use as a prescription medicine to help ease drug users off their addictions. Taken properly, methadone makes a significant difference in the lives of many people.The prescription drug occupies the same brain receptors as opium poppy-made drugs like heroin. Thus, it affects the body in similar ways. The human body itself produces its own pain-killers in the form of endorphins.People may be familiar with endorphins and how they work through experience with exercise. Physical exercise stimulates endorphin production. It is ironic in a way that some people become addicted to exercise because of the endorphin release.

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Endorphins and opiates create feelings of well-being and euphoria in the body. The problem with drugs that produce euphoria, of course, is that the drug-user becomes emotionally dependent and physically addicted to the drug. Greater amounts of the drug and more frequent usage become necessary in order to produce a high that matches the one experienced when the drug was first taken.Methadone helps in two important ways. When taken properly in either liquid or capsule form, it inhibits the euphoria from other drugs. It also eases withdrawal symptoms that the addict would otherwise have to endure when leaving behind a street drug such as heroin.Withdrawal can be extremely unpleasant. Its symptoms include not only nausea and diarrhea but twitching limbs, overall restlessness, anxiety and depression. Withdrawal can be frightening, especially to someone who quits addictive drugs cold turkey.Methadone has been available for use in addiction treatment for more than 30 years. This depressant is relatively inexpensive and readily available through treatment centers and private physicians. It helps stimulate endorphins in the brain while calming the brain by blocking the receptor for neuron excitement.Methadone’s pain relieving abilities are renowned and it is well documented how useful the medicine is for treating intense pain. Methadone works similarly to heroin by attaching to the mu-opioid receptor in the brain. Heroin, codeine, morphine and methadone resemble endorphins in their chemical makeup.Methadone works to increase levels of norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain. These neurotransmitters relieve pain and work as anti-psychotics. The results are calming and pain-relieving.Although methadone is extremely useful in pain and addiction treatment, it can be addictive itself. Physicians and other medical personnel can help guide patients through its use so it itself does not become a problem. Using methadone at the same time as other drugs such as alcohol can have dangerous consequences.

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Used correctly methadone keeps away symptoms of withdrawal. It must be administered under supervision because if taken without exactitude it can cause problems or fail to keep away withdrawal symptoms. Inappropriate dosing with methadone could actually increase heroin cravings, for example.On the streets methadone sometimes gets traded for opiates in an effort by the addict to return to use of the original problematical drug. Another negative is the possibility of methadone overdose. An addict seeking a high similar to heroin’s may take too much methadone, not understanding the different effects it produces.Some addicts receiving methadone may take opiates at the same time. This goes against medical advice to say the least. But in spite of its drawbacks, methadone remains a strong and powerful weapon against drug addiction.

Relieving Pain – Current Thoughts on Drug Treatments For Neuropathic Pain

Relieving Pain – Current Thoughts on Drug Treatments For Neuropathic Pain[EXTRACT]
Neuropathic pain results from damage to or dysfunction in the nervous system, triggered by trauma, infections and nervous system disorders. This type of pain is difficult to treat and often requires a combination of pharmacological therapies, psychological counseling and the use of some form of alternative and complementary medicine. In 2007, a study cited in the Journal of Pain estimated that 170 to 270 million people around the world suffer from peripheral neuropathy (e.g., phantom limb syndrome and complex regional pain syndrome) and neuropathic pain.Neuropathic pain can be described as numbing or burning, plus sensations of tingling, electric shock, crawling, itching, or shooting. Excruciating pain can be caused by even the lightest touch. Mild pain stimuli are perceived as very painful. Pain on one side of the body is also felt on the other side. The area of pain increases to include larger and larger areas of the body.Common Drug Treatments for Neuropathic Paino AntidepressantsSeveral types of antidepressants have analgesic effects (e.g., SSRI’s, SNRI’s, and TCA’s) and can alleviate pain, but only one, duloxetine, has been approved for pain treatment by the Federal Drug Administration.

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o AnticonvulsantsSeveral anticonvulsants (e.g., gabapentin, pregabalin) are used as standard treatment choices for neuropathic pain, even without definitive studies and in spite of such side effects as dizziness, sleep problems, or fatigue.o Topical MedicationsTopical medications (e.g., capsaicin – the pungent ingredient in hot chili — and lidocaine) work on a small local area of the body, so they do not usually cause systemic side effects and rarely any interaction effects with other drugs. However, if the pain extends to a wider area of the body, topical treatment would not be as effective.o OpioidsStudies have shown that opioids (e.g., oxydodone and morphine) do alleviate the pain in different neuropathic pain conditions. Common side effects of opioids include sedation, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and respiratory depression. The long term use of opioids can also lead to physical dependency which should not be confused with physical addiction. Patients who are taking opioids to alleviate pain, if they have a prior history of drug addiction, sometimes find themselves triggered back into their addiction. Those who do not have a history of drug addiction do not first develop such an addiction from being treated with opioids.o Other MedicationsAdditional medications often used to treat neuropathic pain include muscle relaxants, antispasmodics, anxiolytics (anti-anxiety, tranquilizers), sedatives-hypnotics, and psychostimulants. Current clinical trials of cannabis-based drugs (drugs containing a substance found in marijuana) indicate potential to alleviate neuopathic pain.Continuum of Treatments for Neuropathic PainIn 1990, The World Health Organization established guidelines for the treatment of malignant pain. This approach recommends beginning with the least invasive and the most easily manageable treatments first before attempting more invasive interventions such as pharmaceuticals, neurostimulation or opioid delivery through a reservoir or pump implanted directly inside the patient’s body.o Exercise
o Meditation and relaxation
o Over-the-counter medications
o Prescribed medications
o Physical rehabilitation
o Cognitive and behavioral therapies
o Oral opioid medications
o Nerve blocking
o Spinal cord stimulation
o Intraspinally administered opioids
o Tissue destruction procedures

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Complementary and Alternative Treatments for Neuropathic PainMany methods considered complementary and alternative healing modalities are not mentioned in the above list. Treatments that may have profound healing and pain relieving possibilities include the following.o Mind-body awareness, mindfulness, guided imagery and visualization
o Breath work
o Body therapy (e.g., massage, acupressure, acupuncture, Therapeutic Touch, etc.)
o Somatic Body Psychotheapy
o Expressive arts and movement therapies
o Diet and herbs and homeopathic remedies
o AromatherapyIf you are currently suffering from neuropathic pain or chronic pain from another cause, it may be worth your while to at least check out some of the methods listed above before subjecting your body to more invasive treatments.

Food Allergy – The Body’s Cry For Help

Food Allergy – The Body’s Cry For Help[EXTRACT]
If you often feel bloated, tired, or not so good after a meal; if you gave frequent have stomach pains, cramps, or bowel problems; if you have strong food cravings or food dislikes; if you experience a collection of symptoms that you just cannot explain, or sometimes become more anxious, irritable, or depressed f you may be suffering from food allergy.Allergy has reached epidemic, proportions, and it has been estimated that at this rate, half of Europe will have allergies in a few years. Food allergies are of particular concern, as they are now being recognized as a factor in many health problems and diseases, especially in children.Many scientists and health practitioners believe that a poor diet and the sheer quantity of toxins that are now present in our food are major factors in this unprecedented rise in the number and severity of allergies over the last decades.When Food Harms Instead of HelpingMuch of our food is over-processes and treated with toxins all the way from production to sale. Instead of being a major source of true health and resilience, therefore, the food we eat can actually undermine our body’s ability to deal effectively with daily stresses, and to clear out the toxins that assault us from all sides. No wonder that more and more of our bodies are reacting with food allergies.Food allergies not only harm our bodies (and our minds), they also prevent us from deriving the full nutritional benefits from the healthful foods we do eat. By causing damage to our digestive systems, they can prevent complete breakdown of foods into essential nutrients, and interfere with the body’s ability to properly absorb what nutrients are available. This can lead to nutrient deficiencies and malnutrition, even though you might be eating lots of good food.Another problem is that food allergies can restrict your ability to eat the foods you need. A diverse diet offers maximum assurance that you are getting the nutrients you need, but if you live in fear of a reaction, you might find yourself limiting your diet more than you need to. For instance, a person with an allergy to swiss chard or silverbeet might eliminate all greens from their diet, when really, they might only be reacting to a particular chemical found in plants of the ‘beet’ genus. By eliminating all greens, this person is losing many health-giving properties of greens, which are outstanding sources of chlorophyll, calcium and magnesium.Allergenic foodsAn allergenic or reactive food is one that causes an allergic reaction, such as hives, wheezing, stomach cramps or stuffy nose. The foods that tend to be most highly allergenic (especially to children) are: milk wheat corn sugar soy nuts eggs.Other highly reactive foods are: oats, yeasts, chocolate, seafood, beef and citrus.

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However, you can develop an intolerance, sensitivity or allergy to any food. The degree of sensitivity to a food depends on your tolerance ‘threshold’ for that food. You might be able to eat small amounts of a food, but react to larger amounts. Or some foods may be eaten without reaction once in a while, but not more frequently.In fact, you may not be reacting to the specific food, but to one of more of the components of that food. It might surprise you to learn that the most common problematic substances are the vitamins and minerals in foods. They can cause us to have allergic reactions to many foods we eat on a daily basis. Other major causes of food allergy are food additives, sulphur, pesticides, biotechnology and genetic engineering.Symptoms of Food AllergyThere are many warning signs that indicate that you might have a food allergy: dark circles under the eyes, frequent sniffing or throat-clearing, irritability, moodiness, hyperactivity, or frequent fatigue. Other signs may include headaches, stomach aches, bowel problems, muscle pain, coughing or wheezing, and frequent digestive or respiratory problems. Symptoms vary from person to person. Common signs of food allergy include the following:Digestive problems – Reactions to food allergens can damage to walls lining the digestive tract, and also disrupt the balance of hormones and chemicals needed for proper digestion and elimination. This can lead to problems such as Leaky Gut syndrome, where the walls of the small intestine leak partially-digested food into the blood stream. This can lead to bloating, stomach cramps and inflammation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, autoimmune and immune deficiency diseases, and many other problems.Blocked airways – Food allergens are responsible for excess mucus in many allergic people, leading to chronic blocked noses, and mucuosy throats – as well as ear infections. Babies have very small upper airways and it takes very little to block them. When the allergens are removed from the diet, the mucus dries up.Middle Ear infections – Over 70% of children suffer from middle ear infection at some time or other, and it believed by many researchers to arise from food allergies, particularly to milk and wheat. One study reported that 78% of the children with otitis showed allergies milk, wheat, egg white, peanuts, and soy, and when these foods were eliminated from their diet, 86% experienced significant improvement.Psychological or emotional problems – Food allergies have been clearly linked to a range of psychological and behavior disorders such as autism and hyperactivity in children, anxiety, depression, inability to concentrate, mood swings, and ‘fogginess’.Food addictions – If you are addicted to a food, you are probably allergic to it. This is because allergic reactions in the body trigger the release of certain chemicals, among them, opioids, which make you feel good. If you feel happier when you eat that food, you can develop a craving for it.Types of Food AllergiesIf you are allergic to a food, you can experience either an immediate or a delayed reaction to food. The immediate reaction pattern is referred to as Type l food allergy. Immediately or within a short time after eating the food, you show clear and often dramatic symptoms. If you are allergic to fungus, you might develop abdominal cramps within an hour of eating a ragout containing mushrooms. A child with a type 1 reaction to kiwi fruit might experience severe itching in the mouth or vomiting within 15 minutes of eating a kiwi fruit.The most dangerous Type l reaction is called anaphylaxis – a severe reaction that can be fatal within minutes. If you or your child experiences light-headedness), swollen tongue or throat, difficulty breathing, fainting or facial swelling immediately after eating food, seek immediate emergency care.Type l food allergies are easy to diagnose. They respond to allergy skin tests, and show up on blood tests because they result in an excess of IgE antibodies. For many doctors, this is the only kind of real food allergy. Recent estimates show that that Type l food allergies occur in between 3-5 % (sometimes to 8%) of children, and in 1-2 % of adults.Type ll food allergy does not involve IgE antibodies. Instead, IgA, IgG and IgM antibodies may be produced. This reaction pattern is associated with the release of inflammatory substances by the immune system. Many food allergies are of this type, therefore, they are not detected by standard allergy tests, which usually only test for the IgE antibodies.Some reactive patterns are ‘hidden’. Delayed patterns of food allergy (referred to as Type lll food allergy) often go unrecognized because the symptoms are not usually obvious, and may occur days after the food is eaten. Also, since they do not involve the production of excess IgE antibodies, delayed allergy reactions to not show up on skin tests or IgE antibody tests. Rather, they tend to show up as clusters of physical, behavioral and learning problems affecting several body systems at once.You may experience Type lll allergy as a combination of recurring or persistent symptoms such as breathlessness, frequent clearing of throat, episodes of hyperactivity and emotional hypersensitivity, chronic stuffy nose, and frequent flu-like symptoms. Another person may experience recurring headaches, frequent itching of the eyes, abdominal pains, fatigue, bouts of depression, sleep problems, and swelling of the lymph nodes. These delayed reaction patterns of food allergy are difficult to diagnose. Yet according to many health practitioners, they account for the majority of food allergies, especially in children.

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In fact, food allergies are so common – and still so frequently undiagnosed – that you should take any undefined pattern of illness that involves different symptoms and different body symptoms as a sign of food allergy until proven otherwise.TreatmentIt used to be accepted that children outgrew food allergies, and adults sometime report the same, but we now that allergies just evolve and change over time. For instance, allergies to milk or eggs can evolve into respiratory or other allergies, or as various health problems. For true healing to occur, the underlying allergies must be addressed.The most common treatment for food allergies is avoidance. This will relieved the symptoms and prevent further damage; however, it can mean a lifetime of restrictive diets.There is some evidence that eating organic foods can decrease the incidence or severity of allergic reactions to food, and may even help protect against allergic reactions. Organic foods provide more of the quality nutrients needed to build up the immune system, which is always weak in those with allergies. Certainly, a diet high in organic foods decreases the chances of developing allergies to food additives and pesticides, and can reduce the incidence of allergies.However, if you already have food allergies, the damage they have already caused still needs to be corrected.The best solution to food allergies is desensitization. There are different treatment options available, some of them immunizing the body to allergens with extracts taken under the tongue or injections. Acupuncture has also been shown effective in treating some allergies. The problem is that these therapies may not address the underlying health issues, such as nutrient deficiencies, toxin overload or stress, that caused food allergies in the first place.For a real solution to food allergies, choose a program that involves detoxification to clear the body of toxins that contribute to allergies, corrects other underlying health problems, and desensitizes you to the allergens that are affecting you.Once the food allergies are under control or eliminated, it is important that you obtain solid nutritional advice to help you maintain and build the health of your immune system. If you don’t eat enough of the right foods, or eat too much of the wrong foods, you are at risk of developing new allergies or other problems. A good diet is still your best protection.