How I saved my love of Spring


Spring Cherry Blossoms

My love for Spring is limitless, without caveat … but it has not always been this way.

Truth be told for eight whole years this was not the case.

This year marks my second allergy free Spring in the Pacific Northwest. I moved to Oregon in the Fall of 2007 to work on a small organic farm. I fell head over heels for the beauty of the Willamette Valley but Spring came in 2008 with a rude awakening. Beginning in April, my environmental allergies hit like nothing I had ever experienced before. That year, it seemed like I questioned EVERYTHING: my relocation, my decision to leave California, my passion for working outside with plants.

I honestly felt that I was not going to make it. From April through to the end of June there was a brutal assault on my lungs and sinuses via tree and grass seed pollen. But my desire to create a life here simultaneously continued to grow and my love of growing food and working outside marched forward.

I tried every tea and tincture to take away the debilitating effects of an environment I loved. I tried elimination diets that removed all of the big inflammation triggers: gluten, dairy, sugar. I even had a naturopath recommend removing the nightshade family of vegetables which includes tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos and potatoes. My diet felt scarce and confusing and the approach felt riddled with guess work. The gluten free diet stuck but only seemed to relieve my asthma that would come on at night but by morning I was miserable again. I ended up leaning on over the counter antihistamines to make it through my work day, which left me feeling crappy in a whole different way.

But last Spring I took a NEW APPROACH. I tested the antibodies in my blood against 96 of the most common foods in the US diet. This was not an allergy test but a food intolerance test which looks at your body’s unique, slow growing immune response known as IgG or immunoglobulin G. This growing immune response can take 3 hours to 3 days and can show up as digestive discomfort like heartburn, gas or bloating and irritable bowels or stubborn weight loss. But IgG response can also show up as anxiety, depression, hyperactivity, insomnia or fatigue. We all have our own flavor to display and for me it was an additive affect on my immune system that kept me from being able to fight against the environmental triggers of the Spring season.

It turned out that dairy was in fact … NOT my friend. And when I look back on my life, it never has been but it is touted as such an important source of protein and comfort that it just couldn’t be that bad. I now believe that it was the culprit of repetitive sinus and lung infections as a child and an overall weakened immune response growing up.

As a nutritional therapist, I love using IgG testing to create clear “food roadmaps” for my patients. I have seen food intolerance removals do everything from halt ulcerative colitis flares to change children’s hyperactive tendencies. In our clinic, we are experts at interpreting IgG results and we provide transitional and ongoing support for dietary changes. It is always my goal to keep my patient’s diet diverse and full of replenishing foods. This support is a huge part of my relationship with patients and I am a true believer because of my own experience as well as the changes I see unfold in our practice everyday.

If you want to learn more about food intolerance testing check out Dr. Maggie Yu’s video Food Intolerance vs Food Allergy or reach out with your questions. Remember all IgG tests are not created equal and it is important to work closely with a healthcare team to implement the results.

In celebration of my own clear airways, check out this fantastic dairy free recipe for Chamomile Cashew Pudding and remember change can be delicious!

As always, I hope this information is helpful in evolving our perspectives on what healthcare can be! Take care and enjoy the day!