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Ask the Allergy expert

We are here to answer your questions on allergies ... well, our experts will of course. 

Here are the most common questions answered by JACKIE ARBUCKLE.

Jackie is a naturopath with many years experience treating patients in the inner northern suburbs of Melbourne. Along side her naturopathy degree (which is the highest qualification available in naturopathy); she also has a BA in Applied Science (Human biology) and a Grad Diploma in Psychology. 

Jackie sees a wide variety of patients with health difficulties such as digestive problems; food intolerances; stress, anxiety and fatigue; hay fever and sinus problems; menopause; chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia just to name a few.

You can find more information about Jackie on her website:

 If you have any questions please email us or send a message on FB and Jackie will respond to you.

Jackie Arbuckle naturopath allergy expert

Q: What is the difference between a food allergy and food intolerance?

A: When an allergy involves food, it involves the protein of that food creating an immune reaction in the person’s body. It can be life threatening. An intolerance can be protein but is usually the carbohydrates or fats in the food. It is not life threatening but can cause extreme discomfort to the individual depending on its severity.
At the moment, with modern medicine, allergies have no cure. So for example, someone can be allergic to dairy, it is the protein in the dairy that causes the issues. So they have to avoid all dairy in order to avoid an allergic reaction. If someone is intolerant to dairy, then it is usually the lactose they are sensitive to (which is the type of carbohydrate found in diary), so they can often eat some types of dairy which are low in lactose, such as some cheeses, or some yoghurts.


Q: Why are there so many allergies in Australia?

A: If I could answer that question, I could probably retire right now! There are many theories as to why Australia has so many allergies.
One theory talks about the hygiene hypothesis, stating that the cleaner our environment, the less the immune system in the human body has to do, and it looks for things to flex its muscles on (so to speak), so turns to food to react to.
Changing gut flora of mothers and children also may play a role, with the increased use of antibiotics, and caesarean deliveries. This effects the body’s immune system. Methods of food processing have changed, particularly with nuts. The method of processing nuts can have a large impact on the allergic reaction. For example, dry roasted nuts can induce a more severe allergic reaction than raw or boiled nuts.
Related to this is the reliance of the one strain of plant instead of the variety that was available in the past. This is true especially for wheat varieties and dairy in Australia.

Exposure via the skin has increased which may also explain some allergies. This is particularly relevant for nut allergies with the increase in nut oils found in skin care products.


Q: Can my child grow out of their allergy?

A: Some children grow out of allergies, others don’t. It depends on the child and the allergy and its severity. The best person to talk to about this is your GP or paediatrician.


Q: Can a naturopath help my child's allergy?

A: It is very important to realise that an allergy cant be cured. Any naturopath that says they can cure your child’s allergy should be treated with the utmost caution.

If your family has a high incidence of allergies, a naturopath may be successful in preventing them occurring in subsequent children. This treatment can start from preconception, then during pregnancy and finally once the subsequent child is born through breastfeeding advice and the introduction of solids.


Q: What is the best way to get an allergen off my hands if I accidentally touch it?

A: The best way to get rid of an allergen on the skin is to wash it off with soap and water. Antibacterial soaps/washes are not necessary as it is the allergen not bacteria that you are trying to remove. Wiping with a wet wipe or swab may not be sufficient as you need to remove the allergen by rinsing it away, so soap and water is the best option.

If you eat it, and don’t want to expose your family member, then the best thing to do is to brush your teeth before contact with your family member.




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