How many people do you know who have hay fever, eczema, asthma or who can’t eat certain foods?

It is claimed that one third of the British population – around 20 million people – suffer from an allergy. There are only 33 NHS allergy specialists in the UK and waiting lists run up to nine months.

There are far too few allergy specialists in the UK, and only a handful of allergy clinics available to patients. Allergic reactions can be caused by a variety of allergens:

• Pollen (hayfever)
• House dust mites (asthma)
• Wasps or bees
• Foods – particularly dairy and wheat
• Chemicals in household cleaning products, cosmetics and toiletries
• Pesticides sprayed on foods

And allergies are on the rise with over 6,000 people a year being admitted to hospital. One quarter of these are as a result of anaphylaxis which is a very severe reaction to certain substances – often nuts – and can be life-threatening. An anaphylactic reaction can induce:

• Swelling of the lips and face
• Breathing problems

Many people are frustrated by the lack of knowledge GPs have and may find it difficult to be referred to a special allergy clinic as there are around 12 full time clinics in the whole country and about the same part-time, whereas there should be one at every hospital.

Food intolerances

Choosing to go on a food elimination diet can often help to improve health enormously. In a trial carried out by the Centre of Health Economics at the University of York and commissioned by Allergy UK it was found out of 5,286 people suffering from various health conditions that:

75.8 per cent improved after identifying food allergies
38 per cent had gastro-intestinal problems
13.7 per cent had skin problems
10.7 per cent had nerve problems
10.1 per cent were respiratory conditions
9.4 per cent were psychological
6.2 per cent were musculo-skeletal – aches and pains

According to YorkTest three foods that many people are intolerant to are:

Chilli peppers – found in curry and eaten by millions shows up in 9 per cent of YorkTest’s food intolerance tests
Kiwi fruit

What you can do

Often diet has much to do with allergic reactions and visiting a nutritionist can prove to be the answer, or visiting a complementary therapist in any of the following:

• Homeopathy
• Naturopathy
• Acupuncture
• Herbal medicine
• Chirokinetics
• Nutrition
• Electronic Gem Therapy
• Chinese Herbal Medicine
• Ayurvedic Medicine


Christine Boothman woke every morning at 2 a.m with a terrible headache which lasted until 11 o’clock each morning. By this time she felt incredibly tired which was made especially difficult as she works as a nursery nurse with noisy children. The doctor couldn’t find anything wrong with her, but when she went to YorkTest and had a food intolerance test she found she was intolerant to beef, eggs, dairy and wheat. She cut them in October 2007 and hasn’t had a headache since.

Natalie Tadman, 32, is an art teacher who has had eczema since she was a child when she had patches on her face and hands. Whatever treatment she was given did not help but after taking a food intolerance test she found that she needed to cut out bread, dates and wine. She is now in control of her eczema more than she has ever been.

Go to our Therapies A-Z page to find out more.


The Allergy Bible by Linda Gamlin. Click on the Amazon ad.

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