The Truth About Food Allergies

  • What's A Food Allergy
  • Celiac Disease
  • Food Allergy Symptoms
  • Treatment of Food Allergies With Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Treating Your Food Allergy with Acupuncture


What's A Food Allergy?

Most health care practitioners don’t study traditional Chinese medicine, so they aren’t versed in how TCM regards “food allergies”.  Both holistic or allopathic physicians, when presented with a puzzling set of symptoms, mainly about digestion or energy, are forced into a diagnostic catch-all like IBS, Chronic Fatigue, or Food Allergy.   These are poorly understood and generally incurable conditions which have, so far, defied the mastery of modern medicine.  Understand that these mysterious disease patterns are rarely new phenomena.  If fact, most have been thoroughly documented in the annals of traditional Chinese medicine. What we’ve learned, after a few thousand years of study, is that food allergies aren’t truly allergies but rather intolerances. 

Many people believe they have food allergies, because they react to certain foods, but the fact is that true allergies create antigens in the blood, but food intolerances do not.  Over 90% of those who think they have a food allergy actually have a food intolerance. 

TCM practitioners know (or should know) that many allergies to wheat, or gluten, or soy, or dairy, or whatever, are actually signs of disharmony or poor flow, usually rooted in the life or mind of the patient.  From our TCM perspective, most gluten allergies, virtually all wheat allergies, sugar allergies, lactose intolerances, and most other food allergies are caused by Spleen deficiencies. The term “spleen” actually refers to the intelligence governing digestion and assimilation. Abnormal Spleen QI is likely rooted in eating habits, lifestyle habits, thinking habits, or emotional tendencies. these issues are rarely simple. Seeing a practitioner of Chinese herbal medicine is highly recommended. 


The Truth About Celiac Disease

Celiac Sprue is a disease of the small intestine marked by a flattening if the intestinal villi.  It is thought to be caused by ingestion of gluten and other wheat products. Celiac disease is considered an autoimmune disease. The cause of Celiac disease is unknown, and there is no treatment for Celiac disease other than avoiding gluten and other wheat products. There are many symptoms of Celiac disease. The digestive symptoms of Celiac disease include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal distention, bloating, gas, indigestion
  • Constipation
  • Decreased or incresed appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stools that float, are foul smelling, bloody, or “fatty”
  • Unexplained weight loss

Other symptoms of Celiac disease are said to include:

  • Anemia
  • Bone and joint pain
  • Osteoporosis
  • Bruising
  • Dental enamel discoloration
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Irritability
  • Malnutrition
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nosebleed
  • Seizures
  • Skin disorders
  • Vitamin or mineral deficiencies

The diagnosis of Celiac disease is complex and may include:

  • A complete blood count (CBC) which may show signs of anemia, or an increase in alkaline phosphatase level, or low cholesterol and albumin levels, or raised liver enzymes, or special antibodies.
  • Endoscopy which will show a flattening of the villi.
  • Genetic testing.

Many practitioners of Chinese Medicine believe that most people diagnosed with Celiac disease actually have various forms of Spleen Deficiency. This does not infer any problems with the organ known in the West as the spleen. The Spleen, in terms of Chinese medicine, refers to the intelligence and timing of the digestive system. Spleen problems, in the view of Chinese medicine, can include all the digestive symptoms and most of the other supposed symptoms of Celiac disease. To us, most people who believe they have Celiac disease suffer food intolerance based on a digestive disharmony and will benefit from proper treatment with Chinese herbs and Chinese herbal medicine, after a correct TCM diagnosis has been made.

TCM and Food Allergy Symptoms

These symptoms can be very varied. Sinus and nasal problems, fatigue, heart palpitations, almost every digestive complaint, and many other problems can be caused by Spleen deficiency, or by the Spleen being injured by another internal disharmony. These food reactions can be hard to diagnose. If professional help is available, use it. You are much more likely to succeed by consulting with, or being treated by, a professional practitioner of acupunture or Oriental medicine. If professional help is unavailable, we will list several general Spleen tonics which will be safe to try without a Chinese medical diagnosis.

Treating Your Gluten Allergy, Wheat Allergy or Other Food Sensitivity With Herbal Medicine


A commonly used combination is:

BAO HE WAN (Preserve Harmony Pill)


replace XIANG SHA LIU JUN ZI with XIANG SHA  YANG WEI WAN for very minor constipation.


For nausea or headache after eating add: Stomach Curing Pills  ONLY DR.SHEN BRAND IS GLUTEN FREE

For moderate constipation add: RUN CHANG WAN (Rhubarb Pills) 

If stress or emotional problems clearly make you worse add:  CHAI HU SHU GAN WAN 

Using Acupuncture for Food Allergies & Celiac Disease

Acupuncture can be very useful in treating the imbalances that underly most food allergies (intolerances).  Ask the acupuncturists in your area if they use Chinese herbs. Since herbs go directly to the digestive source of these food allergies, they are an important part of this treatment.

Information on this site is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your own physician or another medical professional. We make no claim as to efficacy or safety of herbs or herbal medicine appearing on this site. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.