Helping to Solve the Mystery of Food Allergies
Spotlight on Dr. Autumn Frandsen at National Integrated Health AssociatesSo often, when a person who is normally healthy begins experiencing a lingering illness or presents signs that something is amiss in the body, it can be a great mystery to the individual as well as to their physician. Typical remedies—tried and true—don’t seem to be helping. The patient can be experiencing symptoms such as heartburn, abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhea, brain fog, headaches, gas or bloating, sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, joint pain, eczema or psoriasis. A doctor’s appointment may reveal that the patient is healthy, with no discernable illness or condition and is typically given a prescription to deal with the discomfort of the symptoms and sent home. For many, the underlying reason for the symptoms is a sensitivity to food or chemicals. Dr. Autumn Frandsen is a naturopathic doctor working with the team at National Integrated Health Associates (NIHA) that specializes in working with patients who have food or chemical sensitives.
When patients come into NIHA with the suspicion food allergies, Frandsen explores that possibility with both sensitivity and IgE allergy testing through the blood, as well as using a non-invasive (no-needle) method called electrodermal screening, and then considers other factors. Often seasonal allergies, chemical exposures or infectious microbes have been present for some time and are causal or contributing factors in inflammation in the GI tract that can lead to food sensitivities. Depending on the cause, the treatment may be different, but often patients will elect to use Frandsen’s desensitization program so they are able to eat the foods they react to while still healing the gut and eliminating the allergy simultaneously.
There are many factors influencing allergies and/or sensitivities including high stress, infectious organisms, overconsumption of sugar, and even the mix of flora in a specific area of the country. Particularly unique to the greater Washington, D.C. region, stress and the floral mix are two huge factors. “Plants given as gifts from other countries often are not received well by our immune systems when mixed with the naturally occurring pollen native to this area. This in combination with the stress of commuting, pollution and competitive job market can often cause an overload to our nervous systems,” notes Frandsen.
Additionally, sugar consumption in the past 50 years has tripled, with the average annual intake for each person in the United States at around 66 pounds. This high intake of sugar can cause a tremendous increase in inflammation in our bodies and GI tract as well as feeding dysbiosis, or microbial imbalance, in our GI tract. Antibiotic use can also create dysbiosis and thus lead to inflammation down the line. This inflammation can cause or exacerbate autoimmune reactions, including Hashimoto's disease, arthritis, Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, allergies, to name just a few.
According to Frandsen, it is important to use a natural approach to allergies because it is often the overuse of medications, primarily antibiotics, that precede the allergy development or exacerbation. “Healing the gut, identifying and desensitizing the allergen and reducing the nervous system response are vital to recovery and symptom relief. Managing any downstream effects or concomitant issues are also important.”
She became interested in the specialty of food sensitivities and allergy support while a student in naturopathic medical school, which is a four-year program similar to medical school.
Fueled by this interest, Frandsen sought out conferences on the topic and worked closely with her colleagues at NIHA. “As far as my desensitization program goes, I learned that from Dr. Barbara Solomon, a medical doctor who retired after more than 30 years of practice—many of them being at NIHA. Solomon was ahead of her time in identifying and treating allergies and sensitivities in a non-invasive manner that is very effective.” It is this team approach to healing that distinguishes NIHA, as medical professionals collaborate with specialists on their staff to address the core problems of patients’ individual concerns. Learning from each other is vital at NIHA and when doctors are not able to determine the cause of illness, it is helpful to work closely with other staff practitioners, thereby offering patient-centered care and therapies that help the patient get better.
Location: 5225 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington D.C. For more information about the allergy testing program, to schedule an appointment or to learn more about Dr. Frandsen, call 202-237-7000 or visit