Standing in here for David Williams on the occasion of the birth of his son takes me back to my firstborn daughterâ€™s experience with severe asthma. Molly was six years old, very sick and worsening. I spent hours searching for hope on the web and elsewhere. Within mainstream medicine there was no theory of the onset of asthma, therefore no path to healing. In the alternative world there were a thousand unconfirmed theories.
Diligence paid off and we found a nutritionist with a theory that was logically sound, supportable through established diagnostics, and came with a clear treatment plan, therefore represented a testable hypothesis about the onset of her asthma and how it might be reversed. In short, the theory was this: intestinal permeability resulting from environmental factors results in heightened immune reactions mediated through IgA and IgG, which results in inflammatory symptoms and may be reversible through treatment of the permeability, avoidance of the offending foods, and waiting for a relaxation of the immune reaction. Testing for permeability was positive and reversed through treatment. Testing for IgA and IgG sensitivities was positive and specific. A thoroughgoing elimination diet resulted in immediate cessation of symptoms and weaning from all medications over time and permanent reversal of all symptoms even after return to a normal diet
A good hypothesis needs more than a single data point for confirmation, but here are some questions that arise from our experience:
- How is it that the institutional history of the study of allergy, which arose out of IgE mechanisms and did not account for IgA or IgG, can still result in training allergists without reference to those important mediation pathways?
- How might it be possible to create an incentive for such hypotheses to become the subject of serious clinical trials, given that they are unlikely to result in a pharmaceutical product?