Elimination & Challenge Diet


Overview of the Elimination and Challenge Diet

An elimination and challenge diet is an effective way to determine a food sensitivity. Some possible symptoms that can occur on a food challenge include the following:

  • Headache (may be brief or prolonged)
  • Nausea, stomachache, sharp abdominal pain
  • Sore throat, stuffy nose, runny nose, itchy nose or eyes
  • Skin rash or itching, facial flushing, red ears
  • Sleepiness, insomnia, fatigue, apathy
  • Irritability, depression, anxiety
  • Excitability (feeling hyper or "buzzed")
  • Aching or twitching muscles

Symptoms associated with food challenges may not be the same symptoms experienced before the elimination process. For example, before the elimination and challenge diet began, a patient's symptom was chronic sinus pain, but a stomachache occurred during the challenge. This does not mean that the food group being challenged was not causing the sinus pain. It is just that the body and immune system react differently when the offending agent is removed and then reintroduced.

After 2 to 6 weeks of maintaining a strict elimination diet, there should be relief from symptoms. Weight may also be lost. Now begin the challenge. Start with the food group that is least problematic. Challenge a specific food group for one day only. Eat several servings of that food group throughout the day. Then do not eat that food again for at least 48 hours while continuing to eat only elimination diet foods. If symptoms do not return after 48 hours, go on to the next suspected food group. However, feel free to wait more than 48 hours. Waiting a week between food group challenges is optimal. This increases the accuracy of the diagnosis. Remember to challenge only one food group at a time.

Maintain a regular diet and eliminate only the food group that is believed to be causing the symptoms. Eliminate all items in that food group for at least 1 month. If the symptoms disappear before the end of the month, continue to abstain from that food group for another week before starting the challenge.

To do the challenge, eat several servings of the suspect food group during a 24-hour period. Then return to the elimination diet and do not eat the suspect food group for at least 48 hours. More often than not, immediate reactions occur if there is a sensitivity.

The naturopathic doctors prescribes remedies based on an individual's unique symptoms or characteristics. This means that two people who have the flu may receive different remedies because their symptoms are different. It requires training and skill to determine the appropriate remedy. When the appropriate remedy (called the similimum) is given, it can produce powerful and effective results. Homeopathy is used to treat all forms of acute and chronic illness and injury and is safe for children, pregnant or lactating women, and the elderly.

The leaves, flowers, or roots of an herb can be made into a tea. Flowers and leaves are infused; roots are decocted. An infusion is a liquid preparation made by steeping an herb in either hot (not boiling) or cold water. A decoction is a liquid preparation made by boiling an herb root. Infusions and decoctions are used immediately after preparation due to quick spoilage.

A tincture is a liquid extract of an herb. Tinctures are made by soaking an herb in menstruum (solvent) such as alcohol or glycerine. The menstruum extracts the chemical constituents of the plant. The herb material is removed from the menstruum, usually several weeks later, once the medicinal properties of the herb have been extracted into the alcohol. Tinctures are more potent than teas, so they provide more medicinal strength. Tinctures can be made of one herb or a combination of herbs. Tinctures are taken to normalize body functions, improve the immune system, and treat illnesses. Some uses are colds and flus, urinary tract and upper respiratory infections, irritated tissues, pain relief, gastrointestinal health, cardiovascular health, hormonal balance, and menstrual irregularities. Keep tinctures in tight, light-resistant glass containers and avoid exposure to direct sunlight or high heat.