Because we are on the cusp of warmer weather, flowers blooming, and parasites, I want to share about Alpha-Gal allergy or Mammalian Meat Allergy in the hopes of possibly helping prevent others from getting it and increasing awareness for those who might be suffering from it unawares.
Alpha-Gal allergy is not well known but has some claim to fame-John Grisham has it. Put simply, it’s a tick-borne mammal meat allergy that can cause hives, GI upset, asthma-like symptoms, and even anaphylaxis. It’s an allergy that’s caused by a Lone Star tick bite. You can read all about its interesting history here.
I was diagnosed with Mammalian Meat Allergy/Alpha-Gal seven years ago. I went to a holistic physician because I kept getting unexplained facial swelling, asthma, and hives on my eyelids.
((Those are pictures of my affected eye last Friday just before Daniel and I went out to a fancy restaurant on a rare date night. That’s after Benadryl.))
So seven years ago, my physician ordered a blood draw for an IgG and IgE food allergy test.
The results were shocking.
Besides learning that I am wheat (gluten and gliadin) intolerant, I also learned that I am very allergic, bordering on anaphylactic, to mammal meats and mammal products.
That meant: No beef. No pork. No lamb. No milk. No yogurt. No dairy cheeses. No butter. No beef-derived magnesium stearate. No casein. No whey. No chicken sausage with pork casing. No Colgate toothpaste because it has gelatin. No lotion with mammal collagens or proteins. Etc.
This was a huge, huge shock. I think mostly because Alpha-Gal is such a hard allergy to cipher. The onset is delayed and varies on metabolism and reactions differ from person to person. Also, from my experience, there is a lack of knowledge regarding the allergy in the medical community.
Many people with Alpha-Gal allergies are only allergic to mammal meats, not byproducts. I have read that people like me who are also allergic to byproducts too might have been bitten by an infected tick more than once. So gross, right?
I don’t remember being bitten by a Lone Star tick. But they are numerous in our area and I do like to spend time outdoors.
There is no cure for the Alpha-Gal allergy. Researchers say that some people’s allergies simply go away with time. Mine hasn’t yet and it’s been seven years. The only way to prevent reactions is to avoid the foods you are allergic to.
There is a way to try and prevent getting Alpha-Gal. Tick protection! You can do what the experts suggest and wear light colored long sleeves and pants if you plan on being in an area where there might be ticks. And always do tick checks! Daniel went to a Hunter’s Ed Safety course and the instructor highly recommended wearing PANTYHOSE if you’re going to be outdoors around ticks. I have terrible childhood memories of sagging pantyhose under my Sunday best, but maybe the drifting crotch was just something that happened to tall girls.
And I do not like chemicals in my food or on my body but I have only found Deet products to be effective in keeping ticks away. I have tried all kinds of all-natural oils, lotions, and sprays but have not found one that works. That is, when I use them according to their instructions, then go outdoors, I still find ticks crawling up my legs getting ready for a snack.
So, if anyone has unexplained hives or anaphylaxis, you might consider having blood drawn for a food allergy test. And for the nature lovers out there, may the ticks leave you be and may you enjoy your adventures even if you’re wearing saggy-crotched pantyhose!