Do The Big Five 
AEHA National Update, Fall 1996

Synopsis of National Conference on Children with Sensitivities, 1996.

If one were to summarize in a few words the message that Dr. Doris Rapp brought to the National Conference on Children with Sensitivities, one would have to say:  Do the “Big 5”:  appearance, actions, pulse, breathing and writing.  To find out why you or your child does not feel, act, behave or learn well, do the following before and after meals; being in every room at home, school or work; chemical exposures; and, the use of any medicine or allergy extract treatment:

1. Check your child’s pulse (increase over 20 points?)
2. If your child is experiencing breathing problems or asthma, use a Peak 
      Flow Meter to check air flow and record the results (drop 15%?)
3. Record how your child looks (ears, eyes, nose, wiggly legs?)
4. Record how your child feels, behaves, acts and learns (head, belly, 
      legs, aches, tired, hyper, angry, mean -- any changes/)
 5. Have you child write or draw and record any changes.
If the pulse goes up by 20 points or the Peak Flow Meter rate goes down 15%, you may have found an answer.

If you suspect a meal may be causing a problem, check the “Big 5” before and 15 to 60 minutes after each meal.  If a meal causes a change, eat none of the foods (in any form) in that meal for 4 to 13 days; then on a weekend, eat a lot of one single food from the suspect meal every 2 hours, checking the “Big 5” before and after each food, until you find the problem food.  (More on this later.)

If you suspect a room may be a problem, check the “Big 5” before and 15 to 60 minutes after going into each room in your home, school or workplace.

If you suspect a chemical, check the “Big 5” before and 2 to 10 minutes after an exposure, providing your reaction is not serious.

If you suspect that an allergy extract may be a problem, check each one separately, doing the “Big 5” before and after using each allergy extract.

What do you conclude?  Is the problem due to:

A food?  Which one? 
Something inside your home, school or workplace?
Something outside?
A chemical?
An allergy extract that needs retesting?
Dr. Rapp did caution not to do this testing at home if you suspect a serious or frightening reaction -- especially anaphylaxis.  Such testing should only be done in a hospital setting.

Food Reactions
With respect to possible food reactions, Dr. Rapp suggests the following:

Write down your five favourite foods and beverages.  Do not read further until you have done this.  You have probably listed the items that are most apt to be problems if you have food allergies.  Problem foods and beverages are often your favourites.

The following diet sometimes helps in 3 to 7 days if a child has food allergies, however, before and after you try this diet, discuss it with your doctor.  Adults should also stop coffee, tea, tobacco, and alcohol.  Remember that you are checking for foods that you eat frequently and probably never dreamed could be causing you to feel or act differently in any way.  If you know a food is a significant problem, do not check for it.  There is no need to check for what you already know.

Eliminate all five foods or beverages that you identified as your favourites for 5 to 7 days.  Then on the weekend, check the “Big 5” and then eat as much as you want of one of these foods and then check the “Big 5” again.  Every couple of hours you can repeat this process for each food or beverage which you removed from your diet.  If a food or beverage causes you a little headache normally, you should get a “real whopper” after eating a large quantity of this substance.  This is the reason that it is so important to only test yourself for suspected substances and not for ones that you know you will react to.

So, if you want to save yourself a few dollars on allergy testing and want to really know what reactions certain foods or beverages are causing you, follow the above instructions, remembering to do the “Big 5” before and after each food.

For further instruction on this method, read Dr. Rapp’s “Tips Regarding Environmental Illness”, or read one of her books, “Is This Your Child?”, or “Is This Your Child’s World?”

Good luck on your journey.

And thanks, Dr. Rapp, for teaching us that we do have a “vehicle” to check our own reactions.  However, we must remember to be responsible in how and where we do this testing to minimize the possibility of life-threatening reactions.