Posted on December 9, 2009, under Allergies.
A similar, but much more serious case was presented by Eleanor Wyckham, an overweight middle-aged woman. Two years before entering the Ecology Unit, Mrs. Wyckham had been hospitalized for depression. She had attempted suicide twice and had been given electroshock therapy. In her case, the treatment was ineffective and caused some memory loss.
Mrs. Wyckham was one of those patients who was aware that her problems stemmed in part from food. “I’ve reached the point where I am afraid to eat any longer,” she said, before entering the Ecology Unit. “Once I start eating, I feel as if I simply cannot stop.” She alternated between binges of eating and fasts or all-fruit diets. Her favorite food in the world, she said, was peanut butter—this was the one item she could not do without. She also loved bread, baked goods, and in fact anything with wheat in it. She had eaten wheat addictively since childhood, when her mother, who was interested in nutrition, became convinced of the virtues of whole wheat bread. She therefore plied her daughter with large amounts of this staple. Mrs. Wyckham, who had a family history of alcoholism, likened herself to an alcoholic, too—in her craving for bread and peanut butter.
She entered the hospital in a very depressed state. After five days of fasting, she was much less depressed. Not surprisingly, in her food test she had a severe reaction to peanuts (as well as to lamb). More unexpected was the fact that she passed the wheat test with no trouble—which shows that food allergies cannot always be pinpointed on the basis of histories or “hunches.” She did have moderate reactions to yeast and milk, however, which are often components of bread.
Mrs. Wyckham was then retested on some of the foods to which she had had no adverse reaction, but this time to foods which had been purchased in a commercial market. There was a definite increase in her depression, after a few such meals. Through the avoidance of incriminated foods, Mrs. Wyckham was able to control both her depression and her weight problem. This points to the fact that the Rotary Diversified Diet (Chap. 18), although not specifically designed as a weight-loss diet, can be helpful in that regard for the overweight patient.
The patients described in the preceding cases appear to have become sicker gradually, after a long period of cumulative exposure to chemicals and foods. Sometimes, however, a preexisting condition is suddenly made much worse by a massive exposure to an allergy-causing substance.