ELISA Food Allergy and Intolerance Testing
The food allergy and intolerance test is called an ELISA (ee-LIE-zuh) Food Allergy and Intolerance Panel. ELISA stands for Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay, a term describing the biochemical process whereby antibodies are detected in your blood.
This test is a direct measurement of your immune system's response to food. It is not affected by what you ate the day of the test or even the week of the test.
The ELISA food allergy and intolerance test measures both IgG and IgE antibodies, unlike other food allergy testing.
In a normal healthy person, or in someone with no food allergies, no antibodies will be detected. However, in a high percentage of people with chronic health problems, this test reveals elevated antibodies to a specific food or foods. Invariably, these people feel better after removal of the offending food(s) and treatment for deficiencies related to their food allergy.
Why Skin Testing Doesn’t Work For Food Allergies
If you thought you might have an allergy, your doctor likely ordered a skin test. Skin testing for food allergies has been the traditional way to test for allergies for several decades. This test involves injecting a substance under the skin and measuring the resulting inflammation, also known as a wheal.
In skin testing, the wheal is measured. The size of the wheal determines whether or not an allergy is diagnosed. The technique leaves a lot to be desired because we don’t inject food under our skin, nor do we necessarily get a red bump when we have a food allergy. Equally importantly, this test only has the potential to measure one type of antibody response, called IgE.
“What’s IgE,” you ask? Good question. First, you need to understand that the immune system is very complex. Numerous kinds of antibodies are produced, including IgE , IgG, and many others. They are called immunoglobulins. If you are deathly allergic to something then it is usually an IgE reaction. (However, you can have an IgE reaction to food that isn’t deadly.)
The problem is that most food allergies are not IgE, but rather IgG reactions. IgG is a delayed response that typically shows up hours later and may never result in a wheal. However, IgG is a potent stimulator of the inflammatory process, resulting in a variety of allergy symptoms in people.
The most accurate way to detect food allergies is through ELISA testing of the blood. This food allergy testing method measures the actual amount of both IgE and IgG in the blood.
Dr. Stephen Wangen
Center for Food Allergies
1229 Madison Street, Suite 1220 · Seattle WA 98104 · 206-264-1111
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