By Christie Korth (BS, CHC, HHP, AADP)
Have you ever woken up with extra “bags” or discoloration under your eyes the morning after a great night out with very little sleep? Of course, most of us have at one point or another, but unfortunately many chronic Lyme patients are noticing this issue without the benefit of any of the fun associated with the previous night. It’s the way many patients wake up first thing in the morning as a matter of course, and we refer to them as “shiners.”
What are shiners and what is this reaction? It’s an inflammatory response called an IgG (Immunoglobulin G) reaction, and in the case of Lyme patients, it is almost certainly a reaction to particular foods the patient has eaten as many as 3 days prior. This reaction is also very similar to the way your body reacts when it detects foreign bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungus (candida).
An IgG reaction differs from an IgE (Immunoglobulin E) reaction in that it is NOT a histamine-based reaction, which would happen if you ate a strawberry and went into anaphylactic shock. IgG reactions are much less severe, but they can be painful and also very annoying. IgG reactions also differ from IgE as they are NOT immediate reactions, and they do NOT produce potentially life-threatening histamine. Instead, they produce cytokine that causes inflammation in the body. The inflammation can be transient and go anywhere in the body, but mainly we see it in the gut, brain and respiratory tract.
Cytokine can also trigger a case of the shiners if you frequently consume a food that causes your body to make these inflammatory chemicals. I myself look like a raccoon’s cousin if I ingest gluten that causes an IgG reaction for me personally. IgG reactions can be triggered by some of the most common foods, like dairy, corn, soy, wheat, etc. We also find non-organic foods, especially GMOs can contribute to an IgG reaction. GMOs (also known as genetically modified organisms) are a nutritionist’s nightmare when it comes to treating patients. Because these foods have been genetically altered, your body does not recognize what they are and tells the immune system to ATTACK; it’s a foreign substance triggering that inflammatory cytokine reaction.
What I have found is that top genetically-modified foods, such as corn, wheat and soy in the U.S. can contribute to shiners. (Editor’s note: The Ticked Off Foundation hosts a private Facebook group for Lyme patients using the Cowden protocol, and in this group, two patients realized they were getting shiners from corn. In one case it was popcorn and in another it was corn tortilla chips. Once the food was identified and eliminated from their diet, the patients have since improved. Prior to this, one patient was going to her physician every time the shiners appeared and was getting diagnosed with a sinus infections and prescribed antibiotics. The pharmaceuticals caused facial drooping, symptom flares and did nothing for the shiners.)
So, if you frequently have dark circles under your eyes and are using up all of your concealer (for us ladies, anyway) evaluate how much wheat, soy or corn you are eating. Also consider switching to organic foods, which by law CAN NOT be genetically modified. If you take a trip to you local grocery store and you start reading labels, you will notice there is GMO wheat, soy or corn in just about every packaged item you purchase. Make no mistake, this is not by accident. Unfortunately, as these crops are USDA subsidized, they are also cheaper for food companies to produce. This nutritionist’s advice? Switch to non-GMO foods, especially organic versions of the wheat, soy or corn products you’re already eating. This is what the body is accustomed to consuming. So, if you have a frequent case of the shiners, you don’t have to run to the make up counter anymore. A simple swap to organic foods can not only improve your shiners, but your overall health.
You will be amazed how many health calamities (mainly everything ending in the letters- “itis”) are inflammation-provoking conditions. The human body (or any animal’s body) does not do well with foods that have been altered in this way. We see many more cases of shiners that are not from pulling the infamous all-nighter, but from your diet.
Keep a food diary for a week, and you will be amazed at how many foods are hidden culprits that you may have never thought to look into.
Also keep in mind, about 50-60 years ago, ALL the food we consumed was organic. As I said, there are MANY foods that produce cytokine reactions, and they can vary from person to person. You will never see GMO corn in my refrigerator (or GMO anything for that matter) as I have both late stage Lyme Disease and Crohn’s disease, and the consumption of these foods can contribute to inflammation. Try some organic corn, soy, wheat, dairy, etc. It’s what your grandparents would have cooked for you. The taste is much better and with the added nutritional benefits, you should notice your shiners and other inflammatory conditions disappear or at the very least subside.
About the author: Christie Korth has been very passionate about health and wellness since healing herself from a crippling case of Crohn’s disease through diet and lifestyle changes. She is the CEO of Happy & Healthy Wellness, Inc. and the award-winning author of “The IBD Healing Plan and Recipe Book.” She has also has been treating late-stage Lyme disease for several years and is writing a book about her experiences.