By Jessica Defreitas

#OhhMoments: Jeana Zirlin shares how seeing a naturpathic doctor has helped with her with navigating her son's food allergies

In this week's #OhhMoments, allergy mama Jeana Zirlin of @TheBeautyWarrior shares how seeing a naturopathic doctor for her son Aston's food allergies helped improve how often he was having allergic reactions.

"My name is Jeana Zirlin of the @the_beautywarrior. I’m a Midwest born, now San Diego local. My husband and I have 2 boys Adler 4.5 years old and Aston 2.5 years old. Both of them have allergy challenges. I am a health activist and an advocate for better health protective laws. It is my mission to create awareness around toxic exposure and how it impacts all of us.

Adler’s are more environmental. He’s basically allergic to everything inside including dog and dust, as well as outside including pollen, grass, etc.
Aston’s are more severe. He is anaphylactic to egg, all dairy (milk, butter, cheese, yogurt), all nuts including peanuts & tree nuts, soy, and sesame.

Our journey started with a bite of an egg that landed us at the ER, followed by allergy testing which revealed that Aston (8 months at the time) was allergic to eggs, all dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, and soy. We went home with an Epi-pen and a new normal.

We learned to navigate it fairly well, but he seemed to be having reactions constantly. Often times, we didn’t even know what triggered it. We were giving him Benadryl all the time and it just didn’t sit well with me.

So, I took him to a naturopath who helped us get on a more homeopathic plan that felt much more in line with our beliefs and comfort level. We started using Al-gen in place of Benadryl, as well as Unda drops to help drain his system of any toxicity. We also did testing for MTHFR, which is a gene mutation that approximately 40% of the population carries. It basically means that your body has a harder time processing toxins.

Aston was a c-section baby, which exposed him to antibiotics and pain medicine right after birth through my milk. He also had a reaction to his first round of vaccines, so his little body was in fight or flight mode and reacting to anything foreign. After going the naturopathic route including working to heal his gut with probiotics, his reactions were much less frequent.

Then, when he was 15 months, we had a really big scare when he ate a bite of hummus. Within seconds he started to flare up in hives. I rushed him to the nearest clinic and said, “My 15 month old is having an allergic reaction!" The doctor came running out and I heard the words no mother should hear. “You need to go to the ER, but let me check his breathing to see if you have enough time to get there.” I made eye contact with another mother sitting in the waiting room who heard it too, and I knew she felt my panic. My heart sank as I carried my 1 and 3 year old back to my car. Add sesame to the list.

Now, every time he tries a new food, I can feel my heart racing as I watch for any symptoms. As we prepare to send him to preschool outside of our safe bubble, I find myself thinking about every scenario to keep him safe. I’ll talk to the teachers, the parents, put tags on his backpack and lunch box, and honestly, I’ll probably be a helicopter mom for a while.

My "Ohh Moment" happened recently when I was touring preschools. I had just had a conversation with the preschool owner about Aston’s food allergies, and 5 minutes later, she handed her 3 year old a snack that he was allergic to. And when her daughter tried to offer it to Aston, she didn’t stop her! Thankfully, I turned around in time. But, it’s moments like this that remind me that no one will advocate for him or protect him like his mama.

It’s not just the allergies that change your life. It’s getting looks like I’m a germaphobe, as I wipe down every plane or restaurant seat. It’s having ready to go meals on hand, so we can leave the house at any given moment and he’ll have food to eat. It’s making sure there are always safe snacks readily available to grab, because unfortunately, most places don’t offer that yet. It’s being a helicopter mom at the park or birthday parties when kids are dropping cake, pizza, and goldfish...and the parents don’t give it a second thought. It’s having his own special cupcakes with us.

Most of all, aside from keeping him safe, it’s ensuring he’s confident enough to handle any bullies, and to know that this doesn’t define him. I’m so grateful for companies like Ohh! Foods who create allergy friendly options. It truly makes a huge impact on families like us. My hope is that more companies will step up and offer options for allergy families!

Ultimately, I believe we were given this challenge for a reason. We will educate, advocate, and create awareness for all the families out there who are learning to navigate their new normal. And by doing that, we will find purpose in it." - Jeana

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