What the Hook?

Do you suffer from asthma, hay fever or some other allergic reaction? If so, how far would you go to get rid of your wheezing, incessant sneezing, itchy and watery eyed symptoms? Giving your allergies the boot has little to do with any drugs and more to do with Necator americanus – the hookworm. Research on hookworms in tropical soil has shown curative promise for autoimmune-related illnesses. Not convinced. Well there are enough believers in this non-FDA approved “helminthic therapy” since a Mexican clinic has been opened by entrepreneur Jasper Lawrence at a whopping cost of close to $4000 a pop per worm inoculation.

The basis for this new found therapy started in 2000 when immunologist Maria Yazdanbakhsh was studying over 500 Gabonese children infected with Schistosoma haematobium, one of a family of parasites that cause schistosomiasis, a parasitic infection uncommon in the United States. Those infected with the parasite had a lower immune response to dust mites which is one of the most common environmental allergens around. Four years later, Dr. David Pritchard took the idea of the hookworm’s allergy stopping abilities to the next level when he infected himself with 50 hookworms. The British scientist placed the pin-sized hookworms, which look like maggots on rotting meat, on his arm and covered it with a dressing. The itch as the worms penetrated Pritchard’s skin he explains only as “indescribable.”

Pritchard’s action was a follow-up to his earlier observations in Papua New Guinea during the late 1980s. He observed that Papuans infected with the hookworm, Necator americanus did not experience autoimmune-related illnesses such as hay fever and asthma. Pritchard developed a theory for his observation in New Guinea. He theorized that the parasites figured a way to switch off the body’s immune response which created an environment within the host that was suitable for its survival. Consequently, those infected with the hookworm had fewer allergic symptoms.

To get the National Health Services (NHS) ethics committee in Britain on board with his theory Pritchard tested himself. The quantity he inoculated himself with gave him stomach pain and diarrhea. But in 2006, armed with data from his Papuans study and the promise of using fewer worms to minimize the side effects, the NHS allowed him to conduct a small scale study using 30 test subjects. He infected 15 of the study’s participants with 10 worms each. Compared to the placebo group those who received worms not only showed little discomfort as hosts to a small amount of hookworms but they also experienced no allergic reactions.

The participants spread word about this new hookworm therapy and soon a Yahoo helminthic therapy group popped up. While the worm rave among allergy sufferers is growing many experts are concerned about the process of infecting patients with hookworms. Peter Hotez, a microbiologist at George Washington University is developing a hookworm vaccine. However, he worries that the hookworm therapy in the current form is too risky because infection carries the effects of stunted growth and malnutrition in developing countries. This allergy eradicating hookworm may be a welcomed therapy for some; however, in the tropics it kills. 65,000 people in tropical regions die each year and many more suffer from severe anemic conditions. Hotez and others recognize the important contribution hookworms can provide to help treat autoimmune-related diseases but think that direct infection carries too many potential risks for patients. Hotez stated, “The real question is could you isolate the molecules the worms are using to suppress the immune system and use them for therapeutic purposes?”

This is exactly what Pritchard envisions. He hopes to identify the mechanism hookworms use to turn down the immune response to allergens and provide an alternative to the current allergy drugs and immune-suppressant treatments available. Ultimately, developing a new drug class that can be offered to treat patients with other autoimmune diseases such as arthritis and Crohn’s disease minus the health risks associated with direct infection by hookworms.

Sources: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/01/health/research/01prof.html?ref=science

Soy Allergies are More Serious Than You First Think

When you first hear the term, soy allergy, you might think this isn’t such a bad allergy. All one has to do is to stay away from soy and soy products. But do you really know what kind of foods actually contain soy?

Soy can be found in such foods as: flour, grits, some green or dried beans, soy milk, curd tofu cheese, soy sauces, and vegetable oils. But don’t think this means soy is always simple to find in the list of ingredients of foods. Sometimes soy is hidden and is listed as an additive used for flavor or even a protein that is added as a meat substitute.

Some soy products will cause an allergic reaction to a person, while another product may not. Some fermented soy products will not cause any allergic reactions to some people. While most people who are allergic to soy, will experience a reaction when the product is made from whole soy beans.

Since soy is sometimes hidden in the list of ingredients, it can be hard for a person to actually pinpoint if he/she has an allergy to it. But it does help if you know what symptoms may occur if you have this allergy.

An allergy to soy is different than most common allergies. You won’t suddenly begin itching or experience hives as you would when you ingest other allergic products. A soy allergy begins in one’s immune system. Once it is ingested the immune system mistakenly thinks that the soy is something that will harm the body. The immune system will remember that it believes that soy is harmful. Then the next time it is ingested the immune system will go on into attack mode. It will do this by creating antibodies. These antibodies will produce many chemicals including histamines. Now the body will start feeling the signs of an allergic reaction. How? It can be in a number of ways.

An allergic response to soy can show up in the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, the cardiovascular system and even in the skin. One might have the following symptoms; acne, asthma, dermatitis, fever, itching, vomiting and diarrhea, to name a few. The reaction may also get worse each time a soy product is introduced to the body. The reason why is because more antibodies are produced by the immune system each time soy now enters the body.

There is also the problem of cross reactivity of other products if you are allergic to soy. Put simply it means if you are allergic to soy you are more probable of being allergic to these substances too: peanuts, green peas, chick peas, lima beans, string beans, wheat, rye and barley. Plus, any products that contains these substances.

If you think you have an allergy to soy, the best way to check is to stay away from soy products for a few days. It may take up to 48 hours for any soy to completely leave your body. Then try a small amount of soy and see if your symptoms return.

Doctor’s believe we can help our kids from developing an allergy to soy by breastfeeding, if at all possible for the first six months of a child’s life, keeping a child under the age of six months away from solid foods and to avoid such foods as cow’s milk, wheat, eggs, peantus and fish until your child is over the age of one year.

To learn more about soy allergies, check out this website: http://www.soya.be/soy-allergy.php or if you suffer from an allergy to soy and would like some support, advice or to just learn more about this allergy, check out this website: http://www.geocities.com/HotSprings/4620/

Five Natural Ways to Banish Allergies

You’re sneezing, wheezing and all you can do is wipe your eyes and nose. It’s allergy season, and you’re having a full blown attack. Before reaching for one of the many over-the-counter allergy remedies, try these natural remedies that often stop allergy symptoms after they’ve begun and when incorporated into the daily routine, can banish allergies for good.

Eat Citrus Fruit Everyday

Eating a citrus fruit each day can slash the amount of histamine in the body by almost half. Histamine is the allergy inducing compound in the body that triggers congestion and wheezing, slash histamine in half and half the allergy flare-ups are gone. Just one orange or half a grapefruit daily will naturally help to banish allergies.

Take A Green Tea Break

Green tea offers a wide array of health benefits, including helping to banish allergies. Green tea contains powerful antioxidants that hinder the body’s production of allergy triggering free radicals, fewr free radicals, fewer allergy flare-ups. Steep green tea for three minutes for maximum antioxidant benefits.

Strengthen Immune System With Fish

Fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, the healthy fats that keep the immune system strong and in good working order. A strong, healthy immune system launches a defense against unhealthy, invading bacteria, but does not over react, producing allergy inducing histamine, to common allergens in the air like pet dander and pollen. Eating fish at least twice per week helps to banish allergies for good.

Irrigate Sinuses With Neti Pot

Using a neti pot (or other sinus irrigation system) to wash the pollutants from the sinus cavity will instantly relieve allergy congestion. Irrigating sinuses twice per day with a natural salt and water solution during allergy season can prevent allergy flare-ups. Table salt has additives which can irritate sinuses, use kosher or canning salt when mixing your own solution or purchase a pre-mixed nasal irrigation solution.

Don’t Split Hairs

Your hair could be causing your allergy flare-ups and a simple change in hair care can banish allergies. Pollen and other pollutants are attracted to hair throughout the day due to the static electricity in the hair. Morning shampooers sleep with a head full of allergens (which transfer to pillows while sleeping) right next to their nose all night. Shampooing at night before bed will eliminate the allergens from hair and you can awake to an easier-breathing morning.

Don’t despair if night time shampooing isn’t agreeable to your schedule, prevent allergy flare-ups with this trick – Give hair a light spraying with hairspray before going to bed. The hairspray will keep pollutants attached to your hair so they won’t fall off on pillow or be inhaled during your sleep.

Is a Peanut Allergy Cure Via Oral Desensitization Possible?

Peanuts are a treat for some, but for others even one peanut can trigger severe food allergies. Some peanut allergy responses are so serious that they are actually life threatening. There is now talk of a cure for peanut allergy sufferers.

Understanding the Role of Peanuts in Food Allergies

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases states that 0.8% of children (and 0.6% of adults) suffer from a peanut allergy; by comparison, 2.6% of children present with food allergies involving eggs. The foregoing numbers notwithstanding, exposure to peanuts is the leading cause of food allergy related deaths. Symptoms of exposure, as listed by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, are eczema, hives, asthma, gastrointestinal upset, and finally anaphylactic shock.

So why do Peanut Allergy Sufferers not Simply Avoid Food Allergies Causing Peanuts?

Avoiding allergy causing peanuts is easier said than done! Considering that exposures are largely accidental, it is the predominance of peanuts in everyday food items that makes it hard to avoid them. After all, peanuts are part of cereals, Asian foods, bakery items, ice cream, and also natural flavorings, making it hard to second guess when an item that is devoid of actual peanut chips might actually contain peanut oil or peanut butter.

Could Talizumab a.k.a. TNX-901 be the Cure for Peanut Allergy Sufferers?

It was the hope that Tanox, Inc. would provide a drug that could counteract food allergies symptoms related to peanuts, but unfortunately a legal dispute broke out and the New York Times reported in 2003 that lawsuits and briefs were cluttering the court system, effectively delaying clinical application of the drug. Yet even this drug was not a cure for peanut allergy sufferers, since it simply increased their ability to tolerate peanuts but did not take away the allergic response altogether.

Oral Desensitization is the Latest Attempt at Finding a Cure for Peanut Food Allergies

Great Britain’s Cambridge Network reported on its desensitization therapy at Addenbrooke’s Hospital which had patients submit to daily ingestions of peanut flour. Instead of relying on drugs, scientists worked on training the body to increase its natural resistance to peanut induced allergic reactions. Researchers are quick to point out that it is not a total cure for peanut allergy sufferers, but instead a way to survive accidental exposure to peanuts and related products.

At the end of the desensitization therapy, children are able to safely eat up to 10 peanuts. The obvious problem of the initial study is the number of participants: four. Duke University and the Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock also worked on oral desensitization therapy with good results. WebMD reported on the fact that successful peanut oral desensitization actively changed the immune system of patients and provided peanut tolerance – albeit in limited quantities.

Sources

http://www3.niaid.nih.gov/topics/foodAllergy/understanding/quickFacts.htm; http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=9⊂=20 cont;=517

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9900EEDC133EF930A25750C0A9659C8B63

http://www.cambridgenetwork.co.uk/news/article/default.aspx?objid=56692; http://www.webmd.com/allergies/news/20070226/progress-against-peanut-allergies

Do Allergy-Relief Bed Covers Reduce Allergy Symptoms?

Looking for allergy relief? You may be tempted to buy allergy-free bed covers to reduce your exposure to dust. The manufacturers of these bed covers claim they reduce sneezing and watery eyes by trapping dust mites and other small particles.They’re more expensive than regular bed covers, but do they reduce allergy symptoms?

Allergy-Relief Bed Covers Deliver, but They Aren’t Good Enough

According to a new study, allergy-free bed covers fall short of the mark when it comes to allergy relief. When British researchers looked at 1,122 adults with asthma who used these bed covers for a year, they found they had little effect on their allergy symptoms. This was confirmed by another study involving asthma sufferers carried out in the Netherlands. Asthma sufferers who used allergy-relief bed covers fared no better than those who used regular bedding – and they still required the same amount of asthma medication.

In one sense, allergy-free bed covers do what they claim. They do reduce exposure to dust mites and their by-products that cause allergy and asthma symptoms, but they don’t improve allergy or asthma symptoms. This may be because dust mites are still scattered around other parts of the house, meaning there’s still too much exposure to dust mite products in spite of the allergy-free bedding.

Allergy-Free Bed Covers May Still Be Helpful for Some Allergy Sufferers

Allergy-relief bed covers aren’t necessarily worthless; they do reduce exposure to dust mites, but they need to be part of a more comprehensive allergy relief program targeted at combating dust mites in other areas of the house.

Allergy control measures should include washing bedding in hot water weekly, reducing home humidity, lowering the thermostat, dusting with a wet cloth weekly and removing carpeting where dust mites can hide. Allergy-relief bed covering won’t much of a difference if dust mite allergens are hiding elsewhere in the house. I

It’s also important to target other allergens you may be reacting too, which can be determined by allergy testing.

The Bottom Line?

Don’t expect allergy-free bed covers to bring instant allergy relief – or you may be disappointed. Make them a part of an overall program to remove dust mites and their by-products from your home through other means – so you can breathe a little easier year round.

References:

Medical News Today. “Anti-Allergy Bedding Pretty Useless”

Merck Manual. Eighteenth edition. 2006.

Peanut Allergy Prevention in Children

Schools everywhere have been faced with the realities of food allergies. They have had to create peanut free zones in the cafeteria. They have had to be trained in how to handle anaphylatic shock. Fear of peanut allergies has even caused airplanes to remove peanuts as a snack as particles of peanut dust could be carried in the air to cause an allergic reaction. Why are we experiencing this allergy in epidemic strength? It may be because we are introducing foods too early to infants. My son experienced his first reaction to peanuts at 9 months of age when I gave him a small bite of peanut butter cracker. I did not know anything at that time about peanut allergy risks or I would have introduced table food and especially peanut butter much later. Here are some suggestions to prevent allergies in children.

The following suggestions are given by allergy specialists to help prevent peanut allergies in children.

Provide a smoke free environment for your baby from pregnancy on. This can prevent severe allergies. As children exposed to second hand smoke are in danger of asthma which is often associated with peanut allergies.

Pregnant women with a history of a child or relatives with peanut allergies should avoid eating peanuts and peanut products such as candy bars etc.

Choose to breastfeed your baby.

Avoid eating peanuts and peanut products during the entire time that you nurse the baby.

Delay the introduction of solid foods to your infant.

Wait longer to introduce table foods.

Do not introduce peanut products until the child is two years old.

Hope for the Future:

There is a test trial being done on children with peanut allergies. Thus far it has been found to be effective. The child is given small amounts of peanuts daily to build up a tolerance to peanuts. This is very dangerous to try at home but hopefully soon doctors will be able to use the results of these tests to help children build an immunity to peanut

Check out is link for more info on this:

thallergies.http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20090220/peanut_allergy_090220/20090220?hub=Health

Laser Allergy Surgery

Every year, 50 Million Americans suffer from seasonal nasal allergies that cause congestion and post-nasal drip. For most of those people, nearly 40 million, those allergy symptoms can lead to other problems, such as recurring sinus infections. Laser Allergy Surgery (also known as Laser Sub-Mucosal Resection (SMR), Turbinectomy, Nasal Turbinate Surgery or Turbinate Reduction) can be a viable alternative for some of those people with more severe symptoms.

So what is Laser Allergy Surgery? First, you need to know a little more about the inside of your nose. Turbinates (or nasal concha) are bone shelves in the nose. These are responsible for the heating, filtering, and humidifying the air you breathe into your nostrils. Allergies and other irritants can cause these shelves to swell, inhibiting breathing. During Laser Allergy Surgery,fiber optic-enhanced lasers shrink blood vessels in the turbinates and remove a small amount of the turbinate tissue. This makes them less likely to swell and block the nasal passages.

The outpatient procedure takes about 15 minutes, not including prep time. Afterward, a patient stays in recovery for one hour before being discharged home. Post-operatively, you can expect some temporary congestion. Nosebleeds are also not uncommon after this surgery, but should be temporary.

What Laser Allergy Surgery is not is a cure for your allergies. It is also not for people with mild to moderate symptoms. It is also not for everyone. The surgery is effective for 70% of patients. It is an option for people with mainly nasal symptoms who haven’t responded to prescription medications or shots. Based on attempts to get cost information from doctors*, it is also not cheap, though it may be covered under your insurance. Laser Allergy Surgery is not to be confused with Laser Allergy Treatment, which is a controversial procedure, performed in some chiropractic offices. Laser Allergy Treatment involves being “scanned” for specific allergies with an electrode device attached to your finger and then having a laser pointed directed at certain areas of the body to “cure” the allergies.

*They refused even to give me an estimate, telling me I needed to call (and pay?) for a consultation. At a prominent Dallas ENT they said weren’t comfortable quoting an estimate unless I told them more about the publication for which I was writing. Would they quote a different price depending on what publication I was writing for? I can certainly think of no other reason why my publication would affect their ability to tell me the price.

Spring Time Allergy Season is Here

It’s that time of year we all love: The birds will be singing, the flowers will be blooming, the trees will be greening, the bees will be buzzing and the noses will be running. That last one is my favorite. Here are a few tips I have learned over the years from my constant desire to find a way to actually enjoy the coming of spring

This tip came from a small coop store in Los Angeles and is by far the tastiest remedy. Eat local honey. It’s kinda like the same theory of getting a flu shot whereas in the local honey, you have the local pollen. Your body takes it in at its purest form and basically learns to love it. When you get the pollen introduced through your nasal passage (the most common) or the skin, you will not have such an adverse reaction because it is no longer a foreign particle your body is trying drastically to remove. And you also get to support your local growers who are the foundation of your community.

If you can’t seem to stay out of the garden even though it is making you miserable you may want to consider the lawn masks. You can usually find them in a multi pack for around $5. Quick and easy fix. The skin is another way the allergens can enter your bloodstream. Try keeping your body covered with very light clothing. Long sleeves and pants. This will make a huge saving in your tissue bill this spring.

Another idea you may not have considered, never leave the house! Just barricade yourself in, get a Netflix account for entertainment, put Pizza Hut on speed dial and don’t come out until June.

If your not the hibernating type, there are a number of over-the-counter remedies you can try. I typically look for the natural solutions first because I feel we have enough unfamiliar ingredient in our bodies as it is. Not to say they do not work. Some work extremely well. Too good in fact. Everything effects everyone differently so do some research and try a few different antihistamines and decongestants before hitting Costco for that pallet sized family pack. Certain ones you may find can clear your nasal passage so much that it starts to dry it completely and cause irritation. Others may putt you to sleep at your job. Its just going to take some trial and error.

Peanut Allergy Cure on Its Way

You may not be too crazy about ingesting peanut butter with all of the salmonella scares and recalls of anything containing any trace of the notorious nut, but there are some people in the world who would love to enjoy a PB amp; J sandwich. Or at least they’d like to be able to breathe easier knowing that peanut particles that make their way into supposedly nut-free foods or that float around in the air on airplanes aren’t going to kill them.

These terrifying worries may soon be a thing of the past, because CBS News has reported that there’s been a breakthrough in the study of treatment for peanut allergies.

It’s pretty terrifying to imagine being allergic to something so small and so common in our food, but there are millions of people in the world suffer from peanut allergies. The effects that peanuts have on allergy sufferers are pretty frightening; they induce anaphylactic shock, which causes the airway to close up and makes it difficult to breathe. In some cases, if the sufferer isn’t treated promptly, they can die.

Before I go any further with this article and reveal the method of treatment that doctors are using for this allergy, I must point out that readers should UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES TRY THIS ON THEIR OWN. This method of treatment has only been tested under the care of doctors who are prepared to cope with any problems that may arise from it.

That being said, the method of treatment is fairly simple: sufferers are first given the smallest dose of peanut flour. This dosage is slowly increased by small amounts until the allergy sufferer is eating a few peanuts a day. Once they reach this level of tolerance, they must eat them every day to keep their resistance up. It’s absolutely amazing that such a simplistic method has been effective in treating something so deadly.

Once again, it’s important that no one attempts to treat their allergies using this method on their own. Levels of allergies vary, and there are some suffers out there who are so sensitive to peanuts, it would be very easy for them to end up in trouble if they were to try this.

Researchers are still trying to answer a few questions they have about this form of treatment, but it could prove effective for treating other types of allergies, as well. For now, it’s best for peanut allergy sufferers to sit tight and avoid all products containing the nuts (something many Americans are doing, anyway) until this method of treatment is perfected. But it’s great to know that there’s hope for all of the moms out there who have to fear their child switching their lunch at school for something their classmate has that might be deadly.

SOURCES: http://cbs4.com/health/peanut.allergy.treatment.2.940672.html

Natural Home Remedies for Dust Mites

If you have dust, the odds are good that you have dust mites. Allergy sufferers know that a dust mite is the root of a plethora of symptoms, and the hunt for home remedies that will remove these mites with little more than homeopathy is on. Read on and find six home remedies for the control of allergy causing dust mites. These are natural remedies that do not require the use of harmful chemicals or poisonous insecticides.

What are Dust Mites?

These mites are not insects, but actually belong to the same family as spiders. Unlike spiders, they receive their nutrition from house dust, which is little more than a mix of shed hair, flaked off skin cells, clothing fibers, pollen, and soil particles. Dust mites barely measure half a millimeter and they are so light that even just walking past an area where they are located will generate sufficient updraft to set them airborne.

How Can Such Small Mites Cause An Allergy?

Dustimex estimates that there are 1,000 dust mites per one gram of dust. As they derive nourishment from the dust components, they excrete proteases that cause an allergic reaction in individuals predisposed to sensitivity to this organic compound. Unless allergy sufferers are aware of home remedies to decrease the overall number of mites in their living quarter, these dust mites will take up residence in rugs, carpets, cushions, bedding, and drapes in ever increasing numbers.

Six Home Remedies for Dust Mites

Natural remedies, tried and true home remedies, and basic homeopathy can make a huge difference in the life of an allergy sufferer dealing with dust mites.

Some like it Hot – Unless you’re a Dust Mite

The simplest of home remedies is washing bedding covers, pillow covers, and cushion casings at 140 ºF. The American Thoracic Society advises allergy sufferers that this temperature is lethal to dust mites and will rid your pillow covers and bedding of their current set of mite inhabitants.

Everyone Loves a Good Book – Especially Dust Mites

The simplest home remedies for dust mite control include a removal of those things that attract dust mites. Books are notorious for attracting dust and mites. Remove books from your sleeping area and keep them in an enclosed cabinet, where exposure to mites is greatly curtailed.

Homeopathy of Tannic Acid Keeps Sequoias Infestation Free – It Can Do the Same for Your Rug

When it comes to natural home remedies for dust mites, tannic acid can work wonders. The Earth Easy site suggests sprinkling it around problem areas where dust seems to accumulate more quickly than elsewhere in your home.

Natural Remedies for Dust Mite Control with the Help of Ecology Works

Ecology Works is a spray that is a mix of plain water and borate compounds. The EPA has tested the company’s product and found it safe for human exposure. The spray is applied to cushions and areas that cannot regularly be washed at high temperatures; it kills dust mites.

Filters Are the Best Home Remedies

Air ducts, heating vents, and even windows benefit from the application of an allergen removing filter. These are cheap but should be replaced frequently, to avoid breakdown of the filtering material.

Trap Dust Mites with HEPA

Clemenson University points out that using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter is your best bet when vacuuming. Remember, however, that dust mites are quite mobile, and their little legs can actually allow them to escape the vacuum bag. Toss out the bag when you are done, and they are gone forever.

Sources

http://www.dustmitex.com/newsite/dustmiteprimer.html; http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-05/ats-hib051407.php; http://www.eartheasy.com/live_natpest_control.htm#b; http://www.dustmitex.com/newsite/dustmiteandfleacontrol.html; http://entweb.clemson.edu/eiis/pdfs/mv7.pdf