Beating Allergies

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Beating Allergies
Dr. Chatchai Sribundit
Beating Allergies

     Today, we shall discuss about a common disease that affects almost half the country. This common disease that we are discussing is Allergy. We will look at allergies from the perspective of integrative medicine. Allergies has become more common in the past 40 years and it is on an increasing trend with cases jumping by 3-4 times especially amongst children. At present, the average incidence of allergies in Thailand are as follows: 

  • Rhinitis from allergies (23-30%), 

  • Bronchitis from allergies or asthma (10-15%), 

  • Dermatitis from allergies (15%), 

  • Food allergies (5%). 

     Before understanding allergies, we must understand that the body has a self-protection system. This system protects most people against unusual diseases in the environment. The routes of contraction can be through daily actions such as breathing, drinking, touching or eating. This system is very complex and has specific details that are difficult to understand. In summary, this system mainly consists of white blood cells, your body’s immunity mediator.

     There are many types of white blood cells. For example: B-cell lymphocytes that produce immunity and T-cell lymphocytes that releases substances that help destroy invaders in one’s body. Some types of white blood cells engulfs diseases, such as neutrophils and macrophage. In general, they are involved with fighting the disease and allergens through a person’s immunity with the secretion of mediator substances. Mediators like cytokines can inhibit diseases that causes inflammation. However, some mediator are reacts for an allergy, such as histamine.

Why do we have allergies? 

     It occurs when the immune system that works to protect the body from dangers is responding to the allergens and create mediators that cause rash, runny nose, sneezing, stomachache, diarrhea, inability breathing or asthma. In normal people, the allergens will not create these reactions. Allergens are often the things around us, such as dog hair, cat hair, pollen, dust in house, dust mites, chemicals, food, and smoke.

Can allergies cure itself?

     We often hear that allergies in children will get better when they get older. The truth is not that simple. Studies show that allergies in 30-50% of children improve or disappear when they enter adolescence. However, it will eventually come back when they get older. The remaining 50-70% will continue to have the symptoms until they become adults, especially now due to environmental factors. As each day passes, there will be more people with allergies. The symptoms will increase and the treatment will become more difficult, reducing the chances of a cure.  

Typical treatments

     A typical allergy treatment will consist of using medicine such as Zyrtec, Clarityne, and Telfast to suppress the allergy reaction and the use of medicine such as Singulair to prevent inflammation from allergy reactions. This method treats only the end result and the use of medicine is long term. There is also a process that looks for the substance that creates the allergic reaction. A perfect vaccination is still a long way away as it takes a long time and is expensive to develop. However, highly likely it is only 30% effective. Lastly, if nothing helps, steroids or other immunosuppressive drugs are needed and they come in many different forms such as oral intake, injection, applied or inhaled. Long term use can cause other secondary medical issues.

Integrative allergy treatment

     You might have heard of cases of people getting better. They may have probably taken food supplements or certain types of food, such as germ oil or omega oil. The truth is, this oil has substances that suppress the inflammation process, which can make the allergies of some people better. Some people eat Lingzhi mushrooms and get better because Lingzhi mushrooms have natural sterol. If we look at it from the medical perspective, it is no different from taking medicine but instead it is a food supplement, which has less side effects. 

     In terms of food allergies, currently we have found that the immunity can produce delayed food allergy reaction with IgG. In the past, food allergies were related with IgE antibodies, which we can check from the blood. Now, we can check for non-immediate food allergies effectively. When the allergy is found by the blood test and you abstain from that food, you can completely stop the allergy without having to take antihistamine again. For this blood test, there is an examination kit specifically for Asian food. It will check your immunity with the food that you might be allergic to from a list of hundreds of items.

     Another important factor that affects allergies is stress. This is because stress can weaken the adrenal gland and reinforce the inflammation in the body. This includes not only mental stress but also physical stress from inadequate sleep or late/overnight work or party. Many patients with allergies get better when they change their way of life, abstain from liquor, quit smoking and avoid late nights but instead turning to meditation. 

     Apart from this, the immune system must also be adjusted by correcting the root cause, which is the thymus gland that works to teach the T-cell immune system to remember a disease.  The immune system is very complex and every cell plays a very important role, such as Natural Killer CD 161 (destroying unusual things), Helper or Effector CD4+ (enhancing the response of the immunity), Cytotoxic T cell CD8+ (destroying the disease and cancer), Memory T cell CD4/8 (recognizing unusual things), and Suppressor T cell (suppressing the immune reaction). A dysfunctional thymus gland will make the immune system go haywire. Therefore, starting at the thymus gland is the root of it all when treating allergies.

     Note that, if you have an allergy, you definitely would need treatment. However, being dependent on long term medications might not be the right answer. If you can correct the cause directly at the source, you can be free from allergies.

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