Good health and a strong immune system are our most precious possessions in warding off allergic reactions that are plaguing an ever-larger percentage of the world's population. While some allergic responses are little more than a nuisance, others effect the entire body and can develop, if untreated, into more serious problems as we age. Research indicates that blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, arthritis and other degenerative diseases can develop as a result of untreated allergies.
Our immune system is our first line of defense against substances that would otherwise harm us. The cells of the immune system communicate with each other, while acting in concert with the endocrine and nervous system to maintain body homeostasis. The immune system is so intricate and complex that many of its functions are still not fully understood. How an organism triggers, regulates, completes or stops an immune response remains under intense study.
The immune system is made up of several cellular components: T-cells, B-cells, immunoglobulins, "complement system", mast cells, basophils and antigens.
Mature T-cells have a number of functions and are divided into three categories:
B-cells are produced in the bone marrow and spleen and in the lymphoid tissue of the immune system (apart from the thymus glands). B-cells secrete immunic chemicals known as antibodies or immunoglobulins that circulate freely in all the body fluids. They have the ability to multiply rapidly when they encounter antigens, transforming into a veritable army that inactivates or eliminates any offending organism or antigen.
For each antigen present in the body, there is a specific antibody produced by an individual B-cell. B-cells have surface-bound immunoglobulin (IqG) receptors that are directly responsible for cell activation. However, a shortage of T-cells will prevent the activation of the B-cells.
There are five types of immunoglobulin (antibodies): IgA, IgD, IgE, IgG, and IgM. Each has a different "weapon" for attack.
Antibodies sometimes team up with the body's "complement system" in order to mount a stronger defense against immune system enemies. "Complement enzymes" involve at least nine complex serum protein units (C,-C9) that circulate in the blood in an inactive form. Once activated, they join and split one another sequentially, thus producing active, but short-lived enzymes that bind to and rupture the antigen surface. The sources of the C proteins are not completely known, but C is thought to be produced in the colon. C2 is made by macrophages, and C3 is found in the liver. The purpose of the "complement system" is the destruction of the "foreign" cells by lysis or dissolution.
Research is tracing hypersensitivity responses to a truly mystifying step-by-step progression and activation of the "complement cascade", where histamine and other chemicals are released from mast cells and basophils. Mast cells and basophils are two additional components of the immune system. They are found in most tissues adjoining the blood vessels. When these cells are activated, they release histamine and other substances causing the blood vessels to dilate.
Any molecule that encounters the immune system and induces an immune reaction is called an antigen. Antigens that produce a different type of immune response, known as an allergic inflammatory response, are called allergens. Allergens can be inhalants from weeds, molds, grasses, trees, dust, cats and dogs, foods of all types, chemicals, microorganisms or insects. Some allergens, called haptens, are too small to elicit a reaction from the body. When these allergens couple themselves to our own protein, they are called neo-antigens. The body can set up an allergic response to this form of antigen.
During an allergy attack, the body releases a number of chemicals from the mast cells, basophils and other cells. This release is thought to be one of the primary responsibilities of the immune system. The release of these chemicals may account for varying degrees of sensitivity, various symptoms associated with sensitivity and varying response times between exposure to the allergen and the response.
The following is a partial list of these chemicals and their primary function.
The immune response is a stimulus response sequence of events. Unfortunately in the allergic person, the immune system is continually at work, similar to a car left with its engine running. It can be said that allergic individuals have high powered engines and a weak brake system, which under the right circumstances can lead to an out of control condition. An over-stimulated immune system follows the same general law that applies to other over-stimulated tissues: Over-stimulation eventually leads to inhibition of function. This continuous assault can, over time, lead to recurrent infections and inflammatory disease such as sinusitis, arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, colitis, myositis, migraine headache, ulcers and eventually to a myriad of degenerative diseases.1
Each person has a different level of immune competence that varies with hereditary factors, number and degree of exposure to infections, chemicals, drugs, age, nutritional status, stress level and amount of exercise.
Clinicians have repeatedly found that the immune system can gradually be improved and strengthened, even though it may be heavily damaged. Nutritional reinforcement with therapeutic levels of nutrients (including herbal preparations, free radical scavengers, enzymes), improving diet, immuno-therapy, exercise, and environmental control, together with eliminating infections, getting adequate rest and reducing stress all help to repair the immune system.2
The goal of a correctly working immune system is to make an appropriate controlled response and not overreact to antigens in the system.
The following nutritional supplements are recommended for those who desire to practice prevention, as well as those who are experiencing symptoms that are effecting their life-style.
|Nutritional Support Factors for Allergies. It is important to take a product that has been specifically designed to provide the Nutritional Support Factors (phytonutrients, herbs, vitamins, enzymes and minerals) for allergies. This formula should include ingredients such as quercetin, green tea extract, selenium, digestive enzymes, licorice extract, copper, molybdenum and minerals.|
Controlled Response is a blend of 12 natural ingredients including Quercitin and Green Tea Extract to provide nutritional support for allergies.
|Essential Fatty Acids/GLA. Be sure that you take an essential fatty acid/ GLA supplement on a daily basis. EFAs aid in prostaglandin synthesis. Prostaglandins regulate immunity, cell recognition and inflammation. EFAs help suppress the formation of leukotrienes, which are 1000 times more inflammatory than histamines.|
Life Lite Essential EFAs provides essential fatty acids from Blackcurrent Seed Oil. Take a minimum of 1-2 capsules per day. If symptoms are severe, take 3 -4 capsules per day for a period of one month, then return to 1-2 capsules per day as needed.
|Vitamin C is one of the most important, protective biochemical sub stances in all life processes. Obtaining adequate amounts of vitamin C on a daily basis from food is difficult. Supplementing this vital nutrient is a must, particularly for those who suffer from symptoms of allergies.|
Magnum C Magnum C is an improved form of C known as "Ester C", pH neutral with potassium, magnesium, bioflavonoids, botanicals, and rosehips. Magnum C also includes: Wild Lettuce Leaves; Black Walnut, which helps expell parasites and assists in the elimination of toxins; Burdock Root, to purify the blood and lymph of circulating toxins and help remove metabolic waste products; and Sarsaparilla, especially useful for rheumatoid arthritis and to aid proper functioning of the body as a whole. Begin with one 500 mg. tablet of Magnum C. Continue to increase until you are taking 2,000 to 3,000 milligrams each day (4-6 tablets). It is difficult to recommend an exact amount of vitamin C, as the amount will vary for each person.
|A Probiotic Complex (usually referred to as Lactobacillus Acidophilus with other cultures). The human body is a walking ecosystem. We are "home" to trillions of beneficial microorganisms that live in our digestive tract. These beneficial probiotic microorganisms help digest foods, create vitamins (such as B12 and K), and inhibit the growth of disease-promoting pathogenic bacteria.|
Take Probiotic Complex with each meal. Probiotics will help rebuild your natural friendly flora and restore the balance you need for digestion. Other important functions of probiotics include:
|For quick relief from "flare ups", try a Traditional Chinese Medicine remedy for allergies.|
Aller-ease is a pleasant tasting, fast acting, traditional Chinese herbal formula used for fighting inflammation and allergies. Controls allergies using the body's natural healing energy. Drink it now, feel the effects in half an hour! Relieves congestion that block the body's natural healing mechanisms. Ingredients: Bitter Orange, Chinese Kudzu, Panax ginseng, Ginger, Chinese Blackberry.
Other helpful products for a comprehensive program to eliminate allergies include:
| Nutri Cleanse
Nutri Cleanse is an all natural, gentle herbal colon cleanser. The very best diet cannot promote good health if the colon is clogged with a collection of waste. Nutri-Cleanse was developed to help re-establish a healthy colon and provide dietary fiber. Nutri-cleanse works gently and naturally to cleanse, heal, and nourish our lower digestive track.
| Power Enzyme Complex
Power Enzyme Complex contains a complex mixture of enzymes to aid in the digestion of fat, sugars, starches, milk, and proteins. Because enzymes are heat sensitive, they are often de-activated when foods are cooked and processed. The lack of natural enzymes in the foods we eat places an extra strain on the pancreas and gallbladder. "Burn-out" of these organs leads to a myriad of conditions, including diabetes, hypoglycemia, pancreatis, heartburn, and an array of digestive disorders.
| Calcium Complex
Hydoxyapatite Calcium is the microcrystalline form of calcium and phosphorus in the exact ratio formed by the body. Potassium, Magnesium, Boron, Zinc, Silica, and Chromium are also included in this powerful product. In addition, our calcium complex also contains proteoglycans, primarily chondroitin (chondroitin sulfate), gel-like substances that fill the bone matrix and transfer minerals in and out of bone tissue.
| Alpha Greens
Alpha Greens is nature's alkalizer, contains organically grown alfalfa grass juice, alfalfa leaf powder, wheat grass juice, barley grass juice, and kamut grass juice to help cleanse and detoxify the body. This blend will contribute greatly to the alkaline reserves and in helping to keep the acid/alkaline balance in the body.
| Master Cleanser Recipe
Dissolves and eliminates toxins and congestion that have formed in any part of the body. Purifies the liver, cleanses the kidneys and the digestive system.
Building a nutritional support program for allergies is a complex matter because our immune system is so complex. However, there are nutritional supplements (vitamins and minerals, enzymes and phytonutrients) which show promise in building and strengthening the whole body and, specifically, the immune system. Some of the most noted are:
Quercitin (see Controlled Response) is an organosulfur flavonoid phytonutrient that gives the taste to onions. Quercetin also shows up in tea and red wine, but onions are quercetin's richest common food source. This phytonutrient has been making the news recently due to its powerful antioxidant and flavonoid content. Flavonoids appear to function as biological response modifiers. In other words, Flavonoids appear to modify the body 's reaction to compounds such as allergens, viruses and carcinogens. Flavonoids have anti-inflammatory, antiallergenic, antiviral and anticancer properties.3
Current research suggests that flavonoids sucn as quercitin may be useful in the support of many health conditions such as allergies. The flavonoid quercetin has a strong affinity for mast cells and basophils. Quercitin seems to stabilize their cell membranes, thus preventing them from spilling histamine. Quercitin also has the power to inhibit two enzymes that regulate the release of leukotrienes, which are implicated in asthmatic-type reactions.4
Green Tea (see Longevity) is one of the most ancient and, next to water, the most commonly consumed beverage in the world. From the time that tea was introduced to the west in 1610, the green varieties have been touted as health elixirs. There is a difference between black tea and green tea, even though they originate from the same leaf. Black tea undergoes a fermenting process, wherein most of its polyphenols are lost. Green tea is not fermented and, thus, retains its polyphenols. Polyphenols are phytonutrients that are receiving much scientific study and are believed to be responsible for the antioxidant activity of green tea.
Polyphenols are flavonoids that give green tea its tart flavor. Catechin, epicatechin, epicatechin gallate, epigallocatechin gallate and proanthocyanidins are some of the polyphenols found in green tea. Polyphenols, like other antioxidants, ward off the everyday cellular attacks that cause the body to deteriorate and develop numerous symptoms of disease.
Recent scientific research documents the health benefits of the polyphenols in green tea.
In traditional Chinese medicine, tea polyphenols are used to treat chronic hepatitis, leukemia, to facilitate digestion, stabilize body temperature, enhance mental function and nephritis.
Selenium is an important mineral needed in low quantities. It is often deficient in foods due to refining, processing and selenium deficient soils. It acts as an antioxidant, protecting cell membranes and stimulating immune function. Studies show that it increases B-cell antibody response and is essential for protein synthesis and antibody Formation. It enhances the function of vitamin C and is essential to the production of Coenzyme Q10. When combined with quercetin, selenium can help reduce inflammatory responses.
Tropical fruits provide a number of phytonutrients. Each fruit is known for its unique taste and particular nutrient value. Pineapples contain a digestive enzyme, bromelain, said to be a protein-digesting enzyme. Bromelain is also said to have a mild anti-inflammatory action in the body. It also assists and aids in the digestion of vegetable protein in the gastrointestinal tract.
Papaya (see Natural Aloe Papaya Juice) is best known as a digestive aid. It contains the enzyme papain, also a proteolytic enzyme effective in breaking down protein and dead tissue.
Glycyrrhizin is a sapon-like glycoside found in licorice root and licorice root extract. It is sometimes used therapeutically to treat gastric ulcers and inflammation of the skin and has been studied for its anti-allergic, anti-arthritic, anti-cholinergic, anti-estrogenic, anti-hepatotoxic and anti-leukemogenic properties.
In Chinese medicine, licorice is said to replenish vital energy, moisten the lungs, strengthen the digestion and modulate the effects of other herbs. Herbalists often suggest licorice teas to help heal gastric ulcers.
Copper plays a role in the immune system. It is, in fact, an essential component of Superoxide Dismutase (SOD), an antioxidant made by the body to combat free radical damage to the mitochondria (energy-producing portion of the cell). Without copper, the liver is unable to degrade estrogen. It is crucial to the formation of helper T-cells.
This essential mineral is required in extremely small amounts for nitrogen metabolism. It promotes normal cell function and is a component in the metabolic enzyme xanthine oxidase. This mineral enhances the use of sulfur amino acids by the body.
Sulfur (see MSM) is critical to immune system function, to antioxidant activity and to detoxification pathways. It is the component of enzymes that detoxifies sulfites and aldehydes and enhances the cell's utilization of vitamin C.
Magnesium and calcium (see Calcium Complex ) are the earth's alkali minerals. However, they play different roles in the body. Magnesium is considered the anti-stress mineral because it acts as a natural tranquilizer, relaxing the smooth muscles of the body, particularly the gastrointestinal muscles. It may also help reduce the bronchoconstrictor in asthma by relaxing the muscles around the bronchial tubes.
Some other important functions of magnesium include:
Calcium, also an alkaline mineral, helps to regulate the body's acid/alkaline pH balance in tissues. It discourages the cell uptake of toxic metals such as lead, cadmium and mercury. Other functions of calcium include:
Research from the former Soviet Union indicates that this nutrient can help lessen muscle fatigue and increase endurance. Dimethylglycine combines with gluconic acid in the body to form pangamic acid.
Continuing research on vitamin C (see Magnum C), an important antioxidant, is revealing its ability to stimulate the immune system. Vitamin C may activate neutrophils, the most prevalent white blood cells that work on the frontline defense. Vitamin C also seems to increase production of lymphocytes, the white cells important to antibody production, and in coordinating the cellular immune functions. Vitamin C has been shown to decrease the production of histamine, thereby reducing immediate allergy potential. Other functions of vitamin C include: