Beyond Symptomatic Relief I 'Allergies"
This post was adapted from the text, Discovering Homeopathy, by Dana Ullman.
The word allergy did not exist in Shakespeare's time or even just a century ago. And yet, medical statistics indicate that one in seven Americans had an allergy in 1950, as many as one in five had an allergy in 1970, and approximately 75 million Americans, or one in three, had an allergy in 1985.
Allergy is a catchall word for a wide variety of reactions to substances that the body determines to be foreign. In a strict medical sense, the term refers to conditions that occur when the body's immune system is triggered and then overreacts to specific substances in the environment. These substances maybe foods, animal hairs, house dust, pollens or other plant materials, molds, medicines, or chemicals.
The ability of the immune system to identify individual substances and to react to them is crucial for the body's protection. But overreaction to them leads to a variety of uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous symptoms. The most common include runny nose, sneezing, respiratory symptoms, watery eyes, headache, digestive symptoms, and skin symptoms. There are also various idiosyncratic symptoms that may occur.
Some people think of allergies as a single diagnostic category, but there are many different disease conditions that are allergic reactions. Hay fever is considered an allergic response to pollen. Asthma, hives, and eczema are also considered allergic conditions, though they can be triggered by psychological factors as well as by allergens.
Although it may be too late for most of us, perhaps the best way to prevent any of these allergic conditions is by being breast fed during infancy. Bottle-fed babies are many times more susceptible to getting allergies than those who are breast-fed. Mother's milk has important antibodies and other immunological factors that not only help to protect the infant but also help to develop the infant's immune system later in life.
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