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Allergies & Disease, Medications & Disinfection – Is There A Connection?

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Are we causing allergies and illness by our habits of over-disinfection? Research shows that through repeated exposure to disinfectant products and anti-bacterial substances that are designed to “kill germs”, we are contributing to both allergenic responses in the body and resistance to deadly bacteria.

The picture of anti-bacterial soap is a well-known brand used by millions of people to “disinfect” their hands and environment. Our culture is obsessed with sanitation and cleanliness to¬† keep ourselves healthy.

But in our efforts to wipe things out, we are destroying a very diverse landscape of helpful and useful bacteria that actually benefit our bodies and the planet. Those bacteria are responsible for building natural immunity to disease and illness, as well as supplying our soil, water, and air with microorganisms that create healthy immune response and support the growth of valuable nutrients that maintain health.

Last Friday I wrote about the topic of allergies and allergic reactions as they relate to food, diet, and the environment. Today I am focusing on how the way our bodies react in an allergic way is connected to artificial and chemical substances created to kill germs and bacteria. Although the intention of these products and substances is to create a healthier environment, the end result is often that human and environmental health is compromised even more.

Allergic reactions are an expression generated by the auto-immune system. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, all vaccines are immune-depressing. “Vaccines clog our lymphatic system and lymph nodes with large protein molecules which have not been adequately broken down by our digestive processes, since vaccines by pass digestion with injections. This is why vaccines are linked to allergies, because they contain large proteins which as circulating immune complexes (CICs) or “klinkers” which cause our body to become allergic.”

Our immune system is designed to allow the human body to co-exist with the outside environment. Our bodies contain trillions and trillions of cells, many of which are foreign and remain without problem because of our immune system’s function. When the immune system becomes overwhelmed with an abundance of foreign bacteria, however, and friendly bacteria are not allowed to thrive or are killed by anti-bacterial substances, the result is disease and illness – and allergies.

Chronic health issues such as asthma, allergies, eczema, and many auto-immune disorders like multiple-sclerosis, lupus, and fibromyalgia are becoming more and more common and have risen exponentially over the last several decades. Children are especially vulnerable and have shown the highest increase in these incidences as they have quadrupled over the last two decades.

What factors contribute to a failing immune system?

As well as because of the over-use of antibiotics, use of anti-bacterial gels, hand lotions, soaps, and other toxic personal care products increase the chance of the body being unable to defend itself from powerful bacteria that can get into the body and cause illness and death. Children who are exposed to bacteria are believed to have stronger immune system response and therefore stand a much better chance of naturally being able to fight off infection than those who have less exposure and would have lower immune system function. When your child becomes sick with a cold or flu, use of these substances does not necessarily allow quicker recovery from illness – and in fact can allow the illness to go on longer or return.

In 2000, a study conducted observed 61 infants between 9 and 24 months of age revealed that the more dust the child was exposed to, the less likely an allergic response was to appear. In 2002, The American Medical Association reported that “despite the recent substantial increase in the use of antimicrobial ingredients in consumer products, the effects of this practice have not been studied extensively. No data support the efficacy or necessity of antimicrobial agents in such products, and a growing number of studies suggest increasing acquired bacterial resistance to them. Studies also suggest that acquired resistance to the antimicrobial agents used in consumer products may predispose bacteria to resistance against therapeutic antibiotics, but further research is needed. Considering available data and the critical nature of the antibiotic-resistance problem, it is prudent to avoid the use of antimicrobial agents in consumer products.”

The CDC released a report in 2000 stating that the overuse of antibiotics and anti-bacterial agents can cause resistant-strain bacteria. Despite this knowledge, medical personnel continue to prescribe antibiotics on a too-frequent basis to patients, and products containing antibacterial agents are ubiquitous in many environments – stores, restaurants, hospitals, schools, prisons, and private residences.

Processed and industrially-produced foods

Other reasons related to these issues also stem from the fact that so much processed, packaged foods are readily available and are consumed, versus real whole foods which support the immune system and health in general. Processed foods do not contain nutrients and antioxidants necessary for life, so when these types of eating habits are coupled with continued use of dangerous disinfectant and anti-bacterial chemicals, the stage is set for disaster in health. Many processed foods are available, and in particular, marketed to children and families.

Consumption of these foods contributes to an increase of Omega 6 fatty acids and a decrease in Omega 3 fatty acids. Too much Omega 6s actually suppress immune system function while Omega 3s build up immunity and reduce inflammation in the body. The majority of processed foods contain levels of Omega 6s which are too high for healthy consumption.

Examples of processed foods include industrial oils such as corn, canola, cottonseed, soy, safflower, sunflower, and peanut oils – which are found in many grain products, cereals, cookies, chips, crackers, pretzels, “food” bars, desserts, fried foods, and many other processed items.

Omega 3s are found in saturated fat foods from animals and birds on pasture – eggs, beef, poultry/turkey/duck meat, pork, bacon, fish meat and cod liver oil from cold water fatty fish – especially salmon, sardines, anchovies, and tuna. Although plant sources like hemp, walnut, and flaxseed oils do contain Omega 3s, these are not the most potent type. It is important to give young children and infants adequate amounts of fish oil, as this type of Omega 3 is the best source in offering protection against the development of allergies and asthma.

Vaccines

Vaccinations are now being suspected as a cause of immune system failure. As most childhood diseases are viruses, they do not respond to antibiotics. This discovery lead to the development of vaccines. When a vaccine is injected directly into the bloodstream, it is granted access to all major tissues and organs without the benefit of the body’s total immune response. What results is partial immunity, and then children are required to periodically receive “booster” shots.

Because vaccines stimulate a humoral response, their ingredients are never released from the body. The opposite occurs when diseases are contracted naturally. Because these contents do not vacate the body, the body’s reaction is one of chronic over-sensitization. Vaccinations have been linked to the increased incidence in asthma – in a study of 448 children, 243 received whooping cough vaccines. Ten percent developed asthma in comparison to the 2% of 205 children in a non-vaccinated group.

Here are some of the ingredients present in vaccines which can cause allergic reactions in humans, ranging from mild to severe (source, The New Homemaker):

Thimerosal a mercury-based preservative. Most commonly known for its presence in eye care products, it is also used for many dead-virus vaccines. While it usually causes only a mild irritation to eyes (redness and slight burning), as an injection it can cause nausea, vomiting, even shock in extreme cases. In 1998, the use of thimerosol was banned by the FDA in over-the-counter drugs because “safety and efficacy have not been established for the ingredients” which are used to create it. It is, however, still present in many vaccines, including DTP, DTaP, Hib, Varicella, and IPV.

Gelatin used as an inert stabilizer in several vaccines, including MMR and Varicella. In addition to being an animal product (and therefore probably not wanted by vegetarians), it can also, in cases of extreme (and extremely rare) allergic reaction, cause an anaphylactic reaction.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is added to several vaccines as a stabilizer. Adverse reactions include headaches, nausea, and vomiting. While there are no officially recorded adverse reactions that can be traced specifically to the MSG component of vaccines, anyone who is sensitive to MSG in food should watch for reactions. MSG is present in the Varicella vaccine.

Neomycin an antibiotic, is added to vaccine cultures to prevent the growth of unwanted bacteria. Most neomycin reactions are skin irritations; however, hypersensitivity could cause a response of anaphylactic shock. Neomycin is present in the Varicella and MMR vaccines. (NOTE: other antibiotics, which may cause similar reactions, are also present in other vaccines. If any family member has a known allergy to antibiotics (including penicillin, which is no longer used in any vaccines), this should be noted before administering any dosage.)

Egg proteins are present in miniscule amounts in vaccines which are prepared using chicken embryos. While those with mild reactions to eggs are unlikely to react to their presence in vaccines, anyone with a history of anaphylactic response to egg or egg protein has a greater chance of adverse reactions. In 1998, the recommendation that people with egg sensitivities not receive the MMR shot was changed; however, the method of developing the vaccine was not, so egg proteins may still appear in any MMR dose.

Formaldehyde yes, the same formaldehyde used to preserve pigs and other animals for biology class, used for the same purpose as well: to inactivate or kill unwanted viruses that might be found in the cultures used to produce vaccines, and acts as a preservative for dead virus vaccines. It is found in some formulations of Hib.

Sulfite is used as a stabilizer in several vaccines; its main purpose is to prevent the vaccine from being altered by changes in environment. Sulfite is also found in many foods and alcoholic beverages, and is often an irritant for people who suffer migraines. Can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and severe cramps. Sulfites are present in some flu vaccines.

For more information on anti-bacterial substances and how they can adversely affect health, visit Chet Day’s site and read this article by Dr. Ben Kim, Potential Health Dangers in Antibacterial Soap.

Want more information on natural prevention?

Is reactive medicine cheaper than prevention?

Prescription drugs, healing, and the almighty dollar

Want to prevent flu and health problems? Eat more fat and cholesterol!

Nutrients you are probably lacking in your diet

Good bacteria and probiotics

All probiotics are not created equal

Antibiotics and our food

What do farms and antibiotic drugs have in common?

Drugs and how they affect human health

The first case of drug-resistant tuberculosis in the United States

Activism Green Living Healthy Living Kids & Family Real Food

The Joy of Gardening – A Call to Sustainability

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For the first time in my life, I am really beginning to comprehend just how wonderful it is to plant and cultivate a garden.

For the last few years, I’ve been working on getting my garden to a point where it is thriving and producing each year. Last year was a pretty good season; for the first time I saw my plants yielding vegetables to the point where we had something to eat almost every day. I was able to triumph over weeds and diseases that would have otherwise claimed my vegetables.

This was a great feeling.

How did I do it? I’m no expert, but I know that fertilizer and enriched soil is a key to successful production in the garden. I bought just one bag of Happy Frog soil conditioner/fertilizer last year and tilled it into the soil of our raised bed. It made an enormous difference – it was the difference, in fact between the previous year of pulling weeds several times a week out of the bed and being disappointed in tomatoes with rot on the bottoms as well as my other plants just not producing, and no weeds, healthy tomatoes, and my other plants producing last year.

Our garden consists of a 7 x 7 raised bed, surrounded by railroad ties we got on sale very cheap at our local garden store about 4 years ago. One of the biggest advantages to raised gardening is greatly reduced soil compaction. Plant roots need oxygen, and they receive more in a raised bed environment. Soil conditions, water, compost, and mulch can be controlled much easier, and raised beds drain excess moisture better than other types. Raised beds can also produce up to 2 times more yield than ordinary beds due to the aforementioned advantages.

We have also a new compost bin in our back alley, constructed by my talented husband, and we are building up our supply of soil for our yard and garden in the coming years.

We do have a few other plants growing in pots, which have some of the same advantages as raised bed gardening because you can control soil, water, fertilizer and other factors much more effectively.

We bought seeds from Heirloom Acres Seeds. I spent just over $20 and got a nice variety of seeds – 10 different vegetables – cucumbers, broccoli, zucchini, red leaf and romaine lettuces, Swiss chard, carrots, celery, peas, and squash. There were plenty of seeds for us and some for our friends, and we put the rest in the freezer for next year. I bought heirloom tomato and pepper starts from a local organic farm and our farmer’s market. Buying heirloom and heritage seeds and plants is important because the destruction wreaked by modern farming has cause massive damage and loss of biodiversity in our soil.

Now that I understand the great value of having healthy soil, I know that growing produce naturally without chemicals and pesticides is possible. That doesn’t mean I don’t have to deal with pests or other challenges in my garden. Just three years ago, I planted pumpkins and zucchini only to learn that squash bugs had found my plants, and proceeded to suck them dry.

For several days I did research about how to destroy them, and spent some early mornings on a killing spree. I grew to loathe the sight of them – their lumbering, almost prehistoric appearance drove me nearly to the point of madness as I stopped at nothing to wipe them out of my garden for good. But my efforts were to no avail and they succeeded in eradicating my entire pumpkin patch, which was a fairly good size.

Here is a picture of the squash bug:

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You may have seen some of these lurking in your garden (but I hope not!).

The squash bug and squash vine borer not only suck plants dry of their precious moisture, they also inject a toxin that causes the leaves to wilt, blacken, and die. These nefarious pests can cause more damage to small, immature plants. Certain species of pumpkins, squash, and watermelons are more vulnerable to this scourge. They lay their eggs in the soil (over the winter) and on the backs of leaf stems. For more information about the squash bug, visit the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.

This year, to make sure we not not taken over by these pesky insects, I am going to buy some fabric covering and earth staples to keep them in place. You can also use hoops to support the fabric up above the plants. Diana from A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa suggested these, and they sound like a great solution. Thanks Diana!

Heirloom and heritage seeds
This past weekend, I decided it was time to put my seedlings in the ground that my husband, son, and I had so carefully started back in early April. Our frost season has been late this year, so we kept our plants in our back room of the house which has a lot of tall windows for light.

We bought seeds from Heirloom Acres Seeds. I spent just over $20 and got a nice variety of seeds – 10 different vegetables – cucumbers, broccoli, zucchini, red leaf and romaine lettuces, Swiss chard, carrots, celery, peas, and squash. There were plenty of seeds for us and some for our friends, and we put the rest in the freezer for next year. I bought heirloom tomato and pepper starts from a local organic farm and our farmer’s market. Buying heirloom and heritage seeds and plants is important because the destruction wreaked by modern farming has cause massive damage and loss of biodiversity in our soil.

Heirloom and heritage plants, on the other end of the spectrum, are those that have been around for a long time, and passed from generation to generation. Heirloom seeds allow for the propagation of many varieties of plants. With an F1 hybrid you will probably only find one or two varieties of watermelon, whereas with heirloom there are thousands.

Biodiversity encourages health by making the strongest species survive and thrive. Genes in heirloom seeds essentially ensure life for the future.

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Heirloom seeds are more likely to survive and thrive because of their diverse genes, especially when they are given a good start in rich, organic soil from compost and carefully-chosen organic fertilizer.

How modern hyrbridization harms health and the environment
Many of the seeds in our environment now are first-generation hybrids, are pollinated by hand, are patented, and in many cases are sterile and genetically-modified. These seeds and plants are ubiquitous; most multinational seed companies sell this variety. Bioengineered seeds are rapidly contaminating the state of the global seed supply on a wholesale level. They threaten the purity of seeds everywhere. What’s more disturbing is that the DNA of the plant has been modified. As one example, a fish gene might be introduced into a squash to make the plant frost-resistant.

Hybrids and genetically modified seeds cannot guarantee life, as they are sterile. Farming with these kinds of seeds causes damage to the environment since it fails to perpetuate the precious cycle of life. The only guarantee present there is in allowing large corporations to dominate the market and make a lot of money.

A family project: planning and cultivating our garden
One of the things I love about growing my own food is that our entire family is involved in this process. It gives us togetherness doing something from which we’ll all benefit, and some time outdoors, getting our Vitamin D. It allows us a sense of purpose, a bit of struggle (in the heat, for several hours, toiling in the soil), and gives us a bit of a sense of what our ancestors did when they fought for life in a harsh world where everything they did was about survival and making it through.

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People everywhere used to have to cultivate, plant, harvest, hunt, slaughter and produce their own food. I have gained an appreciation for the work and effort necessary in doing this, however small by way of comparison my efforts are compared to theirs.

What’s next?
Our next project in the world of urban farming is to build a chicken coop and buy chickens. I’m already scouting out heirloom and heritage breeds on Craigslist and other local resources on the Internet. I’ve had some great advice from folks on Facebook and in real life. I am so grateful for these resources, and can’t wait to have our own fresh eggs (and maybe a roasted chicken or two) sometime later this year. Our yard is too small for more than about 3 chickens, and we live in the city limits, so the imposed number for city dwellers is the same number. But I’m looking forward to it nevertheless.

I’m hoping as time goes on, our family and others who strive to live sustainably can endeavor to deserve this amazing planet given to us by God the Creator, which is most capable of beginning and continuing life when given proper stewardship. I’m thankful for my piece of dirt!

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For more information on heirloom seeds, visit the Seed Savers Exchange.

Want to take action against companies who sell genetically-modified and hybridized seeds? Join the Millions Against Monsanto Campaign on Facebook.

Donate money to help toward this effort on the Organic Consumer’s Association web site.

Look at what these farmers in Haiti are doing – burning Monsanto seeds!

Do you have gardening tips, experiences, or ideas you’d like to share?