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

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 toΒ  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.


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

18 replies on “Allergies & Disease, Medications & Disinfection – Is There A Connection?”

Did you see this about “Triclosan spawns dioxins in lake bottom, spurs female behavior in fish”?

Triclosan is destroying the planet, our water, our soil, our food, our animals, our microbials, our lives.

Reduce your exposure by:

Avoiding anything labeled “antibacterial” or “antimicrobial” which contains Triclosan, such as soaps, gels, cleansers, toothpaste, cosmetics and other personal care products.

Avoiding other “antibacterial” or “antimicrobial” items such as cutting boards, towels, shoes, clothing and bedding.Using regular soap and hot water to clean effectively. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers when you don’t have access to running water.

Additionally, PRO-biotics have benefits for allergies.

“Milk kefir and soymilk kefir also significantly decreased the serum OVA-specific IgE and IgG1 levels for both groups, but not those of the IgG2a analogues. Consumption of milk kefir and soymilk kefir suppressed the IgE and IgG1 responses and altered the intestinal microflora in our supplemented group, suggesting that milk kefir and soymilk kefir may be considered among the more promising food components in terms of preventing food allergy and enhancement of mucosal resistance to gastrointestinal pathogen infection.”

Fruthermore, research published by the Society of Chemical Industry reports kefir contains bacteria which could help reduce allergic responses. The research indicated that feeding babies kefir may help to protect against some food allergies.

Plus kefir is easy and inexpensive to make at home.


Yes, probiotics/antimicrobials is my soapbox. πŸ™‚

“The daily consumption of a probiotic product containing L. gasseri CECT5714 and L. coryniformis CECT5711 for 3 months induces, in allergic children, beneficial effects on immune parameters involved in the allergic response such as a reduction of IgE in plasma and an increase in regulatory T cells. The probiotic product also enhanced innate and specific immune parameters that may improve the general health status of children.”

So, it is not surprising that more and more children have IgE allergies with the ubiquitous antimicrobial products in our environment, and contaminating our environment. I read that some farms in America are using water contaminated with Triclosan on agricultural land. I can not imagine the damage to our earth…

The Hygiene Hypothesis is in regard to “When a child suffers from less early life diseases, too much TH2 cells are present, with a greater chance of TH2 immune disorder. It is outstanding that in developed country’s where child diseases are eliminated, the asthma rate under the youth is approximately 10 percent. In the 19th century, asthma was a very rare disease.”

“The hygiene hypothesis has now expanded to include exposure to symbiotic bacteria and parasites as important modulators of immune system development, along with infectious agents.”

So, basically, by being *exposed* to micro-organisms (and diseases, instead of vaccines) at a young age, it is beneficial for our immune system development.

Pat, the probiotic proponent πŸ™‚


Thank you Raine, for yet another outstanding post. It rings so true, our immune systems need some exposure to bacteria to develop, and toxic vaccines weaken the very immune system we need to protect ourselves from disease.

I would like to make two additional points.
First, grassfed and grass finished meats have a much higher level of omega 3s. In fact, studies have shown that the amount of Omega 3 in the fat of a cow goes down with each day in the feedlot.

Second, most vaccines also contain aluminum compounds. Aluminum has been implicated in Alzheimer’s disease and many other conditions.

I will never be vaccinated again, not for anything.

You know, I have to say that my daughter (8 years) is absolutely the WORST hand washer known to human kind. It’s always been an issue and one that I’ve worried about from time to time. But, she’s also a very healthy kid! She’s rarely sick, only occasionally gets a common cold and she’s thriving overall. Of course, I still prompt for hand washing, especially after she uses the bathroom or she’s been digging for worms outside in the dirt, but by and large I’ve quit worrying about it so much. As a kid, I was a very infrequent hand washer too and I was very healthy. Now, as an adult, trying so hard to eat nourishing foods and eliminate toxins from our household, I get sick more than my daughter. Of course, I wash my hands, constantly, all day long — I don’t pick my nose, kiss the dog or any of her other habits!

Stanley – thanks for your visit. I agree that grass-fed beef contains much higher amounts of Omega 3s than feedlot beef, which is why I mentioned the meats/poultry/eggs/dairy from animals on pasture. I believe fermented cod liver oil is also an excellent and important source of Omega 3s as well as Vitamins A, D, E, and K. These are all paramount in maintaining proper health, and without the body falls vulnerable to a variety of disease and illness.

Liz – I agree about the hand-washing. I have noticed that over the last few years I have washed my hands less than I used to when I’m home – but I do always wash after using the restroom and before preparing food whether I’m home or away. I’ve been sick less than I’ve ever been in my life, even with less hand-washing. The other thing that’s changed is that my diet is completely different than it used to be – grass-fed meats and poultry, dairy, and eggs, no processed foods, more vegetables (organic when possible), trying to be more mindful about drinking water more consistently (and I don’t really drink drinks containing caffeine except on rare occasions, and don’t drink sodas, energy drinks, or juice anymore). I also think kids need to be exposed to more than they usually are, in order to help their immune systems become stronger naturally and to become acclimated to a more diverse set of organisms.

This is great post. My husband has a tendency to over-do the hand washing and sterilizing. I’ve tried to convince him that our bodies are designed to handle (and need) some of those things he’s killing off. He’s come a long way, but I will show this article as another little loving push. πŸ™‚

Robin – Thank you for stopping by! I hope your husband finds some convincing ideas from this article. Really, I believe the most logical philosophy is that if it’s produced in a laboratory, it’s probably not safe to ingest or put in your body. Antibacterial agents definitely fall into this category, proving once again that all people discover through science is not necessarily a good thing.

Pat – whew, I finally got your comments to show up! I am 100 percent with you, I have a pet peeve about antibacterial agents and am a big proponent of probiotics too (obviously!). It’s so important to keep getting the word out about these topics, and I just hope the more people see this information, the more they will think about, educate themselves, and believe it! Thanks for all your information, links, and support. πŸ™‚

Raine! As always an amazing article and something that I have believed for a VERY long time! I keep a dirty house on purpose because it is healthier for my kids! I cant tell you how many folks I know who are over zealous with the cleaning and have kids sick all the time! I would love to share this on my Thoughts on Friday real food info and link love! πŸ™‚ Hugs and hope mom is doing better-sending prayers daily! Alex

Hi Alex! Thank you so much for sharing my post with your readers! It looks like you are getting some great responses on your Two for Tuesday recipe carnival, that is great! I am always excited to see readership increasing for the other great food and sustainability blogs. That makes me very happy! Happy Friday to you! πŸ™‚

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