Bismillahi Rohmani Rohiym
In The Name of Allah
On Allergies: Is Modern Medicine Fighting the Causes of This Ailment?
Are Doctors Telling Us Everything?
A Case Against Allegra, Claritin, Zyrtac, and other "allergy relief" medicines and their makers together with distributors, prescribers, and blind consumers.
By Mamurjon Rahimov, May 12/2004
Allergies are abnormal reactions of the immune system that occur in response to otherwise harmless substances.
An allergy is a heightened sensitivity to a foreign substance (called an allergen) which causes the body's defense system (the immune system) to overreact when defending itself. Normally, the immune system would only react if a harmful substance, such as a bacteria, attacks the body. For people with allergies, their own immune system is working too hard, and it reacts even when relatively harmless substances such as pollen are present. The severity of an allergic reaction can vary from mild discomfort to life threatening situations.
Allergies are among the most common of medical disorders. It is estimated that 60 million Americans, or more than one in every five people, suffer from some form of allergy, with similar proportions throughout much of the rest of the world. Allergy is the single largest reason for school absence and is a major source of lost productivity in the workplace.
Wow! These dreadful allergies are going to get us! What kind of wunderkinds wrote the above paragraphs, and trying to fool everyone?
I feel I have been deceived in a big way for the second time, maybe more, by the medical profession. I wonder why would doctors hide all the information about the truth on allergies and other medical knowledge, and the only explanation that comes to my mind is financial stakes behind this single largest industry in the USA - that in size leaves behind aerospace, automotive, petroleum industries, to name a few. In fact, by economic size Medical Industry is at least three times as large as the Automotive Industry of the USA!
I was able to understand allergies through my conversations with friends, doctors, reading news, encyclopedias, articles and books on immune system, and most importantly - through observations of myself and those around me. Why can I understand some things in such a plain way while doctors try to keep the fog around it, and my part is only obeying to their prescriptions?
Humans are like cars...
...In many ways human beings are similar to cars...Driver is like a soul, a car is like our body, and immune system resembles on board computer of the car...
I have some university engineering education, so when my car has a problem, I first try to find a solution by myself before taking it to a mechanic. Someone told me that in America one should not trust three categories of people: mechanics, doctors, and politicians.
Once my car lost power, and I tried to find its causes. Symptoms showed that fuel was not burning properly inside cylinders (computer diagnostics at AutoZone). I searched the causes in electrical and air system. I did an expensive tune-up, changed air filter and airflow sensor, but shortly "check engine" light came back on. Then I turned to fuel system, and mixed injector cleaner and fuel pipe cleaner with several fill-ups. Every time the light would turn off for few days, and come back on again.
Finally, I came to the last thing I suspected to be the cause of the power loss - fuel filter. As soon as I replaced it (very cheap), the car became like new! It was accelerating faster than ever before, and moreover "check engine" light never came back on again! Hence, until I found the real cause of the problem - the fuel filter that was clogged with dirt over the years - my car was suffering and could not tell me what was hurting most...
Chicago - a pollen capital? Location, location, location... What else?
(Intensity of exposure)
Until I came to Chicago, I never had pollen allergy. Furthermore, I observed that I did not suffer pollen allergy the first year in spring (in Chicago). What was different that first year? Is that my IMMUNE SYSTEM was working properly then, and eventually failed in protecting my organism which caused my sufferings (runny nose, itchy red eyes, occasional nasal congestion)? That is unbelievable because I live a healthy way of life, avoiding smoking, drinking, and other hazardous habits. I spent over two years in Atlanta also and never "suffered" allergies there. Plus, I grew up at a rural town, and all the farm work, and our wonder garden never caused any trouble during blossom time. Pollen maps of the USA show that Chicago is in the "heavy" zone, which is second to "very heavy pollination" zone. Pollen maps are made using pollen count of a cubic meter (or another unit of measurement) of local air. Within a state or a city, neighborhoods can also be classified according their pollination level, vegetation type. For instance, I live in Hickory Hills, IL, and hickory pollen is a well-known "allergen" (pollen.com: pollen library).
But even in Chicago, many people are not having pollen allergies, while some cashing out on prescription allergy-relief drugs after exhausting the power of OTC drugs. Why?
Another thing to know about Chicago is that it is a very windy place. Although it is not the windiest city in the USA, its winds take pollens around for hundreds of miles, and most importantly at high speeds.
What is pollen?
n : transfer of pollen from the anther to the stigma of a plant [syn: pollenation]
WordNet, Princeton University
Every spring most trees and other plants blossom, and most of them emit pollen. Insects and birds are good carriers of pollen, but the best and invisible one is wind. As said before, winds carry pollen for hundreds of miles, and even after the winds subside, since pollen is so tiny and light, it stays afloat for a very long time in the air.
Rains are very good at washing away pollen from air and various surfaces, but short and light rains only make things worse by elevating already settled pollen from surfaces back into the air (allergyinfo.com).
Most of the pollen certainly comes in spring in majority of places, and some plants continue to blossom and emit pollen throughout the year.
Pollination season is better described by blossom season. Blossoming trees and weeds produce the pollen as a natural way of multiplying. When plants start blossoming we should know that pollen is in the air and should keep ourselves away from this natural process' way. "Allergies" can be thought of as a punishment that is inflicted on us for intervening with this natural process...:)
Is Pollen Really an Allergen?
Yes, and no. The very definition of allergen is somewhat confusing, I believe. I read postings on Internet sites dedicated to allergies, where people ask what is so dangerous in pollen that it causes allergies. Certain sites, such as allergyinfo.com maintained by Zyrtac, even mention some super allergens (certain weeds and trees).
There is no need to create a new word and definition, such as allergy or allergen. We learnt that allergy is an immune reaction (action), which is allegedly "abnormal". Interestingly, I believe that allergy is 100% normal. I will write in detail below.
By definition, allergens are anything that can cause allergy. Virtually anything can cause allergy, even people. For someone who does not like me, I would be an allergen. So, if one can call anything allergen, then there is no need to have the word itself, because words are needed for us to differentiate between things. That in turn makes us to believe that the word allergy is also redundant.
I am suspecting that these words were adopted by learned medical men mainly to confuse people from the main thing that we are dealing with - IMMUNE SYSTEM.
I did some enlightening for myself in the field of vaccines recently (nvic.org), and I do not trust medical professionals in this field anymore. My family is now protected from vaccines and everything else that comes with it, inshaallah. My knowledge of immunology led me in understanding allergy phenomenon. I came to understand that immune system works in all of us unnoticeably most of the time. Our responsibility is to take appropriate measures to consciously assist our immune system when it undertakes some extreme and noticeable actions, which is the case of "allergic reaction".
Medical and other encyclopedias referred to allergies as "hypersensitivity" to a substance (britannica.com). In plain language, hypersensitivity would be "too sensitive", "job overdone", "false alarm", "false start", I suppose. But, having read the descriptions on how immune system works, I doubt that such a sophisticated system fails in such a big way.
Allergies are divided to many kinds such as pollen, chemicals, food, and medicine, to name a few. In this case I will be talking specifically about pollen allergies, but most of my observations can be related to other allergies as well.
When a substance, called allergen, touches the inside walls of our nose, according medical literature, immune system mistakes it for invaders and launches immune attack by producing histamine and a lot of nasal fluid. Histamine clogs the small capillaries inside the nose, which leads to congestion. When we take Claritin, its antihistamine reduces histamine production by immune system - that qualifies it to be immunosuppressant drug, i.e. a drug that lowers the body's normal immune response [syn: immunosuppressive drug] (WordNet 1.6,1997 Princeton University). This made me very cautious because the immunosuppressants usually suppress immunity in all ways, not just towards one or two substances. This means by taking convenient allergy-relief medicines people are making their bodies susceptible to many other dreadful infectious diseases. It is also like removing air filter in one's car and continuing driving when engine has "breathing problem" due to the clogged air filter.
So what made me decide that I had "pollen allergy"?
Observation of my allergy history and pattern lead me to some very clear-cut conclusions about pollen allergy. I remember my sneezing and itchy eyes started immediately after we visited a local forest preserve with my family in spring 2003. My wife and child were with me but their window was closed, and thus they avoided direct exposure to high-concentration pollen dust current blowing inside. At first my wife and I thought I caught cold or flu, but it cannot continue for over a month without any improvement. Within a month I used more than a dozen boxes of paper tissue. Finally I spoke with Dr. Sahloul, a pulmonologist from Syria, and after I explained him the symptoms he recommended me Claritin. I took the medicine and eventually my allergies subsided, but I now realize that pollen season was almost over until I took the medicine.