Increasingly, allergies and asthma have become household concerns. Often considered “the epidemic of the twenty-first century,” the rise in allergies has caused allergy sufferers and physicians alike to explore options in allergy control, treatment, and possible cures. But, as always when looking ahead, there’s a lot to be understood by re-examining the past.
The earliest known report of an allergy was that of King Menses of Egypt, who died after a wasp sting some time between 3640 and 3300 BC. Another ancient report of allergy is that of Roman Emperor Claudius’s son, Brittanicus, who was so allergic to horses that the rash he developed would prevent him from seeing where he was going.
Sir Thomas More’s account of allergy is equally sordid. He describes how King Henry III ate some strawberries before an audience with Lord William Hastings. When the king developed acute urticaria, or hives, he accused Hastings of putting a curse on him and sentenced him to beheading.
Although the Roman philosopher Lucretius observed overblown responses to common substances and noted “what is food for some may be fierce poisons for others,” the modern era of allergies didn’t begin until the nineteenth century when hay fever was first described.
Today, allergies are still quite a mysterious fit, which has become more and more widespread, rising hand-in-hand with the systematic destruction of Earth we seem to be prone to lately.
Is the rise due to increased awareness about allergies or an actual rise in the percentage of people developing allergies? Allergists in the field generally agree that it’s a little bit of the former but more of the latter. “We are convinced that there has been a true increase above and beyond better recognition,” said Dr. Robert Wood, who works at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Namely, there is a possibility that our estrangement from the very source of our life can have a direct impact on our health. In more advanced societies, there are more health problems related to allergies. This makes us aware that something is wrong.
There are an increasing number of people, today, who find themselves allergic to various forms of environmental stimuli – dust, pollen, animal dander, specific chemicals, etc. – this in addition to widespread food allergies. The list is an ever-increasing one of difficulties experienced with things that are widely present in today’s world.
If you have spent any time inside an elementary school classroom over the past few years, you have likely noticed signs banning peanuts or other types of food. The bans, which can apply to individual classrooms or entire school systems, are relatively new, especially in their widespread use. Teachers, aides, and other administrators are now frequently trained in the use of EpiPens, an auto-injector that can deliver a life-saving dose of epinephrine to a child.
No one knows, for certain what the reason might be for the expansion of allergic responses on a worldwide level, and particularly in technologically advanced countries.
People develop allergies based on both genetics and environment says Dr. Scott H. Sicherer, a professor of pediatrics and chief of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at The Mount Sinai Medical Center’s Jaffe Food Allergy.
Today, one of every 13 children has a food allergy. Nuts, soy, milk, egg, wheat and shellfish are some of the foods that most commonly set off allergic reactions. In some cases, the reaction can be so severe that it results in the throat swelling up and closing, leading to death.
For a child with a severe food allergy, every meal that isn’t made under appropriate supervision can be hazardous. And since so much social life is based around food, family life becomes restricted.
Some have attributed it to environmental changes; others to the presence of new imbalances within the body that may relate to diet or to cultural factors that are altering man’s relationship with nature. In the end, the answer cannot be sought in the physical realm, as with all bodily symptoms and functions, it must be pursued on the level of consciousness.
Allergies tell a story of how we live our lives. Are we at ease or feeling compromised? Allergies are tied to the quality of our thoughts, the suppression of our feelings, and are produced and perpetuated by the limiting patterns of behaviors created by our attitudes and beliefs.
An allergy is the overreaction of the immune system to a substance (known as an allergen), which is usually harmless to most people.
The immune system mistakenly believes it is being invaded, and produces Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to that allergen in an attempt to protect the body.
These antibodies then cause certain cells to release chemicals into the bloodstream, one of which is the well-known histamine.
The histamine then acts on the nose, throat, eyes, lungs, skin, and gastrointestinal tract, triggering the symptoms of allergic reaction. Each future exposure to that same allergen will again trigger the antibody response, and therefore the allergic reaction.
Allergic reactions can be mild, like a runny nose, or severe, like difficulty breathing. An asthma attack, for example, is often an allergic reaction to something that is inhaled into the lungs by a person who is susceptible.
Some types of allergies produce numerous symptoms, and in rare cases a severe reaction called anaphylaxis. Peanuts are one of the most common allergens known to cause anaphylaxis. Signs of anaphylaxis include swelling of the tongue, lips, and throat, difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing, and in rare cases, loss of consciousness.
The problem of response to allergens is intimately connected with the problem of man’s relationship to nature. In the most basic and universal sense, the relationship of the human body to the earth was meant to be self-sustaining, that is, the earth contained within itself all that was needed to support health and life for the human organism.
This situation made for healthier bodies in the distant past, at a time when man’s consciousness did not perceive itself as fundamentally separate from its environment.
As civilization progressed, however, and separation of one thing from another and man from nature took place, a new factor was introduced into bodily responses which made them more sensitive to minute quantities of certain substances than they previously had been able to assimilate without difficulty.
This is less a matter of individual lack than it is a matter of collective consciousness in its present imbalance in relationship to nature, in its present disregard for the inherent intelligence of the human organism, and in its present lack of awareness of the relationship of the body to higher consciousness.
Illness is the soul’s way of communicating dissatisfaction. It expresses unconscious feelings and conflicts by way of physical symptoms. It tells us that we are in a relationship or situation that is causing us to compromise who we are.
Illness is the soul’s cry for help and communicates the need for change. As a teacher, illness offers us the opportunity to learn more about who we really are and understand why we do the things we do. Its purpose is to slow us down long enough to reassess our priorities and recognize destructive patterns of behavior.
If we slow down and listen, we will hear the hidden meanings our illness holds beneath the symptoms. The presence of illness requires that we revisit the choices that we have made. It encourages us to express emotions rather than suppress them, and it helps us recognize which habits, thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs are undermining our wellbeing.
In today’s world of technological breakthroughs and incredible advancements, we, constantly troubled by our god complex, have managed to separate ourselves from nature completely.
Natural is considered obsolete, unnecessary and old, while technology is considered progressive and human. So, we forget where we came from and give our best to deny our origins, destroying the very planet we were born in, as if we have nothing in common with it.
Now, this has nothing to do with the human progress and people should not go back to simple lives with no achievements at all. Still, the means we use for progress are self-destructive, to say the least. Thus, perhaps we should stop for a second and try to realize the connection between the ever-growing number of allergies present in the world and our own destruction of the planet.
There is a connection, whether we want to accept it or not. Yet, there is still time to fix this and end the estrangement before it becomes too late.
If we are to take these factors in consideration, it is no wonder we are allergic to nature since we have made ourselves foreigners on our own planet, denying the natural for so long now.
Our bodies have forgotten how to deal with nature and have become incompatible to its stimulants. Therefore, we have turned allergic to nature, since we have made our nervous systems separated from it.
Within today’s world, the nervous system has a primary role in affecting almost all other functions of the body and a significant role in affecting allergic responses as well. When the nervous system becomes over stimulated, it creates difficulties for the natural healing capacities of the cellular, glandular, and cortical functions so that they can no longer do the jobs they were meant to do.
This means that they cannot filter out extraneous material or toxic substances in the same way that they could if the nervous system were functioning properly. Such functioning depends upon the consciousness that regulates the nervous system – one that is fundamentally energy based and is attuned to the natural world. This energetic attunement has been progressively decreasing in recent centuries, which is one theory of why allergic responses have been on the rise.
Like all other health problems allergies are far more complex than we often think they are, and require an equally complex and multifaceted process of healing.
Most of the time we don’t approach allergies from a systems-based, logical perspective at all. Conventional medical practice teaches us to just get rid of the symptoms, which only ends up making them worse in both the long and short term.
Nutritional and functional understanding of allergies takes us a step further in healing, supporting metabolism and detoxification so that our immune systems react less intensely, and yet there’s still something massive missing.
If we are to find deep healing, we must address fully the elements of mind and spirit in allergies, as well as the effects already well explored within the body and environment. The spirit affects the mind and the mind affects the body, and so neglecting to include these two in understanding and treating imbalance is a little bit absurd, and will never work long term.
The body and the mind are in constant interaction with each other, and the physical changes affect our state of mind, which in turn effects the changes in our body. Psychosomatics show that we have to deal with both levels of an illness because if we try to heal ourselves by merely working on the physical or emotional level, then sooner or later the disease might resurface again.
The idea that there is a relationship between the body and the soul is very old and was mentioned by numerous ancient philosophers. According to Socrates, “there is no purely physical illness that is independent from the soul.”
Modern medicine, and psycho-neuro-immunologists have the same view on the matter.
The strongest evidence of the relationship between body and soul and their interaction, is the placebo phenomenon. Illnesses that can be linked to emotional causes develop through different stages. If the psychological problems are not resolved, more serious diseases will appear.
Consciously confronting the disease means trying to deduce the emotional or psychological cause of the illness from the symptoms. (It is mainly the patients with psychosomatic illnesses who find it difficult to see the psychological reasons, and since they don’t wish to face the psychological problems, they produce physical symptoms instead.)
The body’s first reaction to this thought process or disease is to compensate, to push the problem into an unimportant area or function of the body. If this is ignored the body becomes more and more unbalanced until the symptoms become severe, serious and/or life threatening.
While modern medicine only looks at the physical and sometimes the emotional symptoms presenting in the body and tries to “fix” them by an “attack” with various drugs in an attempt to suppress the symptoms, we have to deal with all levels of an illness because if we try to heal by merely working on the physical, then sooner or later the disease may resurface again. If the psychological problems are not resolved, more serious diseases will appear.
There are virtually no health-related questions that are general questions. Allergies are inherently individual conditions. Remedies for the suffering brought about by allergic responses must be researched on an individual basis, for no two human bodies have the same physical or karmic history, and therefore no two people will respond in the same way to life or dietary changes, or other efforts at healing.
While some children are allergic to soy products, others can eat them with no negative effects. This also holds true for cow’s milk and other dairy products, although this is not sufficiently recognized by the medical profession.
In general, let me say that rice is one of the least allergenic foods on the planet. However, in all matters of diet it is important to maintain balance and to avoid eating too much of one particular kind of food.
I therefore recommend that you seek the advice of someone who can test you and your children to find out about their allergies to certain foods.
In order to heal this situation and to return the body to a state in which it is not responsive to things that are presently irritants, it is necessary for a change in awareness to take place so that man’s relationship with the earth and with nature is one of participation rather than separation.
For some, the purification of the body through incorporating more pure fluids, through purifying the diet, and through ridding the body of toxic substances provides a key to the regulation of allergic reactions.
For others, purification and even severe restriction of diet may only have a limited effect. Sometimes what is needed is to re-route the energy pattern within the body so that the body is more grounded in terms of its relationship to the earth. When this is the case, the body is able to receive more energy from the earth, and to distribute its own energy into the earth in a more direct way. There are various spiritual practices, which address this need and can be tried on an experimental basis if you are open to the idea.
For still others, the need to endure the allergic condition is part of an overall issue of vulnerability, in which the psyche, based on the soul’s directives, has created a condition of vulnerability and an insufficient barrier to certain stimuli so that a person would learn to deal more effectively with this aspect of their emotional life.
In this sense, the allergic response serves as a physical manifestation or metaphor for the need to allow oneself to become more vulnerable, with fewer barriers or hard surfaces between oneself and others.
In his manual, Allergies and Aversions, Narayan Singh, PhD, explains the psychological meanings of many allergies.
In this alphabetical handbook, you will find everything from Acacia to Zucchini, and they almost always relate to dysfunctional family upbringing or feelings of maternal rejection.
It is important to note that not all ailments are completely our own.
We do inherit weaknesses and predispositions from ancestors, which make us susceptible to certain maladies. But we are responsible for our health, and can take charge when it comes to identifying and healing the weaknesses. Whether the susceptibility to the allergy came from your father or grandmother or beyond, it is now yours.
You can choose to live with it or get to its root cause.
Live and Learn. We All Do.
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