Friday, April 30, 2010

Not tough enough

IMAGINE racing at a sole-scouring, lung-wracking breakneck speed against a wild boar, that’s meat for a day or two, in a sun-swept sea of thorny briers and grasses… the chase halts to abrupt pause for a sneezing fit and sudden bloom of blisters on your skin touched off by a deluge of pollens in the air… the meal is to go, is gone like a gust of wind, and you trudge back home empty-handed to content on an assortment of tubers and berries the missus gathered… and such food fare triggers more skin blisters, vomiting and other allergic reactions…

Were that the case for our ancestors in ages past, we’ve been history… kaput, gone extinct.

Fossil findings reassure our progenitors weren’t such wimps and sissies that we have turned into these days, why, if all it takes is leaping three feet as indicator of over-all health, some Tutsis in Rwanda shame the current world high jump record of 2.45 meters—they jump at least their own height during initiation rites into manhood. Roman legions did over one-and-a-half marathons a day carrying provisions and gear more than half their body weight. And any bad ass Neanderthal woman could wrench the sockets off an Arnold Schwarzenegger’s shoulder in arm wrestling.

So what’s with lame humanity of our times, tossed around limp and loose by our sorry sustenance? Report: “Food allergies have doubled in the last 15 years and now affect 4% of adults and 8% of children aged 2 and under. These allergies claim the lives of 100 to 200 people -- and send another 30,000 to the emergency room each year.”

Why, the immune system senses a certain food as dangerous, reacts against it-- the allergy turns up. Allergic symptoms can range from skin rash, vomiting and diarrhea to anaphylaxis, which constricts air passages and requires immediate medical attention.

Theories abound about why food allergies have turned into a public health problem. There is hygiene hypothesis, which contends that growing up in an antiseptic, nearly germ- and allergen free environment can cause our immune systems to overreact when stimulated with harmless substances.

Some also blame changes-- and a cocktail of industrial chemicals that go-- in processed foods. Too, genetically engineered foods have turned suspect. Even global warming is viewed as an allergy trigger.

Eight common food items -- milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (like cashews and macadamias), fish, shellfish, soy and gluten in wheat -- have turned up culprits causing 90 percent of allergy reactions. Some people can also be allergic or sensitive to food additives like artificial colors and preservatives.

If such a gaggle of edibles and food condiments have shown man’s so-sensitive state of health, natural health advocate Dr. Joseph Mercola plies the idea of toughening up via “’desensitizing’ people to food allergies using a tiny portion of the allergic protein, (a remedy) similar to provocation neutralization (PN), which is taught by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine and can be very effective.”

Dr. Mercola claims the program “works well for traditional allergies like trees, grasses, dusts and weeds but is also good for food and environmental allergies.

“Provocation refers to ‘provoking a change’ and neutralization refers to ‘neutralizing the reaction caused by provocation.’ The success rate for this approach is in the 80 percent to 90 percent range, and patients can receive their treatment at home,” he explains.

In provocation-neutralization, a small amount of allergen is injected under the skin to produce a small bump called a "wheal" and then monitored for a reaction. If you have a positive reaction, such as fatigue, headache or a growth in the wheal, then the allergen is neutralized with diluted injections, or drops that go in your mouth, of the same allergen, he cites.

Such a program, according to Dr. Mercola, “is a long-term solution that will, in most cases, provide a permanent treatment. There are also virtually no side effects with the treatment, unlike with conventional drugs.”

Look back in aghast at that scenario of yore of an allergy-prone caveman as he paused for respite… the wild boar turns back, runs through its pursuer with razor-sharp tusks, tramples the hapless hunter over and over turning food-seeker into a splattered potage of beef patty. A boar can be that vicious… not as vicious as today’s tummy fillers like milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (like cashews and macadamias), fish, shellfish, soy and gluten in wheat… they’re chomping us out.

We’re not that tough now.