Thursday, November 14, 2013

"Have You Tried Herbal Remedies?"

- a question asked me by a well-meaning person regarding the whole allergic-to-everything fiasco.

Here is what I think happened (note that this is not subject to proof): I was allergic to some pollens (skin-prick and IgE confirmed).  I eventually developed an intolerance to celery and walnut.  This was in about 2006.  At length, I had a couple kids, got mastitis both times, and took antibiotics for a total of two years.  (With the accompaniment of all kinds of vegetable, probiotic, and vitamin goodness, on the advice of my physician.)  The antibiotics eventually damaged my intestinal structure in some way that let a larger percentage of partially-hydrolyzed proteins through (hand-wave, hand-wave, or something). My B cells (they make IgE, remember) responded by multiplying.  When they multiply, their IgE chain DNA is  more susceptible to mutation (white blood cells already have a high degree of controlled rearrangement), or so my spouse tells me; so I ended up with a pseudo-clonal population that had gone all haywire all over everything that looks even a tiny bit like birch pollen.  (I already had a latex contact reaction and - rare in adults! - a true, wheezing-and-hives, IgE mediated dairy allergy.  And asthma.  So basically my immune system sucks.)  Then everything went all pear-shaped.

This is a long way of saying that, even if I thought 'herbal remedies' were a good choice for 'turn down that immune system there', I'm probably allergic to them.

7 comments:

  1. You may wish to read the study behind this article: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/05/science/herbal-supplements-are-often-not-what-they-seem.html?ref=health&_r=0

    Even if you're not allergic to the ingredients on the label, you might be allergic to the unlabeled fillers (soy!) and unethical substitutions.

    PS: I'm sorry I didn't find a link to the primary research article. You'd think Science Friday would've linked to the research, but no, NYT is all they had.

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    1. I read that one AND the original research article! It was terrifying.

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  2. I love love love herbs but I gotta admit, for the really big, complex health issues, I'm glad modern medicine has come so far. Unfortunately, in the case of allergies, it seems to have gone nowhere at all. I have two family members and more than one friend who have all developed out of the blue allergies to chocolate, wheat, eggs and milk (or some combination thereof). Terrifying. I hope you find something that fixes it or mitigates the symptoms because life is no fun (and that's putting it lightly) with a host of allergies.

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  3. LessAllergic1:23 PM

    Every time you mention the strange suddenly-allergic-to-everything-in-the-world thing, I mean to ask if you've had your thyroid checked. It took me a few years to figure out, but what manifested as godawful hives and allergic reactions to lots of pollens and foods that had never bothered me before was actually caused by an autoimmune thyroid condition. Once I treated the thyroid issue, the hives stopped, and celery no longer turns me into a balloon! (And my depression, fatigue, and pain evaporated into thin air). Doctors love to disagree about what the "normal" ranges for TSH, T3, and T4 should be, so do some reading. This is anecdata I know, but maybe helpful.

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    1. Thanks - and yes. So very, very many times. All the numbers are, alas, nowhere near anyone's borderline values and smack in the middle of normal.

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  4. Have you investigated if you have an aspirin/salicylate intolerance? I have a very bad one that came on very suddenly and I have lesser reactions to chemically-similar acids. Once I started the horridly restrictive diet I felt so much better. I don't know for sure if mine is IgE mediated because I'm cheap and haven't investigated. I don't know if that's you or not but maybe you'll get lucky and it's that "simple." http://salicylatesensitivity.com/ has a good list of resources, and some links to primary literature.

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    1. Now THAT's actually a non-insane question. I looked at that- I don't react to any of the foods on the 'high' list and I do have a very stereotypical Oral Allergy syndrome response, on the timescale generally described in the literature, and always starting with the tingling oropharynx. So I'm pretty sure it's not that. But hey! If only.

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