The Link Between Antibiotics and Allergies


By Judy Phillips

Most of us in the alternative medicine arena know that allergy medicine is a huge business, with an immense array of non-prescription over-the-counter products to address nearly any complaint. Bear in mind, however, that they are not appropriate for all patients. In addition to their side-effects such as sedation or nerve reaction, allergy and sinus medications could be incompatible with certain prescription treatments and the chronic health conditions they treat, including high blood pressure, asthma, glaucoma, prostate problems, anxiety, and attention deficit disorder. Even in the best case scenario, allergy medicines could generate detrimental side effects that limit their use on a regular basis.

A recent study from the University of Michigan Medical School might have unearthed a clue. Now it turns out that the rise of another phenomenon—the use of antibiotics—may hold the answer. The University researchers found that antibiotics seem to prime the immune system to over-react to substances it could just as well ignore.

When the research team gave laboratory mice a five-day course of antibiotics, the animals showed the same effect seen in humans; an upset in the balance of yeast and other microbes in the gut. They then exposed the mice to several common allergens. The mice given antibiotics were hypersensitive to them, while the other mice had a normal immune response.

In the past, we have always thought of allergies and asthma as involving mainly the respiratory system. This research, however, suggests the microbes in the gut play a significant role. The results support a theory that our modern society is too sanitary. According to the results that support the “hygiene hypothesis”, when you are not exposed to very many bugs, your immune system has a hard time differentiating between a harmless substance (such as pollen) and a dangerous toxin, so it is likely to overreact.

A growing number of holistically minded people are seeking natural alternatives to the traditional drugstore offerings. With their temperate actions and minimal side effects, botanical and alternative remedies are a good option for many a sufferer. In contrast to a trip to a big chain drugstore, the preparation of natural remedies is more similar to a craft than a chore, calling to us to slow our tempo, reflecting on the beauty and usefulness of nature’s wealth.

Judy Phillips is the founder of Jash Botanicals Herbal Formulas, a manufacturer of physicians grade herbal extracts and medicinals. A naturopath and herbalist with over 25 years of experience, her passion for producing herbal formulas of exceptional purity and strength grew from a dissatisfaction with mainstream herbal products. She is an author of various natural health topics, from detoxification to dietary modification, and works to assist the expansion of knowledge to individuals in search of natural treatments. JashBotanicals.com offers a wide range of informative articles, including a alternative healing monthly newsletter and a natural health blog.

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