Increase in allergies – Is overuse of antibiotics and disinfectants to blame?
This week we are being told of a significant rise in people suffering from multiple allergies.
Questions are being asked into the possible causes. Today, as a registered medical herbalist
I propose some solutions.
Dr J North, a Consultant immunologist from Birmingham, says: “We used to say that 15% of the population
had an allergy of some sort, now the figure is nearer 40%.”
Consultant in allergy for the Cambridge University NHS Trust, Dr S Nasser, also noted this growth in
multiple allergies and the increasing severity of the symptoms. More and more children are affected.
So, what is the cause? Is it global warming? Pollution? House dust mites? Feathers or animal hair?
Pollen or spores?
If those were the only cause then almost everybody would suffer from allergies because everybody is
exposed to them.
So there is a missing link: The 'hygiene hypothesis' shines some light on possible causes and is widely
supported by the medical profession. However, we know that life-saving antibiotics are being over-used.
Research shows that antibiotics given to children during the first year of life significantly increases
the risk of them developing allergies later in life.
The 'hygiene hypothesis'
is based on the excessive use of antibiotic soaps and sprays and wipes to sterilise the environment.
Many children are now less exposed to normal bacteria and their immune system seems to over-react to
harmless agents like mites and pollen.
Scientists at the Department of Epidemiology and Community Health at the University of Antwerp stated
in a report: “As early childhood infections are assumed to hold a protective effect on the development
of asthma and allergies, the use of antibiotics at that sensitive age may lead to an increased risk of
asthma and allergy.”
A study from Wayne State University, Detroit, noted the following link: The increase in pediatric allergy
and asthma parallels the increase in use of antibiotics. Antibiotics disturb the flora of the
gastrointestinal tract, possibly perturbing the developing immune system.
Nature provides us with a number of powerful natural antibiotics. These do not interfere
with the beneficial gut bacteria and have a boosting effect on peoples’ immune systems.
Whilst I am a medical herbalist, I'm not suggesting that we stop using antibiotics altogether; many of them
are life-saving, but for common
ailments and complaints there are some highly effective alternatives.
Equally, if antibiotics have ceased to work for chronic conditions, then herbal alternatives – when
administered by a registered herbal practitioner - can help to build the body’s immune system back up.