Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Allergies

I have allergies. My brother has asthma. I also have a half sister with MS. My personal theory is that some people, for whatever genetic reason, are more susceptible to autoimmune problems, and your expression of and severity of autoimmune problem is related to environment. Some people grow out of allergies and whatnot, but for many expressions of autoimmunity, things just get worse over time. I think there's a common pathway or function or common something in these various autoimmune problems. And I seriously crave a way to reverse the path. For me and pretty much everyone else. If you've seen me near a cat, you'll understand - my allergies are bad enough that I've had allergic reactions to allergic reactions. I'm lucky, though. I can avoid my allergens for the most part, now that I've learned to triple rinse my laundry. Others aren't so lucky, if you can call snot explosions lucky.

I have questions too, not just theories. I wonder how much the symbiotic bacteria and viruses that we live with and get exposed to, and the parasitic ones, affect our expression of autoimmune response. I have a dairy loving friend who became intolerant to milk at the unlikely age of 28 after a round of antibiotics. Are our food allergies controlled by gut bacteria? If I get allergies first, will it make me less susceptible to getting MS, especially if they do find that MS is linked to a certain viral exposure? If the immune cells are already programmed to respond in one way, do they learn new ways or just go with what they know, thus preventing more serious problems? And how come people who get stung by lots of bees (bad) no longer have arthritis (good)? Why do tumors have more, faster mutations than normal cells? And why does cilantro taste like shampoo for me, but some wonderful food stuff for many others who like to put it in or on every dish they make? (I think it's due to a chiral molecule and I have the wrongly handed receptor, but I want to know the real reason.)

One thing I like to do is read about health and science news updates on the web. I was surfing today and found some really interesting stuff that makes me happy because it sounds like someone is looking at autoimmune issues as a whole, and there are new molecular discoveries all the time that seem like promising avenues of research.
  1. It's the sialic acid in IVIG that makes recombinant IgG effective in combating inflammation in cells. The IVIG is a treatment of a collection of antibodies from various people given to people with autoimmune problems like MS or Lupus. This seems like it'll be important.

  2. There's a protein called p100 which links the cell structure building and cell defense mechanisms. You use a little p100 to activate your immune system, but when your cells are overloaded with p100, you get inflammation. And there's some memory effect. The researchers from UCSD point out that this link between the two mechanisms means there's a pathway from inflammation to cellular development changes aka mutations that lead to cancer. I'm thinking that it fits in with the notion that people who don't get enough exposure to various environmental irritants and diseases might be more susceptible to autoimmune/ allergy responses. If you don't train the p100 up right to start with, what if the cellular construction mechanisms go nuts when they all of a sudden get flooded with it. Not only would you get inflammation, but chaos too. It also seems like an important discovery. (Yes I'm aware the news brief came out 6 months ago. I search periodically, today was one of those days.)

  3. Sunlight! I have read numerous articles about how getting a tan makes you feel better. I've felt it myself. (I think I'll sign up for tanning this week, see if I feel better, I've been pretty blah recently.) But researchers are torn about promoting the benefits of sunlight exposure for vitamin D generation because too much exposure is linked strongly to skin cancer. This sun avoidance paranoia drives me crazy, though. I say they get the info out there: get in the sun, but not at noon; wear sunscreen, but don't freak; get a base tan so you don't burn. Stuff like that. Not that everyone is handling the "you can drink red wine, just don't drink a LOT of red wine concept all that well, but I think most people can get the concept that 1 glass is healthy, 1 bottle is not. But the sunlight/vitamin D folks aren't really sure how big a glass of sunlight is compared to a bottle so they keep saying to get out of the sun. And Ricketts is needlessly making a comeback. But I'm glad the sun is not the total demon of the health universe. Especially since getting a tan makes me feel so much better.

  4. Juvenon. I call it my magic Fountain of Youth pill. But the theory makes sense, and it works in rats to extend the length of time their cells function in a healthy manner, so I'm willing to give it a go. And when I read about it for the first time, the researchers said (paraphrased), "It's easy to try yourself. Both supplements are already sold in health supply stores. Take this ratio of thing A to thing B, and you have our new miracle anti-aging elixir." Even now that they make it for sale in just that ratio, they donate profits to more research. I can respect that. An in the meantime, I hope it does get the mitochondrial garbage away from my cells. (Does anyone else get flashes of the "A Wrinkle in Time" series by Madeline L'Engle when confronted with the word mitochondria? Or is it just me?) Yeah, call me lazy, but I'd rather take supplements to make my cells work better and age slower than enact a severe caloric restriction therapy that has been shown to make monkeys really cranky. Yay, so they live longer, but they hate every moment of it. I'm going to assume that caloric restriction makes otters cranky too. This otter is cranky enough without stepping it up a notch. (And yet you don't see the caloric restriction people all in a flutter about promoting anorexia. If we cross them, do we get laid back skinny people with tans?)
Ok. I haven't been sleeping well, so I should get to bed and give it another go. I think I patched the leak in my aerobed, I triple rinsed the sheets and stocked up on breathe right strips. My Sinus Rinse is on standby. Here's hoping for better sleep tonight.

1 comment:

Janet W. said...

You took me straight to Wrinkle in Time! Do you like the Wizard of Earthsea series by Ursula LeGuin too?