Ellen Sandbeck (ellensandbeck) Sun 7 Feb 10 17:04
Hi Loris! Your question actually deals with two different functions of the immune system: the histamine reaction to foreign proteins--which when it is aimed at otherwise harmless substances such as milk or pollen-- causes allergic reactions; and the antibody response to microbial invaders, which fights off actual diseases. Even if you have allergies, your immune system will still benefit from the occasional challenge of dealing with a relatively benign disease such as the common cold--if you don't use your immune system, it may get flabby. As for allergies, there is a rather large body of research suggesting that people who have intestinal parasites are far less likely to have allergies, hay fever, asthma, eczema and auto-immune disorders such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitisthan are those who are parasite free. Introducing relatively harmless intestinal worms such as pinworms may help damp down allergic reactivity. The key terms here are "relatively harmless" and "intestinal." Parasites that migrate through parts of the body other than the intestines may actually cause allergic reactions. If I were to choose a parasite, I would go with pinworms. (And frankly, if someone offers me some pinworms, I am ready to adopt!) AND Hi Lisa! I am definitely not a political wonk. If I were, I would probably be in politics by now. I am continually astonished by the way the American public exercises and doesn't exercise the right to vote! However, I think that IF we ever manage to get health care recognized as a right in this country, the sheer cost of unregulated dangerous chemicals will suddenly become a big issue.
For Rosetti, wombats held a peculiar fascination (loris) Sun 7 Feb 10 17:37
ellen, i read that section about the intestinal parasites with interest. but since i can never predict how i will react to anything (from vitamins to antibiotics to household cleaning products), i wasnt wildly tempted. there was a time when i was far more reactive than i am now, and i -never- got 'what was going around' --- and also didnt have hay fever. the 1st time i got a cold, after years of never getting any, i was sort of pleased --- meant my immune system wasnt acting so ferociously. i still generally dont get whatever is going around...
Ellen Sandbeck (ellensandbeck) Sun 7 Feb 10 17:46
Hi Loris, I am very reactive too, mostly in the digestive system and skin, which is why I really, really covet a nice herd of pinworms! It's good to appreciate a nice well-mannered virus now and then, isn't it? I have one now, it's a cold that is quite obviously not going to kill me, and it's not making me feel miserable, it's just making me cough and sneeze now and then. I like the feeling of exercising my immune system on an opponent that has no chance of actually harming me. (I am also the kind of sports fan who really loves it when my team wins in a blowout.)
For Rosetti, wombats held a peculiar fascination (loris) Sun 7 Feb 10 18:40
i wondering how rotting teeth and other kinds of chronic infections factor into the hygiene hypothesis...
Julie Sherman (julieswn) Sun 7 Feb 10 19:07
Having had pinworms as a child, I wouldnt wish them on anyone. Those things itch like hell.
Travis Bickle has left the building. (divinea) Sun 7 Feb 10 19:29
Do you have any research cites on the pinworm theory that you can share with us?
For Rosetti, wombats held a peculiar fascination (loris) Sun 7 Feb 10 19:36
pages 205-207 in the book discuss these studies --- about hookworms and porcine whipworms. as an aside, i wonder how many of us have intestinal parasites we dont know about -anyway-? from something we ate or drank at some point...
Travis Bickle has left the building. (divinea) Sun 7 Feb 10 19:37
Thanks, but I was asking for cites for the benefit of all reading here, and don't happen to have a copy of the book at hand.
paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Sun 7 Feb 10 20:17
Link to a series of review articles in a quality journal: <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2632705/?tool=pubmed> Immunology. 2009 January; 126(1): 12. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2567.2008.03006.x. PMCID: PMC2632705 Copyright © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd Review series on helminths, immune modulation and the hygiene hypothesis: Nematode coevolution with adaptive immunity, regulatory networks and the growth of inflammatory diseases Daniel M Altmann Human Disease Immunogenetics Group, Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunity, Imperial College, Hammersmith Hospital, London W12 0NN, UK A couple of primary articles <http://www.jimmunol.org/cgi/content/full/177/3/1628> The Journal of Immunology, 2006, 177: 1628-1635. Copyright © 2006 by The American Association of Immunologists Intestinal Helminths Protect in a Murine Model of Asthma1 Kunihiko Kitagaki, Thomas R. Businga, Doina Racila, David E. Elliott, Joel V. Weinstock2 and Joel N. Kline3 Department of Medicine, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242 <http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/120123652/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY= 0> Clin Exp Allergy. 2008 Nov;38(11):1769-77. Epub 2008 Jun 10. Early infection with Trichuris trichiura and allergen skin test reactivity in later childhood. Rodrigues LC, Newcombe PJ, Cunha SS, Alcantara-Neves NM, Genser B, Cruz AA, Simoes SM, Fiaccone R, Amorim L, Cooper PJ, Barreto ML; Social Change, Asthma and Allergy in Latin America. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2715056/?tool=pubmed> J Exp Med. 2009 Jun 8;206(6):1395-408. Epub 2009 May 25. Parasites represent a major selective force for interleukin genes and shape the genetic predisposition to autoimmune conditions. Fumagalli M, Pozzoli U, Cagliani R, Comi GP, Riva S, Clerici M, Bresolin N, Sironi M. Scientific Institute IRCCS E. Medea, Bioinformatic Laboratory, 23842 Bosisio Parini, Italy.
paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Sun 7 Feb 10 20:27
It's becoming clear that early infection history is important in modulating later immune responses, but not at all clear how to maximize the benefits of such exposures without undue risk, especially for people whose immune systems are already mature, and behaving badly. And I definitely agree that most people who have a home full of antibacterial and sanitizing and antiseptic products don't need the bulk of it. At the same time, while I'm not worried that this cold or that flu is likely to do any significant damage to my own health, I do immunosuppress people for a living, and the risks to them are quite different. I blithely eat my raw-egg-containing cookie doughs, but I don't share that with patients or coworkers, and I recommend that they avoid the stuff.
For Rosetti, wombats held a peculiar fascination (loris) Sun 7 Feb 10 20:31
thanx for the cites, <debunix>!
Travis Bickle has left the building. (divinea) Sun 7 Feb 10 20:59
Thanks, debunix! A casual search wasn't getting it.
For Rosetti, wombats held a peculiar fascination (loris) Sun 7 Feb 10 21:10
i think the divine <sumac> wrote about the hygiene hypothesis in salon years ago, fwiw
Ellen Sandbeck (ellensandbeck) Mon 8 Feb 10 08:00
Thank you debunix, for all the cites! Immunosuppression is such a drastic thing that I would also be afraid to try most of the barbaric practices with anyone who was immune-compromised. The only thing I think might be safe would be to have patients eat fermented foods, which do seem to stimulate and boost the immune system by exposing the gut to benign bacteria. Examples of beneficial fermented foods are: kefir, yogurt, kimchee, sauerkraut, real Kosher dill pickles. Studies have shown that kefir has antibacterial, immunological, and anti-tumor effects in lab animals. This study of the effects of kefir ingestion on rats that have been exposed to cholera, also cites other kefir studies, so it is a good overview: http://jn.nutrition.org/cgi/content/full/131/3/807 And here's a nice little study on the antidiabetic effects of kimchee: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19459728 And another study on the biodegradation of organochlorine pesticides during kimchee fermentation: http://www.biomedsearch.com/nih/Biodegradation-Chlorpyrifos-by-Lactic-Acid/191 99784.html God, I love this stuff! Could anything be more entertaining and interesting? FERMENTED FOODS FOREVER!
paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Mon 8 Feb 10 08:18
My biggest problem about the hygiene hypothesis, is the relationship between cockroach allergens and asthma. I can't find the cites I'm looking for in a cursory search right now, but what I recall are strong associations between presence of roach allergens in samples of household dust and prevalence of asthma in the children of the household. I worry more about some kinds of household dirt--like spilled food that could attrac roaches--than about others. But even with the roaches there's the question of how much the issue is roach allergen levels vs how much time children spend indoors breathing it in rather than outside where exposure levels are lower.
Ellen Sandbeck (ellensandbeck) Mon 8 Feb 10 15:24
Hi Debunix, I'm pretty sure that the cockroaches-as-allergens issue is largely an inner city problem, where a lot of the children already have asthma, and they don't have any exposure at all to real, healthy, lively outdoor dirt that would help aim their immune systems in a healthy direction. Inner city children certainly are exposed to plenty of synthetic dirt in the form of urban grease and grime, which is lifeless and does nothing to help an immune system mature. Once a child is asthmatic, exposure to the proteins produced by other life forms will certainly have the possibility of setting off asthma attacks. More and more research is showing that early exposure to allergens helps prevent, rather than cause, allergies. In fact, researchers now suspect that even deadly peanut allergies can be prevented by feeding peanut products to babies of weaning age. Peanut allergies are virtually unknown in countries where infants are fed peanut baby foods.
For Rosetti, wombats held a peculiar fascination (loris) Tue 9 Feb 10 11:50
ellen, sort of a meta question: since 'green barbarians' is a cross-genre/hard-to-categorize book, how are you planning to get the word out on it?
Ellen Sandbeck (ellensandbeck) Tue 9 Feb 10 14:19
Hi Loris, As Blanche Du Bois said, "I have always relied on the kindness of strangers..." Many, many people have helped spread the word about all of my previous books. Some of these people I already knew, and many others I did not. My first book, "Slug Bread & Beheaded Thistles," was self-published, so without a lot of help, I wouldn't have been able to sell a single copy! I ended up selling enough copies that seven major publishers bid on the reprint rights to Slug Bread three years after I first published it. I am very open and don't tend to hold anything back when I write, or when I talk, for that matter. I tend to talk to anyone I end up sitting near in public--I love sitting next to strangers in restaurants, in airports, on airplanes and public transit, and I've made quite a few very good friends that way. (I try to avoid bothering people who obviously don't want to be bothered, however! I'm neither stupid nor foolhardy.) My contact information is easily accessible. I end up answering, or attempting to answer, a lot of questions posed to me by total strangers over the phone and online. A couple of hours ago I received a very very nice message from a young man who is reading "Green Barbarians," and is very enthusiastic about it. He had already written about the book on his Facebook page. I've also started two extra Facebook pages in the last few months: one is called "Green Barbarians," and I hope to start a contest on that page soon. The other page is called "A Buddha A Day," on which I am posting albums of the papercut images of the Buddha I am doing, one each day every day for a year. I'm working on Buddha #237 today. I'm having a writing contest on that page so that anyone who covets a particular image can send me a short piece of really nice prose or poetry on any subject, one page long or shorter, and if I love the piece, I will send the writer the original Buddha papercut of his or her choice. Of course I am very happy to be doing this conference and communicating with all of you!
For Rosetti, wombats held a peculiar fascination (loris) Tue 9 Feb 10 18:40
i was thinking that 'green barbarians' fits perfectly into that niche of 'the whole earth catalogue' and 'the whole earth review' --- whole systems and not-so-conventional-wisdom and all that --- but dont know what else is in that niche now...
Ellen Sandbeck (ellensandbeck) Tue 9 Feb 10 20:25
Loris, I don't really know either. Nothing I have ever done in my entire life has ever fit neatly into a category. This tendency of mine does not usually make my life easier!
For Rosetti, wombats held a peculiar fascination (loris) Wed 10 Feb 10 09:40
still, am idly wondering about what category bookstores are slotting the book into...have you had any luck placing the book in non-bookstore settings thus far? meditation centers and plant nurseries and...
Lisa Harris (lrph) Wed 10 Feb 10 11:12
It was on "New In Paperback" Table at my local Barnes and Noble. I was glad to see it prominently displayed there. BTW, I also have given copies to a few friends who are total green barbarians.
Ellen Sandbeck (ellensandbeck) Wed 10 Feb 10 11:21
Lisa, I am very happy to hear that you have given copies to friends! The only way that my books have ever sold is by word of mouth! I just called our local independent bookstore, where they have put "Green Barbarians" in the "sustainability" and "home" categories. At Barnes & Noble, it is in the "green living/energy" category. Magers & Quinn, a really wonderful independent bookstore in Minneapolis, has it in the "environmental studies" section. I haven't placed the book anywhere at all. When I self-published my first book, I did all the placement, but Scribner published "Green Barbarians," and they have an entire sales force that is supposed to sell the book. Of course, I do carry copies with me when I venture out, just in case!
For Rosetti, wombats held a peculiar fascination (loris) Wed 10 Feb 10 11:54
yeah, but publishers dont have the staff or ability to do that kind of resourceful placement in non-bookstores that can be so helpful... did you talk with their sales staff about the nonbookstore places 'green barbarians' might suit?
Ellen Sandbeck (ellensandbeck) Wed 10 Feb 10 12:32
I've never had any access to the sales staff. I've asked my editor several times, but have gotten no answer. My agent is quite active, however, and keeps pushing the publisher for more promotion. I'm just trying to do the best I can to get the word out, and not worrying too much about what is or isn't happening in New York.
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