The Chemical Connection
Dr Paula Baillie, author of Stop the 21st Century Killing You, looks at how certain chemicals are poisoning our immune systems and may be leading to allergy, eczema and chronic illness - and what we can do about it.
Common Diseases Associated with a Malfunctioning Immune System
The number of people suffering from diseases caused or exacerbated by an imbalanced immune system is at an all time high. In addition to the well known immune related conditions (allergies, immune suppression and autoimmune disease) there is increasing evidence linking an imbalanced and damaged immune system to a selection of other 'modern' ailments.
The transformation of previously rare immune conditions into common health problems suggests that something about our modern lifestyle is fundamentally damaging our immune systems.
For example, asthma was relatively unheard of at the beginning of the 20th century. Yet now it affects 100-150 million people worldwide - roughly the equivalent of the entire population of the Russian Federation. It is obvious, even to the most casual observer that the current situation is spiralling out of control.
The annual worldwide budget for treating these conditions with expensive pharmaceuticals runs to billions of pounds, yet relatively little importance has been given to investigating exactly what is behind this phenomenon. This lack of interest is truly tragic because it is becoming increasingly obvious that the answer to this multi-billion dollar question is staring us all in the face.
It appears clear that many important aspects of 21st century living play a major role in triggering and exacerbating the immune disease pandemic. Identifying these key triggers would allow significant action to be taken, not only to reverse the upwards disease trend but to tackle and reduce existing symptoms. A growing body of research suggests very clearly that the two most important causes are our ever increasing exposure to toxic chemicals and our nutrient deficient diets.
Another consequence of a continually chemically revved up immune system is an increased risk of developing autoimmune system disorders.
Numerous studies have found that the higher the levels of toxic chemicals found in the body, the larger the quantity and variety of autoantibodies spontaneously generated. Ever growing levels of autoantibodies ultimately trigger autoimmune disease. For instance, if autoantibodies against the thyroid gland are continually produced, at some stage that person may develop an auto-immune thyroid disease, such as Graves disease.
Toxic Chemical Manipulation
Toxic chemicals have been known to possess immune system distorting qualities for a long time - they have been exploited by vaccine producers for decades. For example, toxic metals such as aluminium and mercury (hidden under the name of thimersol) are deliberately used as common vaccine components or ‘adjuvants’ because of their ability to artificially hype up the immune system. This over-egging effect tends to make vaccine production far cheaper, as it reduces the need for expensive antigen components, whether it be tetanus, hepatitis B or influenza, to get a ‘good' or heightened response.
'Adjuvants help the antigen to elicit an early, high and
long-lasting immune response with less antigen, thus saving on vaccine
Unfortunately, the addition of the heavy metal not only boosts the immediate response to the antigen, but revs up other important parts of our immune system triggering diseases such as hives, angioedema and anaphylactic reaction in their own right.
In 1996 the World Resources Institute in Washington DC published a report called Pesticides and the Immune system: The Public Health Risks. This important document brings together an extensive body of experimental and epidemiological research from around the world documenting the effects of widely used pesticides on the immune system and the attendant health risks.
The Others ...
What to do?
Chemical avoidance combined with lowering existing levels of chemicals in the body can also help improve many existing disease states. For example, one study showed that the greater the number of mercury dental fillings, the greater the risk of developing asthma. Removal of such fillings brought about a great improvement in the asthma symptoms.
My book, Stop the 21st Century Killing You, looks at individual immune system disorders and their chemical connections. It has been designed to enable the reader to see for themselves how certain chemicals are linked to certain diseases, as well as how they can be tackled.
The important role that nutrients play in preventing immune system diseases cannot be disregarded. Given the number of nutrients which we know are vital to an efficiently functioning system and the poor diets that most people now eat, it is a miracle that our immune systems work at all.
So what are these nutrients and what happens if we don't get enough in our diet?
Deficiency or Sub-optimal
But for the immune system, even a slightly lower, or sub-optimal nutrient intake - nowhere near the level which would class as a ‘deficiency - will reduce its operational efficiency. This means that the vast majority of the non-supplementing population, as well as many of those on inadequate levels of supplements, are effectively putting themselves at risk.
The Effects of Nutrient Deficiency
How to Turn the Situation Around
The Good News!
This is because, using this approach, you will be positively dealing with two of the most important causes of immune system imbalance and malfunction.
By treating the cause of diseases such as hay fever, eczema, urticaria, hives and food intolerances, not only can you lower the incidence of symptoms, but they can completely disappear. If so symptoms will only re-appear when you are exposed to very high levels of chemicals or forget to take your nutritional supplements regularly.
Whilst not all immune system diseases can be so dramatically improved, I have found that most can be helped. The degree of benefit depends on the disease involved, the individual's level of toxic chemical build-up and their previous nutritional history.
First published 2005