Basic Facts and Natural RemediesAre you shutting off your body’s early warning signal of invasion? Every compound in the world is a potential allergen to anyone’s internal environment. Your body has a natural barrier system against entry by foreign agents, such as pollen, dust, food, and chemicals in the air. Except for some chemicals, all of these agents are composed of protein which is foreign to your body’s own protein. Nature has provided a multi-layered defense system against invasion by these foreign agents. These barriers are strategically placed throughout the body for the sole purpose of protecting it. Every cavity of your body exposed to the external world has a mucous membrane. Mucous by its very nature and tenacity is very entrapping. It is your first line of defense - it literally disables foreign agents and prevents them from entry.
Basic Facts - BackgroundThe subject of allergies is both broad and deep and can be separated into three basic categories: upper respiratory, lower respiratory, and systemic or food based. In this discussion we will only cover the upper respiratory aspect. The upper respiratory system starts at the nostrils and covers everything down to the bifurcation of the trachea, all of which is covered by a mucous membrane with specialized cells of neurologic and secretory or functional capability. The neurologic components have the job of “sensing” when harmful debris has entered. A message is sent to centers in the brain and spinal cord for proper analysis and response. The response is usually the secretion of mucous or secretory immunoglobulins. Other factors exist as well, such as lymphocytes and other members of the white cell spectrum whose sole function in the upper passageways is to attack and destroy harmful substances that have entered. The mucous that is produced is sometimes regarded as undesirable by the person experiencing it -hence, the desire to stop the symptoms. In actuality this is just what your body should be doing in response to potential invasion.A s opposed to shutting off the mechanism, we should be more knowledgeable about ways of assisting our body in its response. Washing the mucous membranes with water and reducing sources of known antigenic material - such as pet dander, dust, and chemicals - are some ways to reduce an extreme response. Mucous becomes unhealthy when it is thick, tenacious or greenish in color. The green color can indicate a slight infection. Congestion alone does not indicate infection. Mucous can become too thick due to dehydration, a high concentration of dust, or other chemical disturbances within the body. Just think of the millions of dollars spent by this society in defeating these misunderstood natural mechanisms. Most over-the-counter or prescription remedies for mucous membrane treatment are intended to dry the mucous membrane and cease its secretion of mucous. Using these remedies can lead to a dysfunction in your natural defense mechanisms. Taking function-arresting compounds, such as antihistamines, drying agents or steroidal agents can lead to minor as well as life threatening conditions. Recently several medical publications pointed out the potentially harmful effects of products containing phenol compounds, resulting in the pharmaceutical chain CVS removing these products from its stores. Other side effects can be endocrine imbalance when steroidal products are used, gastrointestinal disturbances when acetaminophen or other pain-reducing compounds are used, constipation when drying agents are used, and rash or itchiness.
Natural Tips and RemediesFrom a natural perspective it is not in accord with nature to defeat one’s defense mechanisms. Instead one should seek further understanding and find more natural ways of dealing with the problem. A few natural tips include:
- Just as the skin of the body needs washing to free it of dirt and oil, so do the membranes of the eyes, nose, mouth and other cavities. They are exposed to the same environment as the skin is, and some, such as the nose, are even more exposed. Washing the nasal cavity with water or a combination of salt and water has always been effective in cleaning this membrane. Filling an eyecup with plain water or adding small amounts of boric acid (follow directions on the bottle) will cleanse the membranes of the eye socket.
- Gargle with water and natural full mineral salt at the first sign of irritation in the throat. If you work in an air-conditioned environment, you should go outside periodically for fresh air.
- Air-conditioned air is dry and drying to the eyes and nasal membranes.
SummaryIn summary, keep in mind that anything that breaks through your body’s barriers has to be attacked by secondary defense mechanisms that we call allergic responses. These responses are normal, natural and required. Don’t compromise your body’s natural ability to fight the invading allergen with over-the-counter medications. Rather, think and look for ways to build up your body’s ability to protect itself.
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