What Are The Causes of Allergies?

I met a young lady the other day at the Season’s Christmas Show in Mississauga that was having real problems with allergies.  Each year, she said, she seemed to have a new one.  And strange ones.  Oft times she would get some weird allergy that was obviously not hereditary as neither of her parents were particularly allergy prone.

In the 50s and 60s, peanut allergies were pretty much unheard of and in general allergies were not such a big deal.  I’ve known for some years that peanut allergies were largely created by the over use of antibiotics.  So, I thought I would try to see if I could find something definitive for allergies in general, as to cause.

There are numerous theories.  Some make quite a bit of sense to me and others not so much.  Some researchers, I think, ignore important data and some researchers get far too complex.  Maybe they want to keep their research grants going…!

There is a doctor in Germany that has observed that children growing up on farms have fewer allergies that city kids.  This study has been going on in various ways for 20 plus years. They are still trying to figure it all out.

There is a very extensive article about this study, which I really liked, here:

Allergic Living - Why? (click link)

“...came from a school doctor in a Swiss village He noticed that farm children under his care, unlike other kids, never seemed to get hay fever.”

“The findings have been generally consistent – about 1 to 2 per cent of the farm children in the studies had asthma compared to 12 per cent of local, non-farm children in control groups. - Dr. Erika von Mutius”

Another quote from this article shows exposure to other children also lessened the incidence of allergies:


“Children in the larger families were being exposed to more germs. It fit with this rudimentary hygiene hypothesis. “It took off from there,” says von Mutius.”

Another theory that I came across is that the cause is the increase of carbon dioxide due to global warming.  I discount this for any number of reasons (poor science being the main one) and also because there isn’t much anyone can do short term to fix this with regard to allergies.  And as there seem to be solutions that work with respect to some other theories, well it just don’t hold up.

This short article shows a direct link between antibiotics, gut flora and allergies:

Do Antibiotics Cause Food Allergies?(click link)

I came across a couple of articles a few years ago that linked the overuse of antibiotics to peanut allergies.  The antibiotics killed certain bacteria in the stomach that were needed to process certain proteins in peanuts.  As a result the body could not metabolize them but instead reacted and treats this protein as an allergen.  I haven’t found yet that specific article but here is a quote from another site: 

"Dr. Martin Blaser, a microbiologist and professor at New York University, is working tirelessly on groundbreaking research into this dramatic spike in food allergies. His hypothesis is that exposure to antibiotics early in life is diminishing positive gut bacteria and thus weakening children’s immune systems, making them more susceptible to allergies.”

Antibiotics and Peanut Allergies

And more from Dr. Blaser here:

“This microbiome is vital to our immunity against disease. Recent research shows the micrbiome* is disappearing.”

“The loss of our bodies microbial diversity is owed the overuse of antibiotics in both humans and animals and the widespread use of antiseptics, sanitizers and Cesarian sections.”

Food Allergies(click link)

(*microbiome: a community of microorganisms (such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses) that inhabit a particular environment and especially the collection of microorganisms living in or on the human body)

Exrapolate from this that if you are eating dairy, or eating meat that is not from farms that are antibiotic free, you will be getting them into your system nonetheless.  

I find that researchers often look in too narrow a field.  Having their own area of research, they neglect or fail to take in to account pertinent data from another’s research.   I’m not sure if this intentional because they want their own research to go on forever or because of grants, or for their own credibility or some kind of self importance.  As if it would be a bad thing to ‘borrow’ from someone else’s ideas or research.  

I have not read Dr. Blaser’s book and have not read detailed research by Dr. Erika von Mutius.  But… if one takes a step back and tries his or her best to not get too terribly complicated, one could surmise certain things from the above data.  

So, research and evidence from the above websites show:

1. Big families have fewer issues with allergies and sickness.

2. Farm children statistically are much more resistant to allergies and sickness in general.

3. Overuse of antibiotics can compromise immune systems and destroy ‘good’ bacteria as well as ‘bad’ bacteria.

Another point, and this is completely unscientific and just my own observation over the years: for about 10 years I was in a small independent grocery store.  Being near the front door of the store I could see that the customers who went directly for the sanitizer were often the least healthy.  Cause or effect, I don’t know.  But my observation is that a majority of people that are ‘germaphobic’ are the ones that have the hardest time with illness and allergies.  They are sick the most.  Again, cause or effect.  Are they that way because they over use sanitizers and they are not getting proper exposure to environmental bacteria?  Or, are they using sanitizers and being overly careful because they are already in a bad way?  

I don’t feel that someone should be careless, dirty and slovenly.  Those that are sick should, in general, be isolated from the healthy.  But one of the best ways for one’s body to build up antibodies is to be exposed to various bacteria.  

The farm kids were around sick and well animals constantly.  Yet, they remained healthy.  I know moms that would cringe seeing these kids in an environment like that.

So, what can an individual do to fix this?  Here are some of my suggestions.  (Also, it is OK to do your own research on this.)

  1. Find some sort of natural sanitizer.  Most of the commercial ones are very destructive.  Find something with honey (antibacterial) and calendula (antiseptic).  There are other ‘natural’ ways to ‘sanitize’, just do your research.  Don’t use disinfectant soaps.
  2. Buy meat products that are from farms that do not feed their animals antibiotics.  Much easier to find these days.  Although, if you drink a lot of milk, that may be a little more difficult to find.
  3. Let your children play in the dirt.  And play in the dirt with them.  

Additionally, in a book by Dr. D. C. Jarvis called Folk Medicine, he talks about having children with hay fever chew beeswax.  My understanding is that the bees creating this would be in the area where the allergies were contracted.  Honey was also used by Dr Jarvis for allergies in general.

I don’t think there is a quick fix necessarily for those already with severe or not so severe allergies but like anything, do little bits can gradually make a difference.  And as more and more people change their buying habits and stop over sanitizing maybe we can come off that nose dive into a completely unhealthy society.