February 21st, 2007
Allergies and chemical sensitivities can be frustrating conditions to live with and potentially dangerous for those with liver concerns. See how allergens and Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) can hamper liver function, and how those susceptible to their symptoms can best support their liver.
by Nicole Cutler, L.Ac.
Allergies are hyperactive immune responses that occur when the immune system determines a substance to be a foreign invader. Known as allergens, these potentially harmful substances can range from food to pollen to chemicals to dust. Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) differs from allergies in that the body cannot defend itself from the neurotoxic chemicals present within our environment. It’s an illness that affects over 16% of the American population.
An allergy is an overactive response by the immune system to various substances that are not harmful in-and-of themselves. As opposed to allergies, chemical sensitivities prevent the body from reacting effectively to potentially harmful chemicals.
Allopathic medicine aims to block or suppress the immune response for allergies, but is frequently seen as only a temporary symptom fix for a systemic weakness. Unfortunately, prescribed medications may cause side effects, as well as progressively weaken the immune system with prolonged use. Just as for allergies, medications may be prescribed to lessen MCS symptoms; however, there is no proven medical treatment to benefit its sufferers. Understanding allergies and MCS from a larger perspective will help in minimizing the impact of these conditions.
The Liver’s Role in Allergies
Allergies are often the result of an overloaded toxic state within the liver. As the primary human organ responsible for processing everything we come in contact with, the liver filters out any toxic components introduced into the body. If the quantity of a substance entering the bloodstream is too great for the liver to process quickly, the immune system recognizes the molecules as being an allergen and produces antibodies against them. Through the filtering process, the liver plays a substantial role in reducing the effect an established or potential allergen will have on the body.
The Liver’s Role in MCS
An overexposure to chemicals typically causes Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, which ultimately results in an immune system malfunction. Chemical overexposure damages the liver’s ability to process toxins, rendering the person more susceptible to previously unproblematic chemicals. In addition to chemical overexposure, viruses, severe emotional or physical trauma, liver disease and metabolic disorders are all capable of impairing the liver’s ability to process environmental toxins. Instead of processing chemicals and getting rid of them, the liver’s inability to eliminate toxins facilitates their penetration into every organ system via the blood stream.
Liver Support to Target the Systemic Problem
Many alternative healthcare practitioners are aware of the liver’s role in both allergies and MCS. Many case studies demonstrate that supporting the liver in effectively processing toxins results in reduced allergy and MCS symptoms. Two of the most popular ways to support liver health are:
1. Detoxification – In many cases, a liver detoxification program greatly reduces allergies and MCS. Liver cleansing removes built up sludge responsible for slowing the liver’s processing and filtering duties. Since 1955, many experts in alternative healthcare have relied on the Ayurvedic herbal formula Liv.52 for effective and reliable liver detoxification.
2. Preservation – Preserving the integrity of healthy liver cells assures optimal liver functioning, which reduces allergies and MCS. Milk thistle is one of the most well-known and studied herbs capable of preserving liver cells. Clinical studies have repeatedly demonstrated that milk thistle protects liver cells from damage and helps regenerate new liver cells. The phytosome formula has been shown to be 10 times more bioavailable than standardized milk thistle.
Specific Sleep Concerns
We spend so much of our lives sleeping that it only makes sense to consider the impact our sleeping environments have on allergies or MCS. The most frequently advice given to a person with either of these conditions is to avoid the offending substance. As it relates to their sleeping environments, individuals with extreme allergy or chemical sensitivities should evaluate the surface they sleep on. The two primary environmental issues affecting a person while asleep, include:
- Dust Mites – People sleeping on mattresses containing dust mites are prime candidates for allergic reactions. However, a non-porous mattress covering will help facilitate sleep for those who are allergic to the common dust mite.
- Chemicals - For MCS sufferers, the chemicals contained in and released from mattresses can trigger severe toxic reactions. Mattress foam is treated with fire-retardants, which pose a great health risk.
Mattress foam poses a great health risk because it is treated with fire-retardants. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), one class of fire-retardants, present the most dangerous health risk of all. PBDEs are similar in makeup to PCBs; they are chemical cousins that have been banned for nearly three decades because they cause immune suppression, endocrine disruption, cancer, behavioral problems and other undesirable effects. In lieu of sleeping on a chemical-free mattress, frequent vacuuming, ventilation at night and running a HEPA air filter will significantly lower the level of exposure of any dangerous chemicals.
Taking steps to strengthen your liver’s health and working to achieve the best sleep possible are the results of stepping outside the immediacy of finding symptom relief and into the larger perspective of overall systemic health.
www.allergies.about.com, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS): the Afflicted, About, Inc., 2006.
www.curezone.com, Allergies – Prevention and Curing Protocol, CureZone.com, 2006.
www.drhuldaclark.org, Allergies, drhuldaclark.org, 2006.
www.drrosboyarnaturopath.com.au, Allergies, RosBoyarNaturopath, 2006.
www.ezinearticles.com, Chemical-free Sleep, Jennifer Jordan, EzineArticles.com, 2006.
www.healingdaily.com, Allergy: Causes and Solutions, Leduc, Marc, 2002.
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