Sunday, September 6, 2015

Airborne Peanut "Reactions" Debunked! ~and my Microbiome Obsession

I had the most thrilling, exciting, life-affirming day yesterday because of my peanut allergy.  It involves international travel, adventure, and heroic deeds.  I will blog about this at a later time.  That's why you should subscribe to my blog.  Subscribing to my blog is free, and the latest installment will conveniently be delivered to your email inbox.

What I am very excited to write about tonight is to discuss several articles that validate my personal experiences and belief in science in relation to my peanut allergy!  Here are the links:

The Daily Mail.  I know, right?  I apologize that I included it as a source however, the material articulates a point.  Seriously, there is a point besides the hysteria and bad, sloppy writing.  And that point gives me the warm fuzzies, and it makes me feel safe.  Well, I can't ever really feel 'safe.'  But somewhat, a little safer.  

The scientists are convinced a person cannot get an anaphylactic reaction due to airborne peanut protein alone.  This is an issue that has concerned me.  I travel by air, bus, and train.  And I have been supremely terrified of stories of apparent anaphylactic reactions due to 'airborne' peanut dust.  I have personally limited my travel.  I have been a disciple of The Fear.  

But most recently, I am a disciple of the wisdom of my Microbiome.  I have been completely obsessed with my microbiome recently.  Have you ever heard of Kim Chee?  I have eaten three jars of it in the past week.  It's a normal thing for me now to consume half a jar of kimchee for breakfast.  Why?  Because that spicy fermented cabbage is teeming with probiotics that could theoretically alleviate my allergies!  I buy insane amounts of probiotics and consume them with reckless abandon!  A few weeks ago I bought 16 ounces of highly concentrated probiotics that were supposed to last a month.  I drank 'em down in 4 days.  I read about the studies of very young children fed huge amounts of probiotics: their developing immune systems could easily be conditioned to stop being allergic to peanuts.  Probiotics are awesome.  They seem to have a positive impact on my mood, my ability to concentrate, and a healthier feeling in general.  But I remain allergic as all heck to peanuts.

I am not giving up!  I am going to keep trying!

I intend to keep consuming ridiculous amounts of probiotics, regardless of whether they help my peanut allergy because I feel better when I do this.  It's not going to be the magic cure that ends my severe allergy.  I appreciate the addition to my toolbox, another helpful aspect about my life that I can control that can help keep my asthma and eczema from flaring and crippling me.

The link between my Microbiome obsession and "Airborne Peanut Reactions" has a name and it's Tim Spector.  He's the scientist in the articles who recently wrote a book about the fabulous human microbiome called "The Diet Myth."  He is also the scientist who did the heavy lifting and took a close look at all the scientific research, and concluded that the heavy peanut protein molecules needed to cause a reaction cannot become airborne.  

I have always been skeptical of people who claim that their 'peanut anaphylactic reaction' is due to airborne peanut proteins.  The reason for my skepticism is my childhood.  I grew up in the 1980's.  My dad was the Vice President of an airline.  He flew all over the world all the time.  He flew me all over the world, a lot.  Well, maybe not all over the world, but to the USA and the Caribbean frequently.  I started having anaphylactic reactions to peanuts when I was about 4.

I wasn't as allergic then as I am now.   Scientists and laboratory people describe the antibodies in my blood as being 'thermonuclear.'  Level 5 or level 6.  Actually the last time I was tested in 2011, the laboratory had to dilute my blood serum with saline, and even then it maxed out as a level 6.  It used to be 5, but it is now currently 6.  That's the worst this allergy can get. 

When I was a kid my allergy was maybe half as bad as it is now to peanuts.  And this was in the days when peanuts were served as snacks.  Every flight.  I remember having asthma a lot when I was flying in planes with my dad.  I remember taking a lot of Benadryl.  I remember being very itchy.  But I never had an  anaphylactic reaction when I was flying as a kid.  And I was in a lot of pressurized cabins with over 50 people opening up packets of peanuts and eating them around me. And I had asthma attacks too.  Because people liked to light up and smoke cigarettes after eating peanuts.  It was the 1980's and it was very popular to smoke cigarettes on airplanes.  I had a rough childhood.  It was kind of like a nightmare at times.  I'm very happy that things have changed.

 For me personally, the evidence does not suggest peanut allergies can be transmitted in the air.  For that reason, I have remained skeptical of people who claim that they have 'airborne peanut allergies.'  

If you are a person who believes in airborne peanut anaphylactic reactions,  I do not mean to invalidate you.  Just because my personal experience and current science doesn't show this to be true does not mean that it cannot be possible.  
Who knows, maybe there will be some more scientific research in the future and it will show in some cases that a little bit of peanut proteins can become airborne.  That is the cool thing about science!

Science is always changing and learning, amending itself, and adapting to the latest advances....
Just like my Microbiome!

1 comment:

  1. I just found your blog.
    I hope you're ok... I don't see any recent entries.
    Please keep writing.