Monday, July 11, 2016

Balanced Environment is the Key to Allergy Control-

Dr. Abe V. Rotor

Everyone of us has allergies - there is no exception. But many are not aware of this fact. Allergy comes from land, water and air. The food we eat, medicine and drugs we take, clothes we wear, cosmetics we apply, chemical sprays and fumigants, farm and industrial chemicals, plastics and other synthetics, and a lot more. By knowing those that cause us allergy, we would be in a better position to institute prevention and immediate remedy, and not become a victim of of this silent epidemic.

Are you allergic to marine fish, like talakitok, and crabs?

Allergy, the Silent Epidemic of our times is masked by the Good Life. It is surreptitiously leading millions of people all over the world into various complications and diseases that may even lead to death.

To bring medicine to the understanding of the people, to make themselves well in their own capacity is perhaps the biggest challenge of medicine today. Thus, the three contending areas of medicine should work together like a tripod.

1. Conventional medicine from which modern medicine grew and developed well into computerization and genetic engineering.

2. Alternative medicine, being part of Filipino culture and closest to local remedies, time-tested and practical remedies - the mainstay of folk medicine which caters to the grassroots.

3. Environmental Medicine, the most practical and original to the point of being primeval, if I may say so. Its rules are universal and as natural as Nature’s laws. It is dependent on ecological principles in the conservation of a clean and balance environment

Environmental medicine was born out of the rush of modernization and apparent lack of concern on our deteriorating environment. As we prosper economically we seem to have forgotten a basic equation of weighing the deleterious by-products of progress, and keeping them out of harm’s way. Basic as it is, we have forgotten the equation of oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange that keep the biosphere in balance, energy-matter relationship that maintains steady energy supply, organism-habitat balance that protects species and ecosystems, acid-alkaline balance that prevents formation of acid rain, and the like.

In fact we have grown too progressive – we call our era Postmodernism, as if we are living in the future. It has become difficult for us to distinguish – much more to separate – our needs from our wants. There seems to be no end of affluence. We want power, wealth, pleasure, in a materialistic way. But we have homogenized them too, with pollution, allergy, acid rain, AIDS, diabetes and many other sources that destroy our health and our environment. Through globalization we heat the atmosphere a frying pan, warming it up to spawn hurricanes, floods, cyclones – even tsunamis. We pierced a hole through the ozone layer as if the amount of sunlight entering the earth is not enough.


How little would one give importance to ailments and discomforts, while fighting for survival, and loneliness and despair. People who are placed in such a dilemma may not even care, and they may not even know the difference between being healthy or sick, much less between colds and allergy rhinitis, simple indigestion from candidiasis, rashes developed from different causes. Phobia, anxiety, disease, malnutrition, loneliness, are difficult to decipher and separate when one is suffering of physical, mental and emotional distress. AVR


Indeed our world has changed a lot in the past century, and continues to accelerate as towns grow into cities, cities into megapolises, opening settlements to an exponentially growing population. There could be no better conditions for allergy to flourish - modern living in the city. It is Pandora’s box.

It is the microcosm of many other cases, perhaps in lesser degree or worst, older or more recent, that prevail in many cities around the world where the same recipe of allergy is supplied by the by-products of industrialization, high-rise buildings, affluent living style, that characterize progress, and exacerbated by lack or inefficient Governance.

But this is the pulse beat of trade and commerce that has taken over the healthy and vigorous biological clock; it is the signature of modernity that capitalism has brought into the life of modern man. This is the circulatory flow of money and goods, men and ideas, survival and affluence reaching all levels, nurturing the organism, determining what we gauge as growth and development.

Dr. Arturo B. Rotor, the first Filipino Allergist, tells us that the human being should be regarded holistically, therefore too, when it comes to attending to his health – body and spirit, psyche and intellect. And we realize that man is truly divine with these attributes: Man the Thinker (Homo sapiens), Man the Maker (Homo faber), Man the Player (Homo ludens) and the Man the Reverent (Homo spiritus). 


At this point allow me to cite the case of Germany, considered a classical case about allergy. For 45 years Germany was divided by a wall. Economic wise, West Germany was very progressive, while East Germany was poor. The West Germans enjoyed one of the world’s highest standards of living. They live in luxurious homes, drive Mercedes-Benz as they pleased. The East Germans on the other hand, were living under extreme poor living condition, with housing and consumer goods always in short supply. They had to wait years to be able to buy a second hand automobile. In short West Germany was a capitalist Utopia, while East Germany was a socialist Third World country. It was a case of one people living on separate and unequal planets. Then in 1990 Germany was reunited. The Cold War was over.

Now, what has this historical event to do with allergy?

Scientists compared the two extreme environments and came up with startling results.

The Robert Koch Institute came up with a revealing finding: allergies were far more common among Germans from the affluent West. West German baby boomers were up to 83 % more likely than their East German counterparts to have allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and asthma. Since there was no such differences in allergy rates were found in German born before World War II, the researches suspected that West Germany’s postwar lifestyles had somehow sensitized its children to pollen, mold, dust mites, and other types of allergens.

West Germany represents a microcosm of a global Silent Epidemic, and countries that adopted the same lifestyle have more allergy cases than countries, which like East Germany, have remained, for one reason or another, underdeveloped.

What makes an affluent society have more allergy cases as compared to a marginal society?

Which of these fall under West Germany’s condition? And which ones fit East Germany’s?

Dr. Arturo B. Rotor Memorial Lecture 11th Biennial Convention, Sept 9, 2008, Philippine Society of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Theme: Understanding Allergies Across Specialties. Sofitel Philippine Plaza, Manila

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