What are Antigen, Antibody and Allergen?
Antigen is a protein expressed by a bacteria or virus (Pathogen) that is recognized by the body’s immune system as foreign.
Antibody is a protective protein produced by the immune system in response to the presence of a foreign substance antigen. Antibodies are produced by lymphocytes (WBC). For each Antigen found in the body, a new corresponding antibody is produced. There are billions of billions of antigens in the body and same number of antibodies is produced by immune system.
Allergens are occurring proteins found in food which may cause abnormal immune response to people with allergies. Allergy free people’s immune system does not consider allergen as a threat.
Foods with high allergens (food protein) are
- Tree nuts
- Pea nuts
Allergic people’s immune system will over react when they consume one of the above foods.
Now the question is,
why allergens are not harmful to all, but only few people’s immune system reacts with allergens and causes allergies?
This makes many people confusing without any clear solution.
So I decided to write a detailed article on allergy, asthma and immunity with research proofs from scientists across the world.
It’s a long article, and will surely help if you read it till the end to get better understanding on immunity, allergy, asthma and honey correlation.
Allergies, asthma and low immunity, the Reason behind it:
Only after 1980’s allergies have been rising in developed countries. Studies have shown that, if parents have allergies then kids are likely to have allergies.
Allergies are growing fast in urban cities of India compared to rural or tribal areas of India. Lifestyle and place of living has huge impact on immune system causing allergies and asthma.
Many people say pollens from plants are the main reason for allergies.
I’m a beekeeper and I harvest honey from different parts of south India both from agriculture lands and forests.
Honey bees collect nectar and pollen from flowers and bring it to hives. Honey bees use pollen for preparing royal jelly ( food for queen bee) and bee bread for developing larvae.
Pollen is the most nutritious and easily digestible plant protein on this planet.
Beekeepers are exposed to high pollens than any others in this world. In my beekeeping experience the highest pollen count is in sunflower. When I cross the sunflower field, my white shirt will slightly turn yellowish orange due to pollens deposits carried by wind and bees. Though I’m exposed to high pollen, I never had allergies to allergen.
Not only had myself, even the farmers and tribal people whom I have met in 7 years of beekeeping, never reported any allergies or asthma trouble.
So I found out that people living in farms don’t develop allergies against allergens (food protein).
Many customers who buy honey from honey kart say, we need honey for allergies, increasing immunity and for asthma problems. In my own study, among Indian cities, Delhi tops the list in buying honey from honeykart for allergic and asthma purpose.
This is because high level of carbon monoxide emitted by vehicles in Delhi. Though Chennai, Mumbai and kolkata has more vehicles than Delhi, the carbon monoxide levels in Delhi air is more than other Indian cities, because cities like Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata have seashore like Arabian sea, Bay of Bengal and India ocean which provides them fresh air. But Delhi doesn’t have seashore to provide fresh air. This is the main reason for high air pollution in Delhi.
Research report on Allergy, asthma and immunity problems:
sciencemag is a centre of important science discovery with seed money from Thomas Edison. According to sciencemag,org research, kids who grew up in village farms have less allergy to those of people from cities. Link to research article on allergies and asthma
The same research was published as news article in Time magazine
Research says: growing up in dairy farms, protect children from Allergies, asthma and fever by increasing immunity.
In my own experience, people exposed to any farming (not only dairy farm) will develop natural immunity and have less allergies and asthma problems.
Children grown in cities are not subjected to natural pollens or other
Pathogens. Where as, children under age 10 grown in farms are exposed to natural pollens and pathogens which help in balancing immune system by fighting allergies and increasing immunity at young age.
This exposure to pathogens in farms is called Benign Exposure. Research information about Benign exposure
So after the age of 10, children’s who haven’t developed strong immunity will slowly start becoming allergic to natural food proteins present in milk, egg, wheat, tree nuts, fish, soy.
It’s also found that, if parents have allergy to allergens, then their kids are more likely to develop allergic to certain foods.
We have found the reason for allergies, asthma and low immunity. Now its time to find the possible solutions to controlling allergy, asthma and increasing immunity.
Immunotherapy:- In modern medical science, small doses of allergen are injected to allergic patients at regular intervals. This will help immune system to slowly develop antibodies to allergen and will heathen the immune system. But it has other complications.
Honey for immunity, allergy and asthma:
Natural way of curing allergy is by giving honey with pollens to allergic patients. Natural honey contains certain amount of pollens. Pollens present in honey helps in increasing immunity by controlling allergic effects and asthma.
A study was conducted by content.karger.com in International Archives of Allergy & Immunology . It has found that 44 allergic patients under age of 33 were given honey with pollen and results showed 60 to 70% improvement. Patients who used pollen honey had significant control over allergic symptoms than that did those on conventional medication.
This shows that people who consumed small amount of pollen honey daily have gradually developed strong immune system, making it less sensitive to allergens.
This is much better than Immunotherapy by injecting antigens through painful needles.
Allergies are also developed when pollens of the plants are inhaled by people who don’t have strong immunity against pollens. The over exposure of pollens during windy days causes severe allergy to people. This is because immune dysfunctions and immune overreacts to pollens which are not harm to our body.
Now another doubt arises that, how eating pollen honey will cure allergy while inhaling pollen causes allergy.
Answer is simple: When you inhale, you only take pollen which causes inflammation to allergic people. But when taking pollen along with honey, pollen is inflammatory while honey is anti-inflammatory. So honey suppresses the inflammatory response of the pollen along with the immune system and helps immune system develop antibodies for pollen, there by making immune system stronger and lowering allergies and asthma problem to allergic people.
Procedure to take honey for immunity, allergy and asthma:
Another factor to consider while taking honey for allergy is pollen content of honey.
In honey kart, we provide natural honey from beehives as well as forest honey.
Honey harvested from beehives will have less pollen compared to wild forest honey. In agriculture lands only less pollen is produced by flowers compared to forest trees.
We do not remove the pollen comb from beehive, as pollen is needed for feeding the larvae by the bees. But in forest honey, the wild bees collect enormous amount of pollen from wild flowers, hence high pollen content in wild forest honey.
People sensitive to allergies should start with less pollen honey, if they don’t find any allergy response they should start taking less pollen honey mixed with forest honey(more pollen honey), so that their body slowly develops immunity to allergens. Later after months time they can take wild forest honey directly to increase immunity.
There will not be a sudden increase in immunity and cure to allergy. Body will respond slowly and will have a gradual improvement in allergy. It might take 5 months or more based on the health condition and pollution exposed to the patient.
Honey is a healthy natural food. So, one need not be scared of taking a sweet healthy food for controlling allergy, asthma and increasing immunity.