Is technology affecting our health?

Research carried out in California has found that children whose mothers lived near cables or pylons when pregnant or even used microwaves and hairdryers are more predisposed  to have asthma.  

Elecro-magnetic radiation is considered by many health experts to be damaging to our immune systems and to be responsible for many of today’s epidemics such as allergies. However, technology companies and ‘experts’ very quickly quash such findings.  Scientists at Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California, claimed that the incidence of asthma was three times greater when mothers had been exposed to excessive electromagnetic fields.

Will we ever know the truth about the effects on our health of mobiles phones and wireless technology? Or will it be as some people predict that in the future they will be regarded as smoking is now – a big health hazard? 

Schools could be pushed to ban mobile phones and wi-fi networks because of the alleged damage to children’s developing brains. The Council of Europe is following up on recent research and is also concerned about portable phones and baby monitors in the home.   With one third of the world using mobile (cell) phones it’s hard to go anywhere now that is away from the electro-radiation that is around us all the time.  It has also been claimed that it causes permanent damage to DNA in our body cells.

It is a fact that it’s hard to get away from an electronic environment now wherever you go because there are always phone masts and wi fi systems, even in remote areas.  So even if you decided to make a stand yourself it would make little difference.

Feeling exhausted?

Natural health advocates believe that at best electro-radiation saps our energy, leading to tiredness, lethargy and depression.   People with chronic fatigue syndrome are well advised not to sleep in rooms with mobile phones or wireless networks.  The best we can do as individuals is to switch everything off at night, and not have the mobile by the bed as an alarm (a popular habit among young people). 

The other similarities to the tobacco industry are that any studies carried out by the mobile phone or computer industry seem to claim that there is no harm whatsoever. Once again the consumer is left wondering, and as this technology is not only an integral part of our lives, but also very profitable for the companies involved, it’s unlikely it’s going to disappear any time soon.

Fertility and hayfever claims

Further research claims that laptops may also affect male fertility by damaging the sperm and fragmenting DNA.  The first study into laptops claims that men who rest them on their laps – rather than on a desk – are much more likely to be affected, according to researchers from Nascentis, a reproductive medical centre in Cordoba, Argentina. Wi-fi radiation affects sperm motility, or movement, and damages the DNA.
There is a new theory that the increase in hayfever may be due to high levels of electromagnetic radiation. The premise is that all the technology we have around us is emitting such high levels of electromagnetic waves that we are more prone to allergies such as hayfever.  This is supposedly because of the numerous vibrations in the atmosphere bombarding our skin, which senses them as alien invaders, thus telling the brain to produce a reaction.
Blinded by Science is by Matthew Silverstone and is available on Amazon – click on our Amazon carousel on the home page.

Matthew Silverstone is a serial entrepreneur. His career came to a halt due to the illness of his son, for whom he became a full time carer. It was watching the lack of medical help from the established sectors of science that led him to start questioning everything that he had been told about science and health. His son has since made a full recovery.

Allergies

How many people do you know who have hay fever, eczema, asthma or who can’t eat certain foods?

It is claimed that one third of the British population – around 20 million people – suffer from an allergy. There are only 33 NHS allergy specialists in the UK and waiting lists run up to nine months.

There are far too few allergy specialists in the UK, and only a handful of allergy clinics available to patients. Allergic reactions can be caused by a variety of allergens:

• Pollen (hayfever)
• House dust mites (asthma)
• Wasps or bees
• Foods – particularly dairy and wheat
• Chemicals in household cleaning products, cosmetics and toiletries
• Pesticides sprayed on foods

And allergies are on the rise with over 6,000 people a year being admitted to hospital. One quarter of these are as a result of anaphylaxis which is a very severe reaction to certain substances – often nuts – and can be life-threatening. An anaphylactic reaction can induce:

• Swelling of the lips and face
• Breathing problems

Many people are frustrated by the lack of knowledge GPs have and may find it difficult to be referred to a special allergy clinic as there are around 12 full time clinics in the whole country and about the same part-time, whereas there should be one at every hospital.

Food intolerances

Choosing to go on a food elimination diet can often help to improve health enormously. In a trial carried out by the Centre of Health Economics at the University of York and commissioned by Allergy UK it was found out of 5,286 people suffering from various health conditions that:

75.8 per cent improved after identifying food allergies
38 per cent had gastro-intestinal problems
13.7 per cent had skin problems
10.7 per cent had nerve problems
10.1 per cent were respiratory conditions
9.4 per cent were psychological
6.2 per cent were musculo-skeletal – aches and pains


According to YorkTest three foods that many people are intolerant to are:

Chilli peppers – found in curry and eaten by millions shows up in 9 per cent of YorkTest’s food intolerance tests
Kiwi fruit
Coffee


What you can do

Often diet has much to do with allergic reactions and visiting a nutritionist can prove to be the answer, or visiting a complementary therapist in any of the following:

• Homeopathy
• Naturopathy
• Acupuncture
• Herbal medicine
• Chirokinetics
• Nutrition
• Electronic Gem Therapy
• Chinese Herbal Medicine
• Ayurvedic Medicine

CASE STUDIES

Christine Boothman woke every morning at 2 a.m with a terrible headache which lasted until 11 o’clock each morning. By this time she felt incredibly tired which was made especially difficult as she works as a nursery nurse with noisy children. The doctor couldn’t find anything wrong with her, but when she went to YorkTest and had a food intolerance test she found she was intolerant to beef, eggs, dairy and wheat. She cut them in October 2007 and hasn’t had a headache since.

Natalie Tadman, 32, is an art teacher who has had eczema since she was a child when she had patches on her face and hands. Whatever treatment she was given did not help but after taking a food intolerance test she found that she needed to cut out bread, dates and wine. She is now in control of her eczema more than she has ever been.

Go to our Therapies A-Z page to find out more.

READING:

The Allergy Bible by Linda Gamlin. Click on the Amazon ad.

Easing asthma

Asthma is at epidemic levels particularly among children but it can be made much more manageable with breathing techiques, therapies and self-help.
What is asthma?

Asthma is a recurring problem which can be triggered by allergies, infections or stress. When a sufferer comes into contact with an asthma trigger the muscles around the walls of the airways which carry air in and out of the lungs tighten. It becomes difficult to breathe, the chest feels tight and the sufferer may wheeze and cough. Attacks range from mild breathlessness to respiratory failure which is dangerous.

How many people are affected?

As many as 5.2 million people in the UK currently receive treatment for asthma usually in the form of inhalers. Over 1 million of those being treated are children, and every year 1,400 people die due to asthma.

What are the causes?

The question is why is asthma so much worse than it was in the 50s and 60s when it was rare to find someone with the condition at school? Now virtually every school class has at least one child with asthma.

Much of it is due to our lifestyle and environmental pollution. We eat and breathe in chemicals which are everywhere around us and ever-increasing traffic means that pollution levels grow and grow. But one of the most common causes of asthma is the droppings of house dust mites which are prevalent among bedding, soft toys and in carpets.

Eliminating dust mites

A recent TV programme showed an experiment where a group of children with asthma had their rooms completely stripped out to get rid of every single dust mite. They were given mattresses with protective covers and completely new furnishings, and parents were asked to hoover out the room every day!

Initially all the children experienced a good night’s sleep and woke up in the morning feeling much better than normal, without runny eyes, coughs and wheezing. But most of the parents were finding the cleaning regime completely unrealistic because there was so much to do each day.

Self-help

Obviously it worked when the dust mites, which are claimed to be the most common trigger for allergens, are removed from the bedroom. However, it’s difficult to keep up such a regime all the time.

People with asthma experience some or many of the following as allergens:

• Cat and dog hairs
• Feathers in pillows and duvets
• Household chemicals
• Fungal spores from mould in damp areas
• Wheat and dairy
• Pollen

It makes sense to change the bedding so that it doesn’t contain feathers. Keeping windows closed, putting up net curtains and wearing sunglasses can help when pollen is a problem – see Hay Fever Time Again. And of course regular hoovering helps to keep down the dust – although avoid anyone with asthma being around when dusting is going on because it creates more airborne particles and makes the least allergic people sneeze!

Treatment

Conventional treatment is with inhalers which asthma sufferers keep on them all the time in case of attack. But inhalers do cause a number of side-effects which may not manifest for many years, but which can include gastro-intestinal problems. As the TV programme demonstrated children who are beset by asthma often exceed the recommended dose in attempts to breathe properly.

Natural solutions

Most complementary therapists would be wary of telling anyone that they can ‘cure’ asthma but several therapies are beneficial in alleviating attacks and making people less dependent on their medication. It is always recommended that people keep their inhalers with them even when they have tried other therapies, but if they use them much less so much the better.

Buteyko Breathing Technique

A drug free breathing technique which was developed in Russia by Dr Konstantin Buteyko, who discovered that all asthmatics overbreathe. This causes a reduction in the amount of carbon dioxide retained in the lungs which makes the airways automatically narrow to prevent any more loss of carbon dioxide. Therefore asthmatics find it easier to breathe in than out.

The Buteyko breathing exercises are designed to raise carbon dioxide levels to normal, and attacks tend to lessen and then completely stop. People learn how to overcome symptoms without using inhalers, so that they start to use them much less, but medication is not reduced until CO2 levels are back to normal and the patient has consulted their GP. Children improve quickly because they have only had asthma for a relatively short time.

The Buteyko Breathing Centre, Nottingham, 0115 846 1654 www.buteyko.co.uk

Buteyko Breathing Association, 01277 366906 www.buteykobreathing.org/

Nutrition

Certain foods can affect asthma sufferers more than other and most commonly these are wheat and dairy products. But if someone is allergic to something they eat or inhale it can cause asthma.

When an allergen is breathed in, the lining of the lung releases histamine which produces asthma. Some foods, particularly wheat and dairy products, have the same effect but take longer to reach the lungs through the body.

The conventional way of finding out which allergens are affecting asthmas is through skin prick tests. The possible allergen is injected with a small pin prick and if it causes redness or lumps it indicates an allergic reaction.

A self-help way to diagnose food allergies is to cut out wheat or dairy or the suspect food and see if there is any improvement. Then it may be possible to introduce them slowly back into the diet and the body may be able to tolerate it, or else they have to be cut out altogether.

It’s important for anyone with asthma to get adequate vitamins and minerals so a good Multivitamin/Mineral supplement is a good idea, such as viridiKid Multivitamin and Multimineral Formula for children and Viridian High Five Multimineral and Vitamins.

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There is still only a handful of allergy clinics in the UK so self-help is often the best bet. However, visiting a qualified nutritionist can help you to identify which foods are aggravating or causing the problem. Adopting a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables boosts the immune system, provides more nutrients and enables the body to be stronger and fight all types of illness.

The British Association of Nutritional Therapists, 08706 061284, www.bant.org.uk
The Institute for Optimum Nutrition, 020 8877 9993, www.ion.ac.uk

Relaxation

In itself relaxation may not prevent asthma but as this is a condition that can induce severe panic the calmer that someone can remain in the circumstances the better. As tension and stress often play any part in causing asthma attacks a more relaxed person is less likely to get them.

There are several ways of relaxing:

• Calming CDs and tapes
• Meditation – see
• Yoga
• T’ai chi/Chi Kung

Other therapies that help

• Naturopathy
• Homeopathy
• Traditional Chinese medicine
• Herbal medicine

General Council and Register of Naturopaths, British Naturopathic Association, 08707 456984 www.naturopathy.org.uk

The British Homeopathic Association supplies a free booklet entitled How to Get Homeopathic Treatment on the NHS, and a list of medically qualified practitioners: 0870 444 3950, www.trusthomeopathy.org
Alliance of Registered Homeopaths, www.a-r-h.org

The Society of Homeopaths, 11 Brookfield, Duncan Close, Moulton Park, Northampton NN3 6WL Tel: 0845 450 6611, Fax: 0845 450 6622, E-mail: info@homeopathy-soh.org

Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine, 01603 623994, The National Institute of Medical Herbalists, 01392 426022, www.nimh.org.uk