Allergy: A Type 1 Hypersensitivity Reaction

Allergy: A Type 1 Hypersensitivity Reaction

An allergy is a medical condition that causes someone to become sick after eating, touching, or breathing something that usually has little or no effect to the average person. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “Allergy” as, “exaggerated or pathological immunological reaction (as by sneezing, difficulty breathing, itching, or skin rashes) to substances, situations, or physical states that are without comparable effect on the average individual. “Hypersensitivity” is defined as, abnormally susceptible physiologically to a specific agent (as a drug or antigen). In this article, a type 1 hypersensitivity reaction will be discussed in detail, as well as treatments that can help to reduce the symptoms and potentially cure the allergic reaction completely.

Type 1 hypersensitivity (aka immediate or anaphylactic hypersensitivity) may involve skin, eyes, nasopharynx, bronchopulmonary tissues, and GIT (gastrointestinal tract). The reaction generally takes 15-30 minutes to occur after exposure to the antigen. However, in some cases, it can take 10-12 hours. The symptoms can be anywhere from a minor inconvenience to death.

In a type 1 hypersensitivity reaction, an antigen (a harmful/potentially harmful substance foreign to the body) is presented to CD4 glycoprotein cells (cluster of differentiation cells) and T-helper cells. This stimulates B-cells to produce Immunoglobulin class E (IgE) antibodies specific to the antigen. IgE antibodies then bind to Fc protein receptors on the surface of mast cells and basophils (both rich in histamine and anticoagulant heparin). Mast cells and basophils are then “sensitized” so when a second exposure of the same kind of antigen occurs, this cross links the cell-bound IgE and results in the release of pharmacologically active substances. Cross-linking of IgE Fc-receptor is extremely important in mast cell triggering. Antimicrobial cytotoxic granules are released, calcium ions (Ca2+, signaling transduction) are increased, and histamine (increases the permeability of the capillaries to white blood cells and some proteins to allow them to engage pathogens in the infected tissues), prostaglandin (hormone-like lipid compounds that regulate the contraction and relaxation of smooth muscle tissue), and leukotriene (use lipid signaling to convey information to either the cell producing them or neighboring cells in order to regulate immune responses) are secreted into the surrounding tissue area. Smooth muscle contraction and vasodilation are the main effects in the overall scheme.

Standard Treatments

Type 1 hypersensitivity is classified into an immediate and late-phase reaction. The immediate hypersensitivity reaction occurs minutes after exposure and results in the release of vasoactive amines and lipid mediators. The late-phase reaction occurs 2–4 hours after exposure and includes the release of cytokines (proteins important for cell signaling which impacts cell behavior).

Diagnostic tests include skin tests (skin prick and intradermal) which measure total IgE and specific IgE antibodies against the suspected allergens. Increased IgE levels are indicative of a potential atopic condition (a genetic disposition to develop an allergic reaction and produce elevated levels of IgE upon exposure to an environmental antigen, especially one inhaled or ingested). Symptomatic treatment is given with antihistamines (these block histamine receptors). Chromolyn sodium inhibits mast cell degeneration by inhibiting calcium ion influx (research suggests). Late-phase symptoms are treated with leukotriene receptor blockers or inhibitors of the cyclooxygenase pathway. Singulair and Accolate are leukotriene receptor blockers and Zileutoin are inhibitors of the cyclooxygenase pathway.

Bronchodilators (inhalants) such as isoproterenol derivatives provide short-term symptomatic relief from bronchoconstriction. Terbutaline and Albuterol are used in this case. Hyposensitization, immunotherapy or desensitization, is a treatment for insect venoms and some pollens.

Alternative and Natural Medicine

For many years it has been believed that honey could help relieve allergies by desensitizing allergy sufferers to the pollen in the air. Many scientists argue whether or not honey has a significant impact in treating allergies. However, studies show (by Finnish researchers) that people allergic to birch pollen were able to control their allergy symptoms more than those who used mainstream allergy medication when they consumed honey that contained birch pollen.

Acupuncture has proven to help relieve symptoms and help sufferers breathe better. This has been a successful treatment for many years. However, consistent treatment is required in order to relieve symptoms. When acupuncture treatments stop, the symptoms often times will reappear.

Butterbur is known to a successful natural cure. There is strong evidence supporting its effects. The plants commonly referred to as butterbur are found in the daisy family Asteraceae in the genus Petasites. The herb works as a leukotriene inhibitor. The inhibitor will block some chemicals that cause swelling in the nasal passages. This is a natural remedy that can successfully be used in the place of Singular. Research shows that an extract of butterbur root is just as effective at relieving nasal symptoms as antihistamines like Zyrtec and Allegra. This natural remedy is safer than mainstream medications because it doesn’t cause sleepiness (a common side effects of antihistamines). Many medications are also known to make one restless and uncomfortable. Butterbur, therefore, is a safe and healthy alternative.

There are many other natural remedies that show promising results in treating allergies. Quercetin, found in many fruits and vegetables, works as a mast cell stabilizer. It helps to block histamine that causes inflammation. Studies show great results with quercetin, however, more evidence is being attained to provide more facts. There are other natural treatments that show promising results, yet, more evidence is needed to make it a fact. Some of these natural remedies include, stinging nettle, bromelain (reduces nasal swelling), phleum pratense (helps reduce eye irritation), and tinospora cordifolia (helps reduce sneezing, itching, and nasal discharge). Echinacea, grape seed extract, pine bark extract, vitamin C, cat’s claw, albizzia, baical skullcap, goldenseal, and spirulina are known to help relieve symptoms as well, but more research needs to be conducted in order to make it official.

Knowledge is Power

Understanding what exactly is happening in a type 1 hypersensitivity reaction is crucial in seeking an effective treatment. Now that we understand the process of the reaction, we are armed with sufficient knowledge to start making progress toward a cure. Lots of research is needed to be certain that a particular treatment will be successful.

Many people do not like to take mainstream medications due to the long list of side effects and the potential dangers involved in using some of the medications. Many of these medications DO help relieve symptoms, but the side effects that accompany the treatment can be just as bad as the allergic reaction itself. Albuterol, for example, is known to cause shakiness in the arms and legs and it increases the heart rate for many users. Diarrhea, headache, stomach pain, and nausea are common side effects of many allergy medications.

It is said that in nature, for every plant that causes a negative reaction that there is another plant that will balance it out and provide a cure. While modern society tends to gravitate toward innovative technology for answers, it is unwise to ignore the natural world when seeking help. The more we lose touch with nature, the more we will encounter problems.

The best way to fight against the negative effects of allergies is to embrace the wisdom of the ancients. Getting enough sleep (balanced; not too much not too little), engaging in daily exercise (especially advanced systems like Yoga, Mo Pai Nei Kung, and T’aijiquan), and maintaining a proper diet free of unhealthy chemicals (such as preservatives and artificial flavors), processed foods, and most meat, will naturally build resistance against antigens and will strengthen bodily health to such an extent that one can overcome (or significantly reduce) all allergies. To reach the pinnacle of good health one must maintain a heightened state of consciousness. The more loving, caring, happy, and positive we can be, the better our health will be.

Resources:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/allergy

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Allergies/alternative-allergy-remedies-fact-fiction/story?id=18792233#1

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/allergies-allergy?page=2

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/136217-treatment

http://www.drugs.com/sfx/albuterol-side-effects.html

http://www.pathlights.com/nr_encyclopedia/

Infection and Immunity article about cigarette smoke

Cigarette Smoke Exposure Impairs Pulmonary Bacterial Clearance and Alveolar Macrophage Complement-Mediated Phagocytosis of Streptococcus pneumoniae

Cigarette smoke exposure increases the risk of pulmonary and invasive infections caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, the most commonly isolated organism from patients with community-acquired pneumonia. Despite this association, the mechanisms by which cigarette smoke exposure diminishes host defense against S. pneumoniae infections are poorly understood. In this study, we compared the responses of BALB/c mice following an intratracheal challenge with S. pneumoniae after 5 weeks of exposure to room air or cigarette smoke in a whole-body exposure chamber in vivo and the effects of cigarette smoke on alveolar macrophage phagocytosis of S. pneumoniae in vitro. Bacterial burdens in cigarette smoke-exposed mice were increased at 24 and 48 h postinfection, and this was accompanied by a more pronounced clinical appearance of illness, hypothermia, and increased lung homogenate cytokines interleukin-1β (IL-1β), IL-6, IL-10, and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α). We also found greater numbers of neutrophils in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid recovered from cigarette smoke-exposed mice following a challenge with heat-killed S. pneumoniae. Interestingly, overnight culture of alveolar macrophages with 1% cigarette smoke extract, a level that did not affect alveolar macrophage viability, reduced complement-mediated phagocytosis of S. pneumoniae, while the ingestion of unopsonized bacteria or IgG-coated microspheres was not affected. This murine model provides robust additional support to the hypothesis that cigarette smoke exposure increases the risk of pneumococcal pneumonia and defines a novel cellular mechanism to help explain this immunosuppressive effect.

Full Article: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2825918/

Healthy Living

The power that gives life

Do you believe it’s possible that SOMETHING created the universe and all existence? Is it possible that a power greater than the universe exists?

-“yes, God is the creator of all existence, God alone commands all…”

-“How did the universe come into existence? That’s a hard one, but evidence suggests that the giver of life is controlling the universe, which makes it a greater power than the universe.”

-“SOMETHING HAD to have made life!! Louis Pasteur disproved spontaneous generation of microorganisms, life doesn’t arise from nothing. The universe too, didn’t arise from nothing. The SOMETHING that brought the universe into existence is what most people in America refer to as GOD. The universe came from SOMETHING. That something is a power greater than the universe and what is known to mankind.”

-“How did we get here? I think the answer is so BIG that we would have difficulty wrapping our minds around it.”

-“I definately believe it’s possible. At our core we are but the light of consciousness. A power gives life to that light.”

-“Our people believe that the power that gives life is alive and we communicate with it and we give thanks for life and all the blessings of life. We live our lives in thanks and gratitude. It is a power that is greater than the universe…”

-“יהוה alone gives life to the universe. יהוה alone has power over all.”

In Love

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Eating organic food protects from pesticide exposure

Eating organic food protects from pesticide exposure

Filed Under: Pesticides Organics Health Children
Children who switched to eating organically-grown food greatly reduced their exposure to organophosphate insecticides. Scientists from Seattle and Atlanta just published the results of their study which linked pesticides in children’s urine to pesticide residues on food. Scientists worry that organophosphates might harm children’s developing nervous systems.

Children who switched to eating organically-grown food greatly reduced their exposure to organophosphate insecticides. Scientists from Seattle and Atlanta just published the results of their study which linked pesticides in children’s urine to pesticide residues on food. Scientists worry that organophosphates might harm children’s developing nervous systems.

Twenty-three elementary-aged children participated in a 15 day study which was divided into three parts. First the children ate their usual diet of conventionally-grown food for 3 days. Then they were switched to organically-grown substitutes for 5 days. For the final 7 days, they switched back to conventional food.

The organic substitutes were mainly fruits, vegetables, juices, and grain products (such as wheat) because these foods are often contaminated with organophosphates.

Urine samples were collected twice a day for each child. Researchers tested the urine for signs of pesticides.

In the case of two organophosphate insecticides — malathion and chlorpyrifos — the results were startling. Signs of these two chemicals were found in the urine in the first part of the study. Almost immediately after the children switched to an organic diet, these chemicals could not be detected. The chemicals showed up again when the children switched back to their normal diet.

The researchers said “We were able to demonstrate that an organic diet provides a dramatic and immediate protective effect against exposures to organophosphorus pesticides that are commonly used in agriculture.”

More information on chlorpyrifos

The organophosphate family of chemicals damages the nervous system (which includes the brain), so scientists are particularly concerned about children’s exposure because their bodies are still developing. Chlorpyrifos is one of the many insecticides in this chemical family.

In 1999, the Environmental Protection Agency decided to start cancelling some uses of chlorpyrifos, in part because of some disturbing animal studies. For example, newborn rats were much more susceptible to toxic effects of chlorpyrifos than adults. Also, even low doses of chlorpyrifos caused structural changes in the development of the brain.

While chlorpyrifos has been greatly restricted for uses in and around homes, it is still widely used in agriculture. The study described above makes it clear that children are still exposed to chlorpyrifos from residues on food.

http://www.pesticide.org/the-buzz/eating-organic-food-protects-children-from-pesticide-exposure

A brief introduction to DNA

A brief introduction to: DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid)
dna_mole.jpg (350×250)

In 1928, British scientist Fredrick Griffith was trying to learn about how certain types of bacteria produce a serious lung disease known as pneumonia. He isolated two slightly different types of pneumonia bacteria from mice.

In the lab…
disease strain – grew into smooth colonies on the culture plates
harmless strain – produced colonies with rough edges
(easy to distinguish due to different appearances)
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This led to biologists realizing that genetic information could be transformed from one bacterium to another.
In 1944, a group of scientists led by Canadian biologist Oswald Avery at the Rockefeller Institute in New York decided to repeat Griffith’s work. They did this with the intention of finding what it is that causes the transformation.
they took the heat-killed bacteria and destroyed proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and other molecules, including the nucleic acid RNA. Transformation still occurred. When they then destroyed the DNA, transformation did not occur.
Through this experiment they discovered that the nucleic acid DNA stores and transmits genetic information. 
In 1952, two American scientists, Alfred Hershey and Martha Chase collaborated in studying viruses (nonliving particles smaller than a cell that can infect living organisms). One type of virus that infects bacteria is a “bacteriophage” (“bacteria-eater”). Bacteriophages are composed of DNA or RNA inside of a protein body. When a bacteriophage enters a bacteria, the virus attaches to the surface of the cell and injects its bacteria.
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[T2 bacteriophage (tan) invading an E. coli cell (green)].
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Radioactive markers helped the scientists determine which part of the virus entered the infected cell which led them to discover that genes were made of DNA, not protein.
Because proteins contain very little phosphorus and DNA contains no sulfur, the scientists grew viruses in cultures containing radioactive isotopes of phosphorus-32 and sulfur-35. The radioactive substances were used as markers.
* If sulfur-35 was found in the bacteria, then the viruses protein was injected into the bacteria.
* If phosphorus-32 was found in the bacteria, then it was the DNA that had been injected into the bacteria.
The Hershey-Chase experiment concluded that the genetic material of the bacteriophage was DNA!
After this, scientists wanted to know more!
Genes…
1) carry information from one generation to the next.
2) they determine the heritable characteristics of organisms
3) all of a cell’s genetic information is replicated every time a cell divides (mitosis).
DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid)
DNA is a long molecule made of nucleotides.
Each nucleotide is made up of three basic components:
* a 5-carbon sugar called deoxyribose
* a phosphate group
* a nitrogenous (nitrogen containing) base >>>> there are 4 kinds of nitrogenous bases in DNA: adenine, thymine, guanine. and cytosine.
The backbone of a DNA chain is formed by sugar and phosphate groups of each nucleotide.
Scientists concluded that the four different nucleotides could be strung together in many different ways, so it was possible they could carry coded genetic information.
***  Years earlier, an America biochemist named Erwin Chargaff discovered that the percentages of nucleotides are equal in any sample of DNA.
A=T
G=C
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  A British scientist named Rosalind Franklin used a technique called X-ray diffraction to get information about the structure of the DNA molecule. Aiming a powerful X-ray beam at concentrated DNA samples, she recorded the scattering pattern of the X-rays onto film.
rosalind-e-a-descoberta-da-estrutura-do-dna.jpg (620×352)
*** When an American Biologist named James Watson was shown a copy of Franklin’s X-ray pattern in 1953, he, along with British physicist Francis Crick, built a structural model that explained how DNA could carry information and how it could be copied. The published their results in April 1953.
Watson and Crick’s model of DNA was a double helix. (two strands are wrapped around each other)
H4000039-Watson-and-Crick_cropped-by-CM-v1-1440x866.jpg (1440×866)
The Double Helix
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A double helix is shaped like a spiral staircase. Watson and Crick then discovered that hydrogen bonds could form between certain nitrogenous bases and provide enough force to hold the two strands together. Nitrogenous based can only form between adenine and thymine, and guanine and cytosine. This principle is called base pairing. This brought Chargaff’s rules full circle. For every adenine there had to be one thymine. For each cytosine molecule, there was one guanine molecule.
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Motivation and Learning

Motivation and Learning

The following article takes a look at motivation and it’s relationship to learning. Motivation is a powerful factor influencing learning and achievement. “Motivation” is defined as the “process whereby goal-directed activity is instigated and sustained.” Herein, we will examine the use of motivation in the classroom.

Motivation is usually classified into two broad categories, extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation is is often engaged in by students who just want to do an assignment for the sake of getting it done. Intrinsic motivation is motivation to be involved in an activity because one wants to be involved. Sometimes one can be extrinsically motivated and in this process become intrinsically motivated. Some factors that influence motivation are whether or not the topic evokes curiosity and/or promotes a challenge, or a topic that is outside the bounds of reality as it is perceived.

Quality educators want the students to learn. They want the student to be interested and find what is being taught useful. In order to acheive this, many different approaches are taken to motivate the students. Inspiring students is the core of the intention. Encouraging them through positive reinforcement can help to motivate the students. Trying to get the students interested impacts our ability to motivate. The student has to WANT to learn in order to be motivated to do so and to stay motivated.

Finding the “motivational zone of proximal development” can increase a students desire to learn. When a student understands the topic of study and is interested in learning more, then the student can make great progress. This is the ideal situation.

An educator needs to be genuine and honest. A quality educator seeks to inspire all with the same equal care. This is refered to as “unconditioned positive reward.” Our needs, our beliefs, our goals, our interests, and our emotions, all influence our motivation to learn. A student in my high school class was intelligent and capable of attaining straight A’s. He did so for years until he lost his drive and motivation. He ended up getting bad grades and he failed many classes. When he wanted to learn, he did great, but when he didn’t want to learn, he failed miserably. This shows the spirit of motivation. As educators, we want to get our students to WANT to learn. We craft our teaching approach with this intention and we teach in a manner that aligns with the students interests.

The ability to study well aligns with our need for competence. When we are studying a topic that we are interested in, we are generally able to focus harder and do better. When we are studying for the sake of situational interest, then more motivation is generally needed. Being able to alter our environment to meet the needs of our ideal atmosphere can help us focus harder on our studies. Most people want to do good, for themselves, for their families and loved ones, and also in order to avoid anxiety fueled humiliation in class.

When people awaken to life and come to appreciate the power that gives life to the universe, motivation will flow without ceasing. However, when focusing on a specific content area, such as Biology, one needs to work to get the students interested. This involves more than just talking about the content, it involves managing the classroom in a manner that is comfortable for the students and it is up to educators to work to inspire interest. This is an ongoing challenge, but with care and love and precision, inspiration will eventually manifest.

deep inside the forest is a door into another land

The human psyche and methods for altering behavior patterns (teaching resource)

Behaviorist Views of Learning

Behaviorism is a theory that explains the process of learning, which is defined as a change in observable behavior patterns as a result of life experience. Behaviorism focuses on observable behavior. The following review will summarize the two major components of behaviorism: classical conditioning and operant conditioning.

Classical conditioning is a component of behaviorism that explains how people learn involuntary physiological and emotional responses that are similar to instinctive or reflexive (unlearned) responses. We can apply this to a social setting as an example. We are conditioned to dress and behave in a manner that is acceptable in a specific context. If a student in America shows up to class wearing only a rag to cover his privates like Tarzan, then everyone would stare at him confused as to why in the world he is dressed like this. Therefore, as a result of being conditioned to society’s expectations, the student dresses accordingly, in a manner that is accepted by the majority.

Ivan Pavlov, a Russian scientist, reflected on animal behavior which led him to open the field of classical conditioning. After seeing the same person come with food to feed the dogs over and over, the dogs responded the same even when the person did not have food because they were conditioned to associate food with that person and they expected it. This led to an exploration into the psyche of humans after comparing similar responses and behavior patterns exhibited in animals.

Failure can traumatize people sometimes. When we fail, we can develop fear-based anxiety associated with our failure. This can continue to play out every time we attempt to repeat whatever it was that we failed at. The failure is an unconditioned stimulus caused by an unconditioned response (fear-based anxiety). Associating this with the context within which it happened causes a conditioned response to what was formerly a neutral response to a neutral stimuli. This response can continue to plague one with fear-based anxiety if one doesn’t work to correct the problem. If one works to succeed and does so and continues to do so, then one can transcend this negative response to failure. When the conditioned stimulus occurs over and over without the unconditioned stimulus occuring, then extinction will occur and it will no longer elicit the conditioned response. It pays succeed and it pays to work hard and overcome failure with earned success.

Operant Conditioning describes learning in terms of observable responses that change as a result of consequences. For example, being punished for an offense will often times create a paradigm shift that will lead to one to prefer to avoid repeating the incident. Reinforcers play a major role in human behavior patterns and are a major area of study when analyzing operant conditioning. Positive and negative are often regarded as two charges, such as those of a magnet, or two electrical charges. However, in human society, we refer to a positive environment as one that is safe, harmonious, peaceful, and balanced. If someone is really positive, then their outlook is optimistic, happy, motivated, and upbeat. If one is negative or if the environment is negative, then it is generally dark and unloving, unhappy, and when manifested in a person’s consciousness, it can be miserable and even hateful.

As educators, we seek to offer positive reinforcement to all, knowing that the more positive one is, the happier one will be, and the more motivated and inspired one will be. We know that positive reinforcement can only help and heal and produce good results, so we seek to positively reinforce as much as possible. Negative reinforcement is defined as the process of increasing behavior by removing or avoiding an aversive/negative stimulus. Negative “reinforcement” is the terminology used, but I wouldn’t say reinforcement, but instead negative removal. In order to maintain a balanced and harmonious consciousness, as one sees fit, one seeks to remove what is perceived to be the negative stimuli.

As educators, the Premack principle should be employed often, in my opinion. Students will sometimes not be too motivated about certain assignments, so in order to motivate them, we can use a positive reinforcer inspire the student to focus harder on the assignment. For example, an educator could say, “as soon as you are done with this assignment, we will have free time (or whatever activity the educator decided will elicit a positive response that will motivate the student to do the assignment knowing a “reward” of sorts will be the result)”. Shaping is a term used in educational psychology to describe how a teacher, for example, may continue to reinforce a student’s outlook on life by continuously and systematically working to help the student develop a positive outlook through patterns in the frequency and predictability of reinforcers to create a desired behavior.

A student’s self-esteem, perception of life, and overall state of consciousness plays a major role in learning and development. Therefore it is important for a teacher to be aware, as much as possible, and as appropriate as is expected, of a students state of consciousness in order to help the student reach the pinnacle of human consciousness evolution. Ultimately, every human should, ideally, be extinct in ego, and at peace to the depths of all being, which lies at the core of consciousness. We can’t expect everyone to achieve this because it is difficult to achieve in this world. Even more so, if one does achieve this, how long can one maintain this state of equanimity? As educators, we need to recognize that humans are complex beings that are emotional and in need of support. When we genuinely care and genuinely want to help all people with equal love and care, then we will make leaps and bounds. As educators, we need to be trained thoroughly in this area so we can understand what is happening and how to improve the classroom environment in order to make it a more productive learning experience for the students.

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