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Oriental medicine practitioner Olivier LeJus explores alternative
approaches to treating allergies.
© NOVA FEBRUARY 2015
s I mentioned in last month’s a rticle
on this subject, the incidence of
a llergies in the Western world
seems to have reached the level
of an epidemic. Beyond the fact that the
sudden increase could be the result of a
greater awareness of the dysfunction, it is
now suspected that our modern lifestyle
itself might be a major culprit.
The level of stress in our lives has a
negative effect on our immune system.
Research ha s shown that a n increa se in the
level of emotional stress causes a decrea se
in the production of white blood cells in
the body, which are responsible for our
immunity. When our defence system is
wea ker, not only do we get sick more often,
but also it takes us a lot longer to recover.
Allergies occur when the body’s immune
system wrongly detects a harmless substa nce
a s a threat to the body. By attacking the
wrong suspect, it triggers the release of a
substa nce called hista mine, which causes
the respiratory infla mmation symptoms we
know only too well.
Our main immune weapon is located
in a small gland in our chest, slightly above
our heart. The thymus gland produces white
blood cells called T lymphocytes, which
a re responsible for locating a nd destroying
bacteria in the body.
Unfortunately, the thymus gland ’s
ability to produce these very useful
defence tools is affected by the level of the
stress hormone cortisol in our blood. A n
increase in cortisol levels causes a decrease
in the production of T lymphocytes, and
a subsequent weakening of our immunity.
In other words, the more we are stressed,
the less we are able to fight infections and
a llergies. The production of these white
blood cells (WBC) by the thymus gland is
also affected by our diet and age.
The role of that little gland in our
immunity and sur viva l wasn’t discovered
until the early 1960s. The Australian
immunologist J. Miller was the first to
recognise that newborn ma mmals, including
human beings, couldn’t survive without a
functioning thymus gland.
The body builds its own immune system
through contact with the environment.
In a form of natural vaccination, gradual
exposure to dirt and other sources of bacteria
help strengthen the thymus and the whole
immune system functions. Our thymus
gland sta rts shrinking after the age of 20. A s
we get older, our immune system becomes
progressively wea ker, which explains why
older people get sick more easily. In addition
to stress, our diet ca n have a major impact on
The Australian herbalist Dorothy Hall,
in her bestselling book What’s Wrong With
You? recommends using herbs like echinacea,
thyme, liquorice, rosehip and oregano, which
stimulate the production of the thymus gland
hormone thymosin. A range of vegetables
including broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower
are also highly beneficial.
Even specific emotions like depression
can have an impact on our thymus gland.
Kinesiologists claim to have developed a
test that shows negative emotional feelings
wea ken the gland. This is not surprising,
considering that statistics have shown that
depressive patients get sick more often and
have a much shorter life span than the rest of
supplements, which a re routinely prescribed
to cancer patients, have been linked to
dramatic improvements in a wide range of
medical conditions including a sthma, hay
fever, a llergies, chronic fatigue syndrome
and rheumatoid arthritis.
Modern Thymus Therapy (MTT) uses
extracts from the thymus gland of six month
old calves, which can be taken in capsule
form. Although thymus extracts can now
be easily bought over the Internet, they are
not suitable for everyone, and one should
consult a medical practitioner first. Also, do
you want to take calves extract for the rest
of your life?
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, our
immunity is associated with a form of
protective energy called Wei Qi, which
circulates at a superficial level throughout
the channels and organs of the body.
An ancient Chinese medical principle
is, “ There is no disease without an existing
wea kness in the body”.
acupuncture can help control the body’s
inflammatory reaction to allergens, but
the patient who gets hay fever from pollen
a llergies has a chronic wea kness in their
respiratory system, which has to be treated
as well. Some Chinese medical herbs can be
very successf ul in the treatment of allergies.
For exa mple, the herb Astragalus or Huang
Qi has been used for centuries due to its
powerf ul effect on the immune system.
Herbal concoctions with chrysanthemum
flowers and cassia seeds can also help lower
The Western treatment method has often
been criticised for treating the symptoms
of allergies without addressing the initial
cause of the dysfunction – a wea kening of
the immune system. Many patients who
were using Western medicine to treat their
a llergies have found that by introducing
a lternative medications in increa sing dosage
while, at the same time, slowly withdrawing
from their conventional treatment, they
could gradually substitute one form of
treatment for another and feel all the better
for it in the long term.
Olivier Lejus MHSc.BHSc. is a registered
acupuncturist practicing in Sydney.
‘In other words, the more we are
stressed, the less we are able to
fight infections and allergies.’
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