Immune System

As well as having an endocrine and neurological disorder in the form of severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS) for most of my reproductive years I have also had atopy including hay fever, other allergies, asthma, food allergies and sensitivities, and skin sensitivities.

As an inquisitive and otherwise healthy person it was never enough for me when I asked doctors why I had hormone and atopy problems and as they did not have the answers I wanted more for myself and others I came across whose lives have been eclipsed by these conditions or disorders.

For information on the gluten free prescription debate 2017 go to the Foods Matter Website, 5 Lawn Road, London. 

Will the gluten free prescriptions not be ‘means tested’ for those who cannot afford to buy expensive free from foods such as bread, and what are the chances of those people on low incomes or benefits getting free from foods via food banks? 

On 2/12/15 Allergy UK held its first Parliamentary Reception in Westminster designed to raise awareness of the issues faced by those people living with allergic disease which can be a multi-organ condition. 

  • Please see Allergy UK’s website for the outcome of the parliamentary reception.
  • Also see towards the end of this immune system section concerning the department of health’s response to latex food syndrome research and funding available.
  • You may also find this website useful – Foodsmatter and the Freefrom Foods Awards, 5 Lawn Road, London.
  • 6 Key Inflammatory Allergic Mediators – Histamine, cytokines, leukotriene, chemokine, tryptases, prostaglandins (E2 deficiency).  E2 deficiency and the ketogenic diet (refer to diabetes and the ketogenic diet).
  • Mast cells and Allergy – histamine, heprin, and serotonin.
  • Serotonin – the digestive tract and brain.
  • Amines – the digestive tract and brain.
  • Amines and food – do we need more or less amines from food due to our own levels?
  • Amine intolerance.
  • New Era Combination H – Allergy and Premenstrual syndrome.
  • Irish scientists discover a new human organ in the digestive system – Mesentery. 
  • FPIE’S Charity – Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome.

Through perseverance I managed to avoid two operations that may have been unnecessary and these were a ‘total’ hysterectomy at the age of thirty three years of age for PMS and later an operation to straighten a deviated septum in my nose for allergic rhinitis…the reason I avoided these drastic measures was because I had come across people who had undergone the surgery before me and things had either not worked, gone wrong, or there was a struggle to balance hormones afterwards with some reports of poor aftercare.

I tried various treatments for severer PMS which did not work, before finally seeing a specialist with a chance to have a trial period with three monthly (not monthly) Zoladex LA and livial HRT which together switches off hormones in the pituitary and mimics activity of lost hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone.   Apparently livial is a synthetic steroid – the term ‘steroid’ interests me as steroids are sometimes given to combat atopy.  I chose this treatment long term rather than surgery which may have seen me trying to balance my hormones for a long time afterwards and there was no going back once my organs had been removed.

Also see ESMYA and fibroids/Premenstrual syndrome.

I feel that it is not just whether a hysterectomy does or does not relieve the symptoms of PMS, but rather that more research is done to help women have better treatment options to avoid such drastic surgery.  And women respond so differently.

  • Sandra Simkin ‘The Case Against Hysterectomy’, Pandora Soapbox, ISBN:  0 04 440978, which includes interesting case studies, effects of surgery, concern regarding generation hysterectomy as well as age of surgery, statistics and costs, and a study at Ninewell’s hospital in Dundee whereby in the end other options were identified rather than hysterectomy.
  • HERS Foundation.
  • Mrs Diana Organ, Uk Labour Minister, Forest of Dean – campaign on the issues of hysterectomy services in the UK following concerns raised by her constituents.

I was given both zoladex LA and livial to rest my ovaries discreetly because interestingly in the medical professions BNF book it was only listed for endometriosis in women and cancer in both males and females such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer and testicular cancer.

Not all women respond well to Zoladex LA and livial like I did as women with PMS differ.  Studies have shown that livial (otherwise known as tibolone) has worked for some women and I urge you not to dismiss it just because others did not get on well with it because the indication of a possible PMS/Pituitary link is too important and one day perhaps the Pituitary foundation may list PMS as a pituitary disorder.  Studies have also suggested that livial helps to protect bones and can be used as an alternative to HRT during menopause.  If you cannot tolerate livial ask your specialist for an alternative which may work the same or similar such as Kilovance.

After stopping Zoladex and livial to try to go through the menopause naturally my painful breast lumps did not reappear which is a bonus.

After years of PMS disruption I have been going through the stages of the perimenopause and have not had a full period or the array of dreadful PMS symptoms since October 2015 so fingers crossed this balanced feeling will last because so far the menopause seems to be suiting me with clearer thinking whereas it unfortunately does not other women.  I am also hoping that my atopy will improve with the menopause as I have spoken to some women who have claimed that their hay fever vanished after the change of life…for those who do not know the menopause is classed as one year without a period.

I consider myself to be an original PMS woman without dysphoria (depression) and for more insight into this please see historical articles regarding PMS and Euphoria/Hysteria on the internet.  As previously mentioned I do not like the term PMDD and prefer PMS with or without depression because I have come into contact with women like me who had severe PMS and did not have dysphoria but rather low mood.  Some may claim that PMDD is worse than PMS, but is that not more for the hope that menstrual distress will be more recognised with re-invention via a new name or that they want depression to be recognised more?

I remember talking to a young woman who had thyroid disease and mild – moderate PMS.  She had ablation for heavy bleeding which she claimed made her PMS symptoms much worse in the following months.  This reminded me that I once had a three yearly smear and afterwards my usual regular periods became irregular and so started and stopped three times in one month before returning to a regular pattern, and I had never felt so ill in my life with dizziness and nausea.

Nicola Owen, who was represented by the famous PMS specialist Dr Katharina Dalton, had irregular periods with dizzy spells/menstrual epilepsy and contraceptives helped her which shows how differently PMS females can present.  I could not tolerate contraceptives due to making my PMS more extreme. 

Nicola Owen in her book ‘Nicola’ mentions that she had her adenoids removed before the age of ten like I did and amongst the symptoms of PMS females often report sinus problems…yet both of us had not started our periods at this time so could it be an early indication?

I had the opportunity to meet Nicola and it turns out that she has a family history of atopy and diabetes, and a younger member of her family who also has PMS was found to have deranged insulin.

Dr Katharina Dalton represented many women who committed crimes and looked for the occurrence of those crimes during para-menstruation which is the few days leading up to a woman’s period and a few days into a woman’s period.

I am also glad that the world is now recognising the Andropause in men because hormones affect them too, especially those with diabetes.

In 2006 after quite a few years of searching for answers through my doctor and various specialists I was finally given a blood test which revealed that I had type II, otherwise known as class 2, latex allergy and latex food syndrome.  Over-exposure to latex is common.  I had been bottle fed as a baby which may have had latex teats, may have had a latex dummy, may have had immunisations with the use of latex bungs, and worked with latex for many years as an adult, but what interested me the most is why me out of others who did not develop it and the answer may be because I come from a subgroup of people with deranged hormone (endocrine) levels.   I also became interested in the fact that it did not affect my skin, apart from dryness, like it did others which is considered a different type known as type IV.  Because latex did not really affect my skin it delayed my diagnosis and so I have listed below some signs and symptoms of type II together with an explanation about the disease.  The reason I came to have a blood test is because I mentioned during a health update at work when they routinely asked me if I had noticed a problem with latex, that latex gloves did not really affect my skin but seemed to make my hay fever and asthma worse.  See Agglutination Test.

The body produces proteins called antibodies to attack anything it sees as ‘foreign’ whether that is a virus, infection, or other.

Personally the antihistamine Certerazine 10mg seems to target my pollen allergy better, but may not suit you so always seek advice about the best medication for you from your doctor or pharmacist.  In the past Kenalog injections helped me greatly but eventually became unavailable (see the internet for reasons why).

Latex allergy is about proteins and latex food syndrome is similar to coeliac disease, only with coeliac disease the problem is gluten proteins, and latex food syndrome is an intolerance or allergy to proteins in various foods.  Some grasses, weeds, and trees are related to the latex plant (rubber) and are involved in allergy/atopy.

This list of foods is not extensive and more are being added to the list over time so please do your own research.  Some people can tolerate foods cooked but not raw due to ? break down of proteins during cooking.  One person may have a problem with one or two foods and another person may have a problem with several foods which may have developed over time:

Wheat protein (classesd as a fruit), other fruits, buckwheat, celery, mint, soya, nut, turnip, artichoke, aloe vera, tomatoes, peppers (raw), avacado, xanthum gum derived from certain grains, aniseed, carrots and parsnips (raw).

*Cows, goats, and sheep eat grass so there may also be a tendency to have an intolerance to dairy proteins, however this may also be due to enzymes being destroyed in the villi of the stomach which aid digestion of dairy – refer to gluten and enzymes for further reading*

The symptoms of Latex allergy and latex food syndrome may vary based on intolerance or allergy and this list is not exhaustive, with each food causing the same or different symptoms so please do your own research:

Worsening of hay fever symptoms, voice changes such as a hoarse or breathy voice, coughing and breathlessness caused by narrowing of the airways (see asthma/anaphylaxis risk), indigestion, stomach cramps, bloating and swelling of areas of the body with fluid retention, bowel changes such as constipated or loose, arthritic type aches and pains, restless legs, restless mind, dizziness and balance problems, lethargy, mood changes (see food and mood).  Also see:

  • Amine proteins and salicylate sensitivity are also interesting including aspirin sensitivity – please refer to amines (catecholamines). 
  • Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS).
  • Pollen Food Syndrome.
  • Albumen and Ovalbumin.
  • Latex Food Syndrome and Apples – Iodine Test for Starch in unripe apples (Iodine and thyroid disease).
  • Gluten sensitivity and dairy sensitivity.
  • Latex food syndrome and dairy, egg, poultry, and fish sensitivity (especially oily fish such as mackerel and sardines).

Courtesy of the Department of Health in response to an enquiry by my local MP on my behalf 2014:

‘’Food Standards Agency…At present there are no plans for FSA funded research into latex fruit syndrome’’ (with no recognition for latex food syndrome as it is not just about fruit proteins).

‘’ The department’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funds a range of research relating allergies.  The NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS foundation Trust and King’s college, London, has a research theme on environmental, respiratory health and allergy with total funding of £2.2 million over 5 years from April 2012.  The NIHR Imperial Biomedical Research Centre has a paediatrics research theme with total funding of £4.4 million over 5 years from April 2012.  This theme includes a focus on allergic diseases and includes anaphylaxis and food allergy.  The University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust is receiving £2.5 million NIHR funding between September 2012 and March 2017 for a respiratory and allergy clinical research facility’’.

Whilst there appears to be significant funds into research it must be recognised that research is perhaps limited and over 5 years the programmes are not that excessively funded.

Government’s plans to reduce funding for those on a gluten free diet, 2016.

It interests me that I can not eat peppers raw but I can have them cooked as protein breaks down in the cooking process, however this is not the case for other foods such as wheat which can not be eaten raw or cooked.  The difference between proteins in foods (see internet for related articles).

  • Foods and the nightshade family of plants.
  • Docking@home protein project (retired).
  • Folding@home protein project.
  • List of distributed computing projects.
  • Foldit protein folding.
  • Biobank UK and worldwide Biobanks.
  • National human genome research institute.

It is considered that pollen rises into the atmosphere in the early hours of the morning, and returns to the ground around late afternoon.  Clouds hold rain and unhappy seaweed, which contains iodine involved in thyroid disease, is thought to contribute to cloudy weather studies suggest.  When it rains pollen may bounce up and down between the ground and the atmosphere in a yo-yo effect and some people report worsening of allergy symptoms, or lessening of symptoms as pollen is dampened down for a certain time especially at night.

  • Lignans and food.
  • Lignans/lignins and trees.
  • Lignin, trees, and rainfall rings.
  • Lignans/Lignins – estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
  • Lignans inhibit certain enzymes needed in the conversion of testosterone to DHT and the result is lower DHT.

Cucumber cravings and hormone levels – A, B, and C boost the immune system.

Some people with Atopy may also suffer sun sensitivity, prickly heat, atmospheric pressure, and seasonal affective disorder.  The role of amines and neurotransmitters in the brain may not be fully understood, as well as gonadotropins (see gonadotropins and immunity) at this time.  Mast cells in the nose produce chemicals such as histamine, heparin, and serotonin.

PMS is thought to exist in females with learning differences.  I also have a nephew who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, which is now classed under the umbrella term of Autism.  I have included the following links which you may find interesting:

  • The Autism File – autism and allergy overlap.
  • Science Direct – Elevated rates of testosterone-related disorders in women with autism spectrum conditions and their offspring (table on p4 includes PMS).
  • The Mysterious Female Aspie.
  • Is Your Man Wired Differently? – Signs that he may have Asperger’s syndrome, Daily Mail, 15/2/14.
  • Hormones and Autism/Asperger’s syndrome – Professor Baron-Cohen and Tony Attwood.
  • Autism Gene – Dr Katrina Prescott, Yorkshire Regional Genetics Service, Leeds.
  • Hormones, Learning differences, and proteins.

Baby Blues during and ater pregnancy is very important to me as my Mother and other women in my family had it to varying degrees – please see the Hormone Changes section on this website for further information.

Stress and Good Health

Take a break and relax if you can to aid reflection and digestion.  Say no to extra demands knowing when you have reached your limit as more commitments may cause melt down.  Recognise your healthy boundaries and don’t be persuaded to go beyond them for long periods of time.  Try to make time for yourself even if its only a short walk every day – See the Living Streets Website for benefits of walking or Disability UK for alternative exercise.

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