Allergy History

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allergy-historyHistorians believe that the Egyptians, Chinese, Jews, Greeks and Romans of antiquity were aware of allergies and as Lucretius observed over 2,100 years ago, “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.” In fact, it is believed that the earliest known report of a allergic reaction occurred around 3500 B.C. when King Menses of Egypt died from an an anaphylactic reaction after being stung by a wasp.

Some biblical scholars believe the Old Testament’s dietary restrictions reflected, in many cases, an awareness that certain foods caused severe symptoms in some people. Many of these same scholars have considered the 13th chapter of Leviticus to a passage of scripture which is clearly referring to allergies of the skin. Others have noted that the wheat they consumed during biblical days was “un-processed” and prepared much differently than modern days which could explain partly why allergies have been called the epidemic of the 20th century and continues today into the 21st century.

It is believed that in the early 1800s, a few scientists were already studying the effects of allergies on humans with one of the first official scientist John Bostock coming forth in 1819 with his studies termed “hayfever”.  Even though allergies aren’t directly related to hay or fever, the term is commonly used today to describe respiratory allergies. The American physician Morrill Wyman published a report in 1872 identifying ragweed as a cause of what was then known as the “autumn catarrh.” The well-known scientist Charles Blackley published his findings regarding that hayfever was actually created by a grass pollen reaction in 1873.

New findings and breakthroughs in allergy related studies continued throughout the 1900s by other known scientists such as Paul Portier and Charles Richet that first used the word “anaphylaxis” to describe a severe allergic response to a known allergen.

Fast forwarding to Jauary 1, 1996, the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA), required food manufacturers to start disclosing the top eight food allergen catagories;

  1. milk
  2. eggs
  3. fish
  4. shellfish
  5. peanuts
  6. tree nuts
  7. wheat
  8. soy

Today, approximately 1/3 of the population suffers from some type of allergies.  Could it be that allergies are more of a modern-day problem than a distant one because of the way we process, cook and prepare our food? Only time will tell!

Source: The AllergyReliefExpert staff

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