Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What are allergens?

A substance or agent that causes an allergic reaction. Allergens provoke the IMMUNE SYSTEM when it senses an allergen as a foreign substance and overreacts. This “hypersensitivity” may be immediate, when symptoms appear within minutes to several hours after exposure, or it can be delayed, when symptoms appear hours after exposure or longer.
At the top of the list of food allergens are DAIRY products, PEANUTS, nuts (e.g., HAZELNUTS, CASHEWS), GRAINS (especially WHEAT and CORN), SOYBEAN products, CITRUS FRUITS, and SHELLFISH. The binders and other ingredients of vitamin supplements, as well as HERBS and SPICES, can cause reactions in suscep susceptible individuals. Prescription drugs (including penicillin), antisera, and constituents of infectious agents (including bacteria and viruses, yeast, and parasites) can be allergens. Physical agents, including radiation, heat, and pressure may also provoke inflammation, an aspect of the immune response. In provoking an immune response, allergens typically react with ANTIBODIES, protective proteins formed by specialized cells of the immune system.

What is Alkalosis

Excessive alkalinity (elevated pH) of body fluids caused by either an accumulation of alkaline substances or a reduction in ACIDS. Alkalosis is thus more general than ALKALEMIA (alkaline blood). Respiratory alkalosis occurs with hyperventilation, aspirin poisoning, abnormal brain function, or inadequate oxygen supply, as may occur during exertion at high altitudes. Metabolic alkalosis occurs with severe VOMITING due to losses of hydrogen ions and chloride ions (STOMACH ACID); losses of POTASSIUM due to diuretic therapy; and ingestion of BAKING SODA (or other alkaline substances). Symptoms of both types of alkalosis include shallow breathing, a tingling sensation at fingertips and toes, muscular cramps, and convulsions. Like prolonged ACIDOSIS, alkalosis requires medical intervention.

Alkaloids in our food

A large, diverse class of organic compounds prevalent in the plant kingdom that contain nitrogen and function as bases. Often alkaloids profoundly affect the body’s physiology, and purified alkaloids are even more active. Examples of potent alkaloids include morphine, cocaine, quinine, strychnine, nicotine, CAFFEINE (COFFEE), and theobromine (CHOCOLATE). Depending upon the application and the dose, alkaloids may be used in therapy or they may cause toxicity. Socrates was killed by the alkaloid coniine that occurs in hemlock. Eating quail that have eaten poison hemlock can cause food poisoning in humans. Alkaloids such as nicotine and caffeine are addictive substances. Morphine and cocaine are controlled substances due to their addictive properties.