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 Mind/Body Medicine: Hay Fever, Allergies, and the Sniffles 

Allergies are widespread in our present culture, and literature indicates that humanity has suffered from them for centuries. Traditional approaches to allergic reactions are the removal of the substance that causes the trouble or the administration of medication that prevents the body from responding to the substance. Allergies also represent a group of diseases that we, as human beings, seem to have much more frequently than do other animals. Let's take a look at allergies as understood through the coherency theory.

There are probably millions of different specific molecules to which a person could become allergic. We may become allergic to cat dander but remain nonallergic to dog fur; we may become allergic to walnuts but not to peanuts. A person who has been found to be allergic to grasses can often tell you exactly the species of grasses to which he or she is allergic. This can be determined by skin testing. The question arises, "Why does the body choose only a certain set of molecules to react against, ignoring other molecules to which it could have become sensitized?"

Those who work in the field of allergies know their relationship to emotional disturbances. Outbreaks of hay fever, asthma, and topical rashes often accompany emotional upsets. If you have an allergic condition, you might be able to associate it, by thinking back, with periods of great emotional stress in your life. Following is a theory as to how allergies begin.

The human being is perhaps the only animal who will remain immobile in an unpleasant situation. At work, on the freeway, in arguments, we stand still and experience levels of tension that would send any self-respecting dog running to the nearest door. We don't leave these difficult situations because doing so might bring about a worse situation or cause us to lose face. The decision to remain in a situation of fear and high tension is a conscious decision on our part; we believe we understand why we are staying. The unconscious and the body, however, are confused by this behavior.

Imagine a child standing in front of a parent or teacher who is yelling angrily, scolding him. He may be extremely frightened, but he does not run because leaving the situation would result in an even more unpleasant punishment. The unconscious and the body respond to the high level of tension as though it were a physical threat. They seem to decide that because the child is not running away, the tension that is being produced is from inside the body rather than outside. They then begin to search around for some possible cause of the tension. Let us further imagine that the scolding is taking place in a field of clover. In its search for an offending agent, the body may discover the protein molecules of the clove' in the bloodstream, and because there seems to be no other cause for the tension, it may decide that this molecule is the source of the problem. This seems reasonable because a half hour ago, when the bloodstream was free of this protein, there was no tension. It draws the erroneous conclusion that the protein molecule is causing the disturbance. The body's way of responding to offending molecules, such as those of drugs, viruses, or bacterial products, is to form antibodies against them.

When we are infected with a virus or bacteria, the antibodies that are produced serve to inactivate the foreign protein molecules and also to act as a tag that attracts white blood cells. The white blood cells then gobble up the antibody-antigen complex, as the combination is called, and remove it from the bloodstream, like tow trucks taking away illegally parked cars. In the case we are describing, however, the protein molecule of the clover pollen is not actually a threat to the body, and nature has not provided a mechanism for completely inactivating the molecule. Instead the body can form only incomplete antibodies if it attempts to defend against the molecule.

(Excerpted from Opening Your Inner 'I': Discover Healing Imagery Through Selective Awareness ISBN: 0890876428)
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