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Anna Crist

student researcher , University of Oregon

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Purell now, Bacteri-ell later?

The hygiene hypothesis, the idea that “too much cleanliness prevents the development of a well-balanced immune response”(Sironi and Clerici, 2010), has received a lot of support and also criticism. It has recently been challenged by the hypothesis of “early immune challenge”, which states that a lack of appropriate immune stimulation during early childhood might account for the increased development of allergies in industrialized countries (Kramer et al, 2013). This proposal places less emphasis on excessive hygienic practices and focuses more on the insufficient exposure to specific environmental microbes, particularly those from non-urban environments, as the reason behind the rise of atopic disease. While different, both hypotheses point to the beneficial health affects of some microbes.

What do you think is the reason for increased allergy levels in industrialized countries? Do you think that a concoction of the “right” microbial species in the form of a lotion, drink, or inhalant (aka "Bacteri-ell") could be a future replacement for natural exposure to beneficial microbes?
Instead of using hand sanitizers like Purell, do you see a future where people from some regions of the world are unsanitizing their hands with “Bacteri-ell”?


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    Apr 30 2013: To add another personal anecdote, I do not have allergies of any kind and I am a huge fan of Purell. I, too, am rarely ever ill. I'm not sure if I was a particularly "germy," dirty kid but I did spend a lot of time around animals. Of course, personal anecdotes dont necessarily represent the norm, but still one has to wonder.

    Honey is absolutely amazing in terms of it's healing powers. I volunteer at a marine mammal hospital and we use honey to treat shark bite wounds on the seals and sea lions by spreading it over the wounds. I have personally seen several cases where absolutely massive injuries almost disappear within a week. We use it because it is cheap, but maybe hospitals should start using honey instead of powerful antibiotics? I don't know much about how honey ranks with traditional antibiotics in terms of microbe killing power, but maybe it works so well because it leaves some good microbes left?

    I think its important to remember that while antibacterials can do harm, but they can also do incredible healing.
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      Apr 30 2013: A particular powerful aspect of using honey is that it can used to abed the allergies that are often associated with over sterilization. There is a catch though, the honey needs come from local bees so that it is produced with local pollen. Consuming the honey builds the immune response so that allergies aren't so severe!
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      May 1 2013: I work in a deli and have at least five pretty bad burns from various HOT things I clean at my job. I apply honey immediately after getting burned and virtually receive no visible scar. I'm not sure why this is, but I agree with you about honey. It's amazing!

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