ABC of Asthma, Allergies and Lupus by F. Batmanghelidi, MD
For over twenty years Dr. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj (pronounced Batman-ge–lij) has been researching the effects of water and dehydration on the human body. Dr. Batmanghelidj explained the many effects of dehydration in his first book Your Body’s Many Cries for Water. Water, which makes up 75% of the body and 85% of the brain, is more than a solvent. Just as water is needed for seeds to grow into plants, our bodies need it to perform metabolic chemical reactions, to create energy; and to remove waste and acid from tissues. Every day we lose at least two quarts (eight 8-oz-glasses) of water and some salt (which is necessary for maintaining acid! alkali balance) via urine, respiration, and perspiration. Instead of replacing lost water by drinking more water, many people drink caffeinated beverages. Caffeine found in soda pop and in coffee acts as a diuretic that forces more water from the body than is contained in the caffeinated beverage itself.
Dr. Batmanghelidj’s research indicates that dehydration causes fatigue, depression, anxiety; localized chronic pain and, eventually, a number of chronic dysfunctions. In his newest book, Dr. Batmanghelidj explains the correlation between dehydration and asthma, allergies, and autoimmune disease, specifically lupus. He begins ABC of Asthma, Allergies and Lupus by describing the huge increase in the numbers of people suffering from asthma. From 1980 to 1994, the number of children with asthma, ages 0-4 years, rose from 2,000 to 6,000 per 100,000 population. The rate of asthma among 5-14 year old’s rose from 3,500 to over 7,000. Older age groups have also shown an increase. Conventional medical treatment includes the use of antihistamine drugs. Dr. Batmanghelidj asserts that this suppression of histamine ignores physiology and the effects of dehydration.
During dehydration, the body produces more histamine. Histamine is a neurotransmitter involved in water rationing. It also regulates the thirst mechanism. The spasms that histamine incites in the bronchiole tubes are actually an attempt to conserve water, needed by the air sacs (alveoli) in order to maintain their shape. Asthma tends to affect children more severely because their bronchial tubes are smaller and less rigid than adults’, allowing greater constriction. Children also produce more histamine in their bodies because, in addition to being a water regulator, histamine is a growth factor. The demands for water created by a growing body and a lack of water reservoirs make children especially susceptible to dehydration.
Dehydration can also account for the runny nose and watery eyes that accompany allergies. During dehydration the immune system becomes suppressed. In order to cope with pollens and other antigens, histamine and its subordinate chemicals direct water to the nose and eyes in an attempt to remove pollens through tears and nasal secretions. Dr. Batmanghelidj notes that while a well-hydrated body is able to produce more antibodies to neutralize organic antigens, this same mechanism cannot protect the body from toxic chemicals and gases. Instead, the body tries to prevent entry by constricting breathing. In susceptible, dehydrated people, exposure to the smell of some chemicals can lead to shortness of breath, an irritating cough, and even an asthma attack.
As stated before, conventional medicine treats asthma and allergies with antihistamine medications. Instead of using drugs to block histamine, Dr. Batmanghelidj uses water and a bit of salt (about 1/2 tsp. per 10 cups of water) to reduce the body’s histamine production. He says that “[a] rough rule of thumb of how much water a person needs a day is half one’s body weight in ounces of water….Some children might need three-fourths of their body weight in ounces of water.” People with heart or kidney problems are warned to increase their water intake slowly, preferably under the supervision of a doctor. As people drink more water, urine production should also increase. Thus, more minerals and water-soluble vitamins may be excreted, so Dr. Batmanghelidj recommends taking supplements. He also gives information on beneficial foods, exercise, and sunlight’s role in converting cholesterol into vitamin D. ABC of Asthma, Allergies and Lupus contains letters from several people — including doctors — who have been a ble to greatly reduce or eventually discontinue their own asthma medication, or that of their children’s, by adhering to the water and salt program.
Dr. Batmanghelidj chose to examine lupus after encountering the Townsend Letter’s special issue on lupus and autoimmune disease (August/September 1999). In ABC of Asthma, Allergies and Lupus, he describes the symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosis (i.e., fatigue, persistent headaches, malar flush, LE cells, muscle and joint pain, Raynaud’s Phenomenon) and how the symptoms relate to water deficiency. One of the hormones produced by the brain when it is stressed and dehydrated is vasopressin, an antidiuretic. Vasopressin is also a strong cortisone release factor (CRF). CRF stimulates the secretion of interleukin-1 (IL-1) and inhibits interleukin-2 and interferon. Histamine also inhibits the production and release of interleukin-2 and interferon. Without the presence of interleukin-2 and interferon to neutralize it, interleukin-1 levels rise and the body produces more CRF. Eventually, the body begins secreting other chemicals that break down tissue in an attempt to “recycle some primary raw materials including cellular water that the brain/body needs.” Dr. Batmanghelidj explains, “In this type of process, the CRF and IL-1 that should only temporarily become engaged in releasing some primary materials from the body’s own tissues, get stuck on the job and ‘remain commissioned’ — their production is not stopped by their feedback mechanism because of dehydration. The outcome of one form of this type of crisis management of a stressed/dehydrated body that has to resort to cannibalism of its own tissues is called autoimmune disease. One form of autoimmune disease is lupus.” Research by F. Tjernstrom and associates (Journal of Lupus #8, 1999, pp 103-108), found that “[people] with constant IL-1 activity in their bodies are 700 percent more likely to suffer from lupus than those without IL-1 activity.”
The skeptical mind finds it hard to believe that something as simple as water and a bit of salt can have any effect on conditions as serious as asthma and lupus. When one looks at the cascade of biochemical reactions that occur when cells become dehydrated, however, one begins to understand how vital this one substance is for maintaining health.
The body produces histamine and other chemicals for a reason. Doesn’t it make sense to try to understand that reason instead of simply trying to block their activity with drugs? Dr. Batmanghelidj has done that, and he has provided ABC of Asthma, Allergies and Lupus to help more people understand the power of water.
By Jule Klotter
To You (God) they cried out and were saved; in You they trusted and were not put to shame. (Bible, Psalm 22:5)