Asthma, Allergies and Th-2 Dominance
Asthma and allergies are caused by dysregulation and hyperactivity of the immune system. The part of the immune system that becomes overactive is a subset of T cells known as thymus helper 2 lymphocytes, or Th-2 cells.
T cells are a type of white blood cell that carry out the functions of the immune system.
T helper 1 cells identify pathogens (viruses, bacteria, fungi) and stimulate the activity of macrophages, another type of white blood cell, to digest the pathogenic material and cellular debris. In this way, Th-1 cells, when functioning optimally, help us from contracting infections and getting sick.
T helper 2 cells stimulate B cells, another type of white blood cell, to produce antibodies and mount an immune response. When Th-2 cells recognize a foreign substance/pathogen, the B cells are told to generate antibodies which attack the virus, bacteria or allergen.
What is Th-2 dominance?
Also known as Th-2 skewing, this term characterizes a state of immune imbalance where the Th-2 cells are overactive. Th-1 and Th-2 cells work together, so when they are out of balance, the consequences are numerous.
Hyperactive Th-2 cells stimulate antibody production not just to foreign substances such as viruses, fungi or bacteria, but also to benign substances like allergens and even the body’s own tissues and organs.
The result of Th-2 dominance can include seasonal/environmental/food allergies, asthma, autoimmune conditions, and severe and debilitating anaphylactic reactions.
What causes Th-2 dominance?
The causes of Th-2 dominance are varied and multifactorial. The single most important factor is presence of toxins. Heavy metals such as mercury, lead and aluminum promote Th-2 skewing which creates a hyperactive immune system. This leads not only to allergies and asthma, but also to low immune function and development of autoimmune disease (when overactive Th-2 cells stimulate antibody production against the body’s own tissues).
Other potential factors that cause or aggravate Th-2 dominance are yeast overgrowth (Candida infection), stress, and inflammation.
If my immune system is hyperactive, why am I always getting sick?
When Th-2 cells are dominant in the case of Th-2 skewing, the activity of Th-1 cells is deficient. Th-1 cells stimulate macrophages (white blood cells) to ingest and destroy viruses, bacteria and fungi and prevent infections like colds, flus, skin infections, gastrointestinal infections, and Candida overgrowth (gut, mouth (thrush), skin, vagina).
If Th-1 cells are not functioning optimally, the immune system is at risk of being easily overwhelmed by pathogens, resulting in more frequent and more severe infections. Often with people who suffer from asthma or allergies, and especially in children with the 4A disorders (Asthma, Allergies, ADHD and Autism), recurrent colds and infections are a common complaint.
What conditions are commonly associated with Th-2 Dominance?
Autoimmune conditions (lupus, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, ALS, ankylosing spondylitis, interstitial cystitis, Grave’s disease, type I diabetes mellitus, etc)
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Chronic ear infections
Digestive disorders and IBS
Eczema, acne, hives
Migraines and headaches
Why have I never heard of Th-2 Dominance before?
Conventional treatments for allergies and asthma do not address the T cell imbalance. Instead of treating the underlying cause, asthma and allergy medications address the symptoms. Standard treatments do not reverse allergies or asthma, but reversal is possible when T cell skewing is corrected.
Photo credit: Flickr user jfl1066