Sunday, July 15, 2012

On Apples and Trees

An apple doesn't fall far from the tree. So if you don't like apples, trees won't like you either. And the other way around.

If your mother ate apples during pregnancy, she might have protected you from asthma. And if you like apple juice, this might help you avoid chronic wheezing issues.
Research has already proven these and many similar connections. Now a new study suggests that eating apples could also help you cope with seasonal allergies - particularly with allergies to birch pollen. And vice versa - a birch pollen therapy can help you tolerate apples.

Allergies affect many people in westernized countries. 10-15% of the population in North America and Europe suffer from immediate allergic reactions (type I), and birch pollen is a considerable cause of seasonal allergies. Its major allergen Betv 1  (responsible for more than 95% of allergies to birch pollen) can cross-react with Mal d 1 - the main allergen in apple. Thus during the pollination season, people sensitive to birch also might be sensitive to apples. But as Swiss and Slovenian scientists showed this year, just a piece of apple - 1-128 grams per day can help Birch-sensitive individuals to prepare for the allergy season. And it can increase their tolerance to apples - to the extent they can eat an entire apple per day after the treatment. Unfortunately, subsequently cutting apple intake means that birch allergies will return. 

Another recent study by Japanese allergists showed that injections of birch, ragweed and cedar pollen helped a highly allergic person tolerate apples. She could increase her intake from 3 grams (which is a tiny piece the size of half of a grape) to 50 grams, which is almost a half of an apple!  Allergy symptoms to most other fruits and vegetables also improved or disappeared. 

What is your relationship with apples and trees? Aurametrix can help you track your food sensitivities along with seasonal allergies, finding what combinations and amounts are right for you.


Kopac P, Rudin M, Gentinetta T, Gerber R, Pichler Ch, Hausmann O, Schnyder B, & Pichler WJ (2012). Continuous apple consumption induces oral tolerance in birch-pollen-associated apple allergy. Allergy, 67 (2), 280-5 PMID: 22070352

Okamoto Y, & Kurihara K (2012). [A case of oral allergy syndrome whose symptoms were dramatically improved after rush subcutaneous injection immunotherapy with pollen extracts of birch]. Arerugi = [Allergy], 61 (5), 652-8 PMID: 22705787

Okoko BJ, Burney PG, Newson RB, Potts JF, Shaheen SO. Childhood asthma and fruit consumption. Eur Respir J. 2007 Jun;29(6):1161-8. Epub 2007 Feb 14.   

Miyake Y, Sasaki S, Tanaka K, Hirota Y. SAllergy. 2010 Jun 1;65(6):758-65. Epub 2010 Jan 22. Consumption of vegetables, fruit, and antioxidants during pregnancy and wheeze and eczema in infants.  

Hokkaido Igaku Zasshi. 1994 Nov;69(6):1409-26. [Clinical and immunological analysis of Birch pollenosis]. [Article in Japanese] Takagi S. Source Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Hokkaido University School of Medicine, Sapporo, Japan.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Seasonal Allergies in Japan

Japan belongs to the temperate zone with four distinct seasons, and has six principal climatic zones: Hokkaidō (北海道) with long, cold winters and cool summers; Central Highland (中央高地) with typical inland climate and large temperature differences between summers and winters and between days and nights; Seto Inland Sea (瀬戸内海): with mild climate; Pacific Ocean (太平洋): with cold rainy winters and hot humid summers;  Ryukyu Islands (南西諸) with warm rainy winters and hot humid summers. Heat and high humidity can lead to possible food poisoning, fatigue and heat stroke.
More than 5,000 species of plants find home in these diverse climatic conditions and more than 60 types produce pollen that can cause allergic reactions. In Tokyo, common allergy-causing plants and their pollen seasons are as follows:

  • Japanese cedar sugi (February - April)
  • Japanese cypress hinoki (mid March - early May)
  • Rice plant ine (May - mid July / mid August - mid October)
  • Ragweed butakusa (mid August - October)
  • Artemisia yomogi (mid August - October)

  • Japanese Cedar is one of the major causes of seasonal allergic rhinitis and seasonal allergic conjunctivitis (itchy eyes). Its pollen is one of the most potent known and may cause severe symptoms. In Tokyo, about one in 3.5 people is believed to suffer from sugi allergy. The Japanese cedar pollen is present from approximately the end of January until the beginning of April on the north island and mid-April until early May on the south island. The cypress tree flowers a little later than that of the cedar tree and could also contribute to allergies. The pollination of Ragweed begins in late summer, around August, but its impact is less significant than in North America. 

      January February March April May June July August September October November December
    Trees Japan Pollen Calendar
    See this site by Allergy Research Group, Department of Otorhinolaryngolgy, Jikei Medical School, for more information. Or sign up for Aurametrix and start analyzing your allergies - to control them wherever you go.