Bee on Goldenrod
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Bee on Goldenrod • Posted: Sep 16, 2012 10:20:21Comments WelcomeVote CoolPhotoblogsPurchase a PrintShare

It's a truth that not everyone viewing the above picture will find fascination. Some will spy the yellow blossoms and immediately feel itching in their nose, the beginnings of a sneeze, mucus building up, and a headache coming on. Others will see the bee and almost immediately feel panic, fearing a sting and the irritating whine of high pitched buzzing. The source of both reactions is failure to realize physical accommodation with something biologically foreign. In the first case: pollen. In the second case: bees.

What is healthy about such reactions? And, what is not? And, what factors might increase the possibility of less stressful healthy accommodation?

Those are interesting questions, not necessarily limited to pollen and bees. Think about the biological risks of traveling abroad. Think about the public health risks of accepting into our midsts travelers from abroad. Think about the hazards to our crops and environment of invasive species. Think about the increasing frequency of pathogens showing resistance to antibiotics. Etc., etc.

At one point in our history, allergic reactions and panic attacks were not understood at all. We now recognize both to be natural defense mechanisms within our bodies helping to keep us safe from and cleansed of things foreign. Separation has been the most frequently proposed remedy, i.e. stay away from what causes such severe reactions. Unfortunately, walls, bleedings, exorcisms, and attempted exterminations have at times been the path people have chosen trying to heed that advice. Later in our history, we began to see chemicals as helpful interventions. For instance, antihistamines proved useful in lessening the severity of allergic reactions. Similarly, tranquilizers have helped lessen the severity of panic attacks. In other cases, pesticides, herbicides, and antibiotics have come in handy trying to keep destructive insects, interfering weeds, and harmful pathogens at bay. But, nature has fought back and today chemical barriers on many fronts are being breached. At the same time, unintended chemical consequences have hugely affected the overall health and balance of our biosphere, as well as in some ways helped to undermine the developing health of our offspring. Thankfully, there have been few instances of chemicals used within war efforts. When they have, unpredictability and horrible unintended consequence have largely overwhelmed effectiveness. It remains to be seen if humankind will see any further pages written to that particular story of ignorance and short-sighted ambition.

On a more encouraging note, current research seems to be focusing more on the third of our questions, that of accommodation. Regarding allergies, it now seems to be true that healthy biodiversity within our nasal passages decreases instances of allergic reaction to things like pollen. By contrast, people with depleted biodiversity in their nasal passages suffer more frequent allergic reactions. Similar research has shone that healthy biodiversity on our skin and within our gut both helps to protect us from pathogens and assists in absorption of the nutrients we need. In all three instances, microscopic biodiversity helps us accommodate to what is foreign.

Regarding panic attacks, it has been true for some time now that the most effective therapy is learning new behavior. One does not fear what one knows thoroughly and understands thoroughly. And, it seems the best path getting to that point involves not only being there but touching and interacting with.

Touch a bee, you say?

Well, maybe not. But, certainly getting up close and personal, trying to understand what bees do, why they do it, what they fear, and when and why they become aggressive would go a long way toward thoroughly understanding what bees are all about and help begin the journey toward healthy accommodation to them. They certainly do a lot for us. We'd be much better off seeing them as our friends than something to be feared or, perhaps, exploited to extinction like so many other species we fail to fully appreciate. Once again, allowing and promoting healthy biodiversity increases the stability and security of our own health.

That lesson would seem to be true no matter if looking at the microscopic or the macroscopic world. It's a lesson nations and various business, social, ethnic, and religious groups would do well to assimilate.

Saturday, September 12th, 2009
Three Oaks