Prepping and Asthma

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Prepping and Asthma

Prepping and Asthma
Cat Ellis “Herbal Prepper Live” Audio player below!

We’re kicking off the first show of the year talking about how to prep with asthma. If you or someone in your group has asthma, or if you are planning to work with your community post-disaster, this episode is for you.

Listen to this broadcast or download “Prepping with Asthma” in player below!

Asthma is an obstructive lung disease.

Continue reading Prepping and Asthma at Prepper Broadcasting |Network.

Skin Problems and Their Treatments

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Dermatitis Herpetiformis is not actually associated with herpes virus

Treating medical problems in a remote homestead or after a disaster won’t always be about gunshot wounds and broken bones.  Sometimes, little things can make people miserable and affect their ability to contribute to group efforts. Skin inflammation, called “dermatitis“, is one of the issues that a caregiver can’t ignore if the group is going to function at 100% efficiency.

This condition has various causes and varies in appearance from case to case, although most present with redness and itchiness, sometimes with swelling. You might not consider itchiness to be a problem worth the medic’s attention, but continuous scratching traumatizes the skin, your natural armor, and may lead to a type of infection called “cellulitis“ once the skin is broken. Cellulitis has nothing to do with “cellulite”.


skin rashes can be caused by contact with allergens

contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is caused by physical contact with allergy-causing substances called “allergens”. The allergen involved is so varied as to include almost everything, including:

  • laundry soap and detergents
  • Household cleaning products
  • Rubber or latex
  • Perfumes, makeup, deodorants
  • Metals, such as nickel
  • Preservatives
  • Weeds, such as poison ivy, oak or sumac

Usually, the first exposure only produces antibodies but not major skin reactions. Once antibodies exist against a certain substance, the next exposure can cause significant irritation (or worse general reactions such as anaphylaxis).

Once the allergen is identified, avoidance is the best way to prevent contact dermatitis. Corticosteroid creams and cool moist compresses are the cornerstones of treatment. Use these only until the rash is improved. Antihistamines such as Benadryl or Claritin will help relieve itching.

Atopic Dermatitis may be associated with hay fever or food allergies

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic Dermatitis or Eczema is a chronic itchy rash that can be found in various areas at once (oftentimes, the face) that may be accompanied by hay fever or asthma. Dust mites, animal dander, and food allergies are possible causes. Atopic dermatitis sometimes flares up in cold weather.  Treatment is similar to contact dermatitis.

seborrheic dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a condition that affects areas that contain oil-rich glands called sebaceous glands. It is characterized by scaling, redness, and itching. The most common version of this is dandruff or, in infants, “cradle cap”. The area near the nose and lips is another place where you might see this type of dermatitis.

Scalp irritations caused by Seborrhea may be treated by shampoos that contain tar or pyrithione zinc (Head and Shoulders). It also can be treated by the anti-fungal ketoconazole, which supports the belief that yeast plays a part in the development of this condition.



Neurodermatitis is a type of dermatitis that manifests as chronic itchy and raised patches, sometimes red and sometimes just darker than normal skin. The cause is unknown, although insect bites, tight clothing, dryness, and even anxiety have been implicated as possibilities. A vicious cycle of itching and scratching leads to thick, scaly, and leathery skin called “lichenification”.

Treatment includes Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and steroid creams, especially at night when some people scratch irritated areas without knowing. Injections of corticosteroids are given into the affected area in severe cases. Anti-anxiety medications are given to those who scratch out of nervousness.

Herpes Zoster

Shingles (Herpes Zoster)

Shingles is also known as herpes zoster, and is seen in people who have previously been infected with Chicken Pox. The dormant chickenpox virus, called varicella zoster, becomes active in nerves and appears as a blistering rash with itching, burning, and pain, usually localized to the distribution of a particular nerve.

Shingles usually resolves after a very uncomfortable 2-4 weeks but may be treated with anti-viral agents, such as Acyclovir, Valtrex, or Famvir (but not by the anti-viral Tamiflu, a commonly used antiviral for influenza).

dermatitis herpetiformis is not actually associated with herpes virus

dermatitis herpetiformis

Shingles is sometimes confused with dermatitis herpetiformis, a chronic skin condition characterized by blisters that is actually not associated with herpes virus.

stasis dermatitis is associated with poor circulation

stasis dermatitis

Stasis dermatitis appears as an inflamed area caused by fluid and poor blood flow under the skin. It is commonly seen on the lower legs of individuals with varicose veins.  Rarely seen in those under 50, poor circulation is a major factor although trauma damaging the circulation may be a factor. To deal with dermatitis related to poor circulation, you may have to use support stockings and mild steroids. In normal times, varicose veins may be dealt with surgically or with other high technology. See our article on varicose veins.

what causes rosacea


Rosacea is an extremely common condition that manifests as a reddened area on the face that is caused by swollen blood vessels, usually in fair-skinned individuals beginning in middle age. It is accompanied by spider veins, flushing, and, sometimes, a markedly red nose and an appearance like acne. It is not acne, however, and will not respond to over-the-counter acne medicine. Antibiotics are sometimes used, and Vitamin A-related medications like Accutane may help.

What does psoriasis look like?


Psoriasis is a series of thickened patches of reddened skin with silvery flaking.  The most common areas affected are the elbows, knees, scalp, armpits, scalp, and lower back. An auto-immune condition, Psoriasis causes the buildup of new skin cells where the body mistakenly thinks an injury has occurred. Moisturizers as well as corticosteroids and coal tar ointments are helpful; Psoriasis responds to sunlight, so phototherapy using special lamps are used for this type of dermatitis.

Natural supplements that improve dermatitis are numerous and often involve Omega-3 fatty acids, which have an anti-inflammatory effect.  Used with evening primrose oil, it is especially effective. Chamomile cream is thought to be as potent as a mild hydrocortisone. Calendula has skin-soothing properties and may protect against contact dermatitis. Be aware that it may trigger an allergic reaction on broken skin. I’ll bet you have your own home remedies for various skin problems as well.


Clearly, the medic will need to include some skin treatments in their medical kit. Some useful items, some with links to medical issues we’ve covered before,  include:

Hydrocortisone Cream: Various mild steroid creams are useful in decreasing inflammation in an area of the skin that is inflamed.

Clotrimazole (Lotrimin in the U.S.): Helpful in the treatment of skin yeast infections, including athlete’s foot, ringworm, and others.

What can treat athlete's foot

Athlete’s foot

Triple Antibiotic Cream: Helpful in preventing infections in areas of minor scrapes and cuts.

Insect Repellant: These are useful in preventing insect bites, which may prevent more serious medical problems such as malaria, Lyme disease, and severe allergic reactions.  Commercial products usually contain DEET. Natural products, like lemon eucalyptus, lemongrass and citronella, also serve to repel insects and can be grown in many areas.

Fels-Naptha soap: This time-honored item helps to remove toxins from poison ivy, oak, and sumac from both skin and clothes. Studies show pre-bathing with Fels-Naptha may decrease effects of these rash inducing plants.

What does poison ivy rash look like

severe poison ivy rash

Permethrin shampoos/lotions (NIX, Elemite in the U.S.):  Helpful in the treatment of lice and mite-related issues (head lice, scabies, etc.)

Sunscreen:  Often overlooked as a medical supply, sunscreen will help prevent many skin problems down the road.

Aloe Vera:  Natural product useful in treating burns. Others which may be effective include vinegar, witch hazel, diluted lavender and tea tree essential oils, etc.

Non-stick gauze dressings (e.g., Telfa brand dressing):  these dressings have a shiny non-stick surface and are especially used for burns and other raw skin areas to prevent removal of healing tissue during dressing changes.

Diphenhydramine (Benadryl in the U.S.): Useful for suppressing minor reactions to bug bites and allergy-causing agents such as hives, redness, or swelling, but can cause drowsiness. Claritin and Zyrtec are milder antihistamines, but do not usually cause severe sleepiness like Benadryl can.

Epi-Pens: A self-contained prescription injection of epinephrine (adrenaline outside the U.S.) that will improve severe allergic reactions, also referred to as anaphylactic shock.  Few physicians would deny you a supply of this important item, especially if they are aware that you are often outdoors.

Soothing rash ointment with oatmeal called Stop the sting

Colloidal Oatmeal Ointment to treat insect bites and stings.

Natural Remedies: Vinegar, witch hazel, diluted lavender and tea tree essential oils,used as a compress is calming to rashes and burns. Baking soda or an oatmeal paste or bath are both very soothing to irritated or itchy skin. Apply raw honey to open skin areas for healing and infection prevention, and cover with non-stick dressings.

Other Natural Remedies: Balms containing Arnica are useful for pain relief in many people. French green clay paste used as a pack or mask has been studied for it’s healing properties. Warm tea bags (especially Chamomile) or a tea leaves poultice, (add raw honey for extra healing) contains tannins that help calm irritated skin. Just like the French green clay, cornstarch paste can be used as a soothing pack.

Joe Alton MD

Joe Alton MD, survival medicine writer

Dr. Alton

Find out more about poisonous plants and 150 other medical topics in the survival mindset with the 700 page Third Edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way. And don’t forget to fill those holes in your medical supplies by checking out Nurse Amy’s entire line of kits and supplies at!

motorcycle medical kit

New Biker/Hiker Kit

How to Avoid This Potentially Dangerous Preservative Found in Dried Fruit

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dried fruitIf you opened up a pantry belonging to any prepper, you’d most likely find a veritable cornucopia of dried foods within. It’s pretty much a staple for preppers. Unfortunately, dried foods of all kinds often come packaged with preservatives that aren’t so healthy. It can be a real challenge to find long-lasting foods that you would want to eat during an emergency, that aren’t also filled with toxic preservatives.

Among those preservatives, there’s one that most people aren’t aware of. It’s called sulfur dioxide, and it’s found in more foods than you probably realize. It can be found in wine, jam, fruit juices, shrimp, instant coffee, pickled foods, processed meats, and powdered potatoes.  And the one food that probably contains the most sulfur dioxide is dried fruit. It’s typically added to all of these foods, not only to prevent bacterial growth, but to preserve the color of the food.

So is sulfur dioxide something that you need to worry about? That really depends on who you ask. The FDA has deemed it safe for most people. I say “most people” because some folks are more sensitive to it than others. About 1 in 100 people have some degree of sensitivity to sulfur dioxide, and people who are asthmatic are 5-10 times more likely to have a sensitivity.

When these individuals consume this preservative, they may face nausea, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, and sometimes full-blown asthma attacks. Occasionally this leads to death. And just because you’ve never had any harmful symptoms from eating these foods, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re out of the woods. You can develop a sensitivity to sulfur dioxide at any point in life. It’s also important to note that even if you never have this kind of reaction, sulfur dioxide might still hurt you. A study conducted in 2004 found that sulfur dioxide, when fed to mice, would damage their DNA and cause cancer.

With that said, it may be a good idea to avoid this preservative entirely. If you avoid processed foods, then you’re already on the right track. You can also avoid sulfur dioxide by buying organic products. At the very least you should be checking the labels on anything you buy. Any food item that contains this preservative in more than 10 parts per million is required to be labelled as such to protect people who are sensitive to it.

And if you really love dried fruit and want to make it a staple in your emergency food supply, you can also make it yourself in your oven. You can dry fruit in the sun. And if you’re a real fanatic for dried fruit, you can buy a food dehydrator.

Joshua Krause was born and raised in the Bay Area. He is a writer and researcher focused on principles of self-sufficiency and liberty at Ready Nutrition. You can follow Joshua’s work at our Facebook page or on his personal Twitter.

Joshua’s website is Strange Danger

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Anaphylaxis: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

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dandelion allergy


In a disaster or any other situation that takes us off the grid, we will expose ourselves to insect stings and poison ivy, as well as strange food items that we aren’t accustomed to. Allergic reactions may ensue in susceptible individuals. When we develop an allergic reaction, it might be mild or it might be severe. If severe enough, we refer to it as anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock. Anaphylaxis is the word used for serious and rapid allergic reactions involving one or more parts of the body which can become life-threatening.

Anaphylactic reactions were first identified when researchers tried to protect dogs against a certain poison by desensitizing them with small doses. Instead of being protected, many of the dogs died suddenly the second time they got the poison. The word used for preventative protection is “PROphylaxis”. Think of a condom, also known as a prophylactic. A condom protects you from sexually transmitted diseases. The word “ANAphylaxis”, therefore, means the opposite of protection. The dog experiment allowed scientists to understand that the same can happen in humans, and had application to asthma and other immune responses.

Severe allergic reactions may cause body-wide reactions called anaphylaxis that can be life-threatening. Anaphylaxis has become a timely issue because of the increased numbers of cases being reported throughout the world. When drugs are the cause, the explanation is likely that we are simply using a lot of them these days. Why foods should be causing anaphylaxis more often, however, is more perplexing. Is genetic manipulation of food crops to blame? Could contaminants be an issue, or perhaps pollution in general? In any case, the cause of many anaphylactic events is never identified; most are lumped into the “idiopathic” category (another word for “unknown”).

The likely causes of anaphylaxis are:

• Drugs: dyes injected during x-rays, antibiotics like Penicillin, anesthetics, aspirin, ibuprofen, and even some heart and blood pressure medicines
• Foods: Nuts, fruit, seafood
• Insects stings: Bees and Yellow Jacket Wasps, especially
• Latex: rubber gloves mad of latex, especially in healthcare workers
• Exercise: often after eating
• Idiopathic: This word means “of unknown cause”; a substantial percentage of cases

Fumes from chemicals like Chlorine gas and other toxins can be dangerous in their own right without causing an immune or anaphylactic reaction.

anaphylaxis symptoms

signs and symptoms of anapylaxis (wiki commons)

Although few die from simple allergic reactions, anaphylaxis is much more severe and, without intervention, the victim can die from respiratory or cardiac arrest. Body-wide swelling and rashes far from the site of a bee sting, for example, would be an example of an anaphylactic reaction. Other symptoms are exaggerated versions of typical allergies symptoms, with perhaps the addition of lowered blood pressure and fainting. In some cases, abdominal tract symptoms like cramping or diarrhea could be seen.


signs/symptoms of anaphylaxis


Treating Anaphylaxis

The treatment for anaphylactic shock is straightforward: epinephrine via injection. Other methods of delivery, such as oral doses of antihistamines, are generally too slow in their effect to be of much use.

Known as adrenaline in Europe. Epinephrine is given via auto-injector, with the most popular being the Mylan Corporation’s “Epi-Pen”. The process is simple with a dose delivered to the upper outer thigh. Once given, epinephrine narrows blood vessels and opens airways in the lungs. These effects can reverse hives, swelling, severe wheezing, low blood pressure, severe skin itching, and hives.


The “Epi-Pen”

A recent 600% price hike from the company that makes the Epi-Pen may put the drug out of the financial reach of many. If the auto-injector isn’t an option, vials or ampules of epinephrine are available (by prescription).

1:1000 epinephrine solution contains 1mg of drug per milliliter or cc of solution. For a person weighing 30 kg, 66 pounds, or greater, give 0.3 to 0.5 mg (0.3 to 0.5 mL) into the anterolateral thigh about the level of the bottom of your Jeans pocket. Repeat the dose every 5 to 10 minutes, alternating left and right thighs until improvement is noted (one dose if often sufficient). Remember that epinephrine will cause a fast heartbeat, nervousness and, perhaps, a number of other side effects. Of course, get the victim to modern medical care as soon as possible.



It’s okay to get a little dirty!

The increased number of allergies seen in the modern world may actually be the product of “good parenting”. Our efforts to keep our children with their noses wiped and their hands clean are helpful to stop colds and flus but may be a factor in making them more prone to allergies and infections later on.

In 1989, researcher Dr. David Strachan suggested the hypothesis that the failure of children to be exposed to infectious bugs and parasites may be responsible for the epidemic of allergic conditions like asthma. This was called the “Hygiene Hypothesis”. The lack of exposure to microbes have since been tied to other diseases ranging from hay fever to multiple sclerosis.

When most of us lived on farms or in less-than-pristine cities, we were exposed to plenty of germs from a young age due to time spent outside with animals or with lots of other people. Now the majority of kids aren’t motivated to go outside or, certainly, get dirty. In the final analysis, never getting dirty as a child may be hazardous to your future health.

Here are some things you might consider:

Avoid antibiotics: The medical profession may have been remiss in over-prescribing antibiotics, but there are antibiotics in food as well. Indeed, 70-80% of antibiotics are given to livestock, not to treat infection, but to make they grow faster and get them to market sooner. Stick with antibiotic-free eggs, milk, and meats.

Avoid anti-bacterial soaps: Triclosan, the active antibiotic ingredient in many brands, has recently been banned by the FDA due to the risk of antibiotic resistance and the lack of evidence of any medical benefit. Use regular soap and water for washing.

Tailor Handwashing Strategies to the Situation:  If you’re in a city where open sewers run through the streets and people are tossing buckets of excrement out the window, have your kids wash their hands conscientiously. In clean environments where there isn’t a raging epidemic, however, don’t freak out over dirty hands.

Don’t Bathe Every Day: Not only should your kids be exposed to dirt to develop their immune system, but bathing too often might do more harm than good. Daily showers removes protective skin oils and causes drying and irritation. You’re also washing away the good bacteria that lives on your skin.

Get Your Kid a Pet: Not every kid has the good fortune of living on a farm, but they’ll benefit from a furry pet. Dogs seem to give more resistance to colds and allergic skin conditions like eczema than cats, but early cat exposure might give more protection against asthma. Why not have both?

Get your kids outside when they’re young: In these days where we have legitimate concerns about children’s safety, you might be reluctant to let your kids go outside by themselves. Here’s an idea: Go out with them, to parks, wilderness areas, and other places where both adults and kids can reap real benefits. How about helping them plant and manage a garden?

The more you encourage outdoor activities early, the more they become part of the next generation’s culture; let the kids get a little dirty, and you might give them a healthier future.


Joe Alton MD



Learn more about your immune system, allergic reactions, and over 100 other topics in our Third Edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way.

Survival Medicine Hour: Anaphylaxis, Ear Infections, Hemorrhage

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Ear Anatomy

The Survival Medicine Hour, hosted by Joe Alton, MD aka Dr. Bones and Amy Alton, ARNP, aka Nurse Amy of brings you a few topics, including ear infections, bleeding control and the final part 3 of the allergy series: anaphylaxis. Monday, February 20, 2017 is President’s Day, but do you know about the pre-George Washington “Presidents”? Do you also know who held the presidential office twice, but not with consecutive terms?


signs/symptoms of anaphylaxis

Severe allergic reactions may cause body-wide reactions called anaphylaxis that can be life-threatening. Although few die from simple allergic reactions, anaphylaxis is much more severe and, without quick intervention, the victim can die from respiratory or cardiac arrest. Having an epi-pen handy is advisable, although you can learn how to dose with epinephrine solution from a sterile vial.


Ear infections are fairly common in babies and children, and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Keep your ear canal as dry as possible during and after swimming. Feed babies in a head-up position, to prevent formula or milk from entering the passages into the ear. Beware of early warning signs before the ear infection becomes severe, such as: pain and itching, drainage from the ear canal and redness and swelling in the ear canal. babies may tug at their ear.


Plus, an introduction to hemorrhage and its effects on the human body.


To listen in, click below:


Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,


Joe and Amy Alton, aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy

joe and amy radio

The Altons

Allergies: What You Need To Know, Pt. 1

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allergies: What You Need To Know

Allergies are reactions caused by a hypersensitivity of the immune system to a substance ingested or in the environment (an “allergen”). These substances may cause little or no effect in most people, but a percentage of the population may experience significant symptoms that can affect quality of life, or even threaten life itself.


If you told a doctor a little more than a hundred years ago that you had an allergy, he/she wouldn’t recognize the word. “Allergy” was coined in 1906 by an Austrian pediatrician and immunologist named Clemens Von Pirquet. The word is derived from the Greek allos meaning “other” and ergon meaning “reaction”.


Von Pirquet and his associates noted that certain people who received a variety of smallpox vaccine had more severe reactions than most. Another scientist, Charles Mantoux, used this knowledge to develop a test for tuberculosis where an allergic skin reaction to a substance isolated from the microbe revealed previous exposure. A form of this test is still used today.

The worst allergic reaction, known as anaphylactic shock, was discovered by a french physiologist Charles Richet, who with his partner Dr. Paul Portier, injected the venom of a sea anemone into a number of dogs. Hoping to find some substance that would protect humans (called prophylaxis) from jellyfish stings, they instead found that a second injection killed many of the dogs. Since this was the opposite of protection, they termed it anaphylaxis.


Common allergens to which people are exposed include pollens, metals, insect stings, medications, and certain foods. There are also internal factors such as age, sex, race, and family history. How do these all combine to cause the physical symptoms of an allergy?

Put simply, an immune reaction against an allergen occurs when it’s encountered for the first time; let’s say it’s a bee sting. Cells in the body called “T-cells” identify the bee venom and interact with other cells called “B cells”. The B cells, in turn, produce certain antibodies called “IgE”. IgE attaches to the surface of cells called “basophils” and “mast cells”. These cells are now “sensitized” to the venom. No physical effects are usually noticed at the time by the victim beyond the sting itself.

When a second exposure to the allergen occurs, however, it’s a different story. The sensitized mast cells and basophils are activated and produce a large amount of histamine and other inflammatory chemicals. The flood of these into the system can cause possibly severe physical reactions.



Toxin Allergies

Allergies may appear in various forms, from mild to life-threatening. These conditions include hay fever, food allergies, local skin reactions (called “atopic dermatitis”), drug/toxin reactions, and allergic asthma. Common symptoms include red eyes, itching, nasal congestion, difficulty breathing, and swelling. In the worst situations, a body-wide reaction called “anaphylaxis” causes rashes, major swelling, and difficulty breathing to the point of suffocation.

Hay Fever:  Hay fever is a (usually) seasonal reaction to high pollen counts in the air from certain plants. People with hay fever won’t likely have a fever, but they will have sneezing from a runny, clogged nose, red, itchy, watery eyes and “postnasal drip”, a condition where a cough is caused when mucus runs down the throat from the back of the nose.

Different grasses, trees, and flowering plants will release pollens at different times of the year, and it is often difficult to identify what allergen is causing the symptoms.  Skin “patch”, scratch, or blood tests may determine if a particular substance is causing the sensitivity.

Atopic Dermatitis: Most people who have atopic dermatitis have had allergies before or a family member with similar problems such as hay fever or asthma. Common allergens include animal dander, dust mites, exposure to certain foods, stress, and dry, cold weather.

The condition usually starts with itchy, dry skin.. Scratching causes inflammation, swelling, and redness, and may initiate an infection in the area. Small, oozy blisters sometimes occur that crust over with time. Although mild versions cover small areas and are improved with lotions, severe versions require more intense therapy.

Rashes may recur over the same area time and again, leading to toughened, thick skin that appears darker than other areas. These areas are usually on the scalp and cheeks of infants but may be seen on the baby’s knees or elbows. Other areas may be affected with age, such as the ankles, wrists, legs, the buttocks, and the nape of the neck.

Food Allergies: Four or five percent of the population is allergic to some kind of food. In children, eggs, milk and peanuts are often responsible; in adults, shellfish, nuts from trees (for example, walnuts), milk and eggs are common triggers to a reaction. It should be noted that an allergy to milk is different that intolerance caused by a deficiency of the enzyme needed to digest it (otherwise known as “lactose intolerance”.

Drug Allergies: A drug allergy is caused after repeated exposure to a medicine. Some of the most common include Penicillins, Sulfa Drugs, non-synthetic Insulins, seizure meds, and those containing iodine.

Drug allergies are often confused with what are called “adverse reactions”. An adverse reaction is a known ill effect that can occur with the use of a medication. For example, if a drug is known to cause nausea in some patients, that is considered an adverse reaction as opposed to an allergy.

Despite this, many will report an allergy to a particular drug to their healthcare provider. Some of the reasons that people will write “allergic” on their medical interview sheet include:

  • The drug causes symptoms that makes them feel unwell.
  • A family member has a history of an allergy to the drug, and they assume that the same goes for them.
  • An incident in their childhood resembled an allergic reaction, so better safe than sorry.
  • Negative comments online or elsewhere cause reluctance to take the medicine.
  • Philosophically opposed to a particular type of drug (antibiotics, psychotropics).
  • An actual allergy.

Note that a true allergy is placed last on this list; the World Allergy Association reports that less than 10% of reactions to medications are actually allergies caused by an immune response. Most symptoms that people get after taking medicine are, instead, adverse or “side” effects. It may not always be easy to tell the difference, but a true drug allergy will show immune-mediated symptoms such as hives, itchy skin or eyes, rashes, lip and tongue swelling, and wheezing. Blood pressure may drop precipitously in some cases.

Toxin Allergies: It’s common to have local redness, discomfort, itching and swelling when a toxin, such as bee venom, is introduced into the body. Your immune system, however, may respond strongly in the form of an allergy. Common insects involved are bees, wasps, hornets, and fire ants.

When the immune system gets involved, the reactions may be more severe, with hives, redness and swelling affecting large areas of skin. Swelling may extend to the tongue, throat, lips, and elsewhere. Stomach upset, nausea and vomiting, and diarrhea are common. The effects may take days to completely resolve.


Allergies, when mild, are treated with medications that help relieve the specific symptoms.

Antihistamines in oral, intranasal and ophthalmic (eye drop) form are useful to deal with the sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes associated with hay fever. Nasal decongestants like oral pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) and the nasal spray oxymetazoline (Afrin, Dristan) are useful drugs to have in the medicine cabinet. It should be noted, however, that the nasal sprays are addictive when used for more than three days. That is, if you stop using them, your nose will become stuffy again.

Others like diphenhydramine (Benadryl) may help, but are prone to causing drowsiness in higher doses. Longer term therapy with intranasal steroids like Atrovent (ipratropium) or NasalCrom (cromolyn sodium) is another option. These drugs are best for long term therapy, however, as the effects are not felt immediately.

In the worst cases, epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) is necessary as an injectable to improve symptoms that affect the entire body. A future article will discuss this type of event in detail.



Neti Pot

Many experience relief from allergies when they use an item known as a “Neti pot” to relieve congestion and pressure. The Neti pot essentially looks like a version of Alladin’s lamp, and allows the delivery of sterile solutions into the nasal cavity.

Neti pots work by thinning out mucus. The hairs in the nose, called “cilia” are aided in their attempts to eliminate mucus and allergens by the flushing action of the sterile saline solution delivered by the Neti Pot.

Some may have doubts about the effectiveness of the Neti Pot, but research backs up the benefits of nasal “irrigation” to relieve some allergy symptoms. Nasal irrigation via a Neti Pot may help decrease the need for drugs.

One concern related to Neti pots, however, is the importance of ensuring that you are using sterile solution when you irrigate. Non-sterile solutions, even tap water, may transmit infections directly into the body; two deaths in Louisiana were attributed to Neti pot use of contaminated water. Neti pots also must be washed after every use, as you would wash your dishes after every meal.

A natural remedy getting some serious attention lately is Butterbur. In a recent British Medical Joural study, butterbur extract (ZE 339) four times daily equaled the effects of a popular antihistamine–without causing drowsiness!

Goldenseal, Nettles, Resveratrol, Quercetin, and Vitamin C as well as saline spray may be helpful. Ragweed sufferers, however, should realize that some plants commonly used in herbal remedies, like Chamomile and Echinacea, might cross-react in hay fever sufferers to make symptoms worse.

You might be surprised to know that acupuncture has some evidence for effectiveness against certain allergies. acupuncture. Based on the idea that stimulating certain points on the body can cause effects inside, a study of 26 hay fever patients found in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine and described in WebMD appeared to improve symptoms in all without adverse effects. Another experiment eliminated allergic symptoms in half the patients studied.

Allergies can be nuisances or they can be life-threatening. In situations where we might spend a larger part of our day outdoors, as in survival, it’s important to know the signs, symptoms, and treatments when our immune systems go into overload.

Joe Alton MD


Joe Alton, MD

Hey, Find out more about allergies and over 150 other medical topics in times of trouble with our 700 page third edition of The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way. And for your medical storage, there’s no better place to get a good medical kit than at Nurse Amy’s store!


Using Epinephrine in Vials

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The EpiPen


We’re in the midst of an epidemic of allergies in the U.S., and severe allergic reactions like anaphylaxis could be life threatening. Epinephrine is used For the emergency treatment of allergic reactions to stinging or biting insects, foods, drugs, and other allergens, as well as exercise-induced anaphylaxis; yes, you can be allergic to exercise, but don’t use that as an excuse to be a couch potato!


Epinephrine is most commonly used these days in an autoinjector that’s fast and easy to use. In the United States, one brand of autoinjector, the EpiPen, manufactured by a subsidiary of Pfizer pharmaceuticals, and marketed by Mylan corporation, is considered the gold standard. Annual sales of all epinephrine autoinjectors were about $200M; EpiPen had around 90% of the market; in 2015 the market size grew to $1.5B and epipen still has the lion’s share. Well, in a move that some might describe as profiteering, Mylan raised the U.S. price from around $100 for a package of two EpiPens in 2007 to around $600 in 2016, although it’s still less expensive in the UK and Canada. The devices, by the way, deliver about $1 worth of drug.


In a public relations move, Mylan made savings cards worth up to $300 available to some patients to purchase EpiPens, Unfortunately, these can only be used by a small number of people who need the drug, and doesn’t seem to include people on Medicaid. The high prices paid by insurers, however, haven’t changed and they pass the cost onto consumers in the form of higher and higher health insurance premiums every year.


(update: Mylan recently released a half-price generic version of the Epi-pen in response to the widespread resistance to their price increase.)


So what’s your best option if the Epipen is now outside of your financial reach? It might be using vials or ampules of epinephrine, small syringes, and some antiseptic wipes. The 1:1000 epinephrine ampules are 1 ml and contains enough for a one-time use of up to 2 doses. The same concentration vials are usually 30 ml and made for multiple uses. Here’s how to use epinephrine that’s packaged this way :



1:1000 epinephrine in vials (from WebMD)

1:1000 epinephrine solution contain 1mg of drug per milliliter or cc of solution. For a person weighing 30 kg, 66 pounds, or greater, give 0.3 to 0.5 mg (0.3 to 0.5 mL) into the anterolateral thigh about the level of the bottom of your Jeans pocket. Repeat the dose every 5 to 10 minutes, alternating left and right thighs until improvement is noted. Remember that epinephrine will cause a fast heartbeat, nervousness and, perhaps, a number of other side effects. Of course, in normal times, get the victim to modern medical care as soon as possible, especially if more than 2 doses were needed.

For children weighing less than 66 pounds, the formula for anaphylaxis is 0.01 mg/kg, so a small child weighing 10 kg, or 44 pounds, would receive 0.2 mg, that’s .2 ml if you use 1:1000 epinephrine solution. The maximum pediatric dose is up to 0.3 mg, that’s 0.3 ml of epinephrine (1:1000).

This might seem complicated, and indeed, it does take longer to deliver the product than with an autoinjector like the Epipen unless you keep some small syringes prefilled with the medication. In a 2010 article in the ASIAN PACIFIC JOURNAL OF ALLERGY AND IMMUNOLOGY, manually prefilled syringes were recommended as a way to keep ready to use epinephrine available at all times, and it appears that the medication remains potent and uncontaminated by bacteria or fungus for 3 months. After that, it changes color and all bets are off. This also assumes that the syringes are stored at room temperature, as high temperatures will affect potency considerably over time.


(This article can be viewed in video form HERE)



Joe Alton, MD


Dr. Joe Alton


Learn more about allergic reactions, anaphylactic shock and 150 other topics related to survival in good or bad times by  getting a copy of the 700 page Third Edition of The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for when Medical Help is Not on the Way, now available at Amazon.

Natural Solutions for Dog Asthma

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Natural Solutions for Asthma in dogs:

Asthma can be a burden on all the dogs main systems, causing fatigue, tiredness irritability, anxiety, panic attacks. However a few good Natural solutions for these multi-leged critters are available in both essential and herbal for:

Essential oil Method requires a defuser close to but not where the dog can get at it.
Fill your diffuser with tap water and add the following essential oils:

  • 1 drop of Eucalyptus essential oil
  • 3 drops of Lavender essential oil
  • 2 drops of Lemon essential oil

The lemon essential oil will clean the air of toxins  thus creating a freshness to the air. The Lavender ant-micro bile properties will aid in defeating any bacteria’s in the air and lungs particularly suseptible  by asthma. The Eucalyptus essential oil will aid in maintaining open brachial and nasal airways particularly those irritated and inflamed by allergens. 

The Herbal Method:
 Requires either making a Tea, Concoction, Tincture or Sprinkling the powdered form of the herb on their food. Some herbs that work well are:

  • Marshmallow root 
  • Sage (Be careful using if your dog has epilepsey)
  • Slippery elm bark
  • Rose Hips For vitamin C ( 125 mg. twice daily after feedings) if dog gets diarrhea reduce dosage until diarrhea stops.
  • Mullein: for its nutritional properties and will aid in the stopping of coughing Give 8 ounces daily orally (add food grade vegetable glycerine to sweeten no sugar)

Making a Concoction:

  1. Bring 2 cups of distilled water to a Boil
  2. Add herbs and lower heat to a low simmer( Do not let boil!!!)
  3. continue to simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. (30 minutes if using bark or root herbs)

Finally, strain and press the herbs (all the potent enzymes remain within the soaked Plant parts) adding  a more concentrated effect to the concoction and becoming more potent overall for its application.  Let cool and use as needed. 

BREAKING: New Study Confirms Raw Milk Can Prevent This Major Ailment — But That’s Not All

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BREAKING: New Study Confirms Raw Milk Can Prevent This Major Ailment -- But That's Not All

Image source: morningagclips


Children who drink raw milk rather than pasteurized milk are less likely to develop asthma and allergies, according to a new, landmark six-year study by researchers at Ludwig Maximilian University in Germany.

The study says the pasteurization destroys beneficial ingredients, including Omega 3 – which researchers believe could hold the key.

“Fresh, unprocessed cow’s milk has a higher content of Omega 3 than does pasteurized, homogenized [where it’s treated to stop the cream separating] or low-fat milk. This factor partly explains why children who consume the unprocessed product are less likely to develop asthma,” immunologist Tabea Brick, one of the study’s authors, wrote in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Everything You Need To Know To Keep A Cow Healthy, Happy And Productive…

Pasteurization, Brick said, lowers the level of Omega 3 fatty acids in dairy products. Omega 3 reduces the level of harmful inflammation, one of the main causes of asthma, allergies and other health problems. The body does not produce Omega 3 fatty acids. The study was reported in the Daily Mail.

The German study of 1,100 children was the first large-scale effort to determine a link between pasteurized milk and asthma. Earlier studies involved much smaller numbers of test subjects.

BREAKING: New Study Confirms Raw Milk Can Prevent This Major Ailment -- But That's Not All

Image source: YouTube

Scientists are particularly interested in this study because it followed the children for six years.

Brick and her colleagues believe that the benefits of drinking raw milk could outweigh the risk of getting sick from bacteria in the product, although they stopped short of recommending raw milk, the Daily Mail reported.

The study is but the latest one to show the benefits of raw milk. For example:

  • Pharmacologists discovered that pasteurization cut the level of natural vitamin D in milk by up to 20 percent, The International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition
  • A report in the British Medical Journal noted that pasteurization kills beneficial bacteria that boost the digestive system’s ability to absorb nutrients.
  • The pasteurization kills vitamin K, which is necessary for blood clotting and bone health.
  • Babies born to mothers that drink raw milk while pregnant were less likely to suffer asthma and allergies during childhood, a German study published in Current Opinion in Gastroenterology

Despite conventional wisdom, pasteurization only became common after World War II. As recently as the 1920s, only a little over 1 percent of the milk sold in the United Kingdom was pasteurized.

In the US, raw milk sales are allowed in at least 29 states.

Do you believe milk should be pasteurized? Share your thoughts in the section below:

If You Like All-Natural Home Remedies, You Need To Read Everything That Hydrogen Peroxide Can Do. Find Out More Here.

hydrogen peroxide report

Treating Asthma

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In our last article, we talked about the mechanisms of how asthma affects the body. When exposed to an allergen (an allergy-causing substance), the body responds by the airways swelling, the muscles that surround them tightening and respiration (especially exhalation) becoming an exertion. Without treatment, the attack will often improve after a while, but sometimes it doesn’t, causing a life-threatening condition known as “status asthmaticus“.

The cornerstones of asthma treatment are the avoidance of “trigger” allergens, as mentioned previously, and the maintenance of open airways. Medications come in one of two forms: drugs that give quick relief from an attack and drugs that control the frequency of asthmatic episodes over time.

Quick relief drugs include “bronchodilators” that open airways, such as Albuterol (Ventolin, Proventil), among others. These drugs should open airways in a very short period of time and give significant relief. These drugs are sometimes useful for people going into a situation where they know they will exposed to a “trigger”, such as before strenuous exercise. Don’t be surprised if you notice a rapid heart rate on these medications; it’s a common side effect.

If you find yourself using quick-relief asthmatic medications more than twice a week, you are a candidate for daily control therapy. These drugs work, when taken daily, to decrease the number of episodes and are usually some form of inhaled steroid. There are long-acting bronchodilators as well, such as ipratropium bromide (Atrovent). Another family of drugs known as Leukotriene modifiers prevents airway swelling before an asthma attack even begins. These are usually in pill form and may make sense for storage purposes. The most popular is Montelukast (Singulair).

Often, medications will be used in combination, and you might find multiple medications in the same inhaler. U.S. commercial product Advair, for example, contains both a steroid and an airway dilator. Remember that inhalers lose potency over time. Expired inhalers, unlike many drugs in pill or capsule form, have less effect than fresh ones.

It’s important to figure out what allergens trigger your asthma attacks and work out a plan to avoid them as much as possible. Furthermore, make sure to stockpile as much of your asthma medication as possible in case of emergency. Physicians are usually sympathetic to requests for extra prescriptions from their asthmatic patients.


In mild to moderate cases, you might consider the use of natural remedies. There are actually quite a few substances that have been reported to be helpful:

Ginger: A study published in the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology indicates that Ginger is instrumental in inhibiting chemicals that constrict airways. Animal tests find that extracts of Ginger helps ease asthmatic symptoms in rodents. Use as a tea or extract twice a day.

Ginger and Garlic Tea: Put four minced garlic cloves in some ginger tea while it’s hot. Cool it down and drink twice a day. Some have reported a beneficial effect with just the garlic.

Other herbal teas: Ephedra, Coltsfoot, Codonopsis, Butterbur, Nettle, Chamomile, and Rosemary all have been used in the past to improve an asthmatic attack.

Coffee: Black unsweetened coffee is a stimulant that might make your lung function better when you are having an attack. Don’t drink more than 12 ounces at a time, as coffee can dehydrate you. Interestingly, coffee is somewhat similar in chemical structure to the asthma drug Theophylline.

Eucalyptus: Essential oil of eucalyptus, used in a steam or direct inhalation, is well-known to open airways. Rub a few drops of oil between your hands and breathe in deeply. Alternatively, a few drops in some steaming water will be good respiratory therapy.

Honey: Honey was used in the 19th century to treat asthmatic attacks. Breathe deeply from a jar of raw unprocessed honey and look for improvement in a few minutes. To decrease the frequency of attacks, stir one teaspoon of honey in a twelve ounce glass of water and drink it three times daily.

Turmeric: Take one teaspoon of turmeric powder in 6-8 ounces of warm water three times a day.

Licorice and Ginger: Mix licorice and ginger (1/2 teaspoon of each) in a cup of water. Warning: Licorice can raise your blood pressure.

Black Pepper, Onion, and Honey: Drink ¼ cup of onion juice with a tablespoon of honey, after adding 1/8 tablespoon of black pepper.

Mustard Oil Rub: Mix mustard oil with camphor and rub it on your chest and back. There are claims that it gives instant relief in some cases.

Gingko Biloba leaf extract: Thought to decrease hypersensitivity in the lungs; not for people who are taking aspirin or ibuprofen daily, or anticoagulants like Coumadin.

Vitamin D: Some asthmatics have been diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency.

Lobelia: Native Americans actually smoked this herb as a treatment for asthma. Instead of smoking, try mixing tincture of lobelia with tincture of cayenne in a 3:1 ratio. Put 1 milliliter (about 20 drops) of this mixture in water at the start of an attack and repeat every thirty minutes or so.

Further research is necessary to determine the amount of effect that the above remedies have on severe asthma, so take standard medications if your peak flow reading is 60% or less than normal.

Don’t underestimate the effect of your diet on your condition. Asthmatics should:

• Replace animal proteins with plant proteins.
• Increase intake of Omega-3 fatty acids.
• Eliminate milk and other dairy products.
• Eat organically whenever possible.
• Eliminate trans-fats; use extra-virgin olive oil as your main cooking oil.
• Always stay well-hydrated; more fluids will make your lung secretions less viscous.

Finally, various breathing methods, such as taught in Yoga classes, are thought to help promote well-being and control the panic response seen in asthmatic attacks. Acupuncture is thought by some to have some promise as well in treating the condition.


Joe Alton, MD


Survival Medicine Hour: Asthma, Zika, Fukushima 5 years later, more

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Five years ago, The Fukushima Daichi plant melted down after an earthquake and tsunami, and today spills out radioactive water from cooling operations that are still ongoing. What effects will it have on the population? Plus, Joe Alton, MD, talks all about asthma, especially in survival settings and give an update on the latest on Zika Virus. Also, super-resistant lice are now seen in 25 states, what can you do to deal with this new threat? All this on the Survival Medicine Hour with Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy.


To listen in, click below:


Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,


Joe and Amy Alton

joe and amy radio

Fill those holes in your medical supplies by checking out Nurse Amy’s entire line of medical kits and individual items at

Understanding Asthma

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Asthma is a chronic condition that limits your ability to breathe. It affects the airways, which are the tubes that transport air to your lungs. When people with asthma are exposed to a substance to which they are allergic (an “allergen”), airways become swollen and filled with mucus. As a result, air can’t pass through to reach the part of the lungs that absorbs oxygen (the “alveoli”).

During an episode of asthma, you will develop shortness of breath, tightness in your chest, and start to wheeze and cough. This is referred to as an “asthma attack”. In rare situations, the airways can become so constricted that a person could suffocate from lack of air.

Here are common allergens that trigger an asthmatic attack:

• Pet or wild animal dander
• Dust or the excrement of dust mites
• Mold and mildew
• Smoke
• Pollen
• Severe stress
• Pollutants in the air
• Some medicines
• Exercise

There are many myths associated with asthma; the below are just some:

• Asthma is contagious. (False)

• You will grow out of it. (False; it might become dormant for a time but you are always at risk for it returning)

• It’s all in your mind. (False)

• If you move to a new area, your asthma will go away. (False; it may go away for a while, but eventually you will become sensitized to something else and it will likely return)

Here’s a “true” myth: Asthma is, indeed, hereditary. If both parents have asthma, you have a 70% chance of developing it compared to only 6% if neither parent has it.

Physical signs and symptoms of asthma

Asthmatic symptoms may be different from attack to attack and from individual to individual. Some of the symptoms are also seen in heart conditions and other respiratory illnesses, so it’s important to make the right diagnosis. Symptoms may include:

• Cough
• Shortness of Breath
• Wheezing (usually sudden)
• Chest tightness (sometimes confused with coronary artery spasms/heart attack)
• Rapid pulse rate and respiration rate
• Anxiety

Besides these main symptoms, there are others that are signals of a life-threatening episode. If you notice that your patient has become “cyanotic”, they are in trouble. Someone with cyanosis will have a blue/gray color to their lips, fingertips, and face.


cyanosis of the fingertips

You might also notice that it takes longer for them to exhale than to inhale. As an asthma attack worsens, wheezing may take on a higher pitch. Once the patient has spent enough time without adequate oxygen, they will become confused, drowsy, and possibly lose consciousness.

To make the diagnosis, use your stethoscope to listen to the lungs on both sides. Make sure that you listen closely to the bottom, middle, and top lung areas.

In a mild asthmatic attack, you will hear relatively loud, musical noises when the patient breathes for you. As the asthma worsens, less air is passing through the airways and the pitch of the wheezes will be higher and perhaps not as loud. If no air is passing through, you will hear nothing, not even when you ask the patient to inhale forcibly. This person may become cyanotic.

Here’s what wheezing sounds like when using a stethoscope:

Sometimes a person might become so anxious that they become short of breath and  think they are having an asthma attack. To resolve this question, you can measure how open the airways are with a simple diagnostic instrument known as a peak flow meter. A peak flow meter measures the ability of your lungs to expel air, a major problem for an asthmatic. It can help you identify if a patient’s cough is part of an asthma attack or whether they are, instead, having a panic attack or other issue.

To determine what is normal for a member of your group, you should first document a peak flow measurement when they are feeling well. Have your patient purse their lips over the mouthpiece of the peak flow meter and forcefully exhale into it. Now you know their baseline measurement. If they develop shortness of breath, have them blow into it again.

In moderate asthma, peak flow will be reduced 20-40%. Greater than 50% is a sign of a severe episode. In a non-asthma related cough or upper respiratory infection, peak flow measurements will be close to normal. The same goes for a panic attack; even though you may feel short of breath, your peak flow measurement is still about normal.

In our next article, we’ll discuss conventional and alternative ways to treat asthma.


Joe Alton, MD


Learn about asthma and other respiratory problems in the Amazon bestseller “The Survival Medicine Handbook“, with over 275 5-star reviews!