Farm Life May Significantly Decrease Asthma and Allergies
Node Smith, ND
Previous research has shown that growing up on a farm with animals may reduce the risk of asthma and allergies by half. The protective effect is attributed to the diverse microbial exposures encountered on farms.
Diverse microbial exposures encountered on farms in early-life may decrease risk of asthma and allergies
We’ve discovered that the presence of farm-like microbiota in an early-life home seemed to protect from asthma also in urban homes. The effect was not based on the presence of a large number of different microbial species but rather differences in the relative abundance of certain bacterial groups,” said Pirkka Kirjavainen, Senior Researcher, Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare
Microbiota in homes protecting from asthma contained a wealth of bacteria typical of the outdoor environment
The study found that the microbiota in homes protecting from asthma contained a wealth of bacteria typical of the outdoor environment, including bacteria in soil. On the other hand, the proportion of microbes normally occurring in the human respiratory tract and associated with respiratory tract infections was small.
“The key characteristic of microbiota in homes protecting from asthma appears to be a large abundance of bacteria which originate from the outdoor environment and are beneficial or harmless to health, relative to bacteria that are a potential threat to health,” Kirjavainen comments.
Increased farm-like features in urban homes
In urban homes, factors that increased the farm-like features in the microbiota included wearing outdoor shoes indoors, the number of siblings and the age of the house; all factors that may increase transport of outdoor microbes into the home.
Can new cases be prevented in the future?
Asthma is the most common chronic disease in children in Finland – can new cases be prevented in the future?
“It is interesting to see how clear of a protective effect indoor microbiota can have against the development of asthma. In contrast, it has been considerably more difficult to identify microbiota that would explain the detrimental effect of moisture damage on asthma,” says Professor Juha Pekkanen.
What the results suggest
Asthma is the most common chronic disease in children in Finland as well as in many other countries, and its prevalence is increasing with urbanization. The new study supports the view that children’s early exposure to the ‘right cocktail’ of microbes may help their bodies to develop mechanisms protecting from asthma.
“The results suggest that asthma could be prevented in the future by modifying children’s early microbial exposures,” says Pekkanen.
1. Kirjavainen, P. et al. (2019) Farm-like indoor microbiota in non-farm homes protects children from asthma development. Nature Medicine. doi.org/10.1038/s41591-019-0469-4
Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Humboldt, Saskatchewan and associate editor and continuing education director for NDNR. His mission is serving relationships that support the process of transformation, and that ultimately lead to healthier people, businesses and communities. His primary therapeutic tools include counselling, homeopathy, diet and the use of cold water combined with exercise. Node considers health to be a reflection of the relationships a person or a business has with themselves, with God and with those around them. In order to cure disease and to heal, these relationships must be specifically considered. Node has worked intimately with many groups and organizations within the naturopathic profession, and helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic Revitalization (ANR), which works to promote and facilitate experiential education in vitalism.
Node Smith graduated from the National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM) in 2017, and is currently licensed as a naturopathic physician in Oregon and working towards becoming licensed in Saskatchewan, Canada as well.