Fauna, Flora, Fowl, and Fruit: Effects of the Columbian Exchange on the Allergic Response of New and Old World Inhabitants
Abstract:The Columbian Exchange has been described as "the most important event in human history since the end of the Ice Age." This interchange of many species of fauna, flora, fowl, and fruits resulted in new encounters between New and Old World inhabitants. Prominent among these were manifestations of allergic reactions to many of the new substances. Little imagination is required to reflect on what these substances added to or detracted from both the New and Old World lifestyles, habits, and diets. The numerous peas, vegetable seeds, and grasses, such as sugarcane, introduced during Columbus' later voyages, made an enormous difference in the lives of New World inhabitants, as did the introduction of the cow and horse, not to mention substances such as coconuts and bananas, that are now intimately associated with the Caribbean and the Bahamas.
This article focuses on some the more important exchange substances and emphasizes many forms of anaphylaxis: asthma, food allergy, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, chronic bronchitis, rhinitis, serum sickness, and other conditions that developed in both New and Old World inhabitants. To mention only a few examples, the Europeans introduced to the New World potential dangers such as honeybees (anaphylaxis). It also gave the New World the cow and the horse (serum sickness), which became the constant companion of Columbus' Indians and the American cowboy. It gave the Italians their thick red gravy, and the New World its pizza (food allergy), The Caribbean received bananas and coconuts and the New World embraced coffee (caffeine addiction), On the other hand, the exchange also caused Europeans of begin puffing away on tobacco!
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: November 1, 1992
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- Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.
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