Doctor finds dust in Amish homes could lead to cure for allergies

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – New research about the Amish community in Indiana may lead doctors to finding a cure for allergies.

Doctor Mark Holbreich with St. Vincent Health has provided free allergy care to the Amish people for years. Over time, he learned the community did not suffer from allergies and asthma as much as other communities. So he wanted to find out why?

Holbreich began studying another farming community, the Hutterites in South Dakota, and compared his findings with what he’d learned about the Amish community.

“Same genetics. Same lifestyles. Same diet. No smoking. No pets. No TV. Exactly like the Amish,” said Holbreich.

However, the Hutterites were developing allergies and asthma at higher rates than the Amish.

The only difference, Holbreich found, was that the Hutterites did not live as close to their barns and animals as the Amish. The Amish were living so close to their animals, they were also bringing that much more bacteria into their homes.

So Hobreich collected and studied the dust in the homes of both communities.

“When we looked at the amount of microbial material in the house, it was much, much higher in the Amish homes than the Hutterites,” he explained.

The microbes in the dust seemed to be making the Amish immune systems stronger.

“The Amish live a lifestyle that our immune system was intended to live which is close to the soil, close to animals, and on farms.” he said. “As we get better sanitation better drinking water less infections, the price we pay is more allergies.”

So what does this mean for those of us with allergies?

Dr. Holbreich said you won’t be able to reverse your allergies or asthma. However, these new findings and continued research into the dust in Amish homes could help doctors find a cure for allergies in the near future.

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