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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 143  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 386-387

History of allergy

Date of Web Publication19-May-2016

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0971-5916.182640

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How to cite this article:
. History of allergy. Indian J Med Res 2016;143:386-7

How to cite this URL:
. History of allergy. Indian J Med Res [serial online] 2016 [cited 2020 Oct 20];143:386-7. Available from:

History of allergy, K -C. Bergmann, J. Ring, editors (Karger, Basel, Switzerland) 2014. 426 pages.

Price: USD 135.00 / CHF 115.00 / EUR 107.00

ISBN 978-3-318-02194-3

The 'History of Allergy' is an appropriate topic marking the 100th volume of an informative series, “Chemical Immunology and Allergy” published by Karger. The history of one of the major non-infectious diseases has been discussed here which although has been around for 2000 or more years, but has gained epidemic proportions over the recent decades. The book provides a comprehensive overview regarding the historical aspects of allergy by some of the eminent authorities in the field.

The book is divided into eight chapters which have been further subdivided. The first five chapters of the book takes the reader through the ancient history, the development and understanding of mechanisms of allergy and further how the management of allergic diseases has progressed. Chapter 1 traces the symptoms and clinical conditions of allergic diseases to atleast 2000 years back in the Mesopotamia, Egypt, China and indigenious American civilizations. It then traces the history of allergy through the middle ages followed by the description of hay fever, pollens in seasonal rhinitis in the 19th century. Allergy in the 20th century (modern era) has been discussed in detail including the discovery of anaphylaxis and development of immunotherapy. Additionally, details of the origin of various terminologies in allergic diseases have also been discussed.

Chapter 2 discusses the historical reflections in a number of common allergic diseases like anaphylaxis, allergic rhinitis, asthma, atopic dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis, urticaria and angioedema, allergy in eye, food allergy and drug hypersensitivity. Chapter 3 develops into the details of discoveries regarding mechanisms of allergy. It starts with discovery of immunoglobulin E in 1967, then goes on to discuss about the historical perspectives of discovery of T cell populations, mast cells, basophils, eosinophils, bradykinins, histamines and other mediators in allergic diseases. The fourth chapter deals with the detection of various environmental agents and allergens in allergic diseases. It starts with the description of pollen allergy at the start of 19th century followed by the role of mites, mammalian airborne allergens, latex, peanut and other food items and environmental pollution.

Chapter 5 traces the progress in allergy management beginning with the history of catecholamine research, antihistamines, glucocorticoids, chromes, standardization of allergen extracts and the development of allergen specific immunotherapy over the years. Chapter 6 consists of 13 interviews with some of the best known pioneers in the field of allergy including K. Frank Austen, John Bienenstock, Kurt Blaser, Alain de Weck, Alfred W. Frankland, Oscar L. Frick, Kimishige Ishizaka, Lothar Jager, Terumasa Miyamoto, Harry M. Brown, Albert K. Oehling, Heimo Reulecke and Václav Špičák. The book discusses their background, education, professional qualifications and important papers.

Chapter 7 takes its reader through the history and concept behind the foundation of some of the well known allergy societies around the world, while chapter 8 provides online access to two movies. The first movie “Anaphylaxie et Allergie” of 46 min was recorded in 1956 regarding anaphylaxis. After a short introduction by Portier it shows anaphylactic shock of a dog followed by principles of allergic reactions, diagnosis and therapy. The second movie “World Allergy: The Disease of Civilization” is on the essential aspects of the history of allergy.

Overall, the book is exhaustive and consists of 257 figures, 127 in colour and20 tables. However, having multiple authors sometimes presents some contradictory views leaving it to the mind of the reader on how to analyze it. The print quality is good and provides for pleasant reading. Anyone having interest in allergy will like to have this book in his/her personal collection. It will be a useful reference book for medical college libraries as well.


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