Usually when summer comes around, my eyes well up with tears and my nose follows suit with a flowing spiquet that can’t be shut off. And the sneezing is ear-shattering and baby waking…which pisses all of us off.
But this year June came and went. I watched the scotch broom open and pollinate, I even picked some. Not a sneeze. Every morning I was drinking my coffee with local honey and sometimes a spoonful on toast along with a good squeeze of lemon in a glass of water.
In July, all the flowers and trees burst into bloom like fireworks. I have had a few sneezes here and there but mostly just when I cleaned out the closets or did some heavy sweeping. Then I would run down to the bathroom and flush out my nasal passages with some sea water and get on with my heavy daily chores without a problem.
My legs are day glo-white I noticed while bathing at our friend’s pool. I only wear long pants and usually closed toed shoes—better for gardening, rock building, mud making, plus I do a lot of foraging in high grasses. Does this have something to do with my lack of allergies this year? You bet. Read on.
I have been diagnosed with severe seasonal allergies by specialists in America and France. Both of them prescribed an array prescription pills, shots and sprays. Nothing ever worked. Ever. I have tried them all. Often during finals time, the school kids would count how many times in a row I would sneeze 12..13..14… I was mortified and exhausted from sneezing and couldn’t function physically (my mom was mad because I couldn’t stop sneezing to form words for a scrabble game), eat (imagine going on a date and sneezing through the entire thing) or swallow (trust me sushi and sneezing attacks do not bode well together). The doctors said I was allergic to over 40 things! Mostly dust mites, grasses, trees, cats, pollens, llamas, you name it I was allergic. And still am.
Certain trees are a trigger—mostly just the male ones. Trees produce pollen, the dust-like, male reproductive parts of plants which cause most allergies. Oak trees produce major amounts of pollen. Evergreens like cedar, juniper, cypress and sequoia trees have all been known to cause allergies. Other suspects include elm trees, birch trees, olive trees, sycamores, and poplars, including cottonwoods, balsam and aspen. In certain species, it's only the male tree that causes problems. Their female counterparts are completely pollen-free and produce edible fruit, though cities usually plant the males and we get more and more allergy sufferers. Poplar, cottonwood, box elder, red maple, silver maple, willow, ash, date palm and Phoenix palm trees all fall into this category.
Grasses usually come along to provoke allergy symptoms after trees are through pollinating – typically from late spring to early summer. Common culprits are timothy grass, Bermuda grass, sweet vernal, red top and some blue grasses of which we have plenty around here.
Weeds are guilty of causing most of the allergy misery that occurs in the late summer and early fall. Top on the list of offenders is ragweed – which affects as many as 75 percent of all hay fever sufferers. Ragweed is found in virtually every region of the United States and, with 17 different species of the weed, there’s plenty of pollen to keep people sneezing and sniffling until winter kills them. Other common weed allergens are sagebrush, found predominantly in the west, pigweed and goosefoot pollen.
Molds are microscopic plants that reproduce by sending tiny spores into the air. They thrive in areas that are warm, dark and moist. Unlike pollen, which appears only in the warm weather months, mold can lurk in your house year-round. Molds are my winter misery usually.
Dust Mites are small (hundreds can live in a single gram of dust), eight-legged creatures that belong to the same family as spiders, chiggers and ticks. These culprits are hardy creatures that live well and multiply easily in warm, humid places. Favorite hideouts include carpets, upholstered furniture, bedding, clothes, soft toys and the fur of pets. The intruder is particularly malicious when trapped inside a closed-up house or carton of winter sweaters.*On dust or dust mites. While removing this dust is necessary, many dusting and furniture polishes contain aerosols or other compounds that increase sensitivities to allergies. Usually, dusting with a damp cloth once weekly is sufficient to remove dust without harming your furniture. I use olive oil and vinegar (like a salad dressing) to clean and polish our wood and just water with a squirt of soap for the rest.
About Treatment for Allergies:
Drugs that block your body's natural release of histamine by using drugs, called anti-histamines, cause your body to become more dependent on these substances. It also messes with your body's natural water regulating system, and it is not curing your allergies. The pharmaceutical companies would shudder to hear this: Honey, lemon, water, salt, some minerals, and plenty of sunshine could very well be your allergies worst enemies.
1. A deficiency in minerals is the underlining cause of allergy reactions. Most people don’t consume the recommended dietary allowance of calcium, magnesium, iron, or zinc. Those are the four essentials that could unbalance your system to counter allergies. Eating fresh greens, fish, liver, and taking coral calcium are a good idea to replace these essential minerals.
2. Drink infusions of nettles, red raspberry leaf tea, catnip, or horsetail plant and eat a bowl of oatmeal (very good against allergies) each day during allergy season. After the herbs are brewed you can drink them like iced tea all day long that will help with your water intake.
3. Stop eating foods that kill, toxins like refined sugar, margarine, junk foods that mess up your system and harm your body. Now that we don’t eat processed or packaged foods (for two years), I have noticed an extreme drop in my seasonal allergies.
4. Try a liver and gall bladder cleanse. Yes, our runny noses and watering eyes are somehow related to our gallbladders deep inside of us. If you can help your gallbladder function better you will have less allergies. In fact, it will help against a lot of illnesses: Gallbladder attacks, allergies, indigestion, abdominal pain, arm pain, back pain, constipation, bursitis (mom, you have to try this!), or any chronic health problem.
Gall bladder cleanses consist of easy to find ingredients like shots of olive oil with lemon juice, caster oil, cod liver oil, apples and apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, ginger, and garlic concoctions.
5. Lots of walking and sweating! I wear jeans all day long even if its 100 degrees outside because I am digging in the garden which already is quite a hike to get to, then hacking back weeds that have sharp thorns. Flying bugs, deer flies, and bees get quite upset as do the wasps, so long pants and boots are important for my all day attire, but also for my allergies. Less pollen on my bare skin and more sweating to get out toxins that are reacting with those allergens.
6. Honey contains bits and pieces of pollen, and as an immune system booster, it is quite powerful. The good effects of local honey are best when the honey is taken a little bit (a couple of teaspoons-full) a day for several months prior to the pollen season. For about a year, I have been eating raw honey that is from our area, our source is about two minutes from us. That way there is a large selection of the pollens that I am allergic too. It may seem odd that straight exposure to pollen often triggers allergies but that exposure to pollen in the honey usually has the opposite effect. But this is typically what we see. In honey the allergens are delivered in small, manageable doses and the effect over time is very much like that from undergoing a whole series of allergy immunology injections. The major difference though is that the honey is a lot easier to take and it is certainly a lot less expensive.
7. Drink Lots of Water. Water works rather diligently at breaking down the excess mucus and then the body can begin to eliminate it. Dehydration is a major factor in allergies. Drink lots of water. Lots and lots with lemon if you like and should, lemon is important against allergies. There is a reason for drinking homemade (not store bought sweetened) lemonade on hot, sunny, June allergy days. Also to promote sweating (a good way to get out the toxins) drink infusions of herbs hot on a hot day. Along with your water, unprocessed, unrefined, salt (from seawater if possible) and water nasal spray or flushing, neti pots to clear out your sinuses work really well and calms reactive nasal passages. I'm not cured, but I certainly have had a lot of natural help from water and the seasalt. So basic, the answers were always here right under my nose.