Do you look forward to the return of spring flowers? When the weather is cooperating (like it certainly has been recently), do you love to get out into our local parks and forests?
Or does the spring season send you running for your tissue stockpile? If you have seasonal allergies, such as hay fever, then you’re definitely not alone.
Portland, and the Willamette valley in general, is a hotbed of allergies. Those of us who are the allergic type sometimes seem to never be able to catch a break. Pollen’s in the spring, grasses in the summer, then we’re on to the mold seasons of fall and winter. Then just when you think you might have a reprieve before the next spring season, spring cleaning causes your dust allergies to get the best of you.
Some options for helping with the never-ending snuffling and sneezing are your typical over the counter or prescription anti-histamines, but I thought I’d share some home remedies you can find locally to help during the allergy season.
Raw, local honey has been used for a very long time to support a reduced sensitivity to allergies. The way this works is that if the honey is raw and local to where you live, there will be a small amount of pollen from the flowering trees of your ecosystem. Like allergy shots, they both are working to de-sensitize an overactive immune system. Ideally, immune systems only react when they should- fighting off foreign invaders. But life isn’t ideal, and sometimes immune systems think that ragweed or cat dander is a foreign invader and thus should be vanquished in the Battle of the Runny Nose.
Nettles are one of the main plants used botanically for allergy support. If you’ve ever come across stinging nettle when out hiking or camping, then you’ve run across this plant in its natural habitat. Nettles and bioflavonoids (dense nutrient compounds derived from berries) are two top natural anti-allergy treatments because of their effects on the immune system.
There is a particular type of cell in the immune system, called the mast cell, which explodes upon contact with anything your body is allergic to. Its contents are very aggravating to the body (histamine is a primary compound released during the explosion), and this is what leads to itchy, swollen, red eyes, ears, nose and throat. This is why anti-allergy medications you can buy over the counter are called anti-histamines.
What nettles and bioflavonoids do is tell those mast cells to simmer-down-now. Mast cells, chill out, we really don’t need to be over reacting to cottonwood blooms. These natural compounds and herbs are called mast cell stabilizers.
Other approaches to allergies are being tested to find out specific reactions as well as other options too desensitize the immune over-reactions and reduce inflammation that an allergist can prescribe, or someone such as myself if you’re seeking a natural medical care. These are all too detailed and unique to each person and their set of allergies to discuss here, but I will share more of my approach upon request.
I welcome any questions and comments you have; please leave them below. And get out there and enjoy that sunshine, even if you’re a sneezing mess.
Stone Cottage 3844 SE Gladstone (the street). Sells bulk nettle tea and raw local clover honey
(believe me, it’s worth it to get someone else to harvest it and dry it so it doesn’t sting any more)
Ruhl Bee Supply 17845 SE 82nd Dr., Gladstone (the town) has all shapes and sizes of raw honey, with a variety of flower sources to choose from.
Angela Cortal, ND is a Naturopathic Doctor who runs a family medicine practice in the Foster-Powell neighborhood. She is as passionate about her neighborhood and community involvement as well as health and wellness. During the day she helps patients with a wide variety of health issues (such as hormonal imbalance, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, anxiety, depression and thyroid concerns ) with a focus on natural stress management and relief. During her off time she enjoys gardening, biking around the neighborhood and hiking in the Columbia River Gorge. Please see rosecityhealth.com for more on her and her practice.
Photo credits: Sebastian Smit, Christian Ferrari