For some, spring is a season to endure…
Ode to Dandelions
You are so happy and unconventional.
Your ragged leaves furl out like wings;
Up pokes your sunny face and sings
Of summer and warmth.
You trick me, wicked things!
For beneath your yellow crown,
Hidden, is that dusty pollen–
The color of ripe earwax–
Which makes me mercilessly sneeze;
Till colder turns the breeze,
When your head becomes flaxen,
Full of downy fluff,
And away it flies!
I watch through puffy eyes,
As you escape in glee.
Sneezing, itching, headaches, leaking eyes and nose…
While there are many pharmaceutical options to simmer down those annoying symptoms, an important question to ask might be whether or not these options have ever made those symptoms disappear for good? Just like cutting off the top of the dandelion won’t get rid of the dandelion, covering up the symptoms won’t get rid of the problem. In naturopathic medicine we believe that it is important to dig down as deep as we can to the root of the issue in order to heal the whole person. Why? Because these little annoying symptoms can be signs that something more might be going on, and it is important to eliminate the chronic inflammation and immune dysregulation that could lead to larger health complications down the road.
Allergic rhinitis is known as a type 1 or immediate hypersensitivity allergic reaction. In this type of reaction, your body’s IgE antibodies that have formed against the allergen (eg. pollen) cause certain immune cells to release histamine into your body causing the various symptoms you may experience.
So how do we make this go away?
I’ll share a few ideas, but it is important to remember that every person is different and needs to be treated so. An often-used metaphor is the bucket analogy. We can think of our bodies as a bucket that can fill up with various junk from all sorts of places. While our bodies have some defences against this, if our buckets get too full it can overwhelm these defences and suddenly various health conditions start to show up. So, in a very oversimplified way, if we decrease our bucket load we can clear up some overflow issues. Here are a few ways we can help out our bodies:
- First, and perhaps most obviously, avoid what you are allergic to! And if you don’t know, get tested.
- Often, people who experience seasonal allergies also have food sensitivities. Following an elimination diet to discover hidden allergies will improve symptoms in most people
- Good quality probiotics have been shown to help by strengthening the immune system and increasing protection from invading allergens
- Specific helpful nutrients: omega 3, bioflavonoids, quercetin, bromelain, vitamin C, N-acetylcysteine, zinc…
- Nutrition: Juice foods that are rich in quercetin, bromelain, Vit C and bioflavonoids (citrus fruits, pineapple, apple, berries, mint, ginger, turmeric). Incorporate onions, garlic, ginger, dark leafy greens and yellow and orange veggies into your every day diet. Increase water. Avoid refined foods, dairy, sugar, wheat, red meat, alcohol, caffeine.
- Specific herbs: urtica dioca (nettle), petasites hybridus (butterbur -caution to use pyrrolizidine alkaloid free extract and don’t use if allergic to ragweed family), euphrasia officinalis (eyebright), silybum marianum (milk thistle), sambucus nigra (elderflower), achilliea millefolium (yarrow)…. These can be taken as teas or tinctures. Nettle tea is easy to find in stores – add some raw grated ginger, lemon and honey and you’re set!
- Hydrotherapy: cold cloth on the forehead, hot foot bath, nasal lavage, constitutional hydrotherapy
- Other things your ND may be able to offer you: acupuncture, sublingual immunotherapy, homeopathics, a spring detox
Every individual is different in their health history and lifestyle and for this reason it is so important to see your doctor so that they can implement a plan that will work specifically for you. Remember that certain health conditions and medication lists require special attention, so for your safety it is best not to treat yourself!
In the meantime, I hope these ideas will inspire you and give you hope to know that perhaps one day you will be singing a happier tune when the flowers start to bloom.
Ode to a Worm
Oh worm, why do you turn into the earth from me?
Tis spring oh worm!
Lift up your head, which ever end that be, and smile at the sun
Untwine your naked form and fling the dirt high in ecstasy!
Tis spring, tis spring, tis spring…