Sneezing? Coughing? Slight tickle in your throat? Then you have met tree pollen!
Compared to the rest of the U.S., early spring in Florida is arguably the best time of year.
Our mild temperatures and still-cool Gulf breeze doesn’t mean our spring is completely free of any downsides. In fact, if you’re allergic to tree pollen you know this all too well.
Thanks to our temperate climate here in mid Florida, local trees produce an abundance of pollen starting in late December, usually lasting through March.
Tree pollen is a well-known, highly allergenic substance. In our Tampa Bay region Oak and Juniper trees along with Cedar, Cypress and Australian Pine are the most common culprits of tree pollen allergies. What makes matters worse is that these species don’t bloom at exactly the same time. Instead they bloom one right after the other…after the next…and next! It’s no wonder so many folks feel miserable for weeks!
So…how do allergies happen?
Seasonal allergies are the immune system's response to the millions of pollen grains floating through the air. By incorrectly interpreting pollen as a health threat, your body triggers an inflammatory response, leading to annoying symptoms like itchy eyes or a runny nose.
We also refer to this condition as a histamine response.
Histamine is the chemical the body uses to heal by creating a short-term acute inflammatory response by causing blood vessels expand and tissue to become warm and swollen to speed the healing process.
Here are 5 things you can do to make seasonal allergies more bearable.
1. The Mayo clinic offers 6 practical suggestions: reduce your exposure to allergy triggers by staying indoors on days where the pollen count is very high, remove clothes you’ve worn outside and shower to rinse pollen from your skin & hair, wear a pollen mask if you do outside chores, avoid outdoor activity in the early morning when the pollen counts are highest, and keep indoor air clean by using high-efficiency filters.
2. This may be a season where food choices can be significant. Try limiting foods that cause or increase inflammation in the body, like refined sugar, alcohol, dairy, wheat, & processed food. Include more foods that have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body include raw local honey, bone broth, probiotic-rich foods, apple cider vinegar, pineapple, fresh organic veggies, and fish rich in omega-3.
3. Lymph Drainage Therapy (LDT) can be very effective in easing stagnant lymph and congestion by manually stimulating the flow of lymphatic fluid and supporting the health of the entire lymphatic system. The lymphatic system both carries cellular waste and debris away, and transports nutrients and other necessary components to the various cells and parts of the body. It allows the body's own healing systems to do what they are intended to do.
4. Because of their small molecular size and potency essential oils (particularly Lemon, Lavender & Peppermint) can be very effective in balancing the histamine response to pollen. During acute episodes, Copaiba can be incorporated for its anti-inflammatory effects as well as a “potentiator” – something that brings out the full potential, or magnifies the effects of what it is combined with.
According to Gerhard Buchbauer, a professor of pharmaceutical chemistry at the University of Vienna in Austria, “absorption of essential oils by inhaling them directly from the bottle, cupped palms or a diffuser is as fast as an intravenous injection."
Eucalyptus has mucolytic, degongestant and anti-inflammatory qualities, and Tea Tree can destroy airborne pathogens that cause allergies, can kill mold, bacteria and fungi. It is an antiseptic agent and it has anti-inflammatory properties.
A helpful “one-stop” blend is R.C.™ Essential Oil from Young Living. It is a powerful blend of Spruce, Cypress, and three types of Eucalyptus oils (E. globulus, E. radiata, and E. citriodora).
(Please note that the quality of essential oils you use really is an important issue. Synthetic fragrance oils may contain any number of toxins: Benzaldehyde, benzyl acetate, propylene glycol, parabens, and sulfates just to mention a few. After much research I use & recommend these essential oils.)
5. A neti pot is a small vessel with a spout. You fill it with about 4 ounces of a mixture of warm water and salt. Always follow the box instructions on how to administer the solution but, in general, the liquid flows into one nostril, through the nasal passages, and out the other nostril. The salt solution loosens mucus to relieve congestion and clears out allergens.
But you might ask, “What about popular OTC allergy medications?” Consult your doctor, of course, but remember that pharmaceutical allergy medications don’t cure allergies – they just treat the symptoms by counteracting the effect of the histamine produced by the body. They also have side effects. The most common are:
- impaired performance
- dryness of the eyes, nose and mouth
- abdominal distress
- unusual bleeding and bruising
- heart palpitations
In children, side effects include:
- upset stomach
- impaired cognitive function
If you know me at all, I recommend that to avoid feeling overwhelmed, start simply. Recognize the challenge (pollen allergies), decide if you want to do anything about it, or not (because you have that choice), pick one or more actions you know you can handle & start doing them. One or two things are better than doing nothing! Once those things become second nature, then you can incorporate other action steps if you want or need.
And as with all things having a positive approach will have a beneficial impact on your health & wellness, too!