by Lauren Swanger, holistic health enthusiast and research journalist
Ah, spring! The birds are singing, the flowers are blooming, the grass is finally green again, and you are absolutely miserable. You’re sneezing, blowing your nose, rubbing your eyes, and silently cursing the fact that you seem to be allergic to every blade of grass you see springing up around you. The knowledge that one out of five Americans suffers from one form of allergy or another from grasses, weeds, tree pollen, or various molds does nothing to assuage your despair. Just how did these allergies develop and what can you do about them?
An allergy is simply your immune system’s amplified reaction to contact with an unfamiliar material or materials. These unfamiliar materials are usually seen by the body as safe and generally no significant response occurs. In the allergic person however, these materials, or antigens, cause the immune system to go on full alert. The immune system’s main purpose is to detect and destroy the invading enemy. It does this by creating protective proteins, or antibodies, which are designed to target those unfamiliar materials that are making you feel so wretched. The antibodies attach themselves to the antigens making it easier for other immune cells to hone in and destroy them.
There are a few ways to outwit your melodramatic immune system, if you begin early. During late spring and early summer, when there is more pollen in the air, a tablespoon or two of raw local honey in your tea may help keep the sniffles at bay. Eyebright, an herb native to Europe, has been used successfully for years to relieve itchy, watery eyes. A glass of lukewarm water with fresh lime juice and honey, drunk daily for several weeks beforehand, may keep your symptoms to a minimum. Fresh, raw, ginger placed in hot water and steeped for five to ten minutes has an antihistamine, or anti-inflammatory, effect. So do stinging nettle leaf, peppermint, chamomile and green teas. So have a ‘cuppa and feel better faster.