Ah, springtime is upon us in North America. The beginning of longer hours of sunlight, the birds singing their beautiful arias. We get to spend more time outdoors, and can start thinking about what to plant in our gardens, dusting off our walking shoes and bicycles. Unfortunately for some, spring time is a harbinger for hay fever otherwise known as Allergic Rhinitis which causes our immune system to respond to allergens by releasing histamines which trigger inflammation of the eyes, nose, ears, and mouth.
There are two plants in particular I would like to differentiate for you that people often equate with causing hay fever. The first, Ambrosia artemisifolia aka Ragweed is often a leading suspect, the other plant, Solidago Virga Aurea aka Goldenrod, is not. Ragweed, a plant pollinated by the wind, has no need for showy, colorful flowers, so it goes unnoticed, but it is Goldenrod with its beautiful yellow tresses that often gets the blame for our sneezing and intolerable red itchy eyes.
Ragweed season begins just as the summer grass allergies are beginning to let up. I offer this information to save the more showy Goldenrod plants from being ripped up from their roots by those thinking it is the culprit for their looming autumn hay fever misery.
Early spring time allergies can be caused by a number of airborne pollens produced by trees, grasses and weeds. You will begin to notice the yellow or green pollen all over cars and windowsills. This same pollen gets into our hair and all over our clothing. If you are sensitive to tree and grass pollen, keep your windows closed, shower after spending time outdoors, and throw your clothing into the wash ASAP. You do not want to sleep on bedding, or wear clothing laden with the offending pollen. If you like to hang your laundry outside this is not the season to do it. Make good use of your washer and your dryer.
Only wind-pollinated plants like Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisifolia), a plant that blooms at the same time as Goldenrod, produce a dry pollen, which is dispersed widely enough, to cause allergic reactions in many people. Ragweed pollen is an especially irritating pollen.
The pollen produced by Goldenrod is sticky, and is harvested by insects who are responsible for pollinating the Goldenrod. In order for a person to be affected by Goldenrod pollen, they would have to stick their nose right into the flower just like a bee would.
This weed is indigenous to North America, and will propagate easily in just about any soil that gets full sunlight. Changes in our weather patterns allowing for longer periods of warmer temperatures, has made conditions even more hospitable for Ragweed and in turn more inhospitable for millions of people.
Ambrosia from the term ambrotos, meaning ‘immortal' in Greek, is an appropriate name, since it is really difficult to eradicate these plants from an area that they overrun.
The leaves of Ragweed look a lot like another plant, Artemisia Vulgaris, aka Mugwort.
Symptoms that call for using Ambrosia artemisiaefolia are excessive sneezing, severe itching of the eyelids and ears, itching of the roof of the mouth, runny nose, post nasal drip, and or nasal obstruction, and fatigue during hay fever season.
Solidago Virga Aurea
The name Solidago means "to make whole” (Latin solidus + agree).
Solidago, historically recognized for its treatment of kidney affections, has been used in situations which might call for the use of a catheter. It is one of the homeopathic remedies referred to as "the homeopathic catheter" and is often employed to make the use of an actual catheter unnecessary. Other remedies referred to as "the homeopathic catheter" are Sabal serrulata aka Saw Palmetto, and Thlaspi Bursa Pastoris aka Shepherd's Purse.
Solidago often useful in dermatological allergies causes welts on the skin, with very obstinate itching, and in that respect is similar to another homeopathic remedy Apis Mellifica, aka the Honey Bee.
Remedies that could prove helpful throughout all of the allergy seasons precipitated by low, medium or high pollen counts are as follows:
The Red Onion
Symptoms are characterized by a strong burning sensation from the nose and eyes accompanied by a watery discharge. The eyes are sensitive to light, often red and irritated, while the nose can become red and sore from the burning, corrosive mucus. There is often violent sneezing. The voice can be hoarse accompanied by a hacking cough. Hay fever predominantly in Spring or August can benefit from Allium cepa.
Arsenicum is indicated in people who have frequent sneezing and a blocked nose accompanied with a watery discharge. Unlike Allium Cepa, the symptoms are worse outside and better for staying in the house and keeping warm. There can be inflammation of the eyes with burning and swelling which is somewhat relieved by warm bathing. Generally, the person requiring Arsenicum may feel unduly restless or anxious during the attack and find it difficult to get warm, even in hot weather.
An Italian Grass
Hay fever begins with burning and itching of the palate and conjunctiva. Annoying itching of the roof of the mouth and in the nostrils, sometimes with pain at the root of the nose. Initially, the nose can discharge clear mucus, which can then turn green and slimy with lots of sneezing.
Euphrasia has a long history of use for eye conditions. Hay fever symptoms may include very watery eyes, with the need to wipe or rub them constantly. The eyelids (particularly the lowerlids) can swell up. A thick, infected discharge from the eye itself can leave the eyes very gummed up and sore. The nasal and throat symptoms are less marked and also include watery mucus which can be easily discharged. Symptoms of a sensation of a foreign body in the eye, and or photo-phobia can be very persistant and uncomfortable.
Phosphate of Iron
This is a very useful remedy in the early stages of any inflammation. Taken at the onset of allergy symptoms, it often slows or stops an episode. Symptoms include runny eyes with a burning or gritty feeling, facial flushing, watery nose and short, hard, tickling cough.
Chloride Of Sodium, Common Salt
The most characteristic symptom of Natrum Muriaticum is that discharges have the consistency of raw egg whites. The discharge may be white or clear and watery and can be extremely profuse. Violent sneezing, especially in the mornings, a loss of smell or taste, and itching in the nose are common symptoms. The eyes can be watery and the throat can be dry and sore. Hay fever symptoms are often accompanied by violent, pulsating headaches made much worse by the heat of the sun.
Someone needing Nux vomica has an acute sensitivity to the slightest odor or particle of pollen. Symptoms may include nasal congestion with the congestion alternating nostrils, intense itching of the ears, nose and eyes, with an urge to sneeze which is often just an aggravating tease. The throat can feel rough and dry and you may experience queasiness if the symptoms last for an extended period of time. Nux vomica can be helpful especially if there has been a bad reaction to antihistamines.
Pasque flower, Wind Flower, Anemone pratensis
Pulsatilla produces profuse mucus, the mucus from the eyes and nose can be thick and green. The mucus can become obstructed and lead to sinusitis, nosebleeds or a loss of smell. There is a sensation of burning and dryness in the eyes and the lids can become gummed up, and form styes. The symptoms are usually better for cold applications and being in the cool, fresh air.
Schoenocaulon officinale, Cevadilla
This is a common hay fever remedy, which is most often indicated during the early spring or at harvest time. Persistent sneezing, clear mucus and an itchy, stuffed up nose are common symptoms. The eyes can water from being outdoors, in cold air, from sunlight or while sneezing.
Those needing Sulphur are prone to thick, offensive mucus, and the throat can become irritated and swollen. There can be a general hot feeling and an aggravation of symptoms from becoming heated. The nose and eyes can become inflamed with heat and burning sensations. There can be oversensitivity to odors or changes in temperature. Generally, this type of hay fever can be accompanied by skin rash and or by itching anywhere on the body.
The signature symptom of Wyethia is intolerable itching felt on the roof of the mouth and in the back of the upper throat. Other symptoms may include a dry, hacking cough, caused by tickling of the epiglottis, a burning sensation in the bronchial tubes, and a tendency to become hoarse from talking.
© Lynn Cremona 2013, all rights reserved.
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