Just less than two weeks ago the sky was tinged with a yellow mist that rode upon the wind, and the leaves, cars, and roads were dusted yellow. Some of you could hardly revel in the beauty of spring through swollen eyes, nor smell the glorious singing fragrance bursting forth from locust blossoms, Wild California rose, honeysuckle, hawthorn blossoms, and peonies. Too much of a histamine response was going on—too much snot and too much pollen! Even in the aftermath, many of you are still suffering from POLLENOSIS, or allergies.
Nature contains microbes that human beings have co-existed with for thousands of years; our war against it is only harming ourselves. As a general rule, we are in a constant state of war with ourselves, and with our environment: with antiseptics, antibiotics, and air fresheners. In fact, I just visited local public school that had air fresheners in every room! If we aren’t waging a war, we have a desire to control our worlds to make it more predictable. When change does occur, like the revolving seasons, or the vacillations in the economy, we have difficulty adapting. Some of us try our darnedest to protect ourselves from nature’s “nastiness.”
As we fight against change; as our standards of living become more urban; and as our food becomes more sterile, processed, and modified, we suffer from seasonal allergies, food allergies, autoimmune diseases, and emotional instability.
Our immune system is our protection, called “wei qi” in traditional Chinese medicine. Wei qi is like a semi-permeable membrane that lets in what we need and protects us from what my harm us. It includes our white blood cells, our natural killer cells, and our immune response to the world. The strength of our Wei qi is determined and generated by our digestion, how well we “process” our world, originating from a healthy gut. If we can digest our lives with relative ease, we can make all the qi we need, from deep nourishing Yuan source qi, to superficial protective Wei qi. And our gut needs microbes for good health!
The more we fight microbes, the worse off we are. No one ever wins when war is constant. In this article, I propose a movement towards making harmony with our surroundings, and integrating ourselves on a daily basis with Nature.
What can cause a weak gut, and a strong seasonal allergic response?
- History of frequent anti-biotic use
- High sugar/white flour, and processed food intake; other food allergens like corn, soy, wheat and for some, dairy
- Not enough bitter foods/veggies
- Sterile environments.
- Lack of sunshine
- A congenital weakness, meaning a physiological challenge you came into the world with.
When the gut is weak, it cannot efficiently process food into useable qi. The unprocessed food turns into damp, interstitial “goo,” and over a long term, into phlegm. The spleen’s function is to transform food into useable qi and transport it. If it is bogged down with damp/phlegm, then it cannot transport clear qi, but instead transports damp/phlegm to the lungs and the sinuses, which are the flower of the lung. So now we have weak gooey spleen and weak phlegmy lungs.
Healthy Gut, Clear Head
Here are some ways to support your healthy gut and to relieve allergies in the long run:
- Reduce consumtion of sugar and processed foods
- Regular intake (ideally with every meal, especially if your allergies are bad and chronic) of bitter greens, and bitter roots. They act as “prebiotics,” making for a strong digestive response, and a decreased sweet craving.
- Reishi mushrooms!
- Probiotics, which can come in many forms: soil, fermented foods, and beverages as supplement
- Vitamin D
- Other herbs/foods
Reishi, ganoderma lucidum, is another magical mystical mushroom.
Its medicine offers us immune support, clarity and calm to our spirit. It also provides Qi tonification, and is an antihistamine.
Ganoderma Lucidum. Just look at the name “LUCID”—it’s the clarity mushroom! It wasn’t named after the person that found it, but for its properties, and its ability to bring clear qi to the head, which may be in a fog from the body’s inability to raise clear qi.
Reishi is a DEEP immune-modulator, meaning it will adjust to the body’s needs, increasing or decreasing response-response, as needed. It affects IgE’s, the body’s response to allergens. It also rebalances liver function.
Reishi Recipe for Allergies
Take 1 ounce sliced dried reishi, red or black, and place in your crock-pot. Fill crock with water, and set on high, for the first day, and on warm for the second day. Yes, you read right, cook your reishi mushroom for 2 days. Keep your water level high throughout the cooking process. If you want to start using it, you may after four hours of cooking.
You will drink 1/2 cup per day, for 2-3 months. And you will notice a difference, so much so that you will need less reishi
PROBIOTICS & PREBIOTICS
Preferably this will be through food, though sometimes this is not enough if the allergies have been long term and severe. In terms of probiotic foods, it has been noted that fermented saurkraut contains triple the amount of vitamin C than regular cabbage, cooked or raw. The fermentation process develops byproducts of various lacto-bacteria that can repopulate the intestines and lungs with healthy flora. Fermented beverages like kombucha, kefir, water kefir, kvass, and even ginger bug beverages also contain lacto-bacilli and other beneficial bacteria. Fermented dairy, like plain yogurt and dairy kefir are also beneficial.
Prebiotics are fructooligosaccharide (FOS) containing roots, that are not digested by the intestines but provide an inulin type prebiotic substance that acts as a “fertilizer” for the bacteria in your colon and are thought to stimulate the growth of friendly bacteria, like the bifidobacteria species. Roots such as jerusalem artichoke, burdock root, gentian root, dandelion root, yellow dock root are all FOS stimulators that also balance and regulate blood sugar.
If you do decide to take a probiotic supplement, I strongly recommend one that has FOSs. Another way to incorporate your FOSs is through a bitters supplement. We have a great Bitters liquid herbal extract at HAALo.
Yes, eat a bit of dirt now and then! If you grow your own veggies, or know who does, don’t wash so thoroughly. There is a condition called Pica, often in women, and especially in pregnant women, where they have strong urges to eat dirt. I did postpartum, and I still taste the dirt of new areas. Children start their dirt tasting around the same time they start eating solid food—no coincidence that they are seeking digestive assistance. There are minerals and microbes in dirt that we do not get from our food which nourish blood and the immune system. Go on a tasting spree! Make sure the dirt you are tasting hasn’t been treated with pesticides or fertilizers, and that no animal is making the area a potty.
Vitamin D3 and Sunshine:
UVB, the type of suns rays necessary for vitamin D production, are only radiating between spring blossoms and fall colors. This season from April to August marks the vitamin D season. As the leaves fall so do the vitamin D levels. Allergies come with springtime as we are coming out of vitamin D deficient winter; the severity of asthma and allergies is related to low vitamin D levels. It is suggested that 50% skin exposure or more is necessary for three to five sun exposures a week or more for sunlight to normalize vitamin D levels in the summer. Supplementation is also recommended, a lower dose depending on your health. Consult your health care practitioner. I usually suggest 2000 IUs of vitamin D3 in the sunny months; D drops are convenient for the whole family. But relative health will determine differing doses.
Onions have an anti-histamine response in the body! The high sulfur and quercetin have been found to alleviate allergic responses. Quercetin has been reported to be of use in alleviating symptoms of pollinosis affecting the eyes more than the sinuses. Quercetin prevents immune cells from releasing histamines, chemicals that cause allergic reactions. On that basis, researchers think that quercetin may help reduce symptoms of allergies, including runny nose, watery eyes, hives, and swelling of the face and lips. However, there is no evidence yet that it works in humans.
Chop a half dozen yellow onions, sauté them in olive oil, butter or ghee on low for one hour. Use 2 Tbsp daily on toast, in soups, salads. Freeze in small bunches to have handy and easy to use.
Other quercetin rich foods include apples, capers, chamomile, green and black tea, and red grapes.
This tea will address congestion of the eyes and nasal sinuses, as well as strengthen the lungs and kidneys with the addition of nettle.
3 Tbsp each Nettle, Eyebright and Goldenrod in a quart jar infused for a minimum of 30 minutes, maximum overnight.
You can use local bee pollen, cattail pollen, pine pollen. All are highly nutritious and help your body make harmony with its environment. Start with a tiny amount and daily increase up to one teaspoon per day. Local is key, for that is what is wafting up your nose and into your eyes.
1 teaspoon of local raw honey daily for one year has cured many of my clients’ allergies.
The bottom line is finding ways to create harmony with your surroundings. If you have a 9-5 desk job, make sure you get out in nature, and acknowledge to her the dissonance we have created, and how you are spending time with her to cultivate harmony between humans and nature. If you are digging in the dirt on a daily basis, make sure your digestion is optimal, and that your body is processing your surroundings optimally.