Prescott is known as the allergy capital of the state.
Sedona also finds many, many people with headaches, sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose and a hacking cough when pollen abounds.
Why is that?
Blame it on all the non-native plants brought to the high desert.
Residents from wetter climates love their familiar favorite plants from the Midwest or East, so they plant them around their houses. These are the kind of plants that are pollinated by the wind rather than bees and butterflies like desert plants.
In spring, they bloom abundantly and the dry desert air increases the dehydration and buoyancy of the pollen, allowing it to persist and travel far distances.
The yellow pollen can be seen covering cars and driveways. We and our pets get covered with it: on our clothes, shoes, skin and hair and we carry it in the house. There we continue to be exposed to it unless we wash it off.
Heaven forbid that we open the windows to enjoy the fresh spring air. That will lead to more sneezing and watery eyes.
The native grasslands of Yavapai County contain ragweed and other native grasses. These too pollinate through the wind.
In landscape plantings, Bermuda grass and the fruitless Mulberry are major non-native allergy contributors. I see them in yard after yard, and the sheer number of these plants contribute to the pollen count.
Is it really the pollen’s fault?
What about those that do not suffer allergy symptoms? They’re exposed to this pollen too.
From a Natural Medicine point of view, allergic symptoms are a combination of the strength of the insult from the environment (the ubiquitous pollen) and the susceptibility of the host (our health status).
Some people are more susceptible than others. And it is a matter of degree.
The “lucky ones” that do not suffer have an immune system that does not overreact to the insult of pollen everywhere.
First line of immune defense
Their first line of defense, the mucus in their nose, eyes and respiratory passages does the job to trap the pollen particles and flush them out. Those that do suffer seasonal allergies overreact in this respect.
With this in mind, can you see that taking over-the-counter products to dry up the overabundant mucus is inhibiting the first line of defense of the immune system from working?
Second line of immune defense
When pollen does not get flushed out, the immune system’s second line of defense creates an inflammatory response.
Chemical mediators such as histamine, prostaglandins and leukotrienes (you might recognize those names from commercials for products which stop those mediators) create the local response of sneezing and a runny nose.
This then also sets up a delayed response recruiting other cells of the immune system, swelling the lining of the nose resulting in a stuffy nose. In the process, the cells of the mucous membrane are destroyed resulting in more sneezing as well as the nose running, itching and being obstructed.
What causes this over-reaction of the immune system?
From the perspective of Natural Medicine, the body primarily is overwhelmed, but also the immune system has not been educated to function properly.
We are overwhelmed with toxic chemicals from the environment, overwhelmed with toxic metabolic waste products from our own cells and they both overwhelm the capacity of the body to respond to them.
The education of the immune system has been thwarted in childhood with using meds to bring down a fever and inappropriate use of antibiotics. Childhood exposures and illnesses are how the immune system is educated.
Overwhelmed with toxins from the outside
We are surrounded with increasingly more chemicals that are not found in nature.
In our homes we have carpets, paints and construction materials that off-gas. If we spray or diffuse in the air more chemical “air fresheners” we add to the load. We clean with toxic products spreading even more chemicals.
Outside there are herbicides, pesticides and exhaust fumes in the naturally dry, dusty desert air. All these get inside our body and become a burden.
It is the liver which is charged with clearing them out, and it gets overburdened and cannot function efficiently.
Overwhelmed with toxins from the inside
In addition, so many of us with a busy modern lifestyle may know what we should be doing but don’t do it, whether it is the time, energy or commitment.
Lack of exercise, poor diet, insufficient clean water, smoking, drinking alcohol, lack of sleep, overwork and stress all contribute to a toxic environment inside our own body. The cells cannot eliminate the additional toxins we have taken in let alone the natural waste products.
Consequences on our organs
At some point, after so much physical, emotional, and mental stress, our adrenals are shot. I have seen people of all ages develop allergies. It is primarily the decline of adrenal function on top of the accumulated toxic burden that is responsible. With inadequate adrenal function, we don’t have energy plus the body’s natural anti-inflammatory response is gone.
Add the environmental burden, and we have a perfect storm of congested liver, exhausted adrenals and the immune system over-reacting to the abundant airborne pollen.
Voila! How could we not sneeze, hack, blow our noses and dab our eyes? Or we reach for the nearest over-the-counter allergy relief product?
The ones who do not over-react to seasonal pollen, according to Natural Medicine, may have an immune system that under-reacts or self-attacks, which is has problems of its own. Or the immune system may be operating optimally.
The healthy immune system has been educated and can take care of the pollen with the first line of defense, the mucous membranes.
The good news with Natural Medicine is that an over-reacting immune system can be calmed when all the causative factors are addressed with healthy lifestyle and natural medical treatment.
Call Dr. Cheryl Kasdorf if you would like to explore all your causative factors for allergies and are willing to get to the bottom of it. 928-649-9234
Gueniot, Gerard, From Natural Medecine to a Medecine of the Individual, Editions Amyris, 2010
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