Thursday, March 9, 2023

Seasonal Allergies

While it's not yet officially spring where I live, the impending season is visible on the horizon. One of the more unfortunate aspects of this time of year is the blossoming of a particularly unpleasant, invasive plant species: the Bradford Pear tree.

The Pyrus calleryana (or Callery Pear) is native to China, introduced to the United States by the United States Department of Agriculture in the mid-1960s as ornamental trees. It was widely planted by landscapers and was even promoted by Lady Bird Johnson while she was First Lady.

My neighbors have a series of Bradford Pear trees lining their driveway and last week they started to blossom. To my misfortune, my usually mild allergic reaction to them was much more aggressive this year.

My neighbor's trees as seen from my driveway

While I do have a reasonable supply of over-the-counter antihistamines such as Fexofenadine (generic for Allegra) and Loratadine (generic for Claritin) on hand, this might not be sufficient in a longer term supply chain disruption. So what can those prone to seasonal allergies do without access to a pharmacy?

None of what follows is medical advice. Before undertaking any alternative treatment, please check with a doctor and/or pharmacist.
  • One of the better long term options may be (bee?) a locally produced honey. Clinical studies have been inconclusive on whether this actually helps with allergy symptoms, but anecdotal evidence is plentiful.
  • Vitamin C has long been known as a powerful antioxidant, and there's some scientific proof it can help with allergies. In addition to pills, tablets, chewables, and gummies, Vitamin C can also be found in many common foods such as bell peppers, broccoli, cantaloupe, citrus fruits, kiwi, strawberries, and tomatoes. 
  • Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) is another folk remedy with a long history. It's taken orally for allergies, usually in a tea or tincture, though supplements are available at health food stores.
  • One of the least pleasant, though simplest, home allergy treatments is nasal irrigation, also called nasal lavage. This is the process of flowing sterile saltwater through the nasal passages in order to clear them of mucus, pollen, and other contaminants.
Depending on climate and region, allergy season will vary in start date and duration. Regardless of these factors it's generally unpleasant, and all most of us can do is bear it as best we can and wait for winter.

Good luck and clear breathing.

1 comment:

  1. If your allergies are to grass or wind-borne tree pollens, such as elms or junipers, then honey is useless. Bees do not visit those species and carry their pollen home. Bees would visit a fruit tree like those pears, so maybe in that case honey could help.


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