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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cedar Fever-sigh

Don't get me wrong.  I love Cedar.  I use it medicinally, I think its beautiful.  In my opinion its only so prolific because we have created a system that is out of balance with overgrazing.  It took me almost 18 years for cedar to begin to affect me.  I sit here, sneezing, heavy lungs, runny, and headachy.  About the same time last year, I was reminded by my husband that I exhibited the same symptoms. I don't want to admit but, I am yet another person in Central Texas suffering through Cedar Fever, or Juniperus spp season.  Here is our pollen count. As the texts, emails, and facebook posts come in asking me if symptoms that folks are experiencing sound like Cedar symptoms, I say yes, it most likely is Cedar pollen.  For images click here.
Juniper or Cedar trees(the common names refer to the same Juniperus spp we have growing all over.  There are several species) are a common shrubby tree growing in Central Texas alongside oaks.  You can find them all over the Southwest and even up in to Yellowstone.  They tend to grow at lower elevations and drier areas.  In Central Texas one of the most common species is Juniperus ashei, or Ball Juniper.  Juniper, or Cedar Trees have both male and female trees, so between Dec -Feb the male trees expel massive amounts of pollen to get to the female trees, who make the well known bluish purple berries I love to use medicinally.
The tree is very aromatic, and the leaves and berries can be used as warming antimicrobials.
Unfortunately the pollen gets into our respiratory tracks and wreaks havoc for many people.  Symptoms can include runny noses, headaches, asthmatics get more asthma symptoms, sneezes, itchy eyes and ears, and a feeling of lethargy and malaise.
So, lets get down to it, what to do.  Everyone has their favorite remedy.  I think you may just have to go through the list until you find what works for you.  One thing you can do is not make it WORSE by eating or drinking things that inflame it or stressing out and lowering your immune system.  Allergic response is an inflammatory response, which means it puts a strain on our immune systems, leading to that run down feeling.  Lack of sleep and stress lower your immune system even more.

  • One of the first things you can do is a nasal rinse. Here is a video of how to do it complete with giggles.  Big thing to remember is to make sure the salinity and warmth of the water is adequate.  Also, use purified water. Neti pots or other nasal irrigation devices can be obtained many places and made a daily, or more like 3-5 X a day routine while suffering.  Nasal irrigation gets pollen out of your nose, period.
  • Nasal Oil after a nasal rinse will help settle sneeziness.  Drip a few drops of something as simple as olive oil into each nostril and sniff.
  • Another thing that happens is that the weather tends to be REALLY nice when the pollen counts get high.  That means, you may open your windows, take long walks.  Close the windows when pollen counts are high.  Get an air filter.  Where a mask if you go outside, yes I know its dorky, but I guess its all about how much you are suffering.  One interesting observation was to make sure and avoid outside air before 10AM because that's supposedly when counts were higher.
  • Substances to avoid include ones that have a tendency to inflame and/or cause more mucous production.  Wheat(gluten),dairy, and sugar are some big culprits.  
  • Foods/Medicines to include would be spicy and/or pungeant and moist.  Ginger, Turmeric, Chile Peppers, and other warming spices soups and curries.  
  • Steam rooms with essential oils on a towel you can inhale to help your lungs open and expel the irritants
  • Some people swear by colloidial silver
  • Others swear by homeopathic remedies that have microdoses of cedar pollen in them which causes your body to respond against it and build immunity.  Make sure it is the Juniperus pollen for this region if you try that
  • Immune building herbs include mushrooms like reishi and shitake(would also be good in food) 
  • Other herbs that help with symptom relief include Yerba Mansa, Yerba Santa, Goldenseal, Ragweed Leaf--yes folks it works, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Osha, and Yummy Elecampane.
Good Luck everyone.  Just wanted to give you some hope, and here is one of my favorite pics 
Warning, its not in good taste but it cracks me up


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