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Allergy and permaculture

 
gardener
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Location: Poland
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A friend asked about lanolin in my soaps in sweaters, and I thought of my past issues with allergies. At one point, I was allergic to everything, mostly to animals but also to pollen and some food. Then I learned about permaculture and tried to get rid of all the strong chemicals for house cleaning, but my first spring in a house with a garden was still difficult; I thought that I will have to move out to a more urban area, with less plants and their pollens.

Now my allergies are almost gone, I only take calcium once in a while and I'm extra careful during early spring. I also don't eat much of the food I was allergic to, but it's not a big deal if I do (and if it's organic, I'll probably not react to it anyway).

So, while it's not any kind of professional advice, I'll tell you what I do to be able to expose myself to the rich biodiversity of allergens ;) while being allergic to everything:

I try to keep my "zone 0" (where I sleep) super clean, especially of dust, fungus and mold. But I use only gentle cleaners on a daily basis, and if they're not enough, I use the stronger stuff with extra care, and ventilate the place after using it. I have mosquito nets in windows and I clean them regularly too. I let my dog sleep in this room, and it would be better if he wasn't, but he's allowed so I keep him clean too ;)

I don't plant grasses in the garden (they're mostly useless anyway), and I keep plants that produce lots of pollen farther away.

I keep gardening clothes separated from my other clothes, and after working in the garden I change them immediately, and I often take a shower (lots of allergens stick in hair). I think people with allergies should take special care of water resources ;)

During spring, or in stressful sitiuations (which can weaken the immune system), I take calcium with quercetin after changing clothes and showering. That's the only medicine I take now. Remember that there are plants which naturally produce quercetin; I try to have them in my garden.

In general, I aim for as much biodiversity as possible, of animals and plants.

As for the animals, I feel like I can "desensitize" myself to my own; like when I had a horse, I was more allergic to other horses than to mine. With this kind of animals it's easier when they're not stabled, but in pastures with sheds - so the dust, fungus and mold from stables will not stick to their coats. It's healthier for them too.

I don't avoid natural fibers like wool, but I use them as "outside layers" if they're potentially irritating.

In general, I try not to completely avoid anything, even cats; I think it's good to have some contact with the allergens if you can clean them quickly (like when I pet a cat, I wash my hands soon after).

 
master steward
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Hi, Flora

Great advice!

I wanted to share something that really helped with my allergy.  I never had any until we moved to the country.  I would wake up in the middle of the night sneezing.  Then I notice when I drove back into town I would have an attack.  I also notice a specific plant that grew that time of year.  I don't know if I was allergic to it or it just happened to grow that time of year.

I read a wonderful book about Vermont folk medicine and it recommended using apple cider vinegar and local honey.  The reason for the local honey is it contain the pollen of the plants that you are allergic to or might happen to be allergic to.  Also the reason for the apple cider vinegar is for its health benefits.  I mix it 50/50 and always have it sitting on the counter.

Here is an thread about the benefits of apple cider vinegar:  https://permies.com/t/47736/kitchen/benefits-apple-cider-vinegar

Here is one about suggestions to help allergies: https://permies.com/t/55406/kitchen/Desperate-allergy-relief

Here is the book that I highly recommend:



Source

 
Flora Eerschay
gardener
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Interesting! I now have a bottle of organic apple cider vinegar which I used for another recipe (for gargling, to cleanse bacteria) so I can make this mix too. The other recipe was with sage infusion, and propolis tincture.
 
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Hi Flora,

Its quite simple, to avoid the nuances of pollen allergies take a dose of local honey from early in the year, this will help you build up a level of local pollens and your body will build up a resistance to them, happy sneeze free summer to you, Pai 👍🙂
 
pollinator
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Location: Blue Ridge Mountains
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You can grow some herbs that can help a lot, too... and one of the most effective is a weed you've probably been trying to eradicate!  Stinging nettles are very effective in reducing allergic inflammation.  They are generally taken as a tea.  Ragweed, yes, the same ragweed that is the cause of the worst fall allergies...  the leaf is a natural antihistamine.  The leaf can be used as a tea or tincture.  Sweet vernal grass is said to be an instant cure for hay fever, taken as a tea - I haven't tried that one yet, but it looks very promising.   My favorite  that grows in my area is mimosa.  I collect the flowers and leave each spring and tincture them for use year long.  Mimosa is an excellent herb for allergies, because it actually reduces the number of mast cells which are the histamine receptors.  Mimosa is also relaxing and helps with pain... the tincture smells sweet and tastes a little like watermelon... so, it definitely ranks among my favorite herbs.  There are plenty of other herbs to treat allergy symptoms.  I had another topic in mind, but maybe I'll do my podcast on herbal allergy remedies today!
 
pollinator
Posts: 222
Location: Youngstown, Ohio
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Still my favorite blend: Eden's Freedom.  We tincture it yearly from preflowering ragweed, goldenrod, red clover and Lobelia.  It works quickly.  I carry it with me everywhere.  I cloistered myself away for far too long, this has been my ticket to freedom.
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Thanks for the great information! I can’t wait to try mimosa for my seasonal allergies that seem to be year round now. I used to never have problems but have apparently grown into them rather than out. I use a bunch of goldenrod tincture and have recently added histaminium cell salts to my toolbox with excellent results.
 
pollinator
Posts: 255
Location: Northern temperate zone. Changeable maritime climate. 1000ft above sea level.
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I go one step further with stinging nettles:  I sting myself with them.  There is one particular wild grass that gives me hayfever for a few weeks every year and when I get a bad attack, I look for the tallest, meanest looking stinging nettles I can find and put a couple of handfuls around my waist area and bind them to my skin under my clothes.  I find the kidney area best. This gives me almost instant relief although I sometimes have to repeat several times for long lasting effect. It gives me the characteristic bumpy rash for a while but that's a small price to pay.

The best stingers I every used were from a patch I cultivated at my old home where I emptied my pee bucket several times a week. This is all intuitive stuff but I suspect doing that made those stingers extra potent for me.  

 
Judson Carroll
pollinator
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Lexie Smith wrote:Thanks for the great information! I can’t wait to try mimosa for my seasonal allergies that seem to be year round now. I used to never have problems but have apparently grown into them rather than out. I use a bunch of goldenrod tincture and have recently added histaminium cell salts to my toolbox with excellent results.



That is the great thing about mimosa.  Allergies start a chain reaction of histamine production and mast cell creation.  THe more mast cells are produced, the more sensitive to allergens you become, which is why hay fever may lead to hives or asthma.  By reducing the mast cells, we can reverse this process of over-reaction.
 
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I take Mullens teniture at the end of every meal. Just started doing it Nov. I have not had one bit of allergies this year. It isn't a fast fix, it's based on taking it for the long term. It works and it's natural. It's the first time in 60 years I haven't had allergies. It always heals the lungs and protects the bronchial. Ie greatly reduces chance of covid
 
Judson Carroll
pollinator
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Here y'go"  https://www.spreaker.com/user/13414994/herbs-for-allergies
 
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Elder flower cordial alleviates instantly hay fever!
 
Posts: 61
Location: Cache Valley, Northern Utah (zone 6a, 4,900 elevation)
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Some notes on allergies, permaculture, and "leaky" barrier defenses

You're driving down the road. Your oil light blinks on. Your realize you have a problem, so you pull over, pop the hood, retrieve a pair of small wire cutters from your toolbox, and snip the wire feeding the oil light. Returning to the driver's sit and turning over the engine, you see the oil light is no longer on. Problem solved... right?  Of course not! But many of us do just this when it comes to health and wellness. We just want the indicator light (e.g., symptoms) to go away. With the exception of IgE (anaphylactic) reactions, allergies are not a problem of the immune system...it's just the light that goes on to tell us something is wrong.

The INTEGRITY of our mucosa—be that our gastrointestinal lining (for food allergies) or that of our upper respiratory tract (environmental allergies)—is the underlying culprit here.
The individual cells that make up our mucosa serve an essential function called "Barrier Defense." These membranes allow us to screen out unwanted materials while selectively taking up nutrients from food and O2 from air (and other desirable substances).
Antigens are not supposed to breach the barrier and trigger immune cells. What is the ultimate price if we merely tamp down the activity of the immune cells (with anti-histamines or steroids) but leave the door open to excessive influx of antigens and particulates?
Rather, when our mucosal membranes are functioning optimally, the individual cells are lined up, shoulder to shoulder, with gap junctions that are tightly closed, and the lining is bathed in a protective coating of mucous that is rich in compounds, like secretory IgA (sIgA), designed to nab and neutralize incoming invaders.  Anything that causes our GI or respiratory membranes to sustain injury and become "leaky" can permit antigens to waltz right into the body where strategically placed immune cells are on standby, ready to initiate the cascade of histamine release (which swells up the membranes and opens the floodgates for more mucus...all in order to inhibit entry of more antigens)! Talk about the problem is the solution!

So a good protocol for allergies must always look to the ROOT CAUSE and address the permeability and barrier function of our mucusa. Integrative and holistic practitioners employ a 4-R plan to Restore Mucosal Integrity & Barrier Defense:
• REMOVE (irritants, toxins, excess sugar, drugs that damage the gut lining like aspirin & NSAIDs, glyphosate). Reducing the total load of incoming antigens is a great idea here, whether with an elimination diet or using a HEPA filter and vaccuming regularly.
• REPLACE digestive factors (e.g., chewing adequately, protease enzymes to break down antigens, apple cider vinegar)
• REINOCULATE microbials with fermented, cultured foods and/or probiotics, which help protect the lining
• REPAIR injury to the mucous membrane (bone broth, slippery elm, marshmallow and other mucilaginous herbs, NAG, zinc carnosine, glutamine, glucosaminoglycans, etc.). Nettle leaf infusion or tea is fabulous for this.

I add a 5th R: REST/RELAX. Mucous membrane repair is under parasympathetic control, so if you're stressed out (sympathetic dominant), that repair never happens. Do you breath through your mouth instead of your nose? Chilling out won't be enough for you to balance these branches of your nervous system. Read James Nestor's book Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art .

Restoring barrier defense takes a bit of time: it's not instant gratification. While you're working on addressing the root causes, there's no harm in stabilizing your mast cells to reduce histamine over-production: quail eggs (the whites), Albizia julibrissin mimosa aka silk tree (flowers), Diamine oxidase (DAO), eyebright, mulberries, vitamin C, quercetin.
 
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