Springtime brings more than warm weather
The blooming flowers, budding leaves and warm temperatures of springtime are a welcome relief from winter for many students, though these staples of spring have a downside as they signify the beginning of allergy season.
“Definitely in the spring I get allergies the worst,” said Liz Wright, a sophomore environmental studies major. “I know because I always get stuffy and itchy even though I don’t feel sick.
Although seasonal or environmental allergies vary depending on the person, most people experience the itchy eyes, runny nose and sneezing that are typical of allergies in the springtime because that is when so many trees, flowers and grasses are blooming, said Ann Gibson, a certified holistic health counselor.
The common thought is that 20 percent of the general population suffers from seasonal allergies, said Lois Cherrington, a registered nurse with the Boulder Valley Asthma and Allergy Clinic.
Cherrington said that in Boulder, the ash, maple, cottonwood, pine and elm trees scattered throughout the city and foothills are major causes of allergies. She said a mix of grasses, weeds and even mold are also common allergens.
Cherrington said that another fact for allergy-sufferers is that the allergy season in Boulder lasts until October because of the area’s mild fall weather.
From both a traditional and holistic medicinal perspective, allergies are the body’s inappropriate or miscued reaction to normal substances in the environment.
“The immune system sees a substance that comes into the body as harmful and alerts the immune system to take action, usually in the form of swelling or sneezing, to get the substance out of the body,” Gibson said.
While the reason for development of allergies in certain individuals but not others is not known for sure, Gibson and Cherrington agree that genetics could play a role in the likelihood that a person will experience allergies.
Gibson also points to lifestyle and diet as factors that could influence the onset and severity of allergies because a strong immune system is critical to keeping allergies at bay.
“Definitely anything that stresses our body already, whether it be processed foods, a polluted environment or lack of sleep, affects our immune system,” Gibson said.
Antihistamines, nasal sprays and allergy injections are the major treatments that Cherrington said the Asthma and Allergy Clinic recommends.
For those looking for solutions beyond the pharmaceutical counter, Gibson suggested taking fish oil, an anti-inflammatory supplement, as well as vitamin C to help support the immune system and prevent allergy onsets.
Fresh, local, unfiltered honey is another natural solution, said Mark Beran, a member of the Boulder County Beekeepers’ Association.
“Raw honey contains minute quantities of the pollen that was in bloom when bees collected the honey,” Beran said. “So by giving people small doses of the substances they are allergic to over a long amount of time, their bodies are able to build up a natural immunity to those allergens. It is how homeopathic medicines work.”
Beran also said that for the honey to be most beneficial, it should be collected as locally as possible.
To help the body as a whole, Gibson suggests yoga and meditation, which help to quell stress, as well as acupuncture, which helps energy in the body flow more optimally.
“Usually allergies present themselves a lot more when people are really stressed out or angry or not living a balanced lifestyle,” Gibson said.
If other treatments fail, Gibson suggested cutting out foods that the body may be allergic to such as dairy products, which are also mucous forming.
For alternative treatments in general, Gibson emphasized that the most preventative thing for any ailment is to eat high quality foods. With spring and summer’s fresh produce around the corner, that advice should be a bit easier to follow.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Emery Cowan at email@example.com.