Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mold Allergies | Who Knew?

One of the Most Allergic Substances: MOLD

Mold Allergy
If you have an allergy that never ends when seasons change, you may be allergic to the spores of molds or other fungi. Molds live everywhere, and disturbing a mold source can disperse the spores into the air.

What Is Mold Allergy?
Mold and mildew are fungi. They differ from plants or animals in how they reproduce and grow. The "seeds," called spores, are spread by the wind outdoors and by air indoors. Some spores are released in dry, windy weather. Others are released with the fog or dew when humidity is high.

Inhaling the spores causes allergic reactions in some people. Allergic symptoms from fungus spores are most common from July to late summer. But with fungi growing in so many places, allergic reactions can occur year round.

Although there are many types of molds, only a few dozen cause allergic reactions. Alternaria, Cladosporium (Hormodendrum), Aspergillus, Penicillium, Helmin thosporium, Epicoccum, Fusarium, Mucor, Rhizopus and Aureobasidium (Pullularia) are the major culprits. Some common spores can be identified when viewed under a microscope. Some form recognizable growth or colonies.

Many molds grow on rotting logs and fallen leaves, in compost piles and on grasses and grains. Unlike pollens, molds do not die with the first killing frost. Most outdoor molds become dormant during the winter. In the spring they grow on plants killed by the cold. Indoors, fungi grow in damp areas, particularly in the bathroom, kitchen or basement.

Mold counts are likely to change quickly, depending on the weather. Certain spore types reach peak levels in dry, breezy weather. Some need high humidity, fog or dew to release spores. This group is abundant at night and during rainy periods.

Who Gets the Allergy?
It is common for people to get mold allergy if they or other family members are allergic to substances such as pollen or animal dander. People may become allergic to only mold or fungi, or they may also have problems with dust mites, pollens and other spores. If you are allergic to only fungi, it is unlikely that you would be bothered by all fungi. The different types of fungi spores have only limited similarities.

People in some occupations have more exposure to mold and are at greater risk of developing allergies. Farmers, dairymen, loggers, bakers, mill workers, carpenters, greenhouse employees, wine makers and furniture repairers are at increased risk.

There is only weak evidence that allergic symptoms are caused by food fungi (e.g., mushrooms, dried fruit, and foods containing yeast, vinegar or soy sauce). It is more likely that reactions to food fungi are caused by the food's direct effect on blood vessels. For example, histamine may be present because of the fermentation of red wines.

Fungi on house plants can cause an allergic reaction, but this is only likely to happen if the soil is disturbed. 

Fungi can even grow in the human body. If not properly treated, intense inflammation can recur often. It can permanently damage airway walls. This is not common, though.

What Are the Symptoms?
The symptoms of mold allergy are very similar to the symptoms of other allergies, such as sneezing, itching, nasal discharge, congestion and dry, scaling skin. Some people with mold allergies may have allergy symptoms the entire summer because of outdoor molds or year-round if symptoms are due to indoor molds.

Mold spores can deposit on the lining of the nose and cause hay fever symptoms. They also can reach the lungs, to cause asthma or another serious illness called allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis.
Sometimes the reaction is immediate, and sometimes the reaction is delayed. Symptoms often worsen in a damp or moldy room such as a basement; this may suggest mold allergy.

How Is Mold Allergy Diagnosed?
To diagnose an allergy to mold or fungi, the doctor will take a complete medical history. If mold allergy is suspected, the doctor often will do skin tests. Extracts of different types of fungi will be used to scratch or prick the skin. If there is no reaction, allergy is not suggested. In some people with allergy, irritation alone can cause a reaction. Therefore the doctor uses the patient's medical history, the skin testing results, and the physical examination combined to diagnose mold allergy.

How Is Mold Allergy Treated?
As with most allergies, patients should:
  • Avoid contact with the spores
  • Wear a dust mask when cutting grass, digging around plants, picking up leaves and disturbing other plant materials
  • Reduce the humidity indoors to prevent fungi from growing
  • Over-the medications, such as antihistamines and decongestants are often used
  • Natural herbal formulas

How Can I Prevent a Reaction to Mold?
Allergies cannot be cured, but the symptoms of the allergy can be reduced by avoiding contact with the spores.

Several measures will help:
  • Stay indoors during periods when the published mold count is high. This will lessen the amount you inhale. Mold spores are "counted" by collecting a sample of particulates in the air then identifying and counting the mold spores in the sample. The amount of airborne spores is likely to change quickly, depending on the weather. The counts reported are always for a past time period and may not reflect what is currently in the air. The mold that causes your allergic reaction may not be counted separately. This means that allergy symptoms may not relate closely to the published count. But knowing the count can help you decide when to stay indoors.
  • Prevent mold and mildew build up inside the home, especially in bathrooms, basements and laundry areas, be aggressive about reducing dampness 
  • Put an exhaust fan or open a window in the bathroom.
  • Remove bathroom carpeting where moisture is a concern.
  • Scour sinks and tubs at least monthly. Fungi thrive on soap and other films that coat tiles and grout. Clean garbage pails frequently.
  • Clean refrigerator door gaskets and drip pans.
  • Repair basement plumbing leaks, blocked drains, poorly vented clothes dryers and water seepage through walls.
  • Use an electric dehumidifier to remove moisture from the basement. Be sure to drain the dehumidifier regularly and clean the condensation coils and collection bucket.
  • Raise the temperature in the basement to help lower humidity levels. Small space heaters or a low-wattage light bulb may be useful in damp closets. Be careful where they are placed, though, to avoid creating a fire hazard.
  • Polyurethane and rubber foams seem especially prone to fungus invasion. If bedding is made with these foams, it should be covered in plastic.
  • Throw away or recycle old books, newspapers, clothing or bedding.
  • Promote ground water drainage away from a house. 
  • Remove leaves and dead vegetation near the foundation and in the rain gutters.
  • Completely shaded homes dry out slowly, and dense bushes and other plants around the foundation often promote dampness. 
  • In the winter, condensation on cold walls encourages mold growth, but even thick insulation can be invaded if vapor barriers in exterior walls are not effective.

Natural Herbal Remedies
While many people find relief with over-the-counter medications and nasal sprays, there are a growing number of people concerned about the side effects of these treatment options, and are looking for more natural sinus allergy remedies.  There are several important herbs that naturally provide sinus allergy relief. Click here to find out more.

In Health,
Naturally Botanicals Team

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Poison Oak | You Need to Read This if You're Planning on Being Outdoors During the Summer

You Need to Read This if You're Planning on Being Outdoors During the Summer... 

Poison Ivy, Oak & Sumac
Everyone knows about the horrible rash poison ivy and poison oak can cause, but what are these plants? They are actually plants that belong to the genus Toxicodendron. Toxicodendron literally translates to "poison tree". They grow in wooded areas all over the United States, with the exception of Alaska, Hawaii, and some parts of Nevada. These plants are sometimes all loosely referred to as "poison ivy," but they are actually three distinct species: poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac.

So, what's so yucky about them? 
Well, these poison plants contain oil that causes an allergic skin reaction. The miserable rash they cause is well known to many hikers, horseback riders, campers, and others who enjoy the outdoors. It's not contagious; it's the spread of this oil that is the culprit (more below). The itchy and sometimes painful rash caused by contact with these plants occurs most often in the warmer months, but it is not limited to summer. If you spend time outdoors, get to know what these plants look like and how best to avoid them. Your outdoor time will be much more enjoyable if you also know how to treat the rash if it does occur.

How to recognize these poisonous plants

The saying "Leaves of three, let it be" is often used to describe the poison plants. This is a handy way to recognize poison ivy and poison oak, but it's better to memorize what these plants look like. Not all three-leaved plants are toxic. And some that are toxic have more than three leaves. 

Poison Oak has leaves that look like oak leaves, usually with three leaflets but sometimes up to seven leaflets per leaf group. It grows as a vine or a shrub. Poison oak is more common in the western United States, but it is also found in the eastern United States and, rarely, in the Midwest.

Poison Sumac has 7 to 13 leaflets per leaf stem. The leaves have smooth edges and pointed tips. Poison sumac grows as a shrub or small tree. It is found in wooded, swampy areas, such as Florida and parts of other southeastern states, and in wet, wooded areas in the northern United States.

Poison Ivy usually has three broad, spoon-shaped leaves or leaflets ("Leaves of three? Let it be!"), but it can have more. It may grow as a climbing or low, spreading vine that sprawls through grass (more common in the eastern United States) or as a shrub (more common in the northern United States, Canada, and the Great Lakes region).

What causes the rash?
Poison ivy, oak, and sumac all contain oil called urushiol. This oil is not really a poison, but it is made up of chemicals that are powerful allergens (substances that cause an allergic reaction). In half to two-thirds of people, urushiol causes an allergic reaction known as contact dermatitis. The resulting rash consists of swollen, itchy, red bumps and blisters that appear wherever the oil has touched the skin.

Urushiol is present in the stems, leaves, and roots of the poison plants. The only parts of these plants that do not contain the oil are certain parts of the flower (the anther), the pollen, the outermost membrane of the stem and leaves (the epidermis), and a particular kind of tissue found inside the stem (xylem). For all practical purposes, though, it's best to consider all parts of these plants as able to cause the rash.
Urushiol is released when the epidermis of the plant is broken. Even the tiniest scrape or break in this membrane can release the oil. These plants are poisonous at all times of the year but are even more so in spring and summer, when the leaves are tender and bruise easily.

You don't have to touch these plants directly to get the rash
Urushiol is a sticky, long-lasting substance that can easily remain on your clothing and shoes. Dogs, cats, and horses can carry the oil on their coats and transfer it to your skin long after you've left the woods. Especially under dry conditions, the oil can retain its effects for a very long time. In one case, museum workers handling a 100-year-old specimen developed a rash from the oil! Smoke from the burning of these plants can also cause the rash and can affect the nose, throat, eyes, and lungs.

How and when does the rash appear?
The rash from poison ivy, oak, and sumac usually appears within 24 to 48 hours after contact with the plant. In some cases, though, the rash may not appear for a few days afterward. The worst stage of the rash usually occurs within a week of exposure. Depending on the severity, the rash may take 2 or 3 weeks to heal.

The rash from these plants occurs most often on parts of the body where the skin is thinnest, like the wrists, ankles, neck, and face. At first the area may appear reddish, and you may feel a mild stinging or itching. Red bumps then appear, often in streaks or patches where you rubbed against the plant. Itching can become severe before the bumps turn into blisters. These may ooze a clear, yellowish fluid. The blisters begin to crust over and dry up as the rash subsides.

Can the Rash Spread?
The rash from poison plants is not "contagious." Only the oil itself can be spread to other parts of the body or to another person. Sometimes, after the rash has developed in one place on your body, it may seem to suddenly appear elsewhere. This fact leads many people to think that the rash can be spread by scratching or bathing, or by touching another person's rash. This is not true, however. The rash may take days to appear after contact with the plant, and your skin varies in thickness over different parts of your body. This is why all of the affected areas may not show the rash at the same time.

In fact, keeping the area of the rash clean with soap and water is a good way to help it heal faster. Neither the blisters themselves nor the fluid they secrete contain urushiol. Touching them will not spread the rash to a new location on either your own body or someone else, unless urushiol is present on the skin. Still, it is best to avoid touching or scratching the rash.

How Do I Treat the Rash?

The best way to treat the rash is to catch it early. At the very first sign of a rash, or if you think that you have come in contact with one of these plants, wash the affected area with plain soap and cool water as soon as possible. Keep the area clean, cool, and dry as much as possible. And above all, don't scratch!

Most cases of poison ivy, oak, and sumac may be extremely uncomfortable but do not pose a serious health threat. Several types of over-the-counter medications creams and ointments, such as Benadryl or hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion, can provide relief and soothe the itching.  You can also soothe the itching by applying cool compresses or soaking the area in cool water with baking soda. You may be looking for a natural topical

While not the norm, just be aware that some highly allergic individuals may develop a severe reaction to poison ivy, oak, or sumac. If the rash is severe or covers a large area of your body or is near your eyes, you'd be well advised to seek medical help from your doctor or urgent care. The allergens in the plant oil may cause a systemic reaction resulting in some of the following symptoms along with a severe rash:
  • Fever, headache, or nausea
  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
  • Extremely sore or painful rash that interferes with normal activity
  • Swollen lymph nodes in your neck, under your arms, or in the groin
  • Blisters that continue to ooze after a few weeks
Avoidance is the best prevention
Avoidance is the best way to prevent the effects of the poison plants. The first step is to learn what they look like at all seasons of the year in the area where you live. Pay attention to the plants around you when you are outside, especially in wooded or overgrown areas.

After walking in the woods:
  • Wash your clothing in warm water
  • Scrub off your boots or shoes
  • Remember, the oil from these plants can remain on surfaces for days or weeks
In your yard
If you live in a rural area, you may be able to control the growth of poison ivy, oak, and sumac with livestock grazing. Goats and cows can eat these plants with no ill effects. However, grazing needs to continue for several years to be effective.

If you find one of these plants in your yard, remove it with care:
  • Wear long pants and sleeves, 
  • Wear heavy work gloves
  • Wear closed shoes or boots
  • Pull or dig out the entire plant, making sure to get as much of the root as possible
  • Avoid touching any part of the plant 
  • Keep children and pets out of the area until you are finished
  • Never burn the plants
  • Dispose of in a heavy, tightly sealed plastic lawn bag
If you think a pet has been near an area with poison ivy, oak, or sumac, bathe the animal in warm, soapy water. Wear long sleeves and rubber gloves to avoid getting the oil on your skin.

Natural Herbal Relief
While many people find relief with over-the-counter medications and creams, there are a growing number of people looking for more natural topical remedies.  There are also several important herbs (anti-histamine properties and allergy-immune support) that when taken orally can systemically help the body soothe the allergic reaction that has occurred. When an allergy or allergic reaction is present, the immune system is challenged.

Feel Better the Natural Way!
The Naturally Botanicals Team

Friday, May 18, 2012

You Can't Get Away From The Pollen | It Travels For Miles

Ragweed Allergy
Bet you didn't know that 10 to 20 percent of Americans suffer from ragweed allergy, or hay fever. You might even be one of those people. Sneezing, stuffy or runny nose, itchy eyes, nose and throat and trouble sleeping make life miserable for these allergy sufferers. Exposure to Ragweeds may also trigger asthma attacks in some sufferers.

All this misery begins when ragweeds release pollen into the air, and this pollen releasing process continues late into the season until frosts kill the plant.

What Is Ragweed?
Here's some interesting information and facts about Ragweeds. Ragweeds are classified as weeds, and in general, various species of ragweed can be found all over the US and Canada. Although some species of ragweed may be present in every state within the US, there are certain areas within each state that it is much more likely to grow. It is often found along roadsides and river banks, in vacant lots and fields. Seeds in the soil even after many decades will grow when conditions are right.

A single plant lives only one season, but that plant produces up to 1 billion pollen grains! Pollen-producing and seed-producing flowers grow on the same plant, but are separate organs. After midsummer, as nights grow longer, ragweed flowers mature and release pollen. Warmth, humidity and breezes after sunrise help the release. The pollen must then travel by air to another plant to fertilize the seed for growth the coming year.

Ragweed pollen can travel far. Amazingly, Ragweed pollen has been measured in the air 400 miles out to sea and 2 miles up in the atmosphere, but most falls out close to its source. Rain and low morning temperatures (below 50 degrees Fahrenheit) slow pollen release. Ragweed plants usually grow in rural areas. Of course, the pollen counts are highest nearest the plants and shortly after dawn. The amount of pollen peaks in many urban areas between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., depending on the weather.

What Is Ragweed Allergy?
The job of immune system cells is to find foreign substances such as viruses, bacteria and foreign bodies and get rid of them. Normally, this response protects us from dangerous diseases. Allergy sufferers have especially-sensitive immune systems that react when they contact certain harmless substances called allergens.

Who Gets Ragweed Allergy?
75 percent of Americans, who are allergic to pollen-producing plants, are allergic to ragweed. People with allergies to one type of pollen tend to develop allergies to other pollens as well. When people who are allergic to ragweed pollen inhale its allergens from air, common hay fever symptoms develop.

People with ragweed allergy may also get symptoms when they eat cantaloupe and banana. Chamomile tea, sunflower seeds and honey containing pollen from Compositae family members occasionally cause severe reactions, including shock.

What Are Its Symptoms?
The allergic reaction to all plants that produce pollen is commonly known as hay fever. Symptoms include eye irritation, runny nose, stuffy nose, puffy eyes, sneezing, and inflamed, itchy nose and throat. For those with severe allergies, symptoms may include asthma attacks, chronic sinusitis, headaches and impaired sleep.

How Is It Diagnosed?
To identify an allergy to ragweed or one of its relatives requires a careful medical history, a physical exam and testing. The main approach to confirm a suspected allergy is the skin sensitivity test.

For this, the skin is scratched or pricked with extract of ragweed pollen. In sensitive people, the site will turn red, swollen and itchy. Sometimes blood tests are used to see if an antibody to ragweed is present. This is sometimes necessary, but it takes longer for processing by a laboratory and it is more expensive.

What Can I Do About It?
There is no cure for ragweed allergy. The best control is to avoid contact with the pollen, which of course, is very difficult to do given the amount of ragweed pollen in the air during pollination time. There is help, though.

Natural Herbal Remedies

While many people find relief with over-the-counter medications and nasal sprays, there are a growing number of people concerned about the side effects of these treatment options, and are looking for more natural sinus allergy remedies.  There are several important herbs that naturally provide sinus allergy relief. Click here to find out more.

Feel Better the Natural Way!
The Naturally Botanicals Team

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Thank Goodness for Sinus Allergi Relief

A business colleague and I are on a 3 day business trip through the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, Sedona and Phoenix. The pollen count feels like it is off the charts. The count must be high, and when combined with the high altitude,we have both felt the effects of congested stuffy noses, watery and itchy eyes. My business colleague seems to be having a worse time than me with the added discomfort of sinus allergy headaches.

Oh my, I am so glad I packed the Sinus Allergi Relief for this Arizona trip! And, so is my traveling companion.

Neither of us like to take over-the-counter meds. We prefer a more natural approach. So, having a natural herbal allergy product with us was wonderful. We both started taking the Sinus Allergi product as soon as we felt the allergy symptoms, and felt relief almost immediately. It has, and is, continuing to help us on this trip.  Making what could have been an awful trip, much more pleasant! My colleague says, thank you.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Seasonal Allergies | Pollen is in the Air

Did You Know that the Most Allergic Substance is Pollen?
So, it's that time of year again, Seasonal Allergy Season. For most, the beauty of spring is delightful, but for millions of Americans, this is a dreaded time of year. The beauty of all the spring flowers in the fields, the blossoms on the trees and the rich green grass sprouting up after a cold winter, brings with it a deluge of pollen and plant spores.  For allergy sufferers this can bring misery.  These pollens are a major cause of seasonal allergic reactions. Pollen levels are important in helping many people with allergies plan their day. There are also a number of natural alternatives to help reduce the reactive response to their allergens and improve the level of comfort, your ability to function, and enjoy life allergy-free.  

Where does all this pollen come from?
Pollen is a very fine powder released by trees, weeds and grasses. It is carried to another plant of the same kind, usually by bees and wind, to fertilize new plant seeds. It is this pollination process that fills the air with a gazillion microscopic allergens. 

The pollen of some plants is carried from plant to plant by bees and other insects. These plants usually have brightly colored flowers and sweet scents to attract insects. They seldom cause allergic reactions. Other plants rely on the wind to carry pollen from plant to plant. These plants have small, drab flowers and little scent. These are the plants that cause most allergic reactions, or hay fever. 

When conditions are right, a plant starts to pollinate. Weather affects how much pollen is carried in the air each year, but it has less effect on when pollination occurs. As a rule, weeds pollinate in late summer and fall. 

What is the pollen count?
The pollen count tells us how many grains of plant pollen were in a certain amount of air (often one cubic meter) during a set period of time (usually 24 hours). Check out the pollen levels in your area:

The weed that causes 75 percent of all hay fever is ragweed which has numerous species. One ragweed plant is estimated to produce up to 1 billion pollen grains. Other weeds that cause allergic reactions are cocklebur, lamb's quarters, plantain, pigweed, tumbleweed or Russian thistle and sagebrush.
  • Trees pollinate in late winter and spring. Ash, beech, birch, cedar, cottonwood, box, elder, elm, hickory, maple and oak pollen can trigger allergies.
  • Grasses pollinate in late spring and summer. Those that cause allergic reactions include Kentucky bluegrass, timothy, Johnson, Bermuda, redtop, orchard, rye and sweet vernal grasses.
Much pollen is released early in the morning, shortly after dawn. This results in high counts near the source plants. Pollen travels best on warm, dry, breezy days and peaks in urban areas midday. Pollen counts are lowest during chilly, wet periods. 

Natural Herbal Remedies
While many people find relief with over-the-counter medications and nasal sprays, there are a growing number of people concerned about the side effects of these treatment options, and are looking for more natural sinus allergy remedies.  There are several important herbs that naturally provide sinus allergy relief. click here for more info.

Feel Better the Natural Way!
The Naturally Botanicals Team

Friday, May 4, 2012

Seasonal Allergies | The Mating Game

What the Heck is Happening in My Body?

Yesterday MSN Health posted a great article on seasonal allergies. So, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, we thought we would simply repost it for you (with some minor additions and edits,  of course)…

The Mating Game
It all begins with a mating game. Male pollen grains drift off in search of female plant parts to fertilize. Cute, except that the powdery stuff is so pervasive that you'll undoubtedly breathe it in or rub it into your eyes. If you're allergic, your body makes antibodies called IgE. Pollen launches them into action.

IgE antibodies coat the outside of mast cells, which are part of the immune system and are abundant in the nose, throat, eyes, skin, and lungs. As pollen binds to IgE, mast cells release a trove of chemicals, the most famous of which is histamine, the marine corps of allergy warfare.

Mast cells continue to fire off, releasing more and more histamine. Problem is the tricky chemical can be tough on your body.

After five minutes
Histamine has set your mucous membranes into overdrive, by now you've said hello to sneezing, a runny nose, and watery eyes.

Your airways may begin to constrict, leaving you short of breath or with a tight feeling in your chest. Histamine may also make your throat itch.

As long as you're exposed to pollen, the miserable cycle keeps going, unless you take an over-the-counter medication or herbal supplement. It's best to start stat (or better yet, in anticipation of an attack); because mast cells are popping off like crazy.

In the next few hours
The mast cells release a second offensive wave of immune mediators, which turn your dripping, sneezing nose into a stopped-up disaster. An antihistamine will be less effective now.

If you're very allergic, your eyelids might begin to swell.

After a few days
If you're still in pollen territory, mucus has set up camp in your nose and sinuses. Gone are the days of suffering in silence with a tissue, the phlegm in your throat makes you cough and snore. Your respiratory system, normally able to sweep out germs with its tiny hair-like cilia, is now gridlocked with congestion, creating an ideal bacterial breeding ground. You're at higher risk for a sinus or ear infection. If you have seasonal asthma, you could develop a chronic cough. Of course, a visit to your doctor is well recommended. Your doctor can give you a stronger treatment that can quell your advanced allergic reaction.

After a few months
It's fall, you're home free! Unless, of course, you're allergic to ragweed...and so, the cycle goes.

Dr. Keri Peterson of Women’s Health magazine says that the more than 40 million people battling allergies this time of the year can seek relief by avoiding yard work, using air filters and keeping the windows closed.

Yeah, but…
Or, you can support your body with natural herbal products, so you feel better, function better, and get back into life. Allergies can be annoying at best, and deliberating at worst. Often limiting our choices in life about what we can and cannot do or enjoy.  There’s no need to limit your lifestyle or suffer. There are some wonderful and effective herbal products to help support your body throughout the allergy season. The hero is in the herbals.

Natural Herbal Remedies
While many people find relief with over-the-counter medications and nasal sprays, there are a growing number of people concerned about the side effects of these treatment options, and are looking for more natural sinus allergy remedies.  There are several important herbs that naturally provide sinus allergy relief. click here for more info.

Feel Better the Natural Way!
The Naturally Botanicals Team

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What's With All These Allergies?

It's a new month and so we have a new topic. This month we will focus on allergies and sinus allergy relief. If you suffer from allergies, you're not alone. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA)© 1 out of 5 Americans suffer from Asthma and Allergies.  
* Annual U.S. Prevalence Statistics for Chronic Diseases

So, exactly what are allergies?  There's a lot of information on this subject to share with you. So, we will break it into bite size pieces over the course of the month.  Let's start with the basics, the formal definition and go from there.

Definition of Allergy

definition courtesy of
noun, plural al·ler·gies.
  1. an abnormal reaction of the body to a previously encountered allergen  introduced by inhalation, ingestion, injection, or skin contact, often manifested by itchy eyes, runny nose, wheezing, skin rash, or diarrhea.
  2. hypersensitivity to the reintroduction of an allergen. Compare anaphylaxis.
  3. Informal . a strong dislike or aversion, as toward a person or activity: He has an allergy to hard work.
What are Allergies?
Allergies indicate an overreaction of the immune system to substances that usually that usually have no effect on other individuals. Allergies are commonly grouped by the kind of stimuli, time of year or where symptoms appear on the body, such as indoor, outdoor, food, latex, insect, skin and eye. These substances can trigger sneezing, wheezing, coughing and itching. While allergies are somewhat bothersome, they can often be linked to a many other common, and sometimes, serious chronic respiratory illnesses (such as sinusitis and asthma).

Seasonal Allergies or Year Round?
Some allergies are considered more “seasonal” while others are on-going and can bring misery to the sufferer all year round. “Seasonal” allergies (also called “seasonal allergic rhinitis” [SAR], “hay fever,” or “nasal” allergies) occur when allergens that are commonly found outdoors are inhaled into the nose and the lungs causing allergic reactions. Examples of commonly inhaled outdoor allergens are tree, grass and weed pollen and mold spores. The allergic reaction to all plants that produce pollen is commonly known as hay fever.

Symptoms include eye irritation, runny nose, stuffy nose, puffy eyes, sneezing, and inflamed, itchy nose and throat. For those suffering severe allergies, asthma attacks, chronic sinusitis, headaches and impaired sleep are symptoms. Warm weather also brings some not-so-welcome visitors in the form of stinging insects. For most people, these small creatures are an annoyance that threaten to ruin outdoor fun, but for some 2 million Americans, these insects pose a far more serious threat of a life-threatening allergic reaction. Other allergens existing outdoors are poisonous plants, and these, as well as insects, are considered “contact,” “skin” or “insect” allergens rather than “inhaled” allergens.

Year round allergies include indoor allergies (“perennial allergic rhinitis” [PAR], often called “nasal” allergies). These occur when allergens that are commonly found indoors are inhaled into the nose and the lungs causing allergic reactions. Examples of indoor allergens are airborne cat or dog dander, dust mite feces and mold spores. Other year round allergies are food allergies and allergic reactions to certain drugs. They are characterized by a broad range of allergic reactions to ingredients in the foods we eat or the medications we take. Food allergy is an overreaction of the immune system, different than food intolerance or food sensitivity. The U.S. Food Allergy Labeling Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) now requires food labels to clearly identify all allergen ingredients (even if it's a spice or flavoring), and to discourage labels with ‘may contain' statements.

Natural Herbal Remedies
While many people find relief with over-the-counter medications and nasal sprays, there's a growing number of people concerned about the side effects of these treatment options, and are looking for more natural sinus allergy remedies.  There are several important herbs that naturally provide sinus allergy relief. click here for more info.

In Health,
Naturally Botanicals Team