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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Hayfever season! Who to Blame for Your Misery?

Let's stop blaming the lovely Goldenrod for the misery of hayfever.

Here is an article on the usefulness of this autumn beauty.

Many people love summer but dread the season's end because of the onslaught of ragweed pollen in the wind which can cause seemingly endless sneezing, stuffy or runny nose, itchy eyes, nose and throat. Those with asthma often find their symptoms worse during hayfever season. A ragweed plant only lives one season, but those elongated flower heads are loaded with pollen. A single plant can produce up to 1 billion pollen grains. Those grains are light in weight and just float through the air with ease.

Allergies occur when the body’s immune system treats the allergen as a foreign invader. This starts a chemical reaction which produces and sends histamine throughout the blood stream. These chemicals cause allergy symptoms to develop.

Ragweed is its own remedy for hayfever. Tincture the flowering tops in 100 proof vodka for six weeks. A tincture is when you combine plant material and alcohol to create your own herbal medicine.
Fill a mason jar or glass jar of your choice with the cut flowering tops. Add enough 100 proof vodka to cover the ragweed flowers. Poke a wooden spoon handle around the sides of the jar to release air bubbles and cap. Let the jar sit in a cool location for six weeks, give a little shake daily. Strain off the herbs and put the tincture in smaller glass dropper bottles.
To use:
Add about half a teaspoon of tincture to a glass of water and take daily during allergy season, primarily late July to September.

Below is a video by the very respected Susan Weed on how to make your own allergy remedy.

Here is a Great article on identifying Ragweed.

Ragweeds are flowering plants in the genus Ambrosia in the aster family, Asteraceae.
There are two types of Ragweed in North America:
Common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) Grows to about 3 feet.
Great or Giant ragweed (Ambrosia trifida) Grows to a height of about 8 feet.
Common ragweed had much more pinnatifid or deeply cut lobes on its leaves than the Great ragweed.
The Great ragweed's lower leaves have 3 to 5 lobes while the upper leaves are elliptical.
Goldenrod flowers are yellow, whereas Ragweed flowers are green.

Common ragweed

Great or Giant ragweed

Loaded with pollen

In its defense, ragweed is very valuable to wildlife, just showing us that all plants do serve a purpose. Ragweed isn't here just to make people miserable. Doubtful that makes allergy sufferers feel any better. Honeybees collect the pollen from the male flowers, though flower-visiting insects don't usually bother with the plant. There are several moth types who eat the foliage, flowers and seeds and grasshoppers are often very plentiful around ragweed plants. The oil rich seeds are loved by game birds and grain eating songbirds. The spikes of seeds stick up above the snow during the winter, therefore do provide a good food source for not only birds, but squirrels and voles.

Perhaps there is a way to enjoy the end of the summer season without the constant "Sniffle, Sneeze, Tissue Please"!

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