Enjoy our latest issue! Click here to find where you can pick up a copy near you.
Enjoy our latest issue! Click here to find where you can pick up a copy near you.
The long anticipated spring is on its way and many of us are eager to get outside and admire budding trees and blooming flowers. If you are one of the 20% of Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies, however, you may feel apprehensive to venture outside for fear of the inevitable itching, sneezing, and runny nose . Most sufferers receive marginal relief from pharmaceutical drugs but also may experience unwanted side effects . Thankfully, some natural remedies are proven to be as effective for relieving allergy symptoms without the prevailing side effects [1, 2, 4, 5].
Currently, the most common treatment for seasonal allergies is antihistamines . A wide range of other anti-inflammatory drugs such as corticosteroids, decongestants, and nasal mast cell stabilizers are also available and are used alone or in combination . However, despite such advances in modern drug therapy, only 26% of allergy sufferers are satisfied with the results. User dissatisfaction may be because each drug targets a specific symptom or set of symptoms, resulting in only partial relief. Additionally, side effects ranging from impaired driving to cardiac arrhythmias are often considered an unsatisfactory trade-off .
Allergy symptoms are more than just uncomfortable, they can be quite debilitating. Affected individuals have impaired verbal learning, decision-making speed, psychomotor skills, concentration, and sleep resulting in increased work and school absences and decreased productivity. The growing prevalence of allergies is also a huge detriment to the health care system .
Fortunately, there are medically proven natural remedies for seasonal allergy relief without the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs. In fact, allergies have become one of the leading conditions for which patients seek alternative medicine .
The leaves of stinging nettle, or Urtica dioica, contain histamine, which is the primary anti-inflammatory marker for seasonal allergies. In fact, the herb acts similarly to antihistamine drugs but without the side effects . Cultures around the world have used nettle for centuries to treat nasal and respiratory problems such as coughs, runny nose, chest congestion, asthma, and whooping cough. Taking 300-600 mg of freeze-dried nettle in capsule form daily is the recommended dosage; however, the effect only lasts a few hours. If symptoms persist, it can be taken twice daily . Nettle also grows wild in much of the United States. It makes a wonderfully mild tea. Sautéed green, it can be added to nearly any dish. Please handle with care as the stinging hairs are quite painful until deactivated by a flash sauté. In rare cases, allergic reactions may occur .
Raw honey containing the pollen that is triggering an immune response has also been proven effective at treating seasonal allergies. In fact, one study found that the honey containing pollen was more effective than conventional medications at relieving patients of their symptoms . So go ahead and add a spoonful of honey to your regimen; it certainly couldn’t hurt! Just be sure not to give it to infants under 12 months of age .
Butterbur, or Petasites hybridus, has been extensively studied and also proven effective at treating allergy symptoms. One study found butterbur as effective as the drug cetirizine, the active ingredient in Zyrtec, but without the drowsiness reported in patients taking cetirizine . However, I consider butterbur a less favorable option since finding it in the wild is much rarer in comparison to its counterpart, stinging nettle, and its long-term effects are unknown. If you choose butterbur as your natural allergy remedy, do not use for longer than twelve weeks as you may develop side effects similar to many modern drug therapies. Short-term use of 32 milligrams taken four times per day has been proven very safe and effective. To ensure safety and efficacy, make sure the product is labeled hepatotoxic PA-free .
So please, breathe easy knowing there are remedies for your seasonal ailments that will enable you to venture outside without the added side effects. If you are a regular allergy sufferer, the greatest success is achieved by addressing your symptoms with a trained herbalist before the peak of allergy season.
Kristen McPhee, MS is a nutritionist and clinical herbalist practitioner in Marquette specializing in women’s health and Lyme disease. She graduated from Maryland University of Integrative Health, where she completed over 1,000 supervised clinical hours. For more information and to schedule a consultation, visit http://www.kristenmcphee.com.
Guo, R. & Pittler, M. (2007). Petasites hybridus (Butterbur) for Treating Allergic Rhinitis. Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies. 12(2): 81-84. doi: 10.1211/fact.12.2.0003.
Guo, R., Pittler, M., & Ernst, E. (2007). Herbal Medicines for the Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis: A Systematic Review. Annals of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, 99(6). doi: 10.1016/S1081-1206(10)60375-4.
Putnam, G., Godfrey, S., et al. Executive Summary – Treatments of Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis. Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK153706/
Saarinen, K., Jantunen, J., Haahtela, T. (2011). Birch Pollen Honey for Birch Pollen Allergy – A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study. Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 155(2): 160-6. doi: 10.1159/000319821.
Sayin, I., Cingi, C., Oghan, F., Baykal, B., Ulusoy, S. (2013). Complementary Therapies in Allergic Rhinitis. ISRN Allergy. doi: 10.1155/2013/938751.
Thornhill, S. & Kelly, A. (2000). Natural Treatment for Perennial Allergic Rhinitis. 5(5). Retrieved from http://www.biomedsearch.com/article/Natural-Treatment-Perennial-Allergic-Rhinitis/
University of Maryland Medical System. (2015). Allergic Rhinitis. Retrieved April 8, 2015 from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/allergic-rhinitis
*Article reprinted with permission from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Spring 2017 Issue, copyright 2017.
A great new issue full of helpful information is on its way, focused on waking up your senses for spring!
Pick up a free copy at one of the Upper Peninsula locations listed here!
*Please note distribution will be complete in most locations by 3/8/17.
In the mid-1980s, I had been treating for over a year, Eliza, an 8-year-old adopted girl who had been severely abused by her biological parents. In spite of her caring adoptive parents, Eliza was not making progress. One day, she walked into my familiar office at the local mental health center (now called Pathways), looked around at the bookshelves full of toys and books, and inquired what they were. I was stunned!
Serendipitously, a few months earlier, the clinic’s psychiatrist, Dr. Lu Kuhnhoff, who had just returned from a conference sponsored by the International Society for the Study of Dissociative Disorders, provided an in-service to a group of us interested clinicians. Dr. Kuhnhoff described signs of dissociation, including memory and identity disturbances, auditory and visual hallucinations, and a loss of consciousness (awareness). At this time, I had been specializing in treatment of sexually-abused children. I naively thought to myself that perhaps I would see one case with dissociation in my lifetime. Little did I understand that dissociation is a primitive, biological, automatic defense mechanism derived from reptiles and continued up the evolutionary chain to us mammals. Dissociation is activated when a child is faced with overwhelming fear when being abused or encountering other forms of trauma (e.g. painful medical procedures and illness), and when fighting and fleeing is simply impossible. In order to survive the frightening experience, the child segments off the horrifying event(s) from his or her consciousness as a way of escaping mentally when there is no actual way to escape.
Like other forms of mental conditions, there are different degrees of dissociation, such as: spacing out; amnesia to past traumatic events; distortion in environment in which things seem unreal or viewed through a tunnel; when the body feels numb or disconnected from self; or the child experiences a separation within the self with different identities, feelings, memories, behaviors and relationship preferences that influence the child or may take control of the body and present differently to others, as seen in Dissociative Identity Disorder-DID (formerly termed Multiple Personality Disorder). It is important to understand that those with DID are still one person with different states of consciousness or awareness. In my book Healing the Fractured Child: Diagnosing and Treating Youth with \Dissociation, I explain more thoroughly the ways dissociative symptoms can be expressed in numerous clinical cases.
Generally, traumatized children with dissociation can present with a myriad of symptoms due to shifting parts of themselves that become triggered by reminders of past traumas, e.g., smells, sights, sounds, touch. They can rapidly shift from being happy to sad to raging, and display aberrant behavior in which amnesia may be present. They can exhibit dramatic shifts in their abilities with activities such as schoolwork and sports, and in their preferences in food, dress, activities, and more. They can demonstrate severe attachment or relationship impairment due to a lack of trust and separate parts of the self not having a connection to their caregivers. These children can one moment seek out the parent and the next moment attack the parent. They often have severe attention problems marked by poor concentration and focus due to intrusive traumatic memories, or voices and images experienced in their mind that disrupt their ability to focus. They can exhibit aggressive behavior for which they have no memory, and therefore deny such behavior. Consequently, they are frequently viewed as liars. These changing moods and behaviors can confound caretakers and teachers.
I received a call from a grade school principal who told me Ryan, a 9-year-old boy (Waters, 2015) who’d been sexually abused, had turned around and suddenly hit a girl in line. When the principal witnessed this and confronted Ryan, he adamantly denied it, collapsing to the floor wailing. However, in this case, the astute principal related to me that Ryan really did not know he had done it. I knew Ryan depersonalized from his lower body since he was completely unaware of his chronic soiling problem. However, I did not know he had a more severe form of dissociation until this phone call. Upon further exploration, he, like Eliza, revealed hearing voices and seeing in his mind a separate identity that was a protector who hit the little girl who had unexpectedly knocked into him.
These traumatized, dissociative children can often receive more commonly recognized diagnoses, such as psychosis due to hallucinations, bipolar disorder due to extreme mood swings, attention deficit disorder due to poor focus, oppositional or conduct disorders due to their disruptive behavior. Unfortunately, while they have an abuse history, post-traumatic stress and dissociative disorders are often overlooked as the source of their symptoms.
Effectively parenting these children can be a daunting task. Porges (2011), who has studied how we respond to threat, discovered the crucial role of voice and eyes in fostering communication and bonding between parents and children. Porges noted that the mylenated vagal nerve, which regulates social engagement and goes from the heart to the ears and from the heart to the eyes, makes us very sensitive to loud, low sounds and angry eyes. We become threatened and our survival response system activates, causing us to disengage from the person by fighting, fleeing or freezing (a dissociative response). Therefore, Porges stresses that keeping your voice modulated and eyes warm can keep others engaged-a crucial strategy for parents to maintain a connection with their distraught child.
While it is challenging to raise a dissociative child, parents or caretakers can have a profound impact on helping their child heal. Their understanding, love, patience, and acceptance of all parts of their child provide the foundation for the child to progress in specialized treatment of his or her traumatic past and dissociation to become an integrated child. Having had the privilege of working in partnership with such parents to see their children transform into healthy, happy individuals, I can tell you the rewards of their helping their child heal are worth it!
Fran Waters is the author of Healing the fractured child: Diagnosis and treatment of youth with dissociation. She is the past president of the International Society for the Study of Trauma & Dissociation (ISSTD). She maintains a private practice in Marquette, MI.
Porges, S. (2011). The polyvagal theory: Neurophysiological foundations of emotions, attachment, communication and self-regulation. New York: W.W. Norton.
Waters, F. S. (2nd, 2015). Ryan (8 to 10 years old) –Connecting with the body: Treatment of somatoform dissociation (encopresis and multiple physical complaints). In Wieland, S. (Ed.), Dissociation in traumatized children and adolescents: Theory and clinical interventions (2nd ed.; pp.135-190). New York: Routledge.
Reprinted with permission from the Winter 2016-2017 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine.
The Winter 2016 – 2017 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine is out and bursting with helpful information on Sleep, Self-Care, Holiday Gift-Giving, Green Living, Positive Parenting, Services for Elders, Pet Safety and much more!
We are also excited to announced the recipient of our 2016 donation – Partridge Creek Farm’s Children’s Programming! You can learn all about this non-profit organization in our leading article and previous post!
To find out where you can pick up a copy of this latest issue, click here.
If there’s one basic need most of us enjoy satisfying, it is for food. And the fresher and healthier that food is, the better off we’ll be. For most us here in the U.S., our food is shipped in, often from across the country and even across the globe, and we purchase it in supermarkets by the box and bag-full, some of which has added ingredients and processing we know little about.
While the number of small, community-supported farms in the Upper Peninsula supplying fresh, quality produce is growing, there’s still much room for improvement. Food security is an issue here, with the U.P.’s harsh climate and shorter growing season, longer distances for rural residents to large supermarkets with affordable fresh produce, and one-quarter of our children living in poverty (KIDS COUNT, 2016). In fact, our area has a significantly higher than average rate of obesity, diabetes, substance abuse and poverty. All of these issues point to the need for better health-physically, emotionally, and economically.
Partridge Creek Farm (PCF) aims to address this. Founder and director Dan Perkins describes, “Partridge Creek Farm is a community organization working on social issues through the backdrop of a farm.” The non-profit organization not only aims to increase local access to fresh, affordable, healthy food, but also to help us connect back to its importance both nutritionally and socially, teaching how to grow it in our challenging climate, and also how to prepare and preserve it. PCF intends to “invite the culture at large back in, especially those who’ve been disenfranchised, trapped, isolated.”
Perkins believes it’s vital for people to connect with one another and with the land, and that farming can help accomplish this. “Agrarian community is built into our genetics. It’s very odd for us to be separated from that part of our genetic make-up. This has only happened in the last few generations, and we’re experiencing the fall-out health-wise and socially to be disconnected from this part of our make-up,” he explains.
Ten years ago, Perkins began engaging kids in his neighborhood while gardening in the yard behind his property, and sending them home with bags of food. This led to forming Partridge Creek Farm. “I just thought it was a great model for doing social work at zero cost to the taxpayer.”
But the potential benefits are greater even than Perkins had thought. He says MBA Jessica Glendon’s research for PCF’s business plan revealed “If you live in a low-access food zone, which Ishpeming and western Marquette County are, or a low income area, you have a much higher risk of being diabetic, obese or drug addicted. That risk level goes within 5% difference throughout the rest of the community. ‘You mean my kids have just as much chance of becoming addicted as those of that drug addict down the street?’ Yes. Conditions in your community have an equal effect on everybody.”
“It blew my head open! This means we’re not just doing this for the poor people in our community, we’re doing this for our own self-preservation! It’s for our own children and our grandchildren. If we don’t fix our problems as a whole, then we’re all going to suffer the consequences. . . If we all work together, we’ll be a whole lot better off.”
Partridge Creek Farm is collaborating with AMCAB and the Headstart staff to engage kids and their families in the growing, preparing and consumption of local foods. PCF also ran a program with very young children at the Carnegie Library’s summer reading sessions painting word stones pertaining to growing food and placing them in the PCF Incubator Garden nearby. Children from Michigamme Youth Services Camp worked hard weeding and spreading horse manure at PCF. Youth from the KBIC received worm castings and support in preparing a garden from PCF.
This winter, PCF will continue working with students in an Ishpeming High School Life Skills class on an indoor growing project. Next year, these students will mentor 200 fifth and sixth graders, passing on their agricultural skills and building common bonds. PCF is working with Great Lakes Recovery Center’s youth on a courtyard garden program, adding lots of compost this winter for full-scale growing in spring. Preparations have also been made for maple tree tapping with them this spring.
PCF was able to quadruple its food production this year, offering it at local farmer’s markets while educating the public about its mission. Perkins credits PCF’s successful headway thus far to the dedication and high-level research of Farm Manager and scientist Ray Bush; great mentorship, research and work ethic from PCF’s first group of NMU interns; a strong community volunteer base; and significant financial support from the Western Marquette County Health Foundation, Green Mountain Foundation of Vermont, and many individual donations, PCF memberships and business sponsors.
The Ishpeming Elks Lodge has offered some of its land by Partridge Creek as a growing area for PCF, and Bruce and Cathy Houghton of Ishpeming have even offered PCF the use of their apple orchard next to Lake Angeline by $1/year long-term lease. PCF will maintain and use the orchard for its programs.
But there is much more that PCF intends to do. Right now the organization is looking to secure land near the Ishpeming schools where greenhouses can be built so growing with student involvement can go on all year. More staff is needed—a community outreach and volunteer coordinator, a business manager to manage its grant budgets and pay vendors, and an educational coordinator.
Perkins adds, “As we grow, we’ll need other locations as well. We want to address the food and social issues of our entire region.”
More volunteers are always welcome, as well as more corporate and individual sponsorships and new members. For more information, visit http://www.partridgecreekfarm.org or contact Dan Perkins at (906) 361-6628 or Ray Bush at (906) 204-5442.
*Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine is pleased to announce that its 2016 donation will go to Partridge Creek Farm’s children’s programming.
Reprinted with permission from the Winter 2016 – 2017 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine.