As an herbalist, I get asked about allergies all the time. People are looking for the least invasive way to alleviate their pain and suffering – and if you are one of the lucky few who have never experienced allergies, trust me the suffering is immense!
In response to requests from clients in addition to my own personal experience with occasional seasonal allergies, I have developed a general protocol that involves cutting out sugar, washing the sinuses with salt water and using herbal steam inhalations. My protocol gets good results some of the time. But it never gets to the source of allergies, the allergens themselves. The unsolved cases are the most frustrating for any practitioner, and despite consultations with multiple healers spanning a wide range of disciplines from orthodox to alternative, these poor people continue to suffer.
The problem here is that we are tackling the issue of allergies from the wrong end, a bit of the “tail wagging the dog” syndrome. Thomas Leo Ogren proposes that we go to the source, the plants themselves, to find our answer.
Chapter One of The Allergy Fighting Garden opens with a startling statistic:
“In the 1950’s allergies affected only 2 to 5 percent of the people in the United States. By the 1980’s more than 12 percent had allergies. By 1999 some 38 percent of the population suffered from allergies. The rates of both allergies and asthma continue to climb in almost all urban areas, usually at between 2 and 3 percent annually and are now widely considered to be epidemic.” (p. 4)
By these numbers, we can expect to see almost 70 percent of urban populations in New York, Chicago, Denver and Seattle to suffer from either chronic allergies or asthma today. Ogren is right in asking, “What can account for this shocking increase?”
Amazingly, Ogren brings us up close and personal with the secret lives of plants in explaining the allergy epidemic. In a nutshell (although Ogren explains this much better) male plants release pollen while female plants are designed by nature to absorb pollen. Since the 1950’s, Ogren teaches, urban landscaping has favored male trees and hedges more and more, simply because they are “fruitless” and thus “less messy.”
This chauvinistic policy was readily adopted by city after city, starting on the East coast and slowly spreading West. As city planners and landscapers invested in the mass-planting of male-only pollinating trees, we see an undeniable corresponding increase in allergies and asthma in those urban centers.
To further complicate matters, the USDA has supported the continued homogenization of urban landscaping by isolating and propagating more of the most highly allergenic plant species without any consideration of the impact their policy had on delicate ecosystems.
While the situation may seem dire, this book provides chronic allergy sufferers a real hope for permanent recovery. Ogren gives many specific, proactive tips to remedy the pollen imbalance starting in our own gardens.
The Allergy-Fighting Garden has a short list of the most common trees, shrubs, hedges and flowers used in landscaping highlighted with his patented OPALS (Ogren Plant Allergy Scale) rating system. OPALS was developed to make it easier for landscapers, gardeners and city planners to choose non-allergenic plants (with an OPALS rating of 1 or 2) over highly allergenic plants (rated 9 or 10). This book is an excellent reference tool and must-have for every serious gardener, professional landscaper as well as for clinically trained allergists and chronic allergy sufferers alike.
I gratefully received this book from Blogging For Books for review! Please click, link, like, share and read-on!