Ragweed is one of the most potent producers of an allergic reaction than any other plant in the world. It is the number one cause of hay fever symptoms and seasonal allergy symptoms and is the most common cause for allergic rhinitis.
This plant can produce billions of pollen grains that float into the atmosphere and find their way into the nose of allergy sufferers. Their pollen alone can travel many miles due in part to their lightweight texture. Although the ragweed plant can only survive for one season, the fact that they produce so much pollen and their pollen can travel so far makes eradication of this plant impossible.
If you are allergic to any form of pollen you are probably allergic to ragweed. Nearly 10 to 20% of Americans suffer from these allergies each year. From August until the first freeze, allergy sufferers respond with symptoms such as watery nose and eyes, sneezing, coughing and congestion. But it is not the flower itself that creates these annoying symptoms for us allergy sufferers; it is our bodies that make that happen.
When we breathe in pollen or other allergens, our bodies see this pollen as a harmful invader. Once these pollens enter our bodies our immune system attacks this harmless substance, also known as allergens, and calls upon a substance called immunoglobulin E (IgE) to fight the invaders. Everyone has these IgE antibodies, but a person with allergies has a very large amount of these defenders.
Once these defenders take their stance they activate special cells in our bodies called mast cells. When a mast cell is activated, it then releases an assortment of chemicals into our bodies and this includes the chemical known as histamine. Histamine is the irritating chemical that causes itching, swelling and fluid leaking from cells.
There are many different species of ragweed and there are three species that are very common in the United States.
Common names include; Buffalo Weed, Great, Giant, Bitterweed, Bloodweed, Horse Cane, and Tall Ambrosia. It is the most competitive weeds in North America, where it is native. It grows to about 3 meters tall with green flowers and rounded leaves with 3 or 5 pointy-tipped lobes as seen in the photo to your left.
Common names include; Cuman, perennial, and western ragweed. It grows in the continental United States, the southern parts of Canada and the northern half of Mexico. It grows to be about one to two meters in height and offers leaves that are about 12 centimeters long.
Common names include; Annual, Bitterweed, Blackweed, Carrot Weed, Hay Fever Weed, Roman Wormwood, Stammerwort, Stickweed, Tassel Weed, Wild Tansy, and American Wormwood. This ragweed will grow to be about 3 feet in height about knee high or less and has deeply cut “raggy” looking leaves as seen in the photo to your right.
There are a number of drugs on the market to help maintain the symptoms, but there are healthier ways to combat the problem. A healthy solution to an irritating problem is avoiding the pollen altogether. Although there is no way to completely rid the environment from these pollens, there are some simple steps you can take to help avoid the issue before the symptoms occur.
Ways to avoid pollen:
- Use an air purifier. Keep your windows shut and use your air conditioner.
- Use a HEPA vacuum, must be HEPA or the allergens will escape back through the exhaust of a regular vacuum.
- Stay indoors during peak hours, normally around 5 AM to 10 AM.
- Keep windows and doors shut during high pollen counts.
- Install HEPA filters in your home and car.
- Take a shower when you come in from the outdoors, as pollen can stick to clothes.
- Keep up to date with pollen counts in your area. The local news will usually say what the pollen counts are. A website to visit is www.pollen.com.
- Avoid vacant lots and construction sites which is where ragweed plants like to grow when the soil is disturbed.
- Wear sunglasses outside to keep pollen out of your eyes.
Although we may have allergies, that is no reason to have to suffer through the symptoms. By being proactive to our allergies we can deal with the symptoms less. It is healthier for us to avoid the allergic reaction than it is to try and suppress the symtpoms once they start.
Don Johnson is the editor for www.avoid-nasal-allergies.com. Learn more about ragweed allergy and pollen allergy at his site. As an allergy researcher, Don’s emphasizes is to address the root cause (the allergen) before the symptoms occur so that one can improve their overall health and well being the natural way.
I am most impressed with this website and I have found a lot of good information here on how to deal with indoor allergens. I hope you will explore this site too and listen to what Mikki has to teach. I highly recommend you watch this informative video.