March is the one month when my mother gives up on our entire family. She threatens, yearly, to leave the county and us behind until the terror of Maple tree pollen is gone. All my siblings, my father, and I have strong allergic reactions to tree pollen. Of course, our allergies aren’t limited to a species or season. Our bodies just like to overreact to all sorts of things. I, myself, am allergic to most grasses (from the grass in your lawn to the corn in the field), hops, amoxicillin, and pertussis. The last is a vaccine that nearly killed me as an infant. Yay, allergies! March is still one of the worst months for my allergies, but I’ve managed to find a few ways to live with allergies. March and the Spring are no longer the markers of misery!
I’ve found that my Druidry practice has impacted the way I interact with health in many ways, but my allergies in particular. Druidry is rooted firmly in connection and in nature. Working outdoors is common practice in all seasons. I find great value in getting outside for rituals, meditations, and just good ‘ol walks on a regular basis in order to enrich my practice. Allergies were a limiting factor on how much I could physically get out into nature for a while. Growing up on a farm meant I’d still go outside, but I’d be cranky and miserable at times. I wanted to share with others hoping to have a practice outside but struggling with allergies the methods and tools I use to make this easier.
- Observe – Not all of us can afford the massive allergy skin tests. Allergies can also change as we age or move to new areas. Start documenting in a journal, on a calendar app, or whatever, when you have allergy symptoms and what they are. Then look outside to see what plants are blooming or pollutants are around. There are weather websites like Wunderground.com that give forecasts on pollen and seasonal gardening apps that can help you discover what you are reacting to. Knowing what is going on in your body and the environment can help you prevent the symptoms from getting out of hand.
- Water – I know, I know, every single post that even touches on health talks about drinking enough water. I won’t go into details. You know by now that getting enough water during the day is important for your whole body. Nothing encourages inflammation and illness like dehydration.
- Neti Pot – This may seem like a useless and weird thing to use, but it’s changed my life. A neti pot is a small pot that you fill with filtered water and a small amount of salt before pouring it through your sinuses. I use mine once a week and then two or three times during the seasons where my allergies are very active. This is a natural way to reduce symptoms.
- Go outside anyway – Exposure can be a surprising boon to treating allergies. The mistake is made when you have been stuck inside buildings with filtered air and temperature control for months and then venture outdoors during the peak of whatever causes your allergies. Exposure is best handled when you take at least small adventures outside every day or every 2-3 days. And hey, what do you know a regular practice of going outside or communing with a certain place is great for your Pagan practice as well!
- Ebb & Flow – Like most practices related to connecting with nature, there is an ebb and flow to work with. Save your all day hikes, 30 mile bike rides, and grand rituals for the weeks when you know that your allergies won’t be as difficult to contend with. Enjoy the local park or sit on your balcony for 10 minutes on the days when you feel like your whole body is betraying you. It’s OK that sometimes your health won’t allow you to meet your grove under the locus trees when they are in full bloom. It’s OK to adapt your practice to work with what your body needs at that moment in response to what the environment is like at that moment. Allergies are surprisingly good at keeping you in the moment.
- Medicate – Sometimes, you need to just take medicine. I’m all for first trying a strong cup of nettle tea (which is pretty great for spring time allergies). There are a multitude of natural allergy treatments that you can talk to with your doctor or naturopath about. You might also just need to take a good antihistamine. Also keep in mind that serious allergies that require an epipen should not be ignored. I know that stuff is off-the-wall-crazy-expensive, but don’t leave home without the emergency medicine you might need especially if you are going to be heading out for an involved ritual in the woods or to a Druid camp.
Of course, I’m not a doctor. You should always, always listen to the wisdom of the health care providers you’ve chosen and the wisdom of your own body. I just want to encourage you to work with your body and not let it limit you from enjoying the practices you want to. My allergies have ranged from little sneezes and headaches to full blown hives and breathing difficulties. Your experience will be different.