Allergy Season

At least one person commented on my Flowery Friday post about an allergy to Goldenrod.  Sorry to disappoint you, but it is highly unlikely that you are allergic to Goldenrod… at least to the pollen!  Here’s why:

Butterfly on GoldenrodGoldenrod pollen is sticky and heavy.  Goldenrod relies on pollinators to move the pollen around.  Take a trip to a Goldenrod Jungle and just count the number of critters you find on it!  In order for you to get Goldenrod pollen up your nose to cause an allergic reaction, well… let’s just say… you’d have to work pretty hard.  (Check out all the pollinators on Montucky’s Goldenrod by clicking here.)

In fact, Goldenrod is listed in several sources as an herbal medicine.  Crushed flowers have been chewed to relieve sore throat.  A tea made from dried leaves has been used to combat urinary tract troubles and kidney stones.

This is not to say that no one is allergic to Goldenrod.  Some people seem to have a dermatitis reaction when the plant juices get on their skin, for example.

Most people who think they are allergic to Goldenrod are actually having a reaction to another plant whose pollen is so lightweight that it can rely on the wind for pollination.  Indeed, it doesn’t bother with brightly colored flowers or pleasant fragrance to attract anyone.  It just sits in the open, waiting for a breeze.

Ragweed
Common Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia)

According to Peterson’s Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs, plants in the Ambrosia genus account for 90% of pollen allergies!  Still, Common Ragweed is listed as a medicinal.  For example, the pollen is collected to make treatments for ragweed allergies.  Plenty of other uses are listed as well… my favorite:  “American Indians rubbed leaves on insect bites, infected toes, minor skin erruptions, and hives.”  I’ll have to try that next time I get a mosquito bite!  But can I pick a leaf without releasing pollen into my nose? Hmm…

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10 thoughts on “Allergy Season

  1. I know I’m highly allergic to ragweed, but I’ve never had any problems getting close to goldenrod for taking macro photos…I even took a sniff of it once long ago to test for fragrance and got not even a single sneeze from doing so. These days, however, I no longer suffer from seasonal allergies due to the effective combo of cetirizine hydrochloride and montelukast sodium. It’s really quite miraculous.

    I think I’ll pass, though, on placing rubbed ragweed leaves on skin irritations…I don’t want to push my luck 😛 although it does sound a bit holistic when I think about it. Perhaps the leaves, like those of goldenrod, are a bit irritating in and of themselves…hence the “like cures like” principle would come into play.

  2. That was me. Trust me, get me near goldenrod and I start sneezing and my airways become constricted. About the sore throat medicine, I cannot use it, because it will cause worse symptoms for me.

  3. Poor Science Guy. Do you have medicine that works for you? Around here, you would have to pretty much stay inside from late July till Thanksgiving (maybe not QUITE that long) to avoid it!

  4. Hi Scienceguy. I’m still skeptical that goldenrod is the source of your misery. Ragweed and goldenrod grow in the same environment often right next to each other. In fact this year every goldenrod I’ve looked at and photographed has been entwined with ragweed. I know I’m allergic to ragweed but I’ve cut goldenrod and brought it indoors with no problems.

    The season will be over soon.

  5. I don’t know for sure what I’m allergic too but I went outside a couple of days ago and did some much needed weeding. I obtained the worst sore throat, cough, sore neck, difficulty breathing and chest discomfort. I am 58 and just realized in the last few years that this has been happening every year once or twice a year. This did not happen to me until my fifties. It makes me so sick I feel like I have the worst flu in the world. I don’t mean to complain but does anyone think this might be ragweed and have any solutions for natural remedies. I do have mild asthma and use an inhaler. I would appreciate any info anyone could give me. Thank you so very much.

    • I don’t have an answer for you and this might not be the best place to solicit help, as I don’t get a huge amount of traffic. But best of luck to you… i hope you figure out what the culprit is and can minimize the damages…

  6. Pingback: Monday morning garden stroll #6 :: Outlaw Garden

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