Here in Southern California there is a lovely little ornamental tree ubiquitously planted everywhere you look. With small clusters of white flowers appearing in mid to late January, dark green leaves and bark resembling those of apple trees, and later in the season, tiny fruits that look like either miniature apples or pears, this tree may seem innocuous and even pretty. It can be found in private yards, parks, and mostly along the streets of Los Angeles. Beware: it bears pollen that can turn even the nicest day—including indoors if you dare open a window—into absolute hell.
You’ll start noticing oozy rashes on your face and the back of your neck, with an unbearable itchiness that may be impossible to resist. Before you know it the rash can become infected, as is usually the case. Along with this you’ll experience a thick nasal discharge often including blood. Sneezing, coughing, possibly even a secondary bronchial infection for those so disposed, will all combine to have you cursing these trees and the spring that brought them.
What is the name of this miserable plant? No one locally, when asked, ever seems to know. However, diligent internet-gazing has come up with a likely answer: the Flowering Evergreen Pear, or as some know it, the Chinese Evergreen Pear (either way, in Latin, Pyrus kawakamii). The images online bear a striking resemblance to this green monster.
Oh, of course we are all meant to love trees, natural fruit, the entire green movement—but this never has nor will it ever change the fact that many people simply are unable to tolerate the pollens of certain plants. We have to put up with it or find a solution, though, and thank God that the pollination stage will not last all year long. It just seems that way when you’re suffering.
Shots for this tree and many other airborne allergens work for some people, but are very expensive and not often covered by insurance. Allergy shots also frequently have side effects that can include a localized rash—usually when the patient has built up tolerance to the substance being injected, after a number of years. The whole idea, of course, is to build up resistance by taking a small amount of whatever the allergen may be; but it can go awry at times. Additionally, people can become nauseous and/or weak for up to a half-hour immediately following the innoculations. (Some may become that way from seeing the needle before injection!) If you have to drive or operate machinery after your treatment, this may be extremely inconvenient and not tolerated by employers, if you must return to work right away.
Here’s where natural remedies kick in: some may refer to it as a “hair of the dog that bit you.” Along the same line as allergy injections, homeopathy can be a solution (literally). Taking a minute amount of the allergen, combined with other substances determined by the homeopathic practitioner, the patient can be treated by the “like heals like” method. The idea is to incite a natural healing reaction by the body’s immune system.
Another method that can help, especially with the hideous rash, is acupuncture. A licensed acupuncturist will not only be able to assist you with the reactions in general, assisting the body to combat such an intrusion, and restore the yin-yang balance, but with the skin’s eruptions. Unblocking the chi will stimulate healing and allow energy to flow to where it is most needed.
Apple cider vinegar, an old tried-and-true healer, will also aid the allergic sufferer with both the rash and the nasal problems. Soothing to the skin, and (by oral ingestion) a good astringent, ACV can help dry up the mucus overflow.
Honey, from local sources, is another good method to aid in your fight against this and other types of airborne assaults. Carrying pollen from the same area where you live and breathe, as in the case of allergy shots, it will help you form resistance. Exercise caution, of course, as many commercial brands of honey are a blend of types from all over.
For treating skin ailments alone, don’t forget aloe vera—and honey, again, can be added to this external treatment (as a poultice, ointment or lotion) with its antibacterial properties. Where the nose goes, sage as an infusion or tincture is also powerful.
Short of moving to someplace where this flowering tree is not found, or going crazy and chopping them all down, these methods are about the best alternative treatments (not to mention low-cost) for coping with the source. In the meantime, cheer up—soon the stupid trees will be finished pollinating and (barring other allergens) it’ll be safe to go outside again.