Are You Allergic To The Holidays?

Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on December 7, 2016 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Blog

Most of us can’t resist getting into the holiday spirit as fast as we can. Who can blame us? By the time we’ve wolfed down our second helping of Thanksgiving turkey, our local retailers have their holiday lights blazing and jingly-jingles blasting. The hubbub of the season masks the signs that we may be allergic to the holidays. I must admit that this year, the second I heard the first few bars of Charlie Brown’s Christmas (Nov. 30th, 10:49 am), I was hauling an organic tree through our front door. Couple that with a serious case of matzah-ball mayhem in my kitchen (a personal fave soup), and my ranch has now become High Holiday House.

The holiday season is packed with honest-to-goodness goodness. And do you know what ingredients go into making honest-to-goodness goodness? Many good things, and a whole lotta allergens. After seasons and seasons of fighting a cold, feeling bloated and uncomfortable, and just downright irritated, I learned that I had been having a reaction to sugar and spice and everything nice. After consulting my naturopath, I learned how to avoid feeling crappy for Christmas. And now, all is merry and bright!

Here are a few not-always-so-obvious things to look out for:

Trees: Lit of so beautifully, a tree of light can almost take your breath away. Especially if it’s triggering an upper respiratory reaction! Allergic symptoms can surface when the tree goes upĀ and can include: a simple runny nose to asthma attacks, bronchitis or pneumonia.

Many trees are treated to kill pests, and arrive coated in pesticides; fake trees can be filled harsh chemicals due to manufacturing, and coated with plastic snow – or worse, synthetic fragrance of pine!

Another trigger: mold. Researchers in Connecticut found that after 2 weeks of being indoors, a live Christmas tree emitted significant amounts of mold spores into the air. In fact, the amount of mold spores found in a home with a Christmas tree was nearly 10 times the amount of mold normally found inside! Note: Resist putting up that tree until about 2 weeks before X-day!

Treats: Gluten, artificial flavors, and colors, refined sugars can all bring on the bloat. And as far as I’m concerned the holidays are for dressing up and feeling fab – not flab!

Food intolerances can ruin one’s festive spirit. Symptoms can include vomiting, bloating, cramps, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, colic, and other digestive disorders. If you know you have an intolerance, don’t eat the cookie! Have a glass of soy nog, instead.

Wool: Enter the cold air, put on the woolens. But if cold-weather wear has you worse for wear – as in itchy-scratchy – then you might have a wool allergy!

Try layering something soft underneath, like cotton or silk. Another alternative is to choose finely woven wool, such as cashmere or merino – totally divine.

In-Laws: Sorry folks, not much I can do about this one. Except to say pour on the love, and smother that allergy with sweetness.

Without completely avoiding the above, there are a few things one can do to temper the triggers. Take probiotics to help settle your stomachs, and digestive enzymes to help you enjoy a few cookies. Indulge in a super-soft bamboo/cotton blended t-shirt, and layer it under your sweaters. And let Aunt Eliza have her way with the cranberries. You’ll be feeling the giving spirit in no time!

Read also: Ashwagandha – India’a Ancient Herb for Anxiety

Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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