Monday, May 29, 2006

Hay fever plus

It's that time of year: watery eyes, runny noses, wheezy chests, etc. Some expert says the pollen count would peak at 6.02pm today.

It's been a funny sort of day weather-wise. We've been out at an expensive 'theme park'. It was sunny, and it rained, it cleared and was sunny again, and it rained, then sunshine, and just a few minutes ago at home, we had hailstones.

My hay fever has been tolerable so far this year. (In any case I think I usually have it bad later in June/July rather than May). I am not complaining. I have a couple of bad sniffles in the morning and later in the evening, and that's about it. It's pretty much what I had when I first moved from Singapore to Amsterdam years ago.

I was well-known amongst my friends for having a constantly runny nose. I never left home without stacks of paper tissue. It was not uncommon for me to go through a whole box or two of tissue in a day. I even had a 'pattern' in the way I folded the tissue, blew my nose, and then rolled it up till the next dry bit. Urgh!

A change of location and climate seemed to have cured my hay fever. When I talked to my mum on the phone, her first question was often, 'How's your nose?'

I was feeling so blissful about the situation I got a bit smug and used to laugh at a colleague. Well, then about five years after I moved to London, the hay fever set in again, this time with a vengeance. (Ironically, I get a reprieve from the symptoms when I return to Singapore. How very odd.)

I remember waking up one morning about four years ago and felt like my eyeball had been detached. It scared the hell out of me. The GP assured me that it was merely an effect of hay fever (that was new to me).

Then I started drinking honey regularly. Husband puts it in my tea. And I think -- after all these years -- it has helped to some extent. The other thing we've been doing -- since our son was born six years ago -- is to consume a lot more organic food, fruit, milk and juices. Yes, the food bill has gone up, but since we do not usually indulge in 'junk foods', it is affordable.

What puzzles the scientists is why there are many more people suffering from hay fever these days. For someone whose nose could be set off by the smell of certain (cheap as well as expensive, brand-name) perfumes, I have no doubt that particulates in the air (from exhaust fumes, eg) could be a likely reason.

Take the smell of freshly-laid carpets. Nice smell? Not to me. It's formaldehyde. I think of it as 'brain-addling' fumes. I recently walked into a shoe shop, was overwhelmed by the smell of 'new shoes' (formaldehyde) and couldn't get out of the shop quickly enough.

There is no scientific basis for what I have to say here, but I think chemicals (eg pesticide residues) entering our bloodstream and the stuff that now fills our lungs with every breath we take could cause our bodies to over-react to give us hay fever.

Meanwhile the only people who benefit from this phenomenon are those who make potions, pills and sprays that purport to alleviate the symptoms. I am more interested in getting to the root of the problem.

Consider the shampoos and skincare one sees being advertised in the media. When I was growing up, we read 'teenage magazines' that advised us on what (not) to eat to get healthy hair, nails and skin. Diet was the route to clear skin, strong nails and shiny hair.

These days, hair shampoos are loaded with silicon to make one's hair smooth and tangle-free, and make-up utilizes light diffusers to make wrinkles disappear (at least temporarily for the cameras). As for nails, people just go get a false set in nail bars that stink of brain-addling solvents.

Even washing powders do not clean like they used to. Whiteness is merely an illusion brought about by 'optical brighteners', chemicals that reflect light, making clothes look cleaner than they are. (They also cause an irreversible chemical bond with the skin without actually increasing the hygiene of the wash.)

So, I'll let readers draw their own conclusions.

If, as the Chinese say, bing cong kou ru (illness enters through the mouth), then there's a lot to be said about what we eat to control our wellness.

Well, it's past 6.02pm and if this is indeed the worst day for hay fever sufferers (which I don't believe is the case), then there is hope for me! But I won't be celebrating till after mid-July. That was when I had the worst symptoms last year.

For those interested, there is also a new hay fever forum at:

Back to Organic-Ally.


Hamza Hydri said...

thanks for sharing this info.

LSP said...

To hamza, you're welcome. Glad you found comments helpful. It's not all 'scientifically proven' though.