Killer Chamomile

And you thought today would be all about Michele Bachmann saying that God is sending Washington a message via the earthquake and hurricane or about Rush ranting that the President wanted the hurricane to be more disastrous. Nope, today is about the dangers of Chamomile. Don’t get me wrong. I like tea. So much so that I buy a certain Chai blend in bulk, pounds at a time. But until Friday, I had never tried Chamomile. I believe this stems from my childhood. I associated it with that naughty Peter Rabbit whose mother put him to bed with a cup of the stuff after his adventures in Mr. Macgregor’s garden.

Chamomile, it seemed to me was a punishment. But on Friday, while visiting my favorite hospice patient, I took her up on her offer of a cup of it. Late that night, upon being awakened from a fitful sleep, literally gasping for air and scaring myself, my spouse and my cat in the process, it occurred to me that maybe my allergies were kicking in. Funny, the things you think of when you’re gasping for air.

In my sleep-deprived state, I checked the Internets for the pollen count in this burg. Sure enough: high pollen. You’d think that would satisfy me, but no. Reference librarian that I am, I dug further. The EPA says that climate change may increase production and dispersion of airborne allergens. No wonder Michele wants to get rid of the EPA. Can’t have them lyin’ about climate change ya know. That, and because the EPA is likely to frown on the notion she floated today: drilling for oil in the Everglades. But back to the subject at hand: Chamomile.

After several more “sneezures” today, I learned that the pretty little daisy like plant is a relative of the dreaded Ragweed. Those helpful folks at the Asthma and Allergy Foundation tell us that people with Ragweed allergy may also get symptoms when they eat cantaloupe and banana. But here’s the real news flash: Chamomile tea, sunflower seeds and honey containing pollen from Compositae family members occasionally cause severe reactions, including shock.

Normally I pride myself as being one who has more than a modicum of common knowledge, but this fact had, heretofore escaped me. So today’s public service is to warn those of you with Ragweed sensitivities that you might want to stay away from Chamomile.

Burdock root was recommended to counteract the effects of Ragweed (a/k/a hayfever) as was green tea. The good news is: we have some of each on hand. Burdock, however, is considered invasive and the folks advising us on our erosion prevention project told us to eradicate it. Easier said than done.  Burdock is the inspiration for Velcro.

My next step was to go to the cupboard to check Gene’s stash of green tea. It turns out that the Super Green Tea he favors is “super” because it includes Chamomile petals. Oh well, there are always drugs, right? Don’t get me started on pharmaceuticals. That’s a whole ‘nuther blog post.

For now I guess I’ll change the HEPA filter.  Scratch that (pun intended). I’ll ask Gene to change it.

SiriusXM Doctor Radio
  • SiriusXM Doctor Radio
  • Sherry Torkos discusses Alkalol

Sherry Torkos, a well known pharmacist, author, and certified fitness instructor, was a recent guest on the SiriusXM Doctor Radio channel, where she discussed the unique benefits of Alkalol Nasal Wash.

During the segment, Sherry recommends nasal rinsing with Alkalol for people who are searching for a natural, drug-free alternative to OTC antihistamines and decongestants, which can carry the risk of side effects. 

Cinnabar Moth Caterpillar on Ragwort

The Cinnabar moth has been introduced to many parts of the world to control Ragwort. The Caterpillars consume it so voraciously that the food supply is often exhausted and many die of starvation before pupating. They can become cannibalistic when food is scarce.

Madame Esmeralda Nouveau-Beaujolais, 1903 - 2011

Noted clairvoyant, fortune-teller and mystic Madame Esmeralda Nouveau-Beaujolais has died of a brainfart. She was 108 and boy, did she look it.

Born Joyce Smith in Thudpipe, near Essex, Esmeralda became interested in the mystical arts when she had a premonition, aged eight. The vision - a male stranger being bludgeoned to death by an angry woman wielding a clothes peg - reportedly came true two weeks after she had seen it. From then on, Joyce studied as much of the arcane as she could.

Aged 15, Joyce ran away from home to join a circus, but couldn’t find any that would have her, so she started her own. Changing her name to Madame Esmeralda Nouveau-Beaujolais, she told fortunes using numerous methods.

As well as tasseomancy (tea leaf-reading) and hepatomancy (reading the future from animal entrails) Esmeralda devised several divination techniques of her own. One of her favourites was pushing over an old man and reading the future from how he landed. This did get her into trouble with the law several times, most famously when she nudged poet E. H. Bardon off a cliff.

Esmeralda’s popularity never waned, even as the twentieth century drew to a close. In 1992 she appeared in a televised onstage fortune telling session on BBC One, with celebrity guests such as Princess Michael of Kent and Sting. Here she debuted a new clairvoyance technique in which she threw a plate of spaghetti bolognese at the side of a sheep and read the formations of the pasta in the fleece. Sadly, the show had to be halted early after she pushed over guest George Burns and he started crying.

Never able to truly leave the circus life, Esmeralda spent her final years with a travelling troupe of clowns and acrobats, mostly performing for protesting eco-warriors in forests. Here she met her first husband, a 21 year old hippie named “Ragweed”. They were married last June.

Madame Esmeralda Nouveau-Beaujolais, born 1903, died 2011. She is survived by Ragweed, a skull on a plinth that won’t stop laughing during a full moon and several wittily-named cats.

Monday Health Tip: Don't overdo it!

August means ragweed season for much of the country. It’s one of the toughest times of the year for allergy sufferers. But experts warn that overusing a number of common allergy medications used to treat nasal congestion could actually increase sinus problems and lead to some unpleasant side effects. 

For example, did you know that overuse of over-the-counter nasal decongestant sprays can actually increase your risk of getting a sinus infection?  

A recent WebMD article explains that ”OTC decongestant sprays work because they contain chemicals — oxymetazoline, phenylephrine, xylometazoline, and naphazoline — which quickly unclog the nose by constricting the blood vessels in the nasal lining. These sprays provide quick relief, but they also wear off ‘usually in 30 minutes or less,’ says UCLA otolaryngologist Marilene B. Wang, MD. ’The person will experience a rebound, where the nasal congestion is actually worse than before the spray was used.”

Patients seeking a non-pharmacological treatment may turn to using neti pots, saline nasal rinses, and naturally-medicated nasal washes, like Alkalol, which can be used daily without the side effects associated with decongestant sprays. 

According to a recent USA Today article, overusing another common over-the-counter allergy medication can also lead to bothersome side effects.   

“Overdoing it on Benadryl, used for allergies, is not uncommon either, says Sarah Anderson, an assistant professor of clinical pharmacy at the University of Colorado School of Pharmacy.

Though it won’t cause organ failure in amounts higher than the daily recommended dose, Anderson says, ‘the big danger is its sedating side effects. That’s dangerous from a driving standpoint or certain lines of work where heavy machinery is used, for example.’

‘People play loose and free with Benadryl,’ says Ausim Azizi, chair of the department of neurology at Temple University School of Medicine. ‘There are a lot of side effects. One is loss of memory in the immediate period after taking it, and disorientation in older people,’ he says.

Overuse can also cause serious drying side effects, especially in some with other health issues, says Anderson. ‘People with glaucoma and urinary retention, and men with prostate issues, can have more problems,’ she says.”

The issue, experts say, is overuse. Not the products themselves. So please take a moment to read the directions before using any prescription or over-the-counter allergy medication.

Specific questions about allergies? Allergy medications? Or Alkalol? Please find us on Facebook, Twitter, and at alkalolcompany.com. Or send an email to info@alkalolcompany.com. We’re always here to help!