Spring can really hang you up

Spring can really hang you up

[pictured above, an alder (Alnus rubra) male catkin that releases pollen] As I gaze out the window here in the Pacific Northwest, thankfully the heavy rain is washing away the high levels of atmospheric pollen that has accumulated in recent weeks. The early spring courtesy of El Niño brought with it clouds of tree pollen from a variety of species, including alder, cedar, birch, cottonwood, maple and willow, and it has been giving some people a fair amount of grief. The other day when I looked at our car, it seemed to my 47 year old eyes that some kind of yellow-green algae was growing in between the windows and rubber seals. But on closer inspection it was actually pollen, which had found its way into every little seam of the car, accumulating like a kind of glue. Then I remembered how rather than being comprised of 'bisquick' (as is often the case), one of the original bannock recipes eaten by First Nations peoples calls for cattail pollen, which exudes in abundance for only a short f … [Read more...]

Dealing with cold and flu

Dealing with cold and flu

(pictured above Ligusticum canbyi) Well, it's that time of year, and people are dropping like flies. Why is it that almost everyone succumbs to sickness during that fall, and how can we prevent it? From the perspective of medical science, a cold or flu is caused by one of over 200 different viruses, most commonly one of the rhinoviruses, coronaviruses, influenza viruses or the adenoviruses. Typical symptoms include cough, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, and fever, and while most people get better in about seven to ten days, some symptoms can last up to three weeks or longer. While the science isn't clear, it is generally thought that susceptibility to viral infection occurs during this time due to factors such as decreased humidity, which increases viral transmission rates by allowing tiny viral droplets to disperse farther and stay in the air longer, as well as the fact that most of use spend more time indoors, which enhances viral transmission. But apart from that, medical … [Read more...]