Thankfully, the snow, ice and frigid temperatures of Charlotte’s unusually brutal winter have become just a bad memory.
But as colorful, fragrant trees and flowers are blooming all around us, there is another sinister element looming: Spring allergies.
Wendy Wilson, a master herbalist and founder of Apothecary Herbs Inc., of Huntersville, says alternatives to traditional medicine offer help in dealing with the allergies that spring brings.
She cautions that her advice is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease. So she encourages anyone wanting to try natural therapies to seek the advice of a doctor before using any product or natural therapy.
But she says simple steps, like taking herbs such as gingseng, echinacea and mullein and cutting back or eliminating dairy from your diet, can either boost your immune system to fight allergies or reduce the symptoms.
Wilson, 54, graduated from UNC Charlotte with a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1983. Soon after graduation, she began working as a physician’s assistant and gave birth to a son, who became seriously ill, she said. She tried working with several physicians without success.
“I finally turned to a naturopath for help,” Wilson said. “The outcome was impressive.” The naturopath “recommended a course of therapy, and my son made a full recovery within 24 hours, which was absolutely astounding to me.”
Wilson said the naturopath recommended “combination therapies” – herbal medicines, massage, reflexology and hydrotherapy, which are designed to work together to stimulate the body’s defense mechanisms to work better.
This experience launched her journey into the world of natural healing. After studying in the Master Herbalist Program at the School of Natural Healing in Springville, Utah, Wilson wrote a book, “The Power Herbs: 13 Herbs Every Medicine Cabinet Should Have.”
She also studied at the University of Natural Healing in Charlottesville, Va., and studied Immune System Microbiology in Monterey, Calif.
In 2000, she founded Apothecary Herbs Inc., which specializes in immune boosting and organ-cleansing formulas. Apothecary Herbs also manufactures herbal formulas for energy, blood pressure, weight loss, headaches, thyroid problems and anxiety, among others.
Wilson writes the online newsletters and columns Health Quest and International Forecaster. She also hosts two online radio shows.
She now lives in Huntersville, and expanded her business in 2010 by opening an office in Fort Mill, S.C., where she manages the ordering process for her products and oversees the manufacturing practices.
The most rewarding aspect of her career, Wilson claims, is that it empowers people. “Taking control of your health puts the power back into the hands of the individual so they can help themselves,” she said.
So, if you survive and thrive during spring allergy season, good for you, but remember: There’s always autumn.
Joan Palace is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Joan? E-mail her at email@example.com
Wilson’s top tips for allergies
Eliminate dairy from your diet. “If you want to eliminate the majority of your allergy symptoms, you have to eliminate dairy,” Wendy Wilson said. Dairy products can cause an inflammatory response and can coat the system with “bad” mucous. “Good mucous is there to make sure all your tissues are moistened,” Wilson said. “Bad mucous is usually an inflammatory response. If you have a lot of toxins sitting in your body, they should be removed. Your organs all communicate chemically, to move toxins out. If there is a ‘constipation’ in any one of your organs, the bad mucous builds up. It’s kind of like a stagnant swimming pool. Nothing is moving around.”
Talk to your doctor. “Some people have a lifestyle that has suppressed their immune system to the point that it’s like trying to bring it back from the dead.” Wilson says people should seek medical advice on how to safely jump-start a sluggish immune system and embark on a path to a healthier lifestyle. “Your immune system is like a muscle. It has to be exercised,” Wilson said. But, she cautions, “There are doctors who say you can’t really boost your immune system.”
Stay healthy and pay attention to what your body is telling you. Wilson recommends certain herbs to reduce the swelling that comes with various irritants during allergy season. “People who are sensitive to grasses would do well with astragalus root and marshmallow root. Astragalus root will strengthen your immune system without over-stimulating it, and marshmallow root will soothe mucous membranes.”
Some herbs and their properties:
▪ Mullein tincture to soothe glands (earaches and sore throats.) Mullein helps remove toxins from the body.
▪ Echinacea to boost the immune system and to shorten the duration of illnesses and reaction to allergens.
▪ American ginseng to strengthen the immune system against harmful viruses.