Oct 22, 2012


      The bee pollen approach to hay fever resembles homeopathy, for both strategies introduce small amounts of allergenic substances in hopes that the body will respond and overcome the illness. The difference is in the dosage.
      Homeopathic hay fever preparations are extremely dilute solutions of the yeasts, molds, grasses, tree pollens, fungi, animal dander, dust mites and other airborne allergens that typically cause reactions. Respiratory illnesses such as hay fever are among the conditions homeopathy is best known for treating. A similar strategy is used by people who take ragweed tincture in the spring and early summer, before this plant flowers.
     The Heritage Store in Virginia sells products recommended by Edgar Cayce, the American psychic whose well documented medical insights cured thousands during the 1930s and '40s. Edgar Cayce recommended ragweed to over a hundred individuals as a liver tonic and nonhabit-forming laxative and prescribed it to help desensitize pollen-sensitive systems when taken ahead of pollen season. Users have reported relief from other allergies after taking ragweed tincture for several weeks.

       The Heritage Store's product contains only ragweed and grain alcohol. Inspired when I read this at the peak of ragweed season as I was sneezing my head off, I gathered blossoms from the inconspicuous common ragweed (Artemesia artemisifolia) and the tree-tall great or giant ragweed (A. trifida), covered the pollen-rich flowers with vodka and made my own tincture. The following spring I began taking half a dropperful daily. All through ragweed season, which lasts to the end of October, I continued the ragweed experiment and seldom sneezed, even when pollen counts hit record highs.