Today's story is about how making small changes can make a big difference in your life. Yes... the title of this article is about Oolong tea and it's not a lie; this article IS about Oolong tea and how making a small change, like adding it to my diet, made a big difference in my life, and how you can reap the same benefits.
Nausea sucks, but it really sucks when it's caused by a migraine. Worse still, is nausea from a migraine, from a sinus infection. If you suffer from my favorite trio of pain, you can understand the horror it is to have recurring sinus infections.
For the last five years, I had sinus infections about once a month, which, to the inexperienced means I was sick for 3-5 days, recuperating for 3-5 days, well for a week or two, and then slowly getting ill again to complete the cycle. Needless to say, (or write) it was no fun.
Then again, as someone with an impaired immune system, I seem to be a magnet for all bacteria everywhere. A papercut can turn into a staph infection (seriously, that's happened), an ob/gyn visit can turn into a UTI, and don't even get me started on skin fungus, bacterial infections, or the inability to leave the house without catching something. To put it simply, I've come to an understanding that I'm prone to get sick.
But the sinus infections were driving me mad, and as I was studying for The Allergy Series, I read a lot about a Chinese tea named Oolong. I learned that it helped with congestion, sinus problems, allergies, and even helped people lose weight.
Oolong comes from the same plant that green tea and black tea come from, but each is processed differently creating three distinctly unique teas. Being the guinea pig that I am, I ordered 100 bags and began drinking it daily.
Oolong is the middle tea between the (light) green tea and (dark) black tea. Everywhere I read, it was described as having a fruity flavor, but as a connoisseur of fruit tea, I can promise you that it most certainly does not taste like fruit.
Since I'm your friend, and we're here together in this space, I'll tell you it tastes like nothing; like a hot cup of weak, flavorless black tea. It's about as memorable as a Steven Seagull movie. It's nearly as rich and flavorful as a bowl of buttered noodles. It's about as exciting as listening to NPR. The point being, oolong tea is forgettable and boring, so why am I telling you about it?
Because it cured my sinus infections.
Oolong is semi-fermented and loaded with flavanoids and phytochemicals. It has an anti-allergic effect, promotes weight loss, and has antioxidants like Polyphenol that help lower blood glucose levels in diabetics.
Oolong has 49.5 mg of catechins and 52 mg of total flavonoids, but it also has Manganese, Potassium, Magnesium, and L-theanine. And because it's made from the camellia sinensis plant, the same plant used to make green and black tea, oolong also has between 30-60 mg of caffeine (about half as much as a cup of coffee).
Based on the studies I read from Japan and China, I choose to drink four cups a day in small doses. Usually, I had a hot cup on my desk next to me when writing, taking small sips between sentences. It's known that flavonoids work best when consumed in small batches, so I spaced my four cups out throughout the day- and I did this for 2 months.
Even though Oolong tea has been used for over 3,000 years, only 2% of tea drinkers consume it. It's used primarily in China and Taiwan, but more and more people are seeing oolong's health benefits, including this girl right here. But let's read what the experts have to say first:
"In a clinical trial done in Japan, people with allergic eczema that had not improved with medication were given oolong tea to drink for six months. While drinking the oolong tea, the majority of the people in the study experienced a moderate to marked improvement in eczema within one month, with benefits being first noticeable after one to two weeks." writes Dr. Leo Galland in his book "The Allergy Solution."
After about three days of drinking oolong tea, I noticed I woke up in the mornings without the usual congestion and stuffiness. At first, I thought it was a coincidence, but with each waking morning, I felt better and better. Two weeks later I chose to stop drinking it and test if my symptoms would come back, and if so, how long it would take.
Just as it had taken three days to start feeling better, it took about three days for me to start feeling snotty again. I repeated this set-up over and over for a total of 3 months and came to the same conclusion each time: oolong tea was making a big difference in my sinus health, and just by making the small change of adding a few cups of it to my diet.
I had no nausea, no migraine (due to sinuses), and no sinus infection when I had 2-4 cups of oolong tea a day along with my regular healthy diet. But it wasn't just my nose that felt better, my jeans did too. Somehow, in God's mercy, I also lost some belly fat and fit better into my jeans. It could have been that I had more energy from the caffeine and that's what caused the weight loss, but I don't think it was. Oolong tea is known for helping to burn more fat even if you change nothing else in your diet.
Plus, based on a Chinese study, just 10oz a week of oolong tea lowers total cholesterol, and based on Japanese research, men who drank one or more cups of oolong a day had a lower risk of heart disease. Being that heart disease is a major cause of death here in the U.S., oolong is undoubtedly worth a try for cardiovascular health.
It's also been studied on cancer patients, but the National Cancer Institute doesn't recognize oolong as preventing or decreasing the risk of cancer. But studies say otherwise: Women in China who drank oolong had a reduced risk of ovarian cancer. What is proven is that oolong tea boosts the immune system by preventing cellular damage.
In my own story, I can say oolong tea has made a difference. After five years of taking Claritin and Excedrin, I haven't had to touch either thanks to oolong tea. Whether that will be forever I'm not sure, but I made a small change that made a big difference in my life.
Oolong tea isn't just beneficial for allergies or sinus problems, but for weight loss, heart health, and lowering blood sugar levels.... even if it tastes like a hot cup of nothing... it sure does something amazing.
After all, nearly all the info we're gonna cover is about your covers and what's under them. You wouldn't think dust mites would make for excellent pillow talk, but you'd be wrong.
Since I have your rapt attention and see you're snuggling your pillow in your arms, I got just the thing to get you warmed up (if ya know what I mean). What if I told you that your pillow weighs more now than it did when you bought it? That'd be pretty weird right? But I'm about to blow your socks off.
After about three years, pillows weigh up to 10% more from (here's where it gets sexy) living dust mites, dead dust mites, and their excrement.
You're literally laying your face in poop and dead bodies night after night. Now some of you may be thinking that dust mites are teeny tiny bugs and doubt they could weigh that much. Sure, I dig that my little love bug, but about 100,000 dust mites are living in just 3 inches of space. How big is your pillow? Each dust mite produces about 20 fecal pellets a day. In case you're not a quick study, that's 20 million pieces of poop in just a space of 3 inches.
Because you've sat up and thrown your pillow across the room in horror, let's take it to second base and talk dirty.
Your mattress could have up 2 million dust mites in it, and I'm not going to do the math to tell you how many fecal pellets that is because I don't want you to get overexcited. But I will tantalize you with this fact: Dust mites live for about ten weeks. If half the population is female, that means 1 million dust mites are laying 1-3 eggs a day.
Third base in bed with a dust mite means something entirely different for him than it does to you. It's way more than Netflix and chill. Dust mites love to eat human skin. There's nothing tastier than soft, warm skin to a dust mite. They don't even need to come up for water, they pull it right outta the air and keep on chowing down on your skin flakes. It's one of the reasons they need humidity to survive, they literally drink from the air and eat from your epidermis.
But, I've teased you enough, it's time to get to the fourth base. If you're a typical reader, we've already been in bed together for over three minutes; and I don't wanna go beyond what you're already used to, so let's make this quick.
Dust mites live everywhere (in 8 out of 10 homes) but prefer soft places like bedding, blankets, pillows and stuffed animals. But they also resemble spiders. Spiders. Remember that the next time you wanna have a sexy pillow fight; you're just slamming your partner in the face with itsy, bitsy spider-like dust mites...
But they also live in carpeting, on fabric sofas, and even your clothes, so that pile of clothes you just threw on the floor probably has dust mites in them just waiting for your delicious skin sheddings.
After all that stimulating talk about your skin flakes and mite excrement, you may fall asleep right where you lay and when you wake up, have unexpected symptoms. You know what I'm talking about: congestion, stuffy nose, and the general sense of not being able to breathe. Although you may have had a fun time, you never feel as good the next day after sleeping with dust mites. Most people think they're allergic to dust, but they're really allergic to the mites.
If you find yourself swearing off beds and pillows, you're going about it all wrong; just because 2 million dust mites want to feast on your fresh skin doesn't mean you have to swear off all bedding- especially if I'm in it. Want a sip of my green tea?
1. Buy New Hypoallergenic Pillows
2. Buy Dust-Mite Proof Pillow Covers
3. Buy Dust Mite Proof Mattress Covers
After you've ordered your three new bed buddies, go ahead and wash the sheets you have now, your blanket, and any other fluffy things on your bed. Put Teddy in a freezer bag and leave him in the freezer for 24 hours to kill dust mites then tumble him in the dryer to knock out the dead bodies (like a hardened mite killer).
Wash all your bedding in hot water (130 degrees) to kill every last little skin eater, and do so weekly to keep them away.
By the time the sheets are in the dryer, begin dusting your bedroom from the top down with a wet cloth. Dust collects on windowsills, behind your decorative figurines and picture frames. Don't just knock it around with a dry duster, use a damp rag or cleaning cloth to pick up all the dust.
Lastly, vacuum the floors with a vacuum that has a HEPA air filter to catch all the allergens in your carpet and air. Doing all that cleaning may not feel very sexy, but in three hours when the dust (literally) settles, and your nose is free to pull air in and out, you'll think it's the hottest thing ever.
If you want to keep living a life of dust mite celibacy, decluttering your house, dusting, and washing your bedding are the best first steps, then purchase new pillows and cover them (and your mattress) with Dust-Mite proof covers. It may not sound very sensual, but these small changes make a big difference to your overall enjoyment. A little to the left, a little to the right, and before you know it, you've hit a home run in the dust mite game.
Ragweed allergies affect 15-20% of the American population each year and are the major contributing factors in hayfever, but I bet if I asked you to pick it out of a weed line up, you'd have no clue who the guilty party was. Don't feel bad; I couldn't either. I assumed ragweed looked like tall grass maybe, with bright green blades. Never did I expect it to bloom small bright yellow flowers and I would of just as quickly mistook it for some field flowers.
Before we get too far into the weeds, let's get a better understanding of the ragweed plant and what it actually looks like by watching the video below.
What Is Ragweed?
Ragweed is a plant that grows all over the United States, inside of cities, in concrete cracks and empty parking lots. Ragweed allergies contribute to allergic rhinitis and hay fever making millions of Americans sick from late July to October. But the plant continues to produce pollen all the way to the first freeze in many areas.
Dr. Devi Nambudripad writes in his book "Say Goodbye To Illness" " Hay fever and rhinitis are both characterized by symptoms of watery discharge from the nose, eyes, and throat, loss of taste and smell, and other symptoms similar to those accompanying colds." You may have a tickle that makes you want to rub your nose all the time or feel like you have a ball of Nickelodeon slime in your chest.
Ragweed in Urban Areas
Imagine with me for a moment that we're taking a trip to the museum in the city together. It's hot as we get into the car, and rows of ragweeds would speed past our side windows as we drove down the highway. Once we found our parking spot, we'd walk right past the stray weeds in all the cracks and barren spaces of the concrete jungle. The heat of the day and air pollution would create an ozone effect making it even harder for our lungs to process air.
But ragweed can't allow air pollution to have all the fun; a study by the University of California/Los Angles School of Medicine sited even back in 1997 that "...this synergy between DEP (diesel exhaust pollution) and natural allergen exposure is suggested as a key feature in increasing allergen-induced respiratory allergic disease."
Ragweed thrives from the dirtier air from the effects of climate change. There's nothing better than a hotter, more extended season to produce even more pollen spores, up to one billion grains per ragweed plant.
A trip to the museum downtown would be toxic to our lungs, so what happens to the millions of people living in urban areas?
Even if you're nowhere near taxi cabs, buses or 20 story buildings, ragweed still makes a vigorous effort to make sure you're sneezing into the fall. Ragweed pollen has been found 400 miles out to sea, and 2 miles high in the air.
And just like your overly friendly neighbor, the more you're exposed to ragweed pollen, the sicker it makes you. Dr. Clifford Bassett in his book "The New Allergy Solution" writes, "One study showed that nasal symptoms at the end of pollen season were worse than at the start, though the level of ragweed pollen in the air is roughly equal." It's a pretty big problem, but there are a few ways we can make ragweed season a little easier.
Foods To Avoid
Just like other allergies, pan-allergens in food can trigger ragweed allergies. Pan-allergens are plant proteins that are found (in this case) in both ragweed and everyday foods you may consume. Here's a general list of foods you should avoid during ragweed allergy season.
1. Chamomile Tea
Nothing like a soothing cup of tea, right? You'd be wrong. Chamomile is related to the ragweed plant, so maybe stay away from your favorite cup of tea at night for a while.
Cantaloupe, Honeydew, and watermelon are all big no-nos.
Tomatoes are a potent trigger for most seasonal allergies, not only ragweed.
These seemingly flavorless veggies can often be tolerated once peeled or cooked.
Oh Ya, What Happens If I Eat Them?
Excellent question my inquisitive reader. If you're allergic to ragweed and choose to have a tomato and zucchini dinner with bananas and melon for dessert and a cup of chamomile to wash it all down, you're more than likely going to get pretty sick. Symptoms like itching and swelling of the throat, swelling of lips and tongue, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and even hives could befall you.
If you're trying to get out of a horrible dinner date, eating these five foods would get you outta there pretty quick, although some symptoms can take several hours to take effect.
If however, you have a dinner date you don't want to be snotting all over, try these tips to feel better faster.
1. Dr. Leo Galland swears by exercise, cold showers, and removing wheat from your diet to reverse the effects of hayfever from ragweed allergies.
2. Make sure you keep windows closed in the car, at home and work, and then use a HEPA air filter to capture the ragweed pollens before they get into your face.
3. Take a shower before bed to wash away pollen from your hair and body, keeping your sleeping area clean.
4. Since you're not drinking chamomile tea anymore, try turmeric tea instead. It's anti-inflammatory and a natural painkiller.
5. Leave your shoes outside. Don't track pollen into your house with your sneakers. Get some fluffy house shoes and have them waiting by the door when you come home.
Ragweed loves pollution, traffic, and boiling heat. It can travel for hundreds of miles by the wind and find your nose. It's hardy and has probably been around long enough to have made dinosaurs sneeze. But you have some things ragweed doesn't. You have the information to fight back and now could even point out this lousy weed in a line-up. Way to go solider, you're one step closer to breathing easy!
For more information on how to prepare for allergy season, click HERE. To learn more about tips for eating with allergies, click HERE.
Just about everyone has a yard, and almost every yard has grass. We grow it, water it, feed, and mow it. As a country, Americans spent about 29 billion (with a 'b') dollars on lawn care in 2015. Ironically the pharmaceutical allergy industry also earned close to 7 billion dollars in 2016. If I do the math in my head, and I'm terrible at math, I think we 're paying about $100 each, a year, to have green grass so 50 million people with grass allergies can buy more Zyrtec and Claritin. Seriously?
Knowing what you're allergic to and when you're allergy season is matters. Make sure you use a reliable pollen forecast map or app to know what to plan for. Keep a list of foods that have cross-reactive proteins and that trigger an allergic response.
5 Neat Facts
1. It can take up to three seasons of pollen exposure before symptoms arise, so if you moved from Georgia to Vermont and suddenly get allergies after living there for several years, now you know.
2. Tall, wild grass causes 2 out of every 10 people to have an allergic response, so remember to cut your grass.
3. Hayfever has nothing to do with hay or fevers; grass and ragweed pollen actually cause it.
4. Dr. Bassett writes in his book, "The New Allergy Solution," "Research shows that the air in a thunderstorm carries a concentration of grass pollen four to twelve times normal counts." Holy flying pollen!
5. Late summer is when southern grasses like Johnson and Bermuda are making the most pollen.
3 Positive Steps You Can Take
1. Get more good bacteria in by taking Lactobacillus paracasei (LP-11) from foods like fermented dairy products to reduce your allergic response.
2. Drink up to 4 cups of Oolong tea a day for reducing nasal congestion and boosting immune support.
3. Don't use Bermuda or Fescue grass in your yard because they are the worst pollen offenders.
Do seasonal allergies give you an itchy nose, congestion, or give you fits of sneezing and wheezing? You're in good company because an estimated fifty million Americans suffer from allergies every year. For every season, you can bet there's an allergy to go along with it.
Know Your Season
First, it's crucial to know when allergy season is in your area, and I'll give you a hint: it's allergy season right now. No matter where you live, tree pollen usually strikes first in the early spring and is followed by grass and then weed pollen in mid to late summer.
Here are two ways you can get ahead of the pollen game:
1. Use a Pollen Forecast Map
You can try Pollen.com or WeatherBug.com
2. Download an App to get pollen count updates
Both Pollen.com and WeatherBug.com have free Apps you can download on iPhone and Android.
Prepare For Allergy Season
In the off-season, try adding local raw honey to your daily diet. Not every allergist agrees this helps, but I know through personal experience that changing the way you consume an allergen can help your body become less sensitized to it. The honey needs to be local so its pollen is local too. If it doesn't make a difference in your allergies, you can rest assured it's antibacterial benefits are promoting improved well-being.
To keep pollen outside where it belongs, and not in your house, here are three simple tricks that'll make a considerable difference to your life.
1. Change Your Airfilters (and make sure they're HEPA filters)
2. Leave Your Shoes Outside
3. Take Mom's Advise to Declutter and Dust
Planning Outside Time
Preparing a day trip? Ragweed grows faster in the city, and its pollen is 5x as potent than it is in rural areas. If we add in the exhaust from buses and traffic, it's a recipe for trouble.
Here are three strategies for planning your next day out.
1. Stay Home On Windy Days
While self-explanatory, if it's windy outside, you're going to be slapped in the face with pollen all day and covered from head to toe when you get home. Check the weather. If it's a lousy pollen day and windy, do yourself the favor of staying home and replanning the visit.
2. Visit The City In The Morning
Pollen sticks to liquid, and if dew is still on the grass, you know you're good to go, but there's something else most allergy sufferers don't realize makes their situation worse: Constant traffic in a city plus the heat from the afternoon sun create ground-level ozone (a chemical reaction) which restricts your lungs and causes congestion and coughing, worsening allergy symptoms. The hotter it gets outside, the more you're at risk, so it's better to stay home or plan your trip for the next morning.
3. Go Outside After It Rains
Rain is the answer to prayer in mid to late Spring, spoken and coughed out by every red-eyed, stuffy nosed person. It's nature's way of washing away what was and clearing the way for what will be. While you're in this perfect haven of in-between time, take advantage of it by heading outside.
Using a pollen forecast to prepare and plan is the best way to go. Once you pick your day, implement my tips for enjoying your day out!