Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Help Write Oregon Laws With Crowdsourced Lawmaking

I got this amazing email from the Oregon secretary of State, Dennis Richardson. He came up with some wonderful ideas to make the Oregon government more transparent and accountable to "we the people". Ideas that "we the people" on both sides of the isle and even those like me who are unaffiliated with a "side" will like. In fact, I liked his ideas so much (things I have thought should be done in the past), that I am listing them here for you. If you are an Oregonian, he wants your feedback and any additional ideas you have to make Oregon more functional, transparent and accountable. I have corresponded with him in the past and he really does want to hear from you and he responds. I have had to reformat his data to put it on this blog and relink all his draft concepts, so if a link is bad or incorrect, blame me, not him. If you are not an Oregonian, perhaps you want your secretary of state to work on similar ideas and you can send this list to your states secretary.

Help Write Oregon Laws
Oregon’s laws affect you, and they should be written with your input. This is an opportunity for you to participate in crowdsourced lawmaking.

As Oregon’s Secretary of State, I work for you. That is why I’m asking for your input as my team drafts law improvement ideas for the 2019 legislative session. We haven’t even discussed most of these concepts with legislators yet, so you are seeing this list first. 

My mission is to increase transparency, accountability, and integrity in the four focus areas I oversee: Elections, Audits, Corporations (business registration/assistance), and Archives (public records and administrative rules). Each of the concepts below is intended to improve one of these areas.

All of these concepts are works in progress, and there is still much more drafting to be done. As you consider them, please keep in mind that there are potentially some things we’ve overlooked, so please let us know of any issues you may notice. We may choose not to move forward on some of these concepts, but I believe they are all worthy of serious consideration.

Will you help us make these concepts better? Please send your thoughts or suggestions to my Governmental & Legal Affairs Director, Steve Elzinga, at stephen.elzinga@oregon.gov by September 25. 

This is democracy in action. Embrace your inner policy wonk, and let’s dive into this together!

Transparency and Accountability Concepts
 
Financial Transparency
Oregonians deserve to know how state government spends their hard-earned tax dollars. Full transparency is needed to ensure every agency is accountable while restoring public trust in state government. Years ago, the state launched the Oregon Transparency Website and began posting selected financial information online. Although a good first step, more transparency is needed.

Under the current process, expenditure reports for state agencies are out-of-date, since they are belatedly updated only once a year. Furthermore, non-payroll data does not include the payment date, agency division, budget sub-category, invoice description, vendor city, or reference document numbers. Payroll data does include annual salaries, but omits the many associated monthly payments for overtime, special pay, benefits, retirement, etc. that make up the true cost for each employee. Missing details inhibit transparency about when or where agencies are actually spending money.

For over a year, the Secretary of State’s office has posted significantly more financial details and updated monthly expenditure reports with data from the Department of Administrative Services system used by most agencies. This draft concept would require the Oregon Transparency Website to report similar available financial data for all state agencies.

Audit Accountability
The audit process is critical for identifying needed improvements for state agencies. However, key aspects of the current audit process are not currently codified. This draft concept would ensure that audits include specific recommendations and that agencies specify whether they agree or disagree with those recommendations. This bill would require agencies to report on the implementation status of agreed-to recommendations, and it would require the Audits team to brief appropriate legislative committees on findings.

Audit Whistleblower Protections
Whistleblowers are key to exposing important information about ongoing problems in state agencies. In order to increase transparency and accountability in Oregon government, whistleblowers should be encouraged to share information with auditors by keeping whistleblower reports confidential. Similar to confidential press sources, the prospect of retaliation makes many whistleblowers hesitant to come forward if their identity will be known to their managers, co-workers, and others. 

We consolidated several possible solutions into a draft concept to protect the identity of whistleblowers who request to remain confidential when talking with auditors. Also, it would allow the Director of the Division of Audits, with written approval from the Secretary of State and subject to review by an independent entity, to keep specific information confidential if necessary to protect the identity of a whistleblower. Protecting whistleblowers will provide more overall transparency to the public because information that would not otherwise come out will now be available.

State Email Records Access
With the increased availability of auto-delete features in private email services, it is critical to ensure that state public records are properly retained and available. Use of private email accounts for state business by disgraced former Governor John Kitzhaber and First Lady Cylvia Hayes made it difficult to obtain these public records. This draft concept seeks to prevent state officials and employees from using private email to conduct state business, unless all private emails concerning state business are promptly forwarded to a state account.

Agency Public Records Response Accountability
We are working with the Public Records Advocate on a draft concept that would require state agencies to report certain statistics relating to their response to public records requests. This would be similar to the requirements in the federal Freedom of Information Act and would help hold agencies accountable for how long they take to respond to requests for public records.

Public Records Advisory Council Fixes
We are working with the Public Records Advocate on a draft concept that would make the Public Records Advisory Council permanent to continue the work they are doing on public records reform.

Helping Small Business Concepts
 
Electronic Notice and Tribal Economic Development
Almost every business in Oregon, both small and large, interact with Oregon’s business registration system. The system is one of the best in the nation, but there is still room for the two improvements in this draft concept.

First, it will provide a more user-friendly experience for Oregon small business owners and nonprofits, while reducing the approximately $400,000 we spend each biennium to mail out over 700,000 notifications. We envision this as being similar to how most utility, banking, and other private sector businesses allow customers to choose to receive email notifications. Specifically, we would like to email our annual notifications and allow business owners and nonprofits to just click on a link in the email to take care of their annual report obligations online. At the same time, we recognize that some business owners will likely want to continue using paper notices and forms, so we will continue to make both options available.

Second, it will allow Oregon businesses owned by tribes or enrolled tribal members to register in a manner that respects tribal sovereignty while receiving the same rate as other Oregon businesses. This will help promote new tribal businesses and enhance economic development.

Red Tape Reduction
We need to reduce the number of unnecessary regulations and rules in Oregon, especially those that hurt Oregon’s small businesses. We’ve launched a website with key facts about Oregon red tape. For example, did you know that Oregon’s Administrative Rules contain over 14.8 million words, which would take the average person 821 hours to read? Also, Oregon can look to the model set by progressive British Columbia, Canada. Their focused effort on reducing unnecessary regulation resulted in over 40% reduction in their regulatory burden since 2001.

As an incremental step toward reducing red tape, this draft concept would require administrative rules be reviewed every five years and that reviews must examine whether a rule is currently the least restrictive alternative to achieving the rule’s purpose. The goal of this bill is more efficient regulation, not deregulation, to help Oregon small businesses thrive.

Elections Reform Concepts
2020 Primary Date Change
 
Currently, only a handful of states vote for president after Oregon’s May primary. Moving our primary earlier could elevate Oregon’s priorities in the national discussion, give Oregonians more access to presidential candidates, and increase turnout. This draft concept would move the 2020 Primary Election to March instead of May. All contests would be moved, as well as connected deadlines (e.g. candidate filing) to avoid having them fall during the winter holiday. The Secretary of State would have the ability to move the date of the primary (and adjust connected deadlines) in order to coordinate a regional primary with other west coast states.

Nonaffiliated Primary
Although nearly one-third of Oregon voters are not affiliated with a political party, these nonaffiliated voters often feel left out of Oregon’s primary elections. In order to increase voter engagement, this draft concept would create a nonaffiliated primary that allows nonaffiliated voters to have ballot access and empowers nonaffiliated voters to have a larger voice in the primary. Nonaffiliated candidates could file for office like major party candidates, and nonaffiliated voters would have the opportunity to nominate one of the nonaffiliated candidates to appear on the general election ballot. To minimize costs, ballots will include only contests where at least one candidate filed, major/minor party candidates not eligible for write-in votes, and write-in candidates must file a declaration of candidacy with the county elections officer by 8pm on election night for their votes to be tabulated. There will be state reimbursement for county elections costs due to this change.

Voter Choices and Party Equity
Oregon laws impacting political parties currently are written in ways that benefit long-established major parties at the expense of smaller parties. The goal of this draft concept is to help level the playing field between Oregon political parties in order to promote equity and encourage voter choice. 

We are currently considering whether the following provisions would achieve these goals:
 
•State-funded primaries for minor parties that choose to opt-in for some or all of their races. To minimize costs, ballots will include only races where at least one candidate filed, parties may adopt rules setting minimum thresholds of support to win their nomination by write-in, and write-in candidates must file a declaration of candidacy with the county elections officer by 8pm on election night for their votes to be tabulated. There will be state reimbursement for county elections costs due to this change.

•Smaller parties are at risk of losing their party status as a side effect of the complex interaction between political party laws and the fact that most new Motor Voter registrants are nonaffiliated. One option to address this is to change party maintenance threshold requirements to a percentage of voters registered with a party, instead of a percentage of all voters.

•Another idea under consideration is to allow all political parties the option of adopting party rules allowing candidates to run for their nomination who are not members of the party or who have been members of the party for shorter periods of time than the current 180-day minimum.

•Make other conforming changes to align rights of major and minor parties for vacancy nominations, special elections, presidential electors, etc.

Write-In Efficiency
County elections officials work hard every election to count all the votes we cast. One of the most time-consuming (and thus costly) parts of their job is tallying write-in votes. There are write-in votes for many serious candidates, as well as for Mickey Mouse, Darth Vader, None, and many more. We can ensure that serious write-in candidates can still easily run for office while also reducing the cost of counting non-serious votes, and having final write-in vote totals faster. The draft concept would enable county elections officials to count write-in votes only for candidates who file a short form by the end of voting—8pm on Election Day. This would also save elections officials the cost of mailing confirmation forms to write-in winners, since they will have already confirmed their desire to accept the office if they win.

Campaign Finance Transparency for Ballot Measures
Current law requires contemporaneous campaign finance reporting by those who support or oppose a petition drive only if they are the chief petitioners. After a petition is certified to the ballot, other groups must begin reporting, including with initial assets. This massive loophole allows unreported spending during the summer before the election and allows zero reporting if a petition does not qualify for the ballot. This draft concept closes this anti-transparency loophole.

Miscellaneous Fixes
Each session, the Elections Division submits a list of needed fixes and updates to Oregon’s election laws. The current version of this draft concept includes numerous improvements: protect the right of voters to receive a ballot even if they vote infrequently; allow military and overseas voters to register electronically; campaign finance transparency for ballot measures; remove unconstitutional gender discrimination; remove inefficiencies and ambiguities from the voter list process; protect a period for public comment on explanatory statements; repeal several unconstitutional laws the inhibit free speech and violate the one-person-one-vote standard; change party maintenance thresholds to account for changes from Motor Voter; give political parties more freedom in choosing their own nominees; and align rules for major and minor parties. There were several other elections concepts that we considered adding to this bill or drafting as standalone bills, but we decided to narrow our focus to just these concepts for this session.

Final Thoughts
I know that this was a particularly lengthy newsletter, so thank you for reading all the way to the end. Although it is a bit wonky, I believe that you should be involved in crafting the laws that affect you. My team and I are looking forward to hearing your thoughts!
Do you have an idea beyond the above concepts? I’d also very much like to hear your ideas on other ways to increase transparency, accountability, and integrity in the four focus areas I oversee: Elections, Audits, Corporations (business registration/assistance), and Archives (public records and administrative rules). Please send your ideas to my Governmental & Legal Affairs Director, Steve Elzinga, at stephen.elzinga@oregon.gov by September 25.
Together, we are making Oregon a better place to live, work, and thrive. Thank you for your assistance and involvement.
Secretary Richardson Signature

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Fires in Our Forests – Why Old Growth And Sustainable Tree Farming Can Save Us From Fires

I realize the causes of the forest fires are many and complicated. However, we are focusing on symptoms just as we do in health care. As always there are underlying causes that can not be ignored. 


Monocropping Trees (Industrialized Tree Farming)

It is my opinion that the main issue that has turned our forests into tinder boxes is monocropping of our forests. This is the underlying issue that creates a sick forest. This type of industrialized forest practice grows trees that are prone to stress from lack of nutrients and water. This in turn results in infestation of insects, that in turn leads to dead trees, which are tinder waiting to burn. To understand what I am talking about, I need to share a little bit more information with you.

Commercially trees are monocropped for lumber. It is often conifers that are grown in these forests, generally fir or pine. Growing large swaths of one tree species is similar to growing big fields of one type of vegetable, fruit or herb. These plants usually do not do well unless they are coddled by the farmer. They lack community and protection. The environment lacks the soil biology that supports their ability to receive nourishment and moisture from the soil. This sets them up for poor health and eventually they attract insects that see the large monocrop area as a smorgasbord of their favorite food. The lack of health and vitality of these monocropped plants/trees makes them more susceptible to the insects, drought and disease. Monocropping of plants/trees additionally leads to greater use of insecticides and herbicides by the industrialized farmer.

Trees like to grow in tight groups. They grow their branches away from each other but their roots are intertwined in a loving embrace. Groups of trees grow together from the time they are young. Scientists have found that mother trees support their young and many trees share resources.  Older, mother trees are the most important to the network. When mother trees are removed this social network collapses and it is a disaster for the trees left. They will most likely die. When trees in a forest are harvested and the older mother trees are removed, bushes, fungi, and other plants, lichens, bacteria, and other commensal soil critters that keep a forest healthy all disappear or at least have a very hard time trying to eek out an existence.

In contrast to a natural forest where trees grow together, and share resources, monocrop trees are a vast group of loners who do not communicate and support each other. They don’t receive help from the others as takes place in an older interconnected forest and are more susceptible to any type of environmental stress. 

The fungal web

Trees have an amazing fungal, world wide web under the soil that interconnects them. This underground fungal mycelium network allows them to communicate and share resources. All of the forest, both under and above the ground are interdependent on one another. For details on how this works see Suzanne Simard’s Ted Talk on how trees talk to each other.

How trees share resources through this underground network is interesting. The mass of fungal micorrhiza connect to the trees and network the trees together. This fungal mycelium connects to similar species as well as disparate species. They move things like nitrogen, carbon, phosphorus, water, defense signals, and hormones form one tree to another. This shows a mutualistic symbiosis between many trees.

These micorrhizal fungi associate with  trees all over the world. The fungi help the trees take up minerals and water, while the trees provide sugars from photosynthesis to the fungi. This relationship protects the trees from stress and drought. Under the soil, the fungi create a vast network that links the trees. The network becomes a hi-way for the trees to send messages or nutrients to each other.


Mother Trees and Tree Networking

Older mother trees tend to share their resources more with their young than they do with the other trees. They favor their children. They assist them in their growth to help them get established when young, and continue to communicate more with them than other non-related trees. Mother trees feed their young with a carbon solution. The biggest mother trees have the most links to others. When the mother tree dies they send out carbon and defense signals to their children.

The trees nourish each other and warn each other of impending threats. Trees under attack, tell the others of the issue by using the fungal network. 

Trees need other trees and need a variety of trees and other plants, fungi, and critters to be healthy. Like us, they need community to be healthy and productive.

When you take out too many mother trees, the forests networking system collapses. Trees become stressed and sickly. They are unable to share nutrients, water, and information. They are more susceptible to stress. Insects can more easily devastate a monocrop forest. This has been happening to the beetle infested evergreen forests in the United States for years. Beetles are leaving dead trees all over the place. These dead trees are perfect fire tinder.

Old growth forests have a lot to share with us, as do sustainable forests. The mother trees, the underground world of micorrhizal fungi, and other beneficial organisms are all important, and they all need to be nurtured, and remain as a unified system, or the whole system collapses and the forest dies. This sets the ground-work for unlimited fires, that will continue until all the monocrop forests are burnt to the ground.


Horse Logging, A Sustainable Future

How should we be harvesting trees? Currently, very large machines are removing trees in the forests. They are heavy and damage the micorrhizal fungi under the soil, and they decrease pore size in the soil which in turn decreases the water available. Less water available in the soil leads to stressed and dying trees.

Horse logging is safe to the soil and would not cause the damage to the soil pores and mycorrhiza. Selective cutting with horse logging will protect the forest as an organism. It will also provide additional jobs sorely needed in logging communities.  We need to be thinking about growing and logging families of trees in methods that add to the forest's health or at least does not detract from its health. We don’t want to monocrop rows of trees, we want to selectively remove trees in a radiant forest, and only to the point where the forest can still remain intact and healthy.

Additionally, we need to reduce consumption, reuse and recycle what we are able to, as well as reduce population growth on the planet. 

I suggest you watch a 45-minute movie from Amazon called "Intelligent Trees"


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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Research Shows DDT Causes Increased Risk of Autism

New research published August 16, 2018 shows elevated levels of a dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) metabolite called p,p′-dichlorodiphenyl dichloroethylene (p,p'-DDE) in pregnant women, as the first biomarker implicated in autism in children. This research shows  a significant increased risk for autism when a pregnant mother is exposed to DDT. The odds of autism were nearly one third higher among offspring of mother's with DDE levels that were in the highest 75th percentile, after adjusting for maternal age, prior offspring, and history of psychiatric disorders. The research writers said, the findings "provide the first biomarker-based evidence that maternal exposure to insecticides is associated with autism among offspring." The scientists controlled for many other risk factors and had a large group of 1500 women.

Although banned in many countries DDT is still present in the environment and found in blood and tissues.  It persists in tissues and pregnant women pass it along to their baby.

DDT was banned in the United States, but there are sites contaminated with this pollutant that pregnant woman may be living in proximity to. Additionally, there are countries still using it in agriculture and to kill vectors of disease such as mosquitoes. It has a 1/2 life of 15 years. This means as much as 50% can remain in the soil 15 years after application. DDT can concentrate in the food chain. It persists in the environment and accumulates in fatty tissues. Its metabolite DDE is found  in the blood, semen, bones, brains, fat tissue and fatty organs, and other organs of the body. It has been found in the Arctic air, Arctic water and Arctic organisms. It has been linked to the development of breast cancer, Alzheimers, infertility, sperm abnormalities, impairment of neurodevelopment in children, and even obesity. The countries that have banned DDT include Argentina, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia,Cyprus, Ethiopia, Finland, Hong Kong, Japan, Lebanon, Mozambique, Norway, Switzerland, and the USA. Countries that have severely restricted its use include Belize, Ecuador, the EU, India, Israel, Kenya, Mexico, Panama, and Thailand. In 2004, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants restricted the use of DDT. 170 countries ratified the convention.

Why are we still using it? In 2015 there were over 200 million new cases of malaria in India, with over 400,000 registered deaths. Most of these cases occur in the rural areas. Today, India and sub-Saharan African countries account for over 80% of the malaria cases globally.  Although many countries had restricted the use of DDT, in 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO) supported the indoor use of DDT in African countries where malaria remained a major challenge. WHO stated that the benefits of the pesticides to African countries outweighed the adverse effects it had on the environment. India and North Korea have continued the use of the pesticides for agricultural use despite the agricultural ban. DDT and its metabolites have been detected in food from all over the world and this route is likely the greatest source of exposure for the general population.  

Approximately 4,000 tons of DDT are produced annually to control vectors of disease - largely mosquitoes. It is legal to manufacture DDT in the U.S., though it can only be exported for use in foreign nations. DDT can only be used in the U.S. for public health emergencies, such as controlling mosquito born disease. Today, DDT is manufactured in North Korea, India, and China. India remains the largest consumer of the product for vector (mostly mosquito) control and agricultural use. China produces 4,500 metric tons of the product of which 80–90% is used to produce Dicofol, an acaricide (kills arachnids - ticks and mites mostly). African countries do not use the product for agricultural purposes but countries such as Ethiopia, South Africa, Uganda, and Swaziland use it to control malaria. If you eat non-organic food from a country that still uses DDT, you could be ingesting it. Some people have reported it being sprayed on planes in India also.

More data on DDT can be found at EWG 

Additional notes:

There are other insecticides and herbicides that may be implicated in autism.  Certainly there appears to be a correlation between the increased use of glyphosate (RoundUp®) since the 1990's and the increased rates of autism that we see in the United States. I would like to see thorough research on the possible relationship between glyphosate and autism.

The research showed no association between total maternal levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and autism. 


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Shamanism, Herbs, & Naturopathy - A class in July

A friend of mine is offering a wonderful class in Southern Oregon. I thought I would share it with all of you.


Shamanism, Herbs, & Naturopathy

Journeys into Wholeness with Deborah Frances R.N. N.D. / Beautiful Little Dancing Crow - Naturopath, Herbalist & Lakota Elder

July 20-22, 2018 - CEU’s pending for N.D.’s

To Register: Using Paypal - Send full payment
or deposit to deborah.frances@yahoo.com
(Please be sure to include your name and phone number)

• To read Dr. Frances’ blog go to:
www.drdeborahfrances.wordpress.com/blog

• Visit the Cedar Bloom website (Where the event is being held):
www.cedarbloomfarm.com

For more information call Dr. Frances at: 971-322-9626
 
Cost
$395 or $350 (with $50 deposit by July 6th.)
Students $270 or $230 (with $50 deposit by July 6th.)

Price includes 3 nights of camping, two bathhouses with multiple showers, sauna and full outdoor-kitchen on 100 acres of paradise on the Illinois River in southern Oregon.

Join us for an immersion in the healing power of Nature. Topics include identifying and healing cultural obstacles to wholeness. Lots of herbal medicine will be interspersed with  spiritual teachings including discussion of common conditions and tips on formulating. Classes will go into the evenings to allow time for integration, informal sharing & swimming during the heat of the afternoon.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Herbs Used For Hay Fever - The Acute Situation

We examined herbs used to prevent hay fever in the part four hay fever post. These same herbs that were used to prevent hay fever can continue to be used through-out hay fever season. In general, they are not herbs that provide immediate instantaneous relief, but they will help alleviate hay fever symptoms when used over time during hay fever season. If used ahead of time and then used during hay fever season (or similar herbs), an individual will often find a great relief of symptoms and some people will find they disappear.  These are supportive herbs and will serve as a source of necessary nutrients and organ trophorestoratives. Some forms of the herbs indicated for an individual should be continued through-out hay fever season on a daily basis, along with life-style and diet changes. Additional herbs are taken for acute symptomatic relief if needed.

The strengthening and long term herbs to consider continuing, as needed by the individual, would be immunomodulating herbs, liver and digestive herbs, adaptogens and nervous system herbs as well as herbs used for general respiratory support. Not all of these will be necessary. It will depend on the needs of each individual.

The acute herbs that are used for hay fever are generally anti-inflammatories, anticatarrhals, astringents and sometimes expectorants.


Herbs for Acute Assistance

Anticatarrhals

Anticatarrhal herbs are almost always thought of in relation to hay fever. They are considered when there is congestion, and the mucus gets out of hand. The respiratory tract makes mucus to protect the body from pollen. It becomes thin and excessive in order to remove the pollen. In the bodies attempt to protect an individual from an invader, it overreacts to the situation. The excessive mucus is annoying and when the irritation continues, the tissues can become very inflamed and edematous, causing congestion.

The groups of herbs used as anticatarrhals decrease congestion by a variety of methods. Anticatarrhals are generally anti-inflammatory, expectorant and/or astringent in nature. When focusing on acute relief of hay fever we are generally looking at herbs that are astringent and anti-inflammatory. Decreasing inflammation sounds pretty straight forward, but what does it mean to astringe a tissue?


Astringents – Defining An Astringent And How it Works
  
Astringent herbs have a drawing and drying effect. They decreases congestion and rid the area of excess edema, inflammation and mucus. When used topically on mucous membranes they cause contraction of the mucous membranes, thus causing expulsion of excess fluid and mucus.  Astringents can give acute relief from flaccid, boggy or edematous tissues by this secretion restraining and tissue constricting activity. This astringing action is due to the tannin content in the herb.


Because mucus is a natural and necessary body defense, mucus should not be stopped unless it is chronically in excess, and the cause can’t be eradicated, such as may take place acutely with hay fever.


When a person with congestion and mucus ingests an astringent herb, they will usually notice their nose and sinuses open up. The mucus decreases and their breathing becomes easier.  For acute use, when an individual wants instant effect, I often use yarrow. It is both anti-inflammatory and super astringent. It works quickly too. I usually have people put a few drops of Yarrow tincture under the tongue and it works almost immediately. However, Yarrow is contraindicated for long term use or in large doses. Other anticatarrhal herbs that can be used are Oregon grape root, Geranium root, Hawthorne flowers/leaves and berries, Ladies mantle leaves, Yerba mansa root, Calendula flowers, Strawberry leaves or Raspberry leaves. These all provide astringency and help decrease edema and inflammation. Which herb or herbs to pick depends on other needs of the individual. 


Another way to open up the nasal passages and sinuses is to use a stimulating herb such as horseradish or wasabi. You can also use steam inhalations to open the airways. Steam inhalations with herbs high in menthol such as peppermint are useful in keeping sinuses open. If infection is a concern, an antimicrobial herb such as Oregano or Thyme can be added to the steam inhalation.

  
Astringent herbs can also be used for irritated and inflamed eyes.

A cold compress over the closed eyes is beneficial. A cold, water compress is helpful, but even better is a cooled, astringent herbal tea compress. If you are unsure how to make an herbal compress, see this post on making them. Calendula is wonderful as a compress for inflamed eyes. Geranium can be added if the individual wants even more astringency. Keep the tea or tincture a bit on the diluted side as the eyes are delicate organs. You can also use them in an eye cup and wash the eye. Make sure you use sanitary methods when washing the eyes with any type of liquid. Be aware that if you make the wash too strong it can become irritating rather than healing.

Inflammation

Congestion is caused by inflammation, so ingesting anti-inflammatory herbs to decrease histamine, cytokines and other causes of inflammation is highly beneficial. Decreasing  systemic inflammation and local inflammation are both important.

Local inflammation in the nasal passages can be decreased with vulneray & astringent herb washes that are applied with a neti pot or similar methods. (Directions for neti pot here.)  The same combination previously mentioned as an eye-wash can do double duty as a nasal wash. I am referring to the use of Calendula, with the possible addition of Geranium for extra astringent activity.

There are many choices of herbs that are used internally to decrease inflammation associated with hay fever. I will share some of my favorite anti-inflammatory herbs below.


Anti-inflammatories

Some anti-inflammatory herbs to consider would include Licorice – Glycyrrhia spp., Calendula – Calendula officinalis, Marshmallow – Althaea officinalis, Peppermint – Mentha piperita, Turmeric – Curcuma longa, Yarrow – Achillea millefollium, Yucca – Yucca spp,  Forsythia Forsythia suspense.
 .
Yarrow Achillea millefolium - Reduces congestion and excess secretions. This is a wonderful herb to use acutely for any kind of nasal, or sinus congestion. It works great for acute hay fever as well as other acute forms of rhinitis and sinusitis. It can be a life saver. Just a few drops of tincture on the tongue and in seconds nasal passages are clear and sinuses are better.  I usually give this as temporary, acute, quick fix. Yarrow is not an herb for chronic use but short term use can be very helpful.

Yerba mansa – Anemopsis californica – Another herb that will reduce congestion and excess secretions in the upper respiratory tract. This is a warming herb while the yarrow I mentioned is more cooling. Yerba mansa has a pungent and pleasant taste, while Yarrow has a bitter taste.

Calendula – Calendula officinalis is soothing and healing. When nasal tissues are raw and, friable, crusty, or otherwise super irritated and healing is needed, this anti-inflammatory/vulneray/astringent can be used as a wash to assist the body in creating new, revitalized nasal tissue. It is also anti-inflammatory when ingested.

Licorice – Glycyrrhiza glabra/spp. Previously, in part 4, I shared how Licorice is used for liver support. Review this for additional data.

The constituent glycyrrhizin and it’s active aglycone glycerrhetic acid have been shown to inhibit several features of the allergic inflammatory response including histamine synthesis and release.

In Japan, glycyrrhizin has been used as an injection for allergic inflammation since 1948.
Licorice helps retain moisture in the body which is good for allergy sufferers who tend to be dry from excess loss of fluid, always thirsty and pee a lot. However, for someone with edema or high blood pressure, or chronic kidney failure this is an herb that would not be good for them.

Licorice in general helps decrease inflammation.  For this reason you will see it used in many herbal formulas. It can be used as a tea, as a capsule, as a tincture or powder. One cup of tea 2-3 times per day or 20-60 drops of tincture 2-3 times per day should be good for people who do not have any predispositions to side effects from Licorice.

Make sure you look up the side effects of Licorice, in case this herb is not appropriate for a given individual. The extensive list of side effects can be found in my new book, Herbal ABC’s as well as “Herbal Medicine From theHeart of the Earth”. You will also find various lists on the internet.

Turmeric – Curcuma longa This herb was also discussed for liver support in the hay fever prevention blog. It is used by many people for active hay fever symptoms and if taken every day can be very beneficial. It can be used liberally in food or taken in a capsule. It can also be used as a powder. Two teaspoons - One tablespoon, 2 times per day of powder should do the trick. It needs to be followed by a water chaser, and most people I admit will get tired of the taste. Often people add it to food and take capsules rather than the straight powder. The powder is much less expensive though. In food it works well as a curry, sprinkled on many different foods or the powder can be mixed into shakes, smoothies, or honey.  A nice tea with ginger can be made with turmeric. This tea is a great anti-inflammatory combination. The Ginger in the tea has been shown to lower IgE levels in people with hay fever. The longer people in the study took the ginger capsules the better the outcome. Many of the hay fever symptoms were significantly reduced.

A 2015 research study with an active constituent of Turmeric called curcumin was used in the nose of mice prior to exposure to lipopolysaccharide (causes an allergic response) showing, the curcumin had a protective effect, decreasing the airway irritation. Additionally, I found another study where the absorption of curcumin was studied in an intranasal application in mice, where they examined the amount of absorption and found it had good absorption and at doses lower than the drug disodium cromoglycate effected histamine release. Curcumin usually has poor absorption by itself so, the researchers were delighted it absorbed better nasally. It made me wonder if using Turmeric or curcumin as a neti pot wash to irrigate the nasal passages and reduce inflammation would be helpful, however it can stain the skin temporarily so this may never become a popular vehicle of application. Perhaps snorting the powder might also work but may still stain the skin. Let me know if any of you have experimented with an intranasal application of turmeric for hay fever relief. I would love to see a comparison of the Turmeric powder with the curcumin powder.

Turmeric’s constituent curcumin, has been shown to reduce histamine as well as decrease other avenues of bodily inflammation. Many people take the constituent curcumin by itself. One product that I have used with good results is called Meriva. Curcumin has been shown to have low solubility, be poorly absorbed by the intestines and have low systemic bioavailability. Another constituent in Turmeric called turmerone has been shown to facilitate absorption. (Once again proof of the whole herb being better than individual constituents).  Piperine in black pepper appears to make curcumin much more bioavailable. One of the ways the piperine helps is by decreasing glucuronidation. Glucuronidation is a pathway used to remove toxins, and as I explain in my book, "Herbal ABCS's" this may have repercussions. I am not comfortable with taking piperine or large doses of black pepper on a chronic basis.

I would also point out curcumin has been shown to be heat sensitive in research. It can start to disappear when temperatures are above 190 degrees C. 

Often anti-inflammatory herbs used for hay fever turn out to lower histamine or prevent the release by stabilizing mast cells. I thought I would share some methods to do this.

Mast cell stabilization

During hay fever season it is helpful for many people susceptible to pollen reactions to limit foods with high histamine content as well as foods/supplements/drugs that may increase histamine. See hay fever blog part II. 

Foods high in flavonoids are able to assist in decreasing mast cell activation and reduce histamine in the body. The individual should be eating high flavonoid foods continually through-out hay fever season as an additional long-term plan to decrease hay fever symptoms by decreasing histamine and lowering of other inflammatory mediators. These flavonoids include quercetin and catechin which are found in herbs such as Green tea, Chamomile, Hawthorne and Gingko. Quercetin is found in many foods/herbs and some good choices for quercetin content are garlic, onions, capers, fruits with dark red or blue colors such as blueberries and cranberries.  Elderberries are high in quercetin as well as Lovage and kale. Quercetin’s anti-inflammatory activity appears to be due to its antioxidant effects and inhibition of cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase, which in turn regulate the inflammatory mediators leukotrienes and prostaglandins. Quercetin has been shown to stabilize mast cells, which inhibits release of histamine.

Some of the constituents found in herbs that have been studied and found to stabilize mast cells besides quercetin are listed below.

Epigallocatechin gallate found in Green teaCamellia sinensis can inhibit the release of histamine from mast cells. 

Theanine is another constituents found in Green tea - Camellia sinensis. This amino acid has been shown to prevent histamine release from cells at low concentrations.

Ellagic acid found in fruits such as raspberries, strawberries, walnuts and pomegranate  inhibit histamine release as well as proinflammatory cytokines such as TNF-alpha and Il-6.

Khellin from KhellaAmmi visnaga has been shown to stabilize mast cells. This is also an herb that is used to prevent Asthma attacks. I have found it especially useful in the past for exercise induced asthma. For some people hay fever can lead to an asthma attack. Much better to control hay fever with long term herbs that support the liver and digestion rather than acute use if herbs or even long term use of Khella. (Khella is not an herb that is used for immediate relief, and high doses may cause side effects such as liver damage.)

Silibinin from Milk thistle- Silybum marianum prevents histamine release as well as other inflammatory cytokines from mast cells.

Reservatrol found in Japanese knoteweed - Polygonum cuspidatum, grapes, peanuts, and blueberries, was found to suppress inflammatory cytokines linked to mast cell disorders, specifically tumor necrosis factor and interleukins.

Curcumin from TurmericCurcuma longa prevents release of histamine by stabilizing mast cells and inhibits  cytokines IL-4 and TNF-alpha.

Parthenolide from FeverfewTanacetum parthenium stabalizeds mast cells.

Indoline from  Woad - Isatis tinctoria stabilized mast cells

Estragole from Basil Ocimum basilicum reduces inflammation due to edema and arachidonic acid

Additional foods/herbs that might be useful to stabilize mast cells/decrease histamine release are Holy Basil, Thyme, Watercress, Pea sprouts, Onions, Garlic, Black cumin, Peppermint, Chamomile, Tarragon, Nettle, Ginger, Turmeric, Apples, Pomegranate, Peaches, and Quince.

Remember these are all ideas for acute relief when the individual is in the thick of hay fever season. It is better to start a couple months prior and make sure the body is in good shape and less likely to need acute assistance.

The Other Hay Fever Blogs
Hay Fever, The What, How and Why - part I
Hay Fever, The What, How and Why - part II
Hay Fever and Diet 
Prevention with herbs
Treating The Acute Situation