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2023-10-10 23:01:17

Western Ragweed and Your Allergy Symptoms

Itchy eyes. A runny nose. Constant sneezing. Your allergies are acting up and you don't know why. It could be western ragweed that's triggering your allergy symptoms.

In this article, let's talk about what western ragweed is, where you can find the plant, and what you can do about those pesky allergies!

What is Western Ragweed?

The western ragweed plant is also called Ambrosia psilostachya, perennial ragweed, and cuman ragweed, and it's part of the sunflower family.

It's tall and weedy looking, and you can find it in much of North America (southern Canada and Mexico, too!), where it grows natively in a variety of habitat types and especially disturbed soil. In fact, it grows in every state but Alaska, and there are 17 different types of the plant.

So, there's a good chance you've encountered it!

western ragweed plant

The male flowers look like tiny bells with their pollen grains. Meanwhile, the heads of the seed-producing female flower occur in little clusters. And in the late summer, you can watch the flower heads bloom.

Western Ragweed Plants as Medicine

Despite the fact that the western ragweed plant commonly causes allergies, it also has medicinal uses! Native Americans use it for digestion issues. The Chumash in Santa Barbara use it to bring down a fever. And the Kumeyaay in Southern California address dandruff by mashing up the stems and leaves.

Perennial Ragweed Allergies

Here's why western ragweed can be so problematic.

If you're experiencing perennial ragweed allergies, then it's likely an allergy to the pollen from the male flowers of the plant. This is what causes seasonal allergies, also called "hay fever" or "allergic rhinitis."

The pollen of the plant is light, and the wind carries it far and wide — even hundreds of miles. That's why, even if you don't live very close to where western ragweed grows, you can still experience an allergic reaction and worsening asthma symptoms. This will be especially noticeable in the late summer and fall, which is when the plants are pollinating.

More specifically, the pollen of the cuman ragweed plant peaks in the morning.

sunrise in the mountains

Cuman ragweed allergy symptoms look pretty typical: sneezing, a runny nose, an itchy throat, congestion, eye irritation, and headaches.

If you have asthma or other respiratory issues, you might notice that an allergy to western ragweed makes those symptoms worse.

How to Alleviate Ambrosia Psilostachya Allergies

While you can't necessarily avoid Ambrosia psilostachya, there are simple things you can do to try to get your allergy symptoms under control:

Allergy Testing for Ambrosia Psilostachya

If you think you might be dealing with an allergy to Ambrosia psilostachya or another environmental allergen, allergy testing can confirm what's triggering your symptoms.

eNational Testing's Environmental Allergen Profile checks for allergies to ragweed, white oak, dust mites, American elm, bluegrass, and English plantain, among others. It's a quick blood draw, and you'll receive your test results in two to four business days.

eNational Testing has more than 2,000 locations around the United States, and you don't need to visit your doctor first! Find a testing center near you and order your test today.