How Botanical Sexism Agitates Your Allergies

By Elizabeth Crews

This post contains Affiliate Links.


After years of his wife suffering with severe allergies and asthma, Thomas Leo Ogren was determined to find a solution to suppress her symptoms. What began as a singular journey to help his wife transformed into decades of research that established him as an allergy expert and the author of the most comprehensive botanical allergy books in existence. He realized that the number of individuals with allergies was increasing exponentially, although one of the causes for this suffering is simple: botanical sexism.

Male v. Female Plants in Landscaping

In The Allergy-Fighting Garden, Ogren discusses the reproduction of plants and trees, focusing specifically on those that are dioecious. These plants have distinct male or female reproductive systems. The males produce pollen, which travels  to the females to create seeds and fruit.

Male plants are most often used by cities and homeowners because they do not produce seeds or fruit like the females. Because of this, females are considered to be high-maintenance and require more upkeep, whereas the males are considered easier to manage. This practice is called botanical sexism.

Issues with Botanical Sexism

Ogren maintains that the best treatment for allergies is avoidance. There are medications and inhalers we can use when we experience reactions; however, he states that intentional planting  is the key to decreasing reactions. The males are designed to create pollen and they will continue to send the highly-adhesive particles into the air. If there are no females there to accept the pollen, it seeks another tall surface to adhere to: often people . Breathing in these sticky particles  causes trouble for those with asthma, allergies, and compromised respiratory systems. While planting male trees is often perceived as lower maintenance, the lowest-maintenance option is actually to plant females alone: they do not produce the same high rates of irritants, and without pollination they cannot produce messy seeds and fruit.

That being said, there are benefits to planting males and females together for sexual reproduction. The singular incorporation of male plants and trees has decreased  biodiversity, which increases vulnerability to diseases like the Dutch Elm Disease. It was introduced in 1930s and laid waste to male American elm trees, which were commonly used for their shade. Their close proximity allowed the disease to easily spread from one elm to the next until they were all but completely wiped out. The impressive American elm population never recovered from that devastation.

Governments have also planted male clonal trees. Groups of asexual clonal trees or plants are called colonies, and they are genetically identical and connected by the same root system. As a colony asexually reproduces, single cells multiply to create more, and mutations can occur at a higher rate than during sexual reproduction.

In a study of famous clonal aspen trees nicknamed Pando, botanists have noted that the trees’ sexual fitness decreases with age, meaning the trees do not reproduce as rapidly. If dangerous mutations occur and are asexually produced rapidly, the organism runs the risk of continuing to produce mutated cells, which make them even more vulnerable to diseases like the Dutch Elm Disease.

OPALS: The Solution

To help people plan the most allergy-friendly gardens and landscapes, Ogren developed the OPALS system. The acronym stands for the Ogren Plant Allergy Scale and it details the least to most allergenic plants in an easy-to-read scale of 1-10. It is currently the most comprehensive guide and it was met with such high esteem that branches of the USDA have incorporated it into their landscaping. In addition to landscaping with low-OPALS-rated plants, planting females to receive male pollen (especially in public spaces) will dramatically decrease human exposure to allergens. This book and the rest of Ogren’s work have made it possible to easily create a garden that is allergy friendly.

To learn more about how you can apply this to your own home or homestead, we recommend purchasing Ogren’s book! Using this link to Amazon doesn’t cost you anything, but we are paid a percentage of Amazon’s profit from your purchase!


A Vegetarian Journey, Part 1

[By Dillon Stickle]

In August of 2015 I made one of the more dramatic decisions in my life — to go vegetarian. There were many reasons I decided to do this: ethical, environmental, economical, and dietary would probably cover it. But I’m not here to teach you why it’s a good thing to eliminate meat from your diet. I do, however, feel the need to tell you what I’ve learned thus far. Here are some lessons I’ve learned for anyone new to vegetarianism or are considering the lifestyle. (Yes, it is a lifestyle!)

You need to do your research.

I went into vegetarianism essentially blind. I had never been big on vegetables and was limited with my fruit intake. Nuts and seeds? What are those? I was jumping into something that I can easily admit I wasn’t ready for. Along the way, I learned how to eat so that all those essential nutrients you receive from meat — proteins, b- vitamins, iron, calcium, etc. — would still be in my diet. By constantly researching and reading a variety of blogsfoodiesfeed-com_fresh-vegetables-from-farmers-market and sites on eating a plant-based diet, I began to open myself up to new foods that provided me with the nutrients that I would otherwise need from meat. Nuts, seeds, legumes, quinoa, spinach, and greek yogurt are some examples. So before you
decide to jump the meat-ship, do some research. Try new foods before you actually make a decision like vegetarianism. It will ultimately help you become more comfortable with giving up meat.

One source I could always count on (and still do) was There are tons of articles written in different accounts — from nutritionists, to MDs to every day people who are passionate about mental, spiritual and physical health.

Not everyone will understand — or agree.

I think I was most surprised by how many people didn’t see why I was giving up meat, and many refused to accept it (not that I needed them to). I got a lot of, “But you won’t be able to go out to eat anywhere!” or, “Meat is too good. Are you crazy?” or the best one, “But you can’t get what you need from meat by eating grass!”

All of these statements are as frustrating as they are false. I have yet to eat out somewhere that didn’t provide at least one vegetarian dish. Yes, meat is good, but that doesn’t mean I need it or can’t live without it. Millions of people do it every day. And, as I mentioned in the previous section, you can get from a plant-based diet what you can get from a diet incorporating meat. In fact, in the new dietary guidelines, it is recommended for men to cut back on their red meat intake. (Though I personally feel we should all eat way less red meat.)

I did have a few supportive people, however, who helped me transition and offered to cook vegetarian recipes without me having to ask once.

So no matter what people tell you, going vegetarian isn’t dangerous. It’s not silly or unnecessary, and it’s not crazy, especially when you consider the gruesome and cruel factory farming industry.

Don’t get caught in the mac n’ cheese vortex.

OK, hear me out on this — I love mac n’ cheese. I love potatoes, pasta, rice, crackers, and all things carbohydrates. Of course I love these things, they are the heaven to my taste buds’ soul. But what I have learned is that unless you incorporate vegetables into, like, 80% of your diet, you’re still not going to optimize your energy and health. Many vegetarians fall into what I like to call the mac n’ cheese vortex. This is because cooking starchy carbs, like the ones mentioned above, are easy and have been a staple in the American family diet since I (and maybe you) can remember.

What I recommend to any new or prospective vegetarian is to look at the root word: VEGETABLE! We can not thrive without vegetables. Not only do they provide the essential nutrients we are used to getting from meat, they also provide nutrients we might not be getting from meat, especially processed meat. (If you eat meat, it better be organic and unprocessed. Or else all those benefits you think you’re getting aren’t actually going to be there.)

I’d also like to throw out there that giving up meat isn’t optimal for everyone. People with intestinal issues, food allergies, or those who live in certain geographical locations may not be able to give up meat.

These are just a few things I have learned in my short ten months as a vegetarian.* I hope this helps even one person considering making the change to optimize their health while feeling good about what they’re putting into their body.

*This article was written in June of 2016. There will be a follow-up to this post on why I decided to incorporate meat back into my diet (well, sort of). Stay tuned!

© The Landerholmstead, 2016.

Homemade Cold & Flu Medicine: Sweet Licorice Fennel Syrup Elixir

Fall is here! And that means a lot of wonderful things that your acquaintances likely plastered all over social media.

Fall is wonderful, yes.

But it also means cold & flu season.

Since pledging ourselves to exclusively exploring natural wellness options, we’ve been researching and experimenting, taking classes, and asking questions.

There are an unbelievable amount of natural alternatives to traditional cold and flu medications, all varying in dosage and effectiveness.

I {Rebeccah} chose to explore Licorice Root – Glycyrrhizza glabra – as a final project in my Herbal Medicine Making Class at Bastyr, and learned that one (of many!) medicinal uses is for cold and flu, and here are a few reasons why. Licorice is an:

  • Expectorant – provides upper respiratory relief by freeing mucus/saliva
  • Antispasmodic – relieves muscle spasms/pains
  • Antioxidant – prevents cell damage by hindering production of free radicals
  • Antiviral – treats viral infections/viruses
  • Antibacterial – fights bacteria & prevents future bacterial growth

Dried Licorice Root for Cold & Flu Fighting Syrup via Everything Needs Cheese

A few important notes about Licorice Root (and have you read our Terms and Conditions??), before getting started: Daily use for long periods of time has been linked to increased blood pressure. For that reason, it is not recommended to the following demographics:

  • Pregnant Women
  • Heart or Kidney Disease Sufferers
  • Those with High Blood Pressure

Now on to the fun stuff!


  • 1 oz Licorice Root – Dried
    • This can be purchased at health food stores like Whole Foods, or online.
  • 2 oz Wild Fennel Tops – Fresh (Domestic will work also)
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 1 ½ Cups Sugar
  • 2 TBSP Cognac (Brandy) – Optional

Licorice Fennel Sugar Syrup Recipe, a Natural Alternative to Traditional Cold & Flu Medicine via Everything Needs Cheese


  • Combine all ingredients but Brandy in a (covered) pot and bring to a boil.Boiling Decoction of Dried Licorice Root, Wild Fennel Tops, and Sugar for Homemade Cold & Flu Herbal Medicine via Everything Needs Cheese
  • Stir occasionally, but otherwise keep covered for 60 minutes, or until liquid has reduced by ½, to about 1 cup. Keep an eye on it as it may bubble up.
    Cheese Cloth Straining Licorice & Fennel Cold Flu Elixir DIY Alternative Medicine via Everything Needs Cheese
  • Strain with cheesecloth inside a mesh strainer. A ricer would work well also if you have one. Make sure you squeeze as much of the liquid out as possible. Compost your cheesecloth/leftovers.
  • Stir in Brandy and pour into a bottle or jar.
  • Keeps up to 6 months on the shelf, longer if refrigerated, although sugar crystallization may occur. If it does, reheat in a pot of water or microwave (without the metal lid) to create a smooth, syrupy texture.

Homemade Licorice Root & Fennel Natural Cough, Cold, & Flu Medicine Recipe & Instructions via Everything Needs Cheese

Recommended Dosage:

  • Take 2-3 TBSP daily at the onset of cold/flu symptoms. Can be taken straight (it’s dangerously delicious!!), or added to a tea, smoothie, yogurt bowl, or other food/drink.
  • For best results, spread out doses, ex: 1 TBSP in the AM, 1 TBSP in the PM.
  • Note: this particular preparation is not recommended for use with children because of the alcohol. Brandy is also an antispasmodic, which adds to the cold & flu fighting properties of this recipe, but can easily be omitted to make it kid-friendly.
  • If adverse symptoms are experienced, discontinue use and immediately contact your health practitioner.
  • Do not take for more than 4 consecutive weeks. No cold/flu should last that long anyway!

    This post contains Affiliate Links to Amazon, so you can shop easily for the necessary products. This post was also recycled with permission from a sister site: Everything Needs Cheese.

    © Landerholmstead, 2016