Acacia is included in a large genus of subtropical and tropical trees and shrubs that are rampant in Africa, Australia, South and North America. There are various parts of this large genus of plants that are utilized externally and internally for therapeutic purposes as well as a preservative.
A large number of this genus of plants bears pollen and have been reported to trigger severe allergic reactions among highly sensitive individuals. The individual should consult a doctor if he/she experiences an allergic reaction to acacia tree or any of its derivatives.
Uses of acacia
It is important to note that acacia is a large plant genus that includes at least 1,000 species of trees and shrubs. In ancient Egypt, this genus of plants was utilized to produce paint and the oil is still used in the printing industry. They are also utilized as a thickener for jellies, chewing gum, candies and as a stabilizer in beers and soft drinks. If utilized as a stabilizer, the plant maintains the foam in soft drinks and beers as well as prevents the breakdown of chemicals in food mixtures.
Additionally, it is utilized as a demulcent in different types of topical creams due to its anti-inflammatory quality. Acacia gum is described as a dried exudate taken from the stem of the tree and utilized in shaping and forming pharmaceutical tablets.
Immune response to acacia
Acacia pollinates in February and March which releases heavy pollen which can instigate an IgE mediated response among highly sensitive individuals. The pollen functions as an irritant and the immune system wrongly perceives the proteins in the pollen as a threat to the body.
The immune system triggers the release of histamine that dilates and increases the permeability of the blood vessels. The increase in the permeability of the capillaries in the nasal capillaries and upper respiratory tract leads to the manifestation of the distinctive allergy symptoms such as asthma and allergic rhinitis.
Signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction to acacia
Allergic rhinitis or hay fever as well as asthma are the reactions typically observed among wood workers exposed to pollen from acacia or acacia wood. Take note that allergic rhinitis is triggered by inflammation of the mucous membranes lining the sinuses and nose as well as the subsequent release of histamine.
The release of histamine into the nasal cavity, bronchioles, throat, trachea and larynx can lead to cold-like symptoms. The increased permeability of the capillaries in the nasal cavity can cause runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing episodes, postnasal drip, sinus pressure, facial pain and diminished sense of taste and smell.
Management of acacia allergy
The ideal way to manage allergic rhinitis is to avoid exposure to the acacia pollen or wood. Since this is not always possible, there are over-the-counter antihistamines that can help relieve minor symptoms. Antihistamines work by reducing the nasal inflammation, sneezing and itchiness by blocking the action of histamine.
As for severe cases of allergic rhinitis, the doctor might prescribe nasal corticosteroids to minimize nasal inflammation, itchiness and runny nose. In addition, oral decongestants are also recommended to minimize the nasal congestion.