All allergy symptoms are essentially an over-reaction of the immune system and so a two-pronged approach can help; firstly a long-term immune support strategy and secondly chosen herbs just for the ‘acute’ stage of pollen irritation. These strategies work not just for hay fever but other allergic responses to ‘irritants’ as well.
With Best Wishes
Co-Director & Herbal Practitioner at Herbs Hands Healing
Reach for the Herbs - Lorna Driver Davies
There are many herbs that can help and bring relief and those chosen will lessen mucous and soothe and reduce inflammation as well as helping the liver work better. A real winner is nettles (Urtica dioica) which are brilliant for hay fever but also ‘allergies’ in general. In fact, feedback suggests that nettle works better or at least the same as antihistamine drugs. This is how it works.
Nettle as a winner for allergies
Nettles contain histamine and will block the body’s own histamine production. Plus it will slowly desensitise the pollen's effects, whilst its anti-inflammatory abilities will calm and soothe, making a big difference to all the irritating symptoms of itchy eyes, runny nose etc. Nettle is also uniquely able to increase urine production and thus speedily remove the collected toxins which are essential to start feeling better.
Note: Using gloves you can pick the tips of young nettles and put into smoothies to avoid the sting.
Other Anti-allergy Herbs
Supporting the work of the nettles must be herbs like dandelion, burdock, chicory and rosemary (PolliTox Capsules). Dandelion root supports the crucial ‘detoxification process’ which moves allergens on and out with speed. Whilst both burdock root and chicory root help to remove and neutralise pollens and other allergens via the liver and bloodstream, again at speed.
Plantain leaf is also very useful (either Plantago lanceolata or Plantago major) as they help to astringe and dry-up the overly active mucous membranes helping to calm inflammation. Plantain is a good allergy all-rounder and if you can reliably identify and pick clean source leaves in spring, you can add these to salads. (Older ones later in the season are too stringy for salads but fine in smoothies).
Liver Support will be Vital
Liver herbs can really help reduce the severity of chronic allergies (and hay fever) as I mentioned in the introduction. Having a well-functioning liver will ensure a speedy removal of pollen and other allergens and this will ultimately give you more energy. Try milk thistle seeds on their own, or our formula called ‘Milk Thistle and Dandelion’ or our lovely bitter ‘Lemon and Artichoke’ Concentrate.Generalised Immune Support in the Kitchen for three Months Minimum.
This kind of immune support needs time, so starting now, ahead of the main hay fever season will be useful. You can eat your way to a more stable immune system and this can underpin all your focused work with herbs (used for a shorter period of time) and for this it would be ideal to choose anti-inflammatory foods. These are usually rich in flavonoids and are often colourful berries and vegetables of red, yellow, purple (and yes green) hues. Quercetin is a flavonoid of special interest as it has been shown to stabilise mast cells (specialised immune cells that produce histamine and other inflammatory compounds in response to an allergen). Quercetin can particularly be found in red onions, citrus fruits, watercress, kale and buckwheat. Pineapple contains ‘bromelain’ which is a good anti-inflammatory and nasal decongestant, whilst honey is, of course, a well known ‘must’ as it helps to de-sensitise your immune reaction to pollen in particular. Find a local honey if at all possible and choose a ‘natural’ and unheated version. Tonic botanicals are also important, here’s why.
Tonic Botanicals help control the cortisol response
Medicinal mushrooms like ‘Reishi mushroom’ (Ganoderma lucidum) and Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis) are immune-modulators and work as a ‘tonic’ for the immune system, helping to lessen the immune systems ‘overzealous’ response to allergens. So adaptogenic herbs like ‘Siberian ginseng’ will be important as they strengthen and balance both the adrenal glands and immune system (EnergiRevive Powder). The more histamine that is released, the more cortisol it takes to control the inflammatory response and the harder the adrenals have to work to produce more cortisol. Those already weak and exhausted will have an especially challenging time and extra support will be vital.
Breathing can become very laboured with the congestion of the sinus and lungs etc so herbs like peppermint and eucalyptus can really help to open up the lungs making more oxygen available and often giving instant relief. Ask for a sample of our ‘Breath and Clear Tea’ if you’d like. This tea can also help you feel a bit brighter in yourself. Being tired is also a common symptom of allergies.
I hope all this information can help you feel more energized, less congested and able to enjoy our warmer weather better.
Please ask for samples of PolliTox Capsules, Nettle Tea/Powder, Breath and clear tea and EnergiRevive Powder, just phone in or email us. Finally, I’m doing a blog on herbs that help inflammation in March which will give even more detail on how to help de-inflame the body.