Seasonal Allergies: Fighting Nature with Nature – Part Two
Previously we explored the world of real food and how we can use it to our advantage in bolstering our overtaxed and undernourished immune system, the primary culprit responsible for seasonal allergies.
Today we’ll discuss another realm of nature that offers us tremendous advantage in the fight against the sneezing and sniffling that defines the spring season for so many of us. Herbs.
In the herbal department, you can’t go wrong with nettle as a first line of allergy defense. There’s a reason we decided to herald this herb as our first herb of the month… it’s incredible! The list of all it can do for the body is quite long and assisting with the body’s over-the-top response to allergens is just one of them. It’s a great tool to use when the sniffles come, especially when steeped as a tea like this. And for nursing moms the best news is that nettle fights the good fight when it comes to allergies while also BOOSTING your milk supply. Sign me up for that!
For more information about how nettle helps with allergies you can check out this post. Several years ago, the National College of Naturopathic Medicine released the results of a double-blind study which suggested that freeze-dried nettle was moderately to highly effected in preventing allergy symptoms. The stinging hairs on fresh (and freeze-dried) nettle contain, among other things, histamine, and promotes “the inhibition of several key inflammatory events that cause the symptoms of seasonal allergies.” (quoted from this study.)
A second, albeit little-known, herb that’s great for allergies is butterbur. In a recent study in the British Medical Journal a group of Swiss researchers reported butterbur was as effective as a popular antihistamine drug in reducing the symptoms of seasonal allergies and without the drug complications of drowsiness. As you know we are big fans of tonic herbs because they are safe to use, even for long term, with no side-effects. Unfortunately, butterbur doesn’t make the cut. There are many potential safety issues with this herb and, in addition, it is a member of the Ragweed family which means it would do more harm than good if that happens to be one of your greatest allergy antagonists.
Another way you can utilize herbs in the treatment of your allergies is through the use of them in tincture form, which is basically a mixture of herbs placed in an alcohol or glycerin base and macerated for several weeks. The resulting liquid contains all the wonderful properties (including vitamins!) of the herbs in an easy-to-take form. (We’ll be talking more about tinctures and tonics in the near future.) One of the benefits of using herbs in a tincture form is that they are processed by the body at a more rapid rate than fresh or dried varieties.
Lastly, you can’t forget the wonderful immune-boosting benefits of great tonic herbs like Echinacea, Rhodiola and Astragalus! For the best results it’s a good idea to work throughout all the seasons to strengthen the body, not just a month or two out of the year when the sneezes and sniffles get you down. These herbs are dynamite for strengthening the immune system during allergy season and beyond!