Monthly Archives: April 2009

Herbal Remedies for Seasonal Allergies

~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

For many individuals, spring is the season of sinus congestion, sneezing and itchy watery eyes, yet it does NOT have to be a miserable time of coping with allergies. You can enjoy the changing seasons by bringing allergy and hay fever symptoms under control.

Often considered a flaw in immune system activity, allergies may be intensified in individuals with an impaired immune system. Allergens can produce excess histamine production in our body, provoking severe reactions including sneezing, irritation of the nose, eyes and throat, redness and inflammation of the mucous membranes, sinus congestion, even rashes and fatigue.

Prevention is the best medicine: strengthening and supporting the immune system is the key for minimizing allergy symptoms. Bioflavonoids, found in the white peel under the rind of citrus fruits, in berries, buckwheat, kale, garlic, green tea and onions, can aid allergy suffers in controlling symptoms. There are many types of Bioflavonoids, such as rutin, hespiridin and quercetin, however one particular bioflavonoid offers dramatic protection from the allergy response.

Known as THE allergy supplement, Quercetin is used to inhibit both the manufacture and the release of histamine. For allergy suffers, the therapeutic adult dose of Quercetin is between 750-1500 mg taken throughout the day. To enhance absorption of this well tolerated supplement, combine it with Bromelain, a digestive enzyme from pineapple. Bromelain also contains anti-inflammatory properties that enhance the activity of Quercetin.

Among herbal remedies used for allergies, the anti catarrhal properties of Elderflowers (Sambucus nigra) make it an ideal remedy for nasal congestion, throat inflammation and bronchial conditions. Elderflower can be prepared as a tea and drank or gargled for symptoms of a sore throat. High in vitamin C and flavonoids, it is used for the common cold and winter chills.

The dried leaves and flowers of Goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea) are anti-inflammatory, anti catarrhal and contain antiseptic properties to the mucous membranes and upper respiratory tract.

Nettle leaves (Urtica dioica) are my favorite herb for individuals dealing with itching, hives and allergic reactions.

The dried herbs can be combined together in equal parts and prepared as a medicinal tea. For allergy relief, consume three to four cups of tea daily. Peppermint leaves can be added to enhance the taste.

For a preblended herbal tea used for seasonal allergies, our Sin-U-Clear Tea Blend contains herbs traditionally used to minimise the bodies production of histamine, clear up congestion and reduce the symptomatic effects of allergies. This tea is best used as prevention prior to the allergy season, and then drank throughout the allergy season.

Steaming with essential oils is also beneficial to relieve allergy symptoms. When in contact with foreign pathogens, our sinuses increase production of mucous. Our Breath Essential Oil Blend contains anti bacterial and anti inflammatory properties, is antiseptic to the mucous membranes lining the nasal and sinus passages, the volatile oils found in the blend immediately help to disinfect and clear congested sinuses when used in a bath, as a steam, or inhaled by placing a couple drops of oil on a Kleenex.

Never take essential oils internally, instead place a few drops in a humidifier or in a basin of hot water, then cover your head and inhale the fragrant vapors. Take care not to burn yourself on the water or hot steam. An almost forgotten home remedy, steaming is one of the best ways to treat upper respiratory infections and sinus congestion.

Some additional tips for reducing seasonal allergies, wheezing and sinus congestion:

1. Avoid dairy products (milk, cheese, ice cream), which can increase the body’s mucous production.
2. Consume hot lemon drinks with a dash of cayenne pepper to help decrease excess mucous production.
3. Garlic and onions are useful medicinal foods for clearing up sinus congestion. Add them into ones daily diet.
4. Practice strengthening your lungs, by blowing up a balloon every day.
5. Begin using horseradish as a condiment in your foods to immediately clear up sinus congestion.
6. Dilute 2 tsp organic unpasturized apple cider vinegar mixed with 1 tsp honey and ¼ cup water and drink
3-4 times daily to help minimize symptoms of wheezing and tightening in the chest.
7. Avoid salt, dairy, corn, milk eggs, chocolate; foods high in fats, tartrazine (also known as FD&C yellow).
8. Frequent steaming with essential oils such as Eucalyptus or our popular Breath Essential Oil.
9. Yoga, deep breathing practices and singing is useful tonics for strengthening the lungs.

For health programs (and custom blended plant medicine) tailored to your specific health concerns, consider booking a clinic appointment.