Herbal Remedies for Allergies

By: Gayle A. Alleman

©2007 Publications International, Ltd. Nettle's leaves ease hay fever

To those who suffer from hay fever, nature can be an agonizing thing. Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen characterized by sneezing; inflamed, watery, itchy eyes; and thin nasal discharge.

While allergies can range from uncomfortable to agonizing, there are some herbal remedies that can offer hay fever sufferers relief.


Herbal Remedies for Allergies

Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine, helping to reduce nasal secretions and inflammation. Flavonoids such as quercetin, rutin, and hesperidin also have antihistamine properties and work well with vitamin C. Luckily, this vitamin and the flavonoids occur together in many favorite garden foods, such as berries, plums, citrus fruits, peppers, spinach, and broccoli.

Nettle is useful for reducing hay fever symptoms. Take a tincture made from the leaves. Use 2-4 mL three times per day. Nettle leaves can also be taken in tea or capsule form.

Angelica comes to the rescue for hay fever as well as other allergic reactions. It contains compounds that block the body's production of certain antibodies (IgE) that are made

as the result of an allergic response. Use about 1/2 teaspoon per cup of water for tea.

Many studies have proved licorice's ability to reduce allergic symptoms and decrease inflammation. Substances in this herb are able to enhance the body's cortisol, a hormone that decreases inflammation. Licorice makes your body's own cortisol last longer, reducing inflammation without ill side effects.

Chili pepper, or cayenne, contains capsaicin. This active ingredient helps desensitize the mucosa that line the airways, thus preventing them from secreting excessive fluids and becoming inflamed when exposed to irritants.

In larger doses taken for long periods, licorice can deplete the body of potassium unless it is deglycyrrhizinated. In susceptible people taking large doses, licorice can raise blood pressure.

Allergies can cause a great amount of discomfort -- but with some simple herbs, taken as teas, capsules or eaten in foods, you can find relief from the symptoms of hay fever and other allergies.


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Eric Yarnell, N.D., R.H. (A.H.G.) is a naturopathic physician and registered herbalist in private practice specializing in men's health and urology.  He is an assistant professor in the botanical medicine department at Bastyr University in Seattle and is president or the Botanical Medicine Academy.  He is the author of several textbooks including Naturopathic Gastroenterology, Naturopathic Urology and Men's Health, and Clinical Botanical Medicine; He writes a regular column on herbal medicine for Alternative and Complementary Therapies.  This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies.   Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness. Each state and each discipline has its own rules about whether practitioners are required to be professionally licensed. If you plan to visit a practitioner, it is recommended that you choose one who is licensed by a recognized national organization and who abides by the organization's standards. It is always best to speak with your primary health care provider before starting any new therapeutic technique.