While some eagerly anticipate the arrival of spring each year, others shudder in anticipation of the accompanying return of seasonal allergies. But don’t despair, help maybe as close as your backyard or local woods and meadows.

We are extremely fortunate in this area to have an abundance of herbs that can go to bat against season allergies. One of the most widely used is stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), which grow in the moist, shadier areas of the valley. It contains chemicals which have a natural anti-histamine action in the body and can be used daily to keep symptoms at bay.

The flowers and purple berries of the elder tree (Sambucus caerulea or nigra) are wonderfully immune boosting (it has a similar action to Echinacea) and act as a natural decongestant as well. (As a result they can help to support your body’s immune response to allergens while reducing symptoms as well. (Note – use only the purple berry variety of elder, not the red variety as these are toxic.)

 

Another widely available remedy is rose hips (Rosa spp.). Hips from both wild and garden variety of roses will help to support your immune system. (Wild ones tend to be a bit stronger). They are rich in the Vitamin C and the flavonoids, quercitin and rutin which help to boost immune response.

 

If you suffer from that irritating tickle at the back of your throat caused by post nasal drip, then red clover (Trifolium pratense) is your herb. It helps to reduce inflammation in the sinuses and dry out excess mucus secretions, relieving the cause of the tickle.

The herb licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is a sweet treat to combat allergies as well. It acts similar to a corticosteroid in the body, suppressing the histamine release and inflammation in the body. (Note – avoid this herb if you have high blood pressure)

If you have those itchy runny eye symptoms that are so uncomfortable during allergy season, then the herb eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) is for you! It has a natural antihistamine action that seems to have an affinity for managing allergy related eye discomfort.

In addition to the herbs mentioned you should also consider an herb called butterbur or western coltsfoot (Petasite hybridus/palmatus). Studies have shown that this herb is as effective as prescription allergy medicines in relieving the symptoms of seasonal allergies. A recent study published in the journal of Clinical & Experimental Allergy confirmed that butterbur has a strong antihistamine action without the drowsiness seen in conventional medications.

So next time you feel the telltale signs of seasonal allergies, help is on its way from nature’s medicine cabinet!