It's that dreaded time of year for many people with a higher pollen count comes worse symptoms, rather than reaching for over-the-counter products why not try some of these herbal natural remedies to alleviate your allergies?
Hayfever sufferers can react from any point during Spring/Summer time i.e. April through to September, there are many types of pollens that could trigger a person's specific reaction be it grass, trees, flowers meaning the pollination period of the different plants will be at different points throughout Summer. Hayfever is effectively an (non-anaphylatic) allergic reaction to the stimulus causing an overproduction of histamine in the body producing cold-like symptoms of blocked/runny nose, streaming and itchy eyes, itchy throat and sneezing which can occur on a scale of mild to severe symptoms. Hayfever affects all ages and is often in a trio of 'atopic conditions' so is often accompanied with eczema and asthmatic conditions too, of which seem to more likely occur if a close relative has one or more of the conditons.
A possible effective method for the long run is taking a spoonful of a local honey, this would mean the bees will have taken the nectar from last season's pollen and when taken in advance of the following seasons pollination period, the honey will act a bit like a vaccination, as the body will already have been mildly exposed to the pollen in its surrounding so the histamine reaction shouldn't fire off as much.
Many herbs could be useful as symptomatic remedies given their direct and wide mechanisms of actions, for instance nettles (Urtica dioica) are anti-allergic as they naturally contain amines, in particular histamine so would counteract a high histamine reaction in the body to the allergen.
Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) is particularly astringent to secretions affecting the upper respiratory tract, however it is most commonly known to treat conjunctivitis. As it is also a mucous membrane tonic, it is really great at not only soothing itchy eyes but focuses in on the nose/sinus area and any catarrh production that hayfever most often directly affects.
Elderflower (Sambucus nigra) I have mentioned the elder tree on this blog a few times before (see here and here) as it has so many uses, a lot of herbalists believe the time a plant flowers/produces fruit etc could be related to when we require it too. This seems to ring true with elder as the elder berries appear in early autumn which are antiviral so taken at this point will prevent winter colds in the upcoming season, elder flowers also have some antiviral properties they are particularly anti-catarrhal, anti fever and diaphoretic so are ideal to take in situations of flus, colds, sinusitis or anything related to mild inflammation of the upper respiratory tract including hayfever as it works here as an expectorant.
These three in combination would make a lovely remedy in the upcoming prevention and treatment of hayfever, here I have made them into an infusion using the dried form by pouring freshly boiled water over equal parts of each herb, which can then be drunk as a tea (or can be cooled and strained if it is a really hot day to be more refreshing and cooling!). Once the dried herb has been strained from the infusion to drink, keep hold of the mixture as this can then be placed in a muslin bag or something similar and laid over closed eyes for a couple of minutes to sooth itching and irritation from the eyes.
Pop into my place of practice, Vitality+ (or find your nearest registered herbalist here) and ask for us to make you up some of this hayfever tea or we can make it up as a liquid tincture if you prefer, which can then be taken 3-5 times a day during hayfever season. There are many other options that could suit your particular needs as herbs don't work in a pharmaceutical 'one size to fit all' approach, so have a chat with me or your local herbalist to figure out which herbs might suit you best, here I've just highlighted some typically used herbs for hayfever.
My name is Helen Davison and I'm a NIMH registered practising Medical Herbalist based in Ramsbottom, Lancashire. I've had a keen interest in herbal remedies since my early teens and would experiment creating my own balms and bath bombs using natural ingredients, which prompted me in discovering and pursuing a career in Western Herbal Medicine.