Its April and that means SPRING TIME!!!! Spring is one of my favorite seasons as the birds start to come back from their winter migrations, flowers start to bloom, grass starts to look green, the air has that extra freshness to it and the temperatures start warming up. When spring arrives, I always think, “We made it, winter is over!” Yes, spring produces nothing but happy thoughts for me. Of course, I don’t suffer from any allergies either. For those that suffer allergies, spring has an entirely different meaning: irritation. Relentless allergy symptoms such as itchy eyes, running nose, congestion, headache, and sneezing are no laughing matter. It is estimated that 36 million people in the US suffer from annual allergies (these include allergies from all seasons combined). I thought it was an appropriate time of year to address allergies and specifically, take a look at some natural herbal remedies that may be able to provide you with some natural support during this challenging time of year!
Before we get to my herbal recommendations for allergy support, lets take just a moment and educate ourselves on what a seasonal allergy is and how and why it affects our bodies the way it does.
In most instances seasonal allergies start sometime in February and go until early summer. There is a short reprieve and then they pick back up again at the end of summer and into the fall. This is because spring brings pollination of trees and grass, which cause most of the spring/early summer allergic reactions. We get more pollination at the end of summer and into the fall as ragweed begins to bloom. Ragweed grows just about everywhere, and especially in the east and Midwest. Ragweed blooms and releases pollen from August to November. Unfortunately the only season that really gives folks a break from potential seasonal allergies is winter. And winter is COLD, yuck.
As already stated, seasonal allergies are triggered by pollen (from trees, grass, weeds, and mold). The role of your immune system is to protect your body against foreign invaders. Pollen is everywhere and some people experience an allergic reaction to it and some people don’t. If you suffer from seasonal allergies it mean that your body identifies pollen as a ‘hostile invader’ and responds accordingly. In this case, the immune system creates antibodies to target the allergen (pollen) and this involves releasing histamines, which leads to the classic allergy symptoms we all know and love so much (itchy eyes, congestions, running noses, etc.). This is also why allergy medications usually say “anti-histamine”. An anti-histamine does just that, it blocks the histamine that your body has released (to fight off the pollen). Most allergy medications also contain a decongestant. Anti-histamines can ease your symptoms but work best as a ‘preventative’. The decongestants cut down on the fluid in the lining of your nose and this relieves swollen nasal passages and congestion. In this light, the decongestant is a more ‘after the fact’ support. Some medications are just anti-histamines, some are just decongestants and some are both.
We have made mention of medications (OTC or prescription) but what about those of us who use herbs and want to go the natural route? Great question, glad you asked!
Here are my top five favorite herbs for seasonal allergy support:
- Butterbur: great vs migraines, it has shown in studies to also provide great support in relieving allergy symptoms. And it won’t make you drowsy (like anti-histamines)! You can find this in caplet form in health food stores.
- Stinging Nettle: This flowering perennial has been used medicinally for centuries. Because it has tremendous anti-inflammatory support, it can really help ease the symptoms of seasonal allergies. Take in tea or caplet form.
- Rosemary: both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, Rosemary can help suppress the inflammatory responses of certain white blood cells and allergic antibodies. Cut into your diet.
- Turmeric: The curcumin in turmeric is the reason this spice is on the list. Curcumin studies have shown that it can significantly reduce and inhibit allergic responses. Cut into your diet.
- Garlic: Provides great anti-inflammatory support (among a whole host of other benefits) and has histamine-lowering qualities due to quercetin. Cut into your diet.
There you have it folks. If you don’t want to go the traditional medication route for your seasonal allergies, you can give the items on this list a try! As always, if you are on any medications, or pregnant/nursing, consult your physician before beginning any herb regimen.
Get out and enjoy this great spring weather and don’t forget, at Buckelbury we believe your best wealth is your health! Until next time, good day!