Spring can be a wonderful time with the weather starting to warm, the smell of jasmine in the air and lighter, longer days. But if you are one of those unfortunate people that suffer from seasonal allergies; hayfever, sinusitis, even hives, September marks the start of a season of hell. Itching, watery eyes, sneezing and that congested headachey feeling that makes it difficult to think. Rather than relying on anti-histamines all season, which merely mask the problem by blocking histamine at it’s receptor sites, why not try natural treatments that employ a more holistic approach. Herbs for seasonal allergies can be grouped into the following categories.
1. Anti-histamine herbs: these herbs not only block histamine’s action but prevent the release of histamine from the mast cells. They include Albizia, Baical Skullcap, Nettle and Licorice
2. Tonics to the upper respiratory tract: these tighten the mucous membranes of the nasal and sinus cavities and reduce the amount of mucous discharge. Examples include Ground Ivy, Ribwort and Goldenseal.
3. Antimicrobials: great if you are prone to sinus infections and include Goldenseal, Garlic and Horseradish.
4. Immune modulating herbs: these are also appropriate if you are prone to sinus infections and include Echinacea and Astragalus.
Nutrients which are particularly useful for allergies are the antioxidants; vitamins A, D, E and zinc as well as a potent antioxidant called quercetin which stabilises mast cells and dampens down inflammation. These can be supplemented if a diet rich is fresh fruit and vegetables and unprocessed breads and cereals is lacking. Onions, which are a good source of quercetin, and garlic are good therapeutic foods.