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Top 12 Most Effective Herbs for Hay Fever and Allergies
As tired as everyone might be of snow and cold, what follows is spring and springtime allergies. If you suffer from hay fever or other types of springtime allergies, you probably have a hard time deciding which is worse, winter weather or spring allergies.
Some allergies, such as hay fever, are seasonal issues which are often caused by the body’s immune system overreacting to harmless substances such as pollen, mites, dust, or mold. Other types of allergies can be caused by numerous factors including nutritional, infectious, or genetic issues. These types of allergies continue to increase even though there are numerous pharmaceutical “treatments.” A third type of allergic reaction is from certain foods or ingredients.
It has been estimated that about 40 percent of the population in the US has some sort of sensitivity to allergens. Although you probably turn to antihistamines to relieve your symptoms, these drugs are absorbed by the brain and cause sleepiness or daytime drowsiness. Herbal remedies don’t have these types of side effects. Herbs work differently than antihistamines because they work to protect the cells from histamines instead of blocking the body from producing them, as most pharmaceuticals do.
Here are the 12 best herbs that can provide relief from allergies and the discomfort they cause.
1. Garlic and Onions
This is perhaps the safest and easiest way of relieving and preventing allergies. Raw garlic and onion contain high levels of quercetin. Research shows that quercetin is a natural anti-inflammatory and stabilizes cells to help stop the introduction of histamine causing inflammation. Try adding plenty of raw onions to your lunchtime salads. You can also crush two or three cloves of raw, organic garlic and swallow them each morning for allergy protection all day.
Not technically an herb, but this works so well it deserves to be on this list. Bromelain is a natural enzyme that is found in the stems of pineapples. Studies show bromelain reduces the production of mucus and swelling of the nasal passages. One study performed in 2012 showed that mice who received this enzyme had significant anti-inflammatory activity in the lungs, which means this enzyme can have some powerful therapeutic value for those who suffer from allergies or asthma. You can buy bromelain extracts in a supplement form at your local health food store.
3. Ginkgo Biloba
Many people think ginkgo is only good for the cardiovascular system and energy but ginkgo has also been shown to have a significant effect when it comes to managing allergies and asthma. Ginkgo has powerful anti-inflammatory compounds and naturally contains seven antihistamines, which make this a natural and effective way to get relief from the symptoms of allergies. Ginkgo also has compounds called ginkgolides, which have been shown in studies to be quite effective in relieving allergies, asthma attacks, and other lung problems. Ginkgolides relive inflammation by killing free radicals and allow more oxygen into the lungs so those who suffer from asthma and allergies are able to breathe more easily. Be sure to buy gingko from a quality source, as many of the cheaper brands, especially those from China, have been found to contain little or no real gingko biloba.
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4. Stinging Nettle
Although this plant causes irritation when touched in the wild (hence the name) the leaves of this plant, when consumed through supplements or in tea, are one of the best choices for relieving allergy symptoms. Rich in vitamin K, quercetin, and carotene, singing nettle showed that, in human trials, more than 50 percent of those who took freeze dried nettle extracts confirmed that they found relief from allergy symptoms. Slightly less than half of the participants stated that they found nettle to work the same, or better, than their usual antihistamine. Read more about nettle healthy benefits.
5. Tinospora Cordifolia
Commonly used in India for the relief of allergies and other health issues, a few studies have shown that this herb has the potential to manage and treat common allergies. Subjects that consumed supplements of tinospora cordifolia in tablet form showed that it helped with itching, sneezing, and nasal discharge. One study involved 75 subjects that suffered from either hay fever or allergenic rhinitis. Participants were given tinospora cordifolia and all subjects experienced a significant reduction in typical allergy symptoms.
More than just a plate garnish or breath freshener, parsley actually arrests the secretion of histamines. Parsley can be consumed fresh, but supplements are also available. Parsley is a diuretic, so if you have any type of medical condition or if you are taking prescription medication, talk to your doctor before consuming parsley. If you are allergic to alder leaf pollen, do not consume parsley.
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The essential oils in rosemary can open up airways constricted by histamine production. Rosemary contains powerful anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antioxidant compounds. Rosemary essential oil is also a well-known anti-allergic substance. Keep a small bottle of rosemary essential oil in your purse or pocket and practice some aroma therapy three or four times each day, or as needed. You can also drink rosemary tea to fight inflammation from the inside out.
8. Reishi Mushroom
Often referred to as the King of mushrooms, or even the mushroom of immortality, reishi mushrooms are a powerful herb that have amazing benefits for our health. This mushroom has been used for untold centuries by both the ancient Japanese and Chinese for medicinal purposes. Researchers confirm that this mushroom is quite effective as an antihistamine. Reishi has large quantities of a compound called lanostan, which are Mother Nature’s antihistamine. Lanostan controls the release of certain chemicals in the body, which means it also controls the release of histamines. Find out benefits of reishi mushrooms for cancer treatment.
Butterbur has some researchers excited about its possibility as becoming the next big herbal supplement with tremendous promise due to its ability to prevent the swelling of airways. Butterbur contains leukotriene, which has inhibiting effects against most allergic reactions. Some studies have shown that the root of this herb is just as powerful as prescription drugs, such as Zyrtec, but does not cause daytime drowsiness.
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10. Phelum Pretense
More commonly known as Timothy-grass, there have been extensive studies regarding this herb. Most of the studies have shown that the pollen extract from this herb can help eliminate common symptoms in those suffering from allergies and hay fever. As strange as it might seem, the pollen from this plant, when placed under the tongue, help to stop the symptoms of hay fever and/or grass pollen allergies. It also relieves seasonal allergies when injected. Some researchers believe that when this herb is given to children for a few years, it reduces their susceptibility to developing asthma.
Licorice root contains antitumor, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory compounds, as well as licoachalcone, which stop activities at a cellular level that encourage allergic reactions. Studies have also shown that licorice has the ability to lower inflammation of the skin. Licorice encourages production of cortisol levels or might enable cortisol to last longer in the body, giving it protection from inflammation, with no side effects.
12. Sida Cordifolia
Also known as flannel weed, country mallow, or heart leafed sida, this plant, native to India, has been shown to have decongestant effects and anti-inflammatory compounds. It has been used traditionally to treat bronchitis, nasal congestion, and asthma. Care should be taken with this herb as it can raise the heart rate and blood pressure. Always consult your doctor before consuming sida cordifolia.
As with any herbal program, you should consult your doctor first. Although many herbs are known to be completely harmless, everyone reacts differently. If you are pregnant, nursing, have a medical condition, or are taking prescription drugs, always consult your doctor before consuming any herbal product.