Tag Archives: allergies

Nettles for Allergy Season

Like nearly everyone else in Northwest Arkansas, I suffer from seasonal allergies. Fortunately mine are pretty mild. I might wake up with a sore throat or find myself sneezing while working in the garden.

nettles

My first choice herb for seasonal allergies is nettle leaf, also know as stinging nettles. Nettles can reduce the amount of histamine our bodies release in response to whatever pollen or mold is bothering us. Nettles have also traditionally been used for their ability to reduce inflammation, which may help with allergic symptoms or other conditions like arthritis.

Nettles are also a nourishing diuretic meaning they increase urination without depleting nutrients. This is because nettles are rich in vitamins and minerals to replace any that might be lost with increased urinary output. These urinary benefits makes nettle leaf a good choice for preventing urinary tract infections and kidney stones. It should be noted that nettle root could be helpful for many prostate issues since it inhibits the conversion of testosterone to estrogen.

Because they are so nutritious, nettles can be cooked like other greens. Pick the top few tender leaves, wearing gloves to avoid the sting. When nettles are cooked, the sting is neutralized.

Clearly, it is safe to use large quantities of nettles for allergy season support since they can be eaten as a food. If nettles alone aren’t enough, I add quercetin and N-acetyl cysteine to further diminish allergy symptoms. Quercetin shares nettles antihistamine characteristics while N-acetyl cysteine helps break up mucus.

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Natural Support for Seasonal Allergies

The other day I walked outside to find my car covered in pollen, so clearly we are entering the peak season for seasonal allergies. The question I always address at this time of year is how to reduce allergy symptoms naturally. First, start with overall health and diet. For instance, people who consume diets higher in carotenoids, nutrients found in many vegetables, had lower incidences of seasonal allergy symptoms. I have also had numerous patients whose allergy symptoms became more manageable when they eliminated a troublesome food from their diets, such as dairy. A couple of studies have also shown that the use of products containing beneficial bacteria, such as probiotics, can reduce allergy symptoms in children and adults with moderate to severe nasal symptoms. These probiotics may be helping by reducing inflammation in the body or reducing the body’s tendency to react to some of the common problem foods.

Butterbur

Butterbur

After the diet is improved, we can tackle the remaining symptoms with natural supplements. For years, I have been touting the use of zinc for allergy sufferers. Zinc helps to balance out the immune system, which can reduce the body’s overreaction to allergens like pollen. In addition, a study has shown that people with seasonal allergies tend to have lower levels of serum zinc compared to non-allergic people. Another fabulous allergy supplement is the herb butterbur. Butterbur is an inflammation-modulating herb that has been used for coughs, allergies, and migraines. A recent study comparing butterbur to an allergy medication and a placebo showed that butterbur and the medication were both equally superior to the placebo in reducing allergy symptoms. But always make sure the butterbur you purchase has had its unsaturated pyrrolizidine alkaloids removed, since long-term consumption of herbs that still contain these compounds can damage the liver.

This is just a few of the supplements worth considering for allergy support. For few other ideas, check out this recent article on allergies that quotes me along with other local practitioners.