Tag Archives: seasonal 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.


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.

Even My Cat is Sneezing

With the mild winter, this year is shaping up to be a particularly bad one for seasonal allergies in Northwest Arkansas. Even one of my four cats has been sneezing a lot recently. Though his sneezing could from a viral infection, I suspect it has to do with the thick layers of pollen coating everything outside.

As a naturopathic doctor, one of my primary goals is to treat the cause of any discomfort versus just alleviating symptoms. Initially, this goal seems hard to accomplish with pollen allergies unless you want to move away from our beautiful region with its wealth of pollen-producing plants, but there are allergy solutions that can keep you rooted in the Ozarks. For instance, you can have air filters in the house to reduce exposure to pollen and other allergens when inside. Another option is using a neti pot for nasal irrigation. With a neti pot, you pour a warm saline solution into one nostril. As the water comes out the other nostril, pollen and other irritants are removed from the nasal passages before they can cause trouble.

When working to address the cause of seasonal allergies, I also have to consider why is a particular person is predisposed to allergies. Many of my patients with allergies need immune support. The immune system has several different branches with some that work to fight cancer cells and others that produce antibodies. These antibodies mainly work by neutralizing pathogenic microorganisms, but they also play a crucial role in allergic reactions. Some allergy sufferers have an imbalance immune system that is overact in the antibody producing aspect and underactive in the other areas. To rebalance the immune system, some well-known immune boosting supplements like Echinacea, zinc, and vitamin D can help. While many people might choose these supplements to help fight a cold, few realize that they can also be important allies for seasonal allergy sufferers.

I would love to hear if any of you have noticed your cat sneezing.