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.
Posted in Health, Herbs
Tagged allergies, antihistamine, inflammation, joint pain, kidney health, nettle leaf, nettles, nutrition, seasonal allergies, stinging nettles, urinary health, UTI
Most of the time when I am discussing probiotics with my patients, we are talking about them in connection with their many benefits for gut health. While the formulas I recommend for gut health will often also benefit urogenital health, emerging research is showing that different organisms work better for different parts of our bodies. Some beneficial bacteria are best at colonizing the small intestines, but we should chose different ones for the mouth, colon or urogenital tract. It can even come down to a particular strain of beneficial bacteria. For instance, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (sold as Culturelle) has been shown to grow very well in the small intestines, but a very closely related strain Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 is superior in many recent studies for colonizing the vaginal mucosa, even when taken orally. Most of these studies are using a formula that also contains Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14.
This probiotic combination of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and L. reuteri RC-14 is featured in several recent studies on improving urogenital health in women. For instance, postmenopausal women who had been suffering from recurrent urinary tract infections took daily either a prophylactic antibiotic or these two beneficial bacteria. At the end of a year, the rate of infections had been reduced by half in both groups, demonstrating that the probiotics were just as effective as the preventative antibiotic. In a study on women with Candida infections, all women took an antifungal medication, but half of the women were given this probiotic duo and the other half received a placebo. Of the women taking the beneficial bacteria, 90% had a complete elimination of symptoms compared to 62% in the women who got the placebo pills. This increased success rate is due to the ability of these particular strains to out competing the bad organisms, partially by producing growth inhibitors against pathogenic organisms like Candida.