Hay Fever is caused by an allergic reaction to tiny, airborne particles of pollens and grains. Pollen is released from flowers, grasses and trees and fills the air on dry, warm days. When it comes into contact with the eyes, nose and lungs of hay fever sufferers, pollen triggers the immune system to produce massive amounts of the chemical histamine. This results in streaming eyes, a sore throat and runny nose. Symptoms similar to asthma can occur in severe cases.
Herbal remedies can minimize attacks of these seasonal allergies and are effective in different ways. Echinacea and nettles balance and strengthen the immune system. Herbs such as elder have an astringent action, helping to dry up secretions while the natural antihistamines in chamomile and plantain also reduce symptoms.
Prevention is better than cure. So ideally, it is best to use herbal remedies as preventive measures for hay fever in the months coming up to spring and summer, rather than just as a treatment.
This Native American plant is a natural immunity enhancer. It stabilizes the histamine-producing cells and keeps white blood cells within the normal range. The root, leaves or whole plant may be used in tonics or teas. A cup of echinacea a day will boost the immune system during the hay fever season.
Herbalists recommend adding garlic to your diet one to two months before the hay fever season. It contains B-group vitamins that have immune-boosting properties.
Several herbs have anti-inflammatory and astringent properties, acting as natural antihistamines to relieve the symptoms of hay fever.
This may be used as a dried herb or liquid tincture. Eyebright tightens and soothes mucous membranes, drying up secretions. Eyebright is also an anti-inflammatory herb.
This herb has many helpful properties for relieving the symptoms of hay fever. It has anti-inflammatory and astringent properties, both of which help to ease symptoms. Cudweed can be taken daily as a tea. It is also a recommended ingredient in steam inhalations for asthma sufferers.
Infusions of chamomile tea, drunk daily, can soothe hay fever symptoms. The essential oil contains chamazule, a beneficial and potent anti-inflammatory.
Fresh stinging nettles, full of chlorophyll and formic acid, strengthen the immune system in preparation for the hay fever season. They also act as an effective antihistamine and an astringent to reduce itchy eyes and sneezing. Try eating lightly cooked nettles as a spring vegetable.
Elder is a natural astringent, drying up excess mucous. An herbal infusion of elder flowers makes an excellent preventative and treatment for hay fever.
A juice or tincture of plantain leaves provide valuable hay fever relief. The leaves are rich in anti-inflammatory iridoids and flavanoids. The plant’s natural astringency also acts to tone and dry mucous membranes.
A native plant of southern Africa, this herb gets its name from the woodlike branches of barbed fruit. It is the root tubers of the plant that give the herb a useful role in the treatment of hay fever as these root tubers have anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties.
Chamomile Herbal Eye Compress
One of the most discomforting symptoms of hay fever is red, itchy and sore eyes. Before reaching for eye drops in the medicine cabinet, however, you might want to try a natural herbal compress for relief.
In ancient times, herbalists noticed how the appearance of some plants looked similar to parts of the human body and applied this observation as a foundation for some treatments. The tiny, eyelike flowers of chamomile, therefore, were recommended for herbal eye baths.
Soothing the eyes
The herb’s anti-inflammatory properties and cooling effect can soothe, swollen, red eyes caused by hay fever, earn applied as an eye compress. Make a weak chamomile tea and allow to cool. Then soak a cotton ball or a piece of clean cloth in the herbal solution and gently apply to the eye. Apply a fresh compress to each eye to avoid infection.
Balch, P.A. (2002). Prescription for herbal healing. New York, NY. Avery.
Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism. Rochester, VT. Healing Arts Press.