Several years ago, we bought a house in the middle of a hay field. Come summer, our son could barely function for the runny nose and eyes, sneezing and congestion. Diagnosis: Hay fever. Prescription: Claritin.
Before anyone in our home takes a pharmaceutical product, I look it up in the Physician’s Desk Reference. Not liking what it said, I started our son on a natural regime that worked.
Effective allergy treatment works to reduce the body’s over sensitivity to a stimulus. Herbal remedies can bring relief to certain symptoms and gradually reduce the allergic response. Because this process is gradual, you need to begin this natural hay fever remedy about 30 days before you normally experience any symptoms. So, first you need to know when your personal allergy season begins. Do your eyes and nose begin running with the first lawn mowing? Or do they wait for the pollen to blow?
Check the pollen count
During allergy season, most weather forecasts give this numerical value that indicates the concentration of pollen in the air. Pollen counts in late summer rank highest between 5:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. They are lowest after the rain. This information can help you determine if you should be outdoors on any given day.
If you have no choice about being outside, however, you can wear a mask. My son would complain of it being hot and uncomfortable but it beat the alternative. You can also take extra supplements before and after you participate in any especially aggravating activities. Then, when the day is done, use a neti pot.
A neti pot is a small vessel used to wash the nasal passages. You can purchase one at your local health food store for around $15. Using a solution of two teaspoons sea salt to one pint of water, pour the solution into one nostril, while tipping the head, allowing it to drain out into the sink. This procedure washes out anything that can irritate or cause a reaction.
Take herbs and supplements
A person with seasonal hay fever can take herbs and supplements that will match or exceed the effectiveness of pharmaceuticals. This example is not a prescription. It is what our family does at home. Anyone wanting to try herbal therapy instead of their doctor’s prescription should consult their physician or a professional herbal therapist. We have used the following products with great success: freeze-dried nettle, quercitin with bromelain and effervescent vitamin C.
Well known for its sting, man has appreciated nettle for its medicinal uses since the first century. “Stinging nettle contains natural antihistamines and anti-inflammatories (including quercitin) that open up constricted bronchial and nasal passages, making it a choice therapy for treating asthma and nasal allergies,” says Dr. James Duke in his book The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook. No other herb eases hay fever symptoms like nettle.
From the last frost in spring until the first frost of fall, our son took a capsule of freeze-dried nettle three times a day between meals. Buying the traditionally dried herb will cost less but you will need more capsules to get the same result as the freeze-dried variety. Freeze-drying maintains the active constituents of the herb at their highest potency and action. Stinging nettle has no reported side effects or contra-indications.
Beginning to take nettle about a month before you expect any symptoms keeps those symptoms at bay. But for our son, certain activities would cause flair-ups. At the first sign of trouble, he took a capsule of quercitin with bromelain*. Quercitin is a naturally occurring bioflavonoid that maintains healthy histamine levels. And, according to Prescription for Natural Healing by Balch and Balch, bioflavonoids have an antibacterial effect and promote circulation, thus preventing a sinus infection. Bromelain, an enzyme found in the pineapple, acts as an anti-inflammatory. Quercitin and bromelain are more effective when taken together than separately and Vitamin C will enhance their absorption.
Our final secret weapon against hay fever is an effervescent C product. Caught away from home, suffering from a severe attack after mowing grass all day, someone handed our son a packet of Emergen-C®. When asked how it worked, he said, “Aahh. Instant relief.” Master Herbalist Rachel Weaver, of Reinholds, PA, explains, “This product delivers a high dose of useable, liquid C that goes right into the cells. As with all liquids, i.e. tinctures and teas, it bypasses the digestion process where it would lose some of its value.”
*Bromelain acts as a blood thinner. Anyone taking prescription blood thinners, with a bleeding disorder, or facing surgery or childbirth needs to consult a physician before taking it regularly.