Spring weather will get here eventually (though at this point I’m still relatively skeptical).
With the joys of spring, however, come seasonal allergies as well. We have such a small window of lovely weather here in Minnesota that it’s a shame if you can only enjoy it between sneezes. I spoke with herbalist and author of the best-selling book Alchemy of Herbs, Rosalee de la Forȇt, to learn the best natural ways to rid yourself of allergy symptoms.
Rosalee shares a very familiar story on her website. She too suffered from allergies for years and tired of trying to treat her symptoms with terrible tasting nasal sprays and medications, Rosalee sought out a different solution through natural and organic allergy remedies. You might have guessed how this story ends: yes, Rosalee is happily allergy free. And luckily for the rest of us, she is generously sharing her knowledge so we can join her with unstuffed noses and breathe in the spring.
Immediate Allergy Relief
Most people seek out Rosalee because they feel just all around awful and want relief from their allergy symptoms immediately. They run the gamut of symptoms from a stuffed up nose where they can’t breathe to a runny nose, watery eyes, and endless sneezing. While each person and situation is different, Rosalee provides a general guide for you to experiment with which herb combinations work best for you.
For the stuffed up crowd: If you are suffering from a stuffed up nose, Rosalee recommends upping the amount of Aromatic Herbs to your diet. These aromatic herbs and foods are spicy and have a bit of a bite to them. Great ones to include in your diet are raw garlic and ginger which will be sure to get your sinuses moving and running again.
For the runny nose: If your symptoms resemble more of a broken running faucet, you can find some relief in using Astringents. Rosalee explains, “Astringents tighten and tone tissues and can dry up that excess mucus finally bringing you some relief.” Excellent astringent herbs include Raspberry Leaf, Witch Hazel extract, Blackberry Root, Oak Bark, and Goldenrod. (Yes, it may sound as if you’re starting to brew a potion, but frankly, a magic potion is exactly what you need for allergy relief.)
The silver bullet to allergy relief: Okay, I must preface that while there isn’t truly one singular cure for allergies, if there was one that can come close in which Rosalee stands by, it is: freeze-dried nettle. While it doesn’t always work for everyone, freeze-dried nettle is worth experimenting with as Rosalee describes it as the “Herbal Benadryl” where you can get some quick relief from a variety of symptoms.
Rosalee recommends buying freeze-dried nettle in powder form as opposed to a capsule form as it will be less expensive and just as easy to consume. To begin, take a low dose of freeze-dried nettle starting with a half teaspoon. If that amount doesn’t ease any symptoms, continue upping the dose and frequency until you do find some relief.
Prevention of course is the most effective way to find relief from allergy symptoms and to finally get rid of them for good. The hard part is starting the process before you even have allergy season on your radar. Beginning six weeks out to allergy season is best and will help alleviate any symptoms you usually suffer from. For allergy prevention you’ll want to look to the Immunomodulator Herbs.
Immunomodulator Herbs are herbs that get your immune system back on track. Rosalee expounds, “You can see seasonal allergies as an over-excited immune system and if you can address immune system health before it goes haywire, you can contain these symptoms.”
The immunomodulator herbs Rosalee always reaches for are nettle, reishi mushrooms, and astragalus. These herbs are deeply nourishing for your immune system and help to strengthen your immunity against not only seasonal allergies but against colds, viruses, food intolerances, and other autoimmune issues.
Here is one of Rosalee’s favorite tea recipes for allergy relief using the immunomodulator herb astragalus, that is not only effective but soothing and delicious.
Astragalus Chai Tea
- 20 to 30 grams astragalus root (approximately 15 to 20 small slices)
- 1 tablespoon dried orange peel (store-bought dried orange peel comes in small, uniform pieces. If you make your own, be sure to mince the orange peels finely before drying them, as they are difficult to cut once dried.)
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh or dried ginger
- 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon chips
- 1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
- 1 or 2 cardamom pods
- 2 whole cloves
Stove Method: Place all the ingredients in a pan with 2 & 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, covered. Strain, then add milk and honey as desired. Drink within 36 hours.
Slow Cooker Method: Place all ingredients in a slow cooker with 2 & 1/2 cups water. Set it to low heat and let it cook overnight, covered. Inspect the amount; if it looks low, add more water. Strain, then add milk and honey as desired. Drink within 36 hours.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic bullet to ending seasonal allergies. Allergies are usually part of a larger picture and a symptom from a lifestyle of imbalance and inflammation. This imbalance can look different for every person as for instance, you might be eating the inflammatory standard American diet or perhaps have increased stress from a job you don’t enjoy. These factors can all play a critical role in why your allergies flare up each year. But, if you start adding healing herbs, you might start to see some changes.
Rosalee encourages you to be “herbal curious” and to not get discouraged too quickly. Start small by simply adding more spices and herbs to your meals or try one new herbal tea a day like the Astragalus Chai recipe above. Experiment with different herbs, dosage, and frequency to find the right combo for you that will finally relieve you of allergy symptoms.
Looking for something else to read? Check out this Twin Cities Agenda article on making a tasty recipe for the allergy-preventing Nettle Tea.