Approximately 20% of Americans suffer from hay fever (allergic rhinitis) or seasonal allergies. The primary part of the body affected by this allergic reaction is the membrane that lines the nasal passages making them swell. This causes nasal discharge, sneezing, itching, and difficulty breathing.
The allergic reaction is brought upon by airborne materials; commonly pollen of grass and trees in the spring, and ragweed in summer and fall.
Prevention of hay fever is much like trying to outrun an oncoming train, however, there are small steps that can be taken to reduce the severity or ease the symptoms.
The basics include keeping the windows closed during the seasons of high pollen count, washing sheets more regularly, use wood floors opposed to carpet, wash pets regularly, ventilate bathrooms after showers, remove household plants containing molds, using an indoor dryer opposed to hanging clothes outside, staying indoors between 6 and 11 a.m., use eye drops regularly, and use air filters within the home to help keep the air clean
It is a good idea to use herbal remedies and supplements for hay fever as a preventive tool before spring and summer arrive instead of treating the symptoms of hay fever as they arrive.
Before commence using medicinal herbs for hay fever, it is important to read up on each herb.
Any herbs or herbal supplements aimed as remedies for hay fever should be discussed prior to use with a health care provider because medicinal herbs can interact each other or with conventional medication, also like many conventional medicines, some herbs can come with some serious side effects.
Medicinal Herbs for Hay Fever Treatment and Relief
Butterbur (Petasites hybridus )
Butterbur has been used for centuries as an herbal treatment for various health concerns but has only recently come to light as being used as an herbal remedy for hay fever (allergic rhinitis), due to its content of antihistamines.
Recent studies compared groups taking regular antihistamines and butterbur. The effects were strikingly almost exact. The one difference was that the traditional antihistamines takers experienced drowsiness while those using butterbur did not.
Ephedra (Ma huang) (Ephedra sinica)
Another natural herb that has been used for hay fever. Constricting the blood vessels of the sinuses, this ephedrine, and pseudo-ephedrine containing herb forces fluids that cause the congestion back into the blood stream; clearing the acute sinus stuffiness.
While this herb can be an effective herbal treatment for hay fever it should not be taken for more than a week and then only under strict supervision of a professional health care provider, due to the effects ephedrine has on the central nervous system and other possible side effects.
Golden Seal (Hydrastis Canadensis)
Goldenseal has been at times called “The King of the Mucous Membranes” as it improves the quality of the membrane itself as well as regulating the quantity of mucous allowed into the respiratory system.
It had been used as an herbal remedy for hay fever because it stimulates the blood circulation, helping in the supply of nutrients and reducing the action of the mast cells producing a histamine reaction.
Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)
The oil of evening primrose is used for hay fever due to its effect on the prostaglandin balance in the body.
Dietary supplements of Oenothera biennis is overall one of the best one can take as it actually has a myriad of uses. It provides essentials to the body in which 1 in 8 people do not normally receive. This oil has been tested to be more effective when combined with cod liver oil.
Pineapple (Ananas comosus)
Pineapple contains the substance bromelain a natural enzyme found in the stems. Bromelain has been shown to reduce inflammation in the nasal passages and lessen the production of mucus.
A study from 2012 done on mice showed that bromelain did have strong anti-inflammatory activity in the lungs. This indicates that the enzyme might be useful as a treatment for hay fever, asthma, and allergies.
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)
Gingki biloba is one of the medicinal herbs for hay fever that has gained a lot of interest in recent years.
It has anti-inflammatory properties and contains several natural antihistamines, which makes it helpful as a relief for symptoms associated with hay fever.
Ginkgolides reduce inflammation by eliminating free radicals which in turn allows for more oxygen to enter the lungs resulting in better breathing in people suffering from asthma, allergies and hay fever.
Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia)
Guduchi is a common medicinal herb used in Ayurvedic medicine for the relief of allergies and variety of other ailments. Few scientific studies have confirmed the herb’s potential to manage and treat common allergies.
In one study subjects who were administered guduchi in tablet form reported that the herb reduced itching, sneezing, and nasal discharge.
In another study, 75 patients suffering from hay fever were given guduchi. All subjects experienced a significant improvement in typical symptoms associated with allergy.
Timothy Grass (Phleum pratense)
Timothy-grass is an herb that has some extensive studies behind it. Few studies have shown that an extract from herb’s pollen could be helpful in eliminating or reducing many of the symptoms in those suffering from allergies and hay fever.
Some researchers have theorized that if Timothy grass is given regularly to children over a period of few years, it could reduce their susceptibility to developing asthma but extensive clinical trials are needed to confirm this.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
Turmeric is a popular spice used in Middle Eastern and Asian cuisine. The herb contains the substance curcumin, a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties.
Curcumin is thought to be as effective as many steroidal and non-steroidal conventional medication. It has also been found to have anti-allergy properties and inhibit the release of histamine.
Onion (Allium cepa)
Eating onion is perhaps the safest and easiest way of relieving and preventing hay fever. Onions are loaded with the flavonoid quercetin, a strong antioxidant and with anti-inflammatory properties.
Research studies have shown that quercetin can stabilize cells that in turn halts the introduction of histamine that causes inflammation.
Quercetin is also found in apples, kale, berries, cherries and parsley.
Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)
Stinging nettle, although commonly known to cause skin irritation when touched, is considered by many herbalists as one of the best medicinal herbs for hay fever and allergies. The herb is rich in vitamin K, quercetin, and carotene.
In one clinical trial, more than 50 percent of human subjects suffering from allergies given freeze dried extracts from the nettle leaves confirmed that they found relief from their symptoms. Slightly less than 50% of the subjects reported that stinging nettle worked the same, or better than conventional antihistamine drugs.
Stinging nettle leaves can be used in tea, capsule or tincture form. Studies have indicated that daily use of 300 mg of stinging nettle extract could provide relief from allergy symptoms in most people but many herbal practitioners recommend a stronger dose or up to 500 mg daily.
Tylophora (Tylophora asthmatica)
This herb has been used by doctors in India for a long time now to treat people who suffer from allergies including hay fever.
The compounds contained within this plant are reported to interfere with the mast cells, the key components in the inflammation process which causes most all hay fever symptoms.
Doctors recommend 200 to 400 mg dried herb daily, or 1 to 2 ml per day, each for only one to two weeks.
Some other natural herbs that have been used for hay fever treatment and relief.
- Licorice – (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
- Astragalus – (Astragalus membranaceus)
- Maritime pine bark – (Pinus pinaster)
- Parsley– (Petroselinum crispum)
- Cloves – (Syzygium aromaticum)
- Common Plantain – (Plantago major)
- Kudzu – (Pueraria lobata)