It’s fall! The leaves are changing, the days are getting darker and cooler and…seasonal allergies are acting up! (Full disclosure: I, personally, don’t suffer from seasonal allergies, but I’ve worked with several clients who do and have had great success with providing herbal allergy relief through combinations of the following.)
Let’s get to it, no time to waste!
As it turns out, allergy symptom relief is one area where herbs can really shine – without the frustrating and annoying side-effects that many of the over-the-counter medications bring. To determine which herbs are most appropriate for you, think about what particular symptoms you have. Then combine the herbs that relieve those symptoms from the following discussion for holistic support. Most of these herbs can be combined in a single tea or, for a more concentrated and convenient format, a hydroalcoholic extract.
Eyebright (Euphrasia stricta)
It’s no surprise that an herb called eyebright might be useful to relieve watery, itchy eyes. Astringent, decongestant, and anti-inflammatory, eyebright should be a primary constituent of any seasonal herbal allergy relief remedy. CAUTION: for internal use only, do not apply directly to the eye!
Canadian goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)
Another solid choice in relieving upper respiratory allergy symptoms: decongestant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial. Goldenrod sometimes gets a ‘bad rap’ as an allergen, itself, due to its tendency to grow amidst an actual irritant: ragweed.
Osha root (Ligusticum porteri)
Widely used in Native American and Hispanic culture, osha is a bronchiodilator to ease labored breathing as well as an antibacterial expectorant to expel microbes from the lungs.
Grindelia flower (Grindelia spp.)
Sometimes called ‘gumweed’ due to the sticky residue present on its cheery, yellow flowers, grindelia relieves upper respiratory spasms and helps to expel excess mucus.
Marshmallow root (Althea officinalis)
Marshmallow’s high inulin content brews up a soothing, demulcent (slimy!) tea that coats irritated mucous membranes such as a sort throat.
Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)
Mullein is one of my favorite herbs to ease a persistent cough. It, too, soothes mucus membranes and also has anti-inflammatory properties.
Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica)
In addition to its anti-histamine effects that calm the body’s reaction to allergens, the dried leaf is high in several essential minerals, which makes it a particularly nutritive herb in weakened conditions. NOTE: do not touch or ingest fresh nettles as they will cause a painful, itchy rash on contact!
Baical skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis)
Baical skullcap root is also an important anti-histamine herb, essential to round out the herbal allergy relief provided by the herbs listed above.
This is just a sample of some of my favorite herbs that can help with different allergy symptoms. See my latest Ask The Herbalists blog post for additional discussion on two of my favorite immune-boosting herbs, just in time for flu season!
For stubborn or persistent symptoms please feel free to contact me to see how my clinical herbalist services may help!
Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester Vermont: Healing Arts Press.
Winston, D. (2019). Herbal Therapeutics: Specific Indications for Herbs and Herbal Formulations. New Jersey: Herbal Therapeutics Research Library.