Butterbur is a type of herb that has a well-respected reputation as a natural remedy for migraines. In numerous studies, it has also been shown to improve unpleasant allergy symptoms. One study in the British Medical Journal of 125 people with hay fever found that the butterbur worked just as well as cetirizine, which is marketed as Zytrec.
Researchers also concluded that butterbur is a smart choice for anyone looking to improve their allergy symptoms while avoiding the sedative effects of antihistamines. Even though cetirizine is considered a non-sedating allergy medicine, this study found that subjects who took it experienced fatigue and drowsiness.
Garlic is a potent anti-inflammatory and immune enhancer that contains histamine-lowering quercetin. When it comes to fighting spring allergies naturally, quercitin is at the top of the list of natural compounds that have been proven to improve symptoms. Studies have shown that garlic doesn’t only improve immune function, but its quercetin also acts as a natural antihistamine. And research has demonstrated why plant-derived quercetin has quickly become a key ingredient in many allergy-fighting supplements and drugs.
3. Eucalyptus leaf (Eucalyptus globulus)
Used as an essential oil, a few drops can be placed on a tissue and inhaled or placed in a diffuser to ease congestion.
4. Nettle leaf (Urtica dioica)
Nettle leaf demonstrates anti-inflammatory effects and in a controlled trial, showed an ability to reduce allergic reactions and symptoms of seasonal allergies. Nettle leaves can be picked fresh or purchased dry and used as a tea. Ideally steep 1-2 teaspoons per mug of hot water for 20-30 minutes and drink 2-4 cups per day.
Fresh and dried rosemary are already popular additions to many culinary creations and, in recent years, research has shed a light on rosemary’s ability to help fight allergy symptoms and provide relief to asthma sufferers. According to a study published in the Journal of Restorative Medicine, this popular herb contains rosmarinic acid, which has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. The study also reveals that rosmarinic acid is a free radical scavenger that can suppress the inflammatory responses of certain white blood cells, as well as allergic antibodies. In other words: Rosmarinic acid should help improve seasonal allergy symptoms.
Just one word of caution: If you’re taking rosmarinic acid as a supplement, it may help to take it with food to prevent a potential mild stomachache.
6. Sage leaves (Salvia officinalis)
Sage tea can be useful for reducing excessive sinus secretions. Fresh or dried leaves can be used. Add 1 teaspoon per mug and steep for 15-20 minutes and drink 2-3 cups per day.
7. Thyme (Thymus vulagaris)
Thyme contains many different chemicals, one of which is rosmarinic acid, which has an anti-allergic effect. As a tea, use 1 teaspoon of dried herb per mug of hot water. Steep 20-30 minutes and drink 2-3 cups per day. The essential oil can also be used to help ease congestion with a few drops placed on tissue or inhaled or placed in a diffuser.
8. Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Chamomile is a relaxing herb and can be used to aid with sleep that is disturbed by hay fever symptoms. It is also a very effective anti-inflammatory, which can also aid with reducing symptoms. Use 2 teaspoons of dried flowers per mug of hot water and steep for 10-15 minutes. If experiencing sore, itchy eyes, once cooled, the flowers can be wrapped in clean kitchen paper and placed over closed eyes to soothe. If using tea bags, these can be placed directly onto closed eyes once cooled. Lay back and relax for 15-20 minutes.
9. Eyebright (Euphrasia officinale)
Eyebright has been used traditionally for managing the sinus and eye symptoms associated with hay fever. This is primarily due to its anti-inflammatory and astringent (drying) actions. Eyebright is available in liquid form in many health food stores.
10. Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Liquorice is an excellent anti-inflammatory and has a soothing effect. It is also very helpful for supporting people in times of stress and fatigue, which is often the case in severe hay fever. There are also some indications that may enhance clearance of immune complexes (such as antibodies) from the body.
11. Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)
Similar to Huang Qin, Feverfew inhibits the release of histamine and other inflammatory compounds, which play key roles in the process of hay fever. By limiting these compounds, Feverfew can help reduce the symptoms associated with hay fever.
Herbs such as Angelica sinensis, Andrographis, Astragalus and Siberian ginseng are referred to as immunomodulators (they help to rebalance the immune system) and may be useful in addressing allergies such as hay fever under the guidance of a medical herbalist.
Top tea tips: Herbal teas are most effective when consumed regularly throughout the day. To save time, make a large pot or cafetiere in the morning and once steeped, store in the fridge or thermos to drink later. Always cover your cup when brewing herbal tea to avoid losing key chemicals in the steam.
Caution with essential oils: Caution should be used when using the traditional method of steaming your face over a bowl of hot water as essential oils can be irritating to sensitive tissues such as eyes.