Herbal Help for Hayfever, Dust & Pet Allergy Sufferers
Herbal medicine has been around for a long time. People have been using herbs & plants to cure illness since the Palaeolithic era, according to archaeological evidence. That’s around 60,000 years ago. Today, plenty of modern medicines – the World Health Organization (WHO) says a quarter of drugs now in use in America – are derived from plants. WHO also estimates that 80 percent of the population of some Asian and African countries currently use herbal medicine for some aspect of primary health care.
There are many options for you to pursue if you want to explore using herbal help for hayfever. Before you do, though, you should bear these things in mind:
- “natural” doesn’t necessarily mean “safe” – or even “harmless”. The NHS website warns that herbal medicines “should be used with the same care & respect as pharmaceutical medicines”
- BUPA’s website says “Herbal remedies contain active ingredients and may interact with other medicines or cause side-effects. Don’t start taking any herbal remedies without speaking to your GP or pharmacist first. It’s also important not to stop taking any prescribed medicine without speaking to your GP, and not to exceed the recommended dose of herbal medicines.”
- Clinical trials of herbal medicines are extremely rare. This means that evidence of the effectiveness of using herbal help for hayfever is also extremely rare
- Check that any product you buy has either the Traditional Herbal Registration (THR) logo or a product licence number displayed on it
- Apply common sense, and check with your GP or pharmacist before taking herbal remedies
- Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Just because there is no evidence that herbal remedies work for hayfever doesn’t mean they don’t work. It just means no-one can prove they do – or don’t
Checking out herbal help for hayfever
OK, so much for the health warnings. What about the herbs?
Plants & Herbs that may help with hayfever
There are many plants, herbs and components of plants and herbs that may help with hayfever or pet or dust allergy. Here are some of those most commonly suggested:
Aloe Vera has mild antihistamine properties. It also promotes digestion and helps to clear skin problems. You can drink the juice diluted in water. Used externally as a gel it cools and soothes allergic skin rashes and itchy skin.
Butterbur is a herbal extract believed to have an antihistamine-like effect on hay fever symptoms. A 2005 medical study found that butterbur was as effective as antihistamines in treating hay fever symptoms. However, people allergic to ragweed or chrysanthemum should avoid butterbur and it should be consumed carefully as it can cause indigestion, fatigue, vomiting or constipation. Butterbur extract is available in capsules from a wide range of online sources.
Calendula and Camomile tea are both reputed to relieve hayfever symptoms. Some herbalists suggest smearing camomile and lemon oil on a tissue and inhaling.
Ginger, Peppermint and Green tea are all said to reduce hay fever symptoms. Ginger and green tea work as natural anti-histamines whilst peppermint reduces congestion.
Ginkgo biloba is thought to decrease the body’s response to allergens while also increasing energy levels and circulation. It is available in most health food shops and is usually taken in capsules.
Honey is not a herb or a plant but so many people find it beneficial we felt it had earned its place in the list. Eating locally-produced honey regularly throughout the year may help in building up the body’s immunity, thereby reducing your over-reaction to pollen when it’s released. For this to work, the honey must be very local to you.
Horseradish is a pungent root vegetable which acts as a decongestant, helping to clear nasal passages. Grated fresh horseradish root adds a great kick to roast meats and vegetables.
Liquorice root can ease inflammation and redness in the nose and is also believed to have anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties that can help boost the body’s immune response to hay fever, dust and pet allergies. It can be drunk as a herbal tea.
Nettle is available in capsule form from health food retailers, some supermarkets and online. The recommended dose is two 300mg capsules daily, to be taken when you experience symptoms. It can also be drunk as an infusion or made into soup. To make nettle soup, pick only the tender young leaves at the tip of the plant in early spring, after which the leaves become coarse. Recipes can be found online.
Quercetin is thought to limit the release of histamine. As well as being found naturally in many foods (Wikipedia lists 30, with raw and canned capers at the top) it can also be taken in a capsule. The recommended dose is 250-600mg per day, taken 5-10 minutes before meals. NB Quercetin is not recommended during pregnancy.
Turmeric Commonly used in Middle Eastern and Asian cuisine, turmeric is a spice containing curcumin, which has been found to have anti-allergy properties. Most often used in dried form, it can also be bought fresh. It looks similar to ginger root. Put on your rubber gloves (it stains!), peel a section and grate, then add about two teaspoons to rice dishes, stir-fries or soups. Or anything else you fancy.
Reporting adverse reactions
You can report adverse reactions to any medicines, herbal or otherwise, via the government’s Yellow Card scheme. Follow this link https://yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk/
Useful links for further information
Aromatherapy is a traditional, natural and effective way to treat a variety of ailments including allergy symptoms.
It is important to use a high quality pure, natural essential oil with genuine ingredients, not a synthetic version which won’t bring the same benefits, and always follow instructions.
Useful oils to treat Allergies
- Roman chamomile or camomile is soothing and can lessen your reaction to pollen.
- Lavender is renowned for its healing, calming and soothing properties.
- Geranium is balancing. (Geranium may not be suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women as it affects the hormones).
- Pine is strengthening and can help clear nasal congestion.
- Rosemary is uplifting and can help clear nasal congestion.
- Juniper is detoxifying.
- Eucalyptus is clearing.
- Niaouli and Tea Tree oil also have helpful properties for hay fever.
- Carrier oils include sesame, sunflower, coconut and olive.
Aromatherapy Top Tips to Relieve Allergies
- Spray a homemade lavender or eucalyptus room spray throughout the house and especially in the bedroom before you go to sleep.
- Try some on your pillow to help you sleep and to clear your sinuses while you sleep.
- A blend of chamomile, lavender and lemon added to your bath or diffused in a burner may help relieve symptoms, particularly at night before you go to sleep.
How to Use Essential Oils and Herbs to Soothe Allergy Symptoms
- Boil leaves in water to make a room or body spray – try eucalyptus
- Add a few drops to a body cream and apply to your skin, or add to a carrier oil to make a massage oil or a chest rub.
- Put a few drops on a handkerchief or a tissue and inhale before and after sneezing.
- Burn in an oil burner.
- Dilute a few drops in your warm bath.
Allergy Relief – Essential Oils and their Properties
All of the following oils may be useful in helping to alleviate Hay Fever Dust and Pet Allergies symptoms.
Roman camomile or Roman chamomile – excellent calming properties. Effective for irritation, impatience and feeling disagreeable. Antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. Blends well with lavender, geranium, tea tree, rose and lemon.
Lavender – The most versatile oil. Calming and relaxing it combats stress and crisis. Antiseptic properties help kill off cold and flu-like symptoms and other ailments. Has a healing effect on the skin and the mind and body. Can also be used to clean wounds and treat burns. Blends well with geranium and lemon.