By Golda Smith
Winter doesn’t seem to want to let go! Someone mentioned that it might snow in the next few days. Really?! As I write this blog, I’m still rehabbing the muscle I pulled in my back from shoveling snow last week. I admit that I was a bit zealous in breaking the ice but I was cold and weary!
We are tired of being teased with a couple of beautiful sunny days followed with blistering and down right disrespectful winds that literally move you down the street at a pace quicker than you were walking. Thankfully, Spring is officially here and it could not come soon enough. It’s time to fling the windows open for a continuous stream of fresh air. Time to leisurely wander the Farmer’s Markets and gather all the fabulous spring vegetables. Let’s not forget all the races or at least for me the training runs in the park. I for one am looking forward to spring and all that it offers…well maybe not everything. Specifically, allergies, I can do without that!
Spring is a time of cleansing and renewal, it’s also a time when many people start to experience red itchy eyes, runny noses, persistent coughs, sinus headaches and even skin issues like eczema. While seasonal allergies are seldom serious, they can cause great discomfort for many people. Personally, the smell of fresh cut grass does it for me and causes my skin and eyes to itch. I won’t complain though because I have it pretty good compared to some people I know that literally can’t get out of bed without some over the counter (OTC) medicines to help them function properly.
Do OTC medicines work? Yes, however like most health concerns in our culture, that is taking a band-aid approach and our bodies deserve better. What can we do to help the body combat allergens? Get to the root cause and build up our immune system. A combination of lifestyle adjustment, diet and herbs can alleviate allergies. Today I would like to specifically focus on five herbs you can use to minimize and even eradicate your seasonal allergies.
Why I prefer herbal remedies and why you may too
Have you ever listened to or read the side effects from many OTC drugs that are supposed to heal us? Some side effects include dizziness, constipation, fast heartbeat, difficulty swallowing, death…DEATH?! No thank you. Herbal remedies on the other hand have had a remarkable track record for safety.
When you are having an allergic reaction, be it from dust, pollen or in my case fresh cut grass, the body’s immune system is over reacting. The best thing to do is build up your immune system.
Reishi mushroom is an anti-inflammatory herb that not only supports your immune system but is also great for the respiratory system too. I absolutely love reishi mushrooms and keep them in my herbal inventory. You can enjoy reishi mushroom in a broth, stock, tincture, powder or as a tea.
The second herb you can use to alleviate your seasonal allergies is nettle. Also called “stinging nettle”, this herb is a fantastic antihistamine and helps settle inflammation and may also help give relief from red itchy eyes. You can use the powder form and add it to your smoothies and shakes, the leaves and roots are ideal for making teas that you can drink throughout the day.
Elderflower, not to be confused with elderberry is another herb you may want to experiment with. It has wonderful anti-inflammatory properties and when the lungs get inflamed, it helps to calm the respiratory system along with the eyes, nose and sinuses. Make a pot of tea and enjoy.
Another proven herb to help provide seasonal allergy relief is Eyebright. As the name suggests, it can be used to alleviate the tired, puffy and dull look of the eyes and it helps the body to reduce mucous secretion.
Turmeric rounds out this list but understand that there are other herbs you can use. I love turmeric because I cook with it all year round so it is always in my refrigerator and can easily be added to salad dressing, stir fry or one of my favorite dishes…kitchari. Turmeric has wonderful anti-inflammatory properties and acts as an herbal anti-histamine. To receive a more medicinal effect, use the tincture or capsules.
Keep in mind that these beautiful herbs are only one piece of your healing. Your overall nutrition should be considered and while some of these herbs may work for some, they may not work as well for others. My point is to be patient and find what works best for YOU! You may be wondering where you can find these herbs. Most big chain health stores such as Whole Foods or Publix would have tinctures or syrups. You can also search your local co-op or apothecary shop. You also have the option to order online from reputable companies like Mountain Rose Herbs or HerbPharm. Fyi, I have no financial interest in these companies, however, I am an avid user of their products.
As with anything, please do your research and consult your physician before beginning a new health practice. Happy Spring…minus the sniffles.