If you do not know of the natural, herbal allergy relief that you can get from the plant kingdom, you are probably spending your hard-earned money on commercial, over-the-counter drugs that may not work over the long term, and which may have unwanted side effects. Prescription drugs may also fall short of the task of relieving your allergy symptoms. There are, however, natural, herbal alternatives to what modern science has to offer, which may offer longer-lasting effects.
Allergies result when a hypersensitive immune system wrongly identifies non-infectious particles (called allergens), and attacks them just as if they were infectious intruders. The result is the typical allergy symptoms such as red eyes, runny noses, hives, sinus and nasal congestion, itchy nose and eyes, headaches, wheezing and shortness of breath. These symptoms are the body's inflammatory reaction to the allergens.
There is no cure for allergies. Avoiding or minimizing exposure to allergens is the most effective way to prevent triggering allergies. This, however, is almost impossible, so the next best thing is to manage and relieve allergy symptoms. This can be achieved by using herbs that balance the immune system, help decrease inflammation and ease indigestion.
Getting Herbal Allergy Relief
Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)
The leaf of this herb contains a natural antihistamine that limits your body's response to allergens. It has traditionally been a favorite remedy for respiratory conditions, and for providing relief for allergy symptoms. It is one of the least expensive and most effective remedies that provide herbal allergy relief.
Eyebright (Euphrasia officinale)
Eyebright contains tannins, which are astringent compounds that help stabilize inflamed mucous membranes in the eyes and in the nasal passages. This, in turn, reduces mucus secretion, relieves the irritation and reduces sensitivity to allergens. It has been a popular remedy for the itchy, watery eyes and running nose typically associated with seasonal allergies.
Elder Flower (Sambucus nigra)
Also called sambuca, this herb is a natural decongestant that is soothing to the sinus and nasal mucous membranes.
Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis)
This herb contains significant amounts of mucilage that help relieve irritation by coating inflamed mucous membranes. It also has decongestant properties and helps the body expel excess mucous. Marshmallow also aids digestion.
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
This popular herb is rich in the compound chamazulene, an anti-allergenic and anti-inflammatory compound. Chamomile works to inhibit the discharge and activation of in the body, which is responsible for triggering allergy symptoms. Applied topically, it can help with hives. Chamomile is mild enough to be prescribed for children.
Butterbur (Petasites hybridus)
This herb contains an active chemical ingredient called Petasines, which sooths inflammation. It also works to block or limit the effects of the histamine that are released by the immune system during an allergic reaction. It is quite popular in Europe.
Elder Flower (Sambucus nigra)
Also called sambuca, this natural decongestant is soothing to the sinus and nasal mucous membranes. It is also a natural astringent that helps to dry up excess mucus. Elder flower is also mild enough to be prescribed for children.
Ephedra (Ma Huang)
A popular ingredient in several traditional Chinese remedies for asthma, allergies and hay fever and the common cold, ephedra is an effective antihistamine and decongestant that also helps regulate lung function. It is the natural, herbal version of pseudo-ephedrine, which is chemically synthesized and now a common ingredient in several popular over-the-counter allergy and cold medications.
Ironically, some of the herbs that have anti-allergenic properties have also been found to induce allergies. For example, chamomile belongs to the ragweed family, and people who are allergic to this common seasonal allergen, tend to may experience cross-reactivity from using chamomile.
Before you take any herbal supplement, you must consult with your doctor or other licensed healthcare professional to determine whether it is safe for you to seek herbal allergy relief as an alternative to prescription and over the counter medications.