The weather is warming up and the natural world is in a state of renewal. Spring has arrived! The spring season has long been celebrated as a time of rebirth, optimism and growth. With each passing day, new flowers bloom and the Earth comes alive in shades of verdant green.
Unfortunately, the arrival of spring also heralds the start of something much less pleasant: allergy season. As trees, grasses and flowers bloom, they release tiny pollen grains into the air to fertilize new plants. For many people, exposure to pollen can cause sneezing, watery eyes, throat irritation, coughing, headaches and other symptoms.
There are plenty of prescription and over-the-counter medicines that can inhibit this immune response and treat allergy symptoms. Yet there are also many natural remedies for seasonal allergies to consider, either in place of or in addition to these medications.
The best place to begin is by looking at your diet. A healthful and balanced diet centered around whole foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and animal products can provide anti-inflammatory benefits and make your body less reactive to allergens such as pollen.
The next step is to begin experimenting with herbal allies that may help to reduce inflammation, support healthy immune function and provide allergy relief.* Below, discover our top recommended herbs for seasonal allergies.
Nettle (Urtica dioica) is a flowering plant native to Europe, Asia and northern Africa that has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. This plant is also known as “stinging nettle,” and is named for the fine, stiff hairs covering the plant’s stems and leaves. When touched by bare skin, these hairs — which contain histamine — cause a painful stinging sensation.
Yet these histamine-containing stingers are exactly what makes nettle such a promising herbal ally in the fight against seasonal allergies.* In studies, nettle has been shown to inhibit allergy-related inflammation, which may help to stop symptoms in their tracks.*
Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus) is a popular culinary herb that also has a long history of medicinal use. It is rich in rosmarinic acid — a plant compound with powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.*
Studies have demonstrated that rosmarinic acid may be effective at suppressing the inflammatory responses of certain white blood cells, as well as allergic antibodies.* Consuming rosemary and other herbs containing rosmarinic acid may therefore help relieve symptoms related to seasonal allergies.*
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is renowned for its anti-inflammatory benefits, so it should come as no surprise that turmeric is also considered to be a natural remedy for seasonal allergies.* Its most powerful active ingredient is curcumin, which has well-researched antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial properties.*
Studies have shown that regular consumption of turmeric may significantly reduce nasal symptoms (including congestion and sneezing) associated with seasonal allergies, while improving nasal airflow.*
Reishi (Ganoderma lingzhi) is a functional mushroom that has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine since ancient times. It is classified as an adaptogen, meaning it may help to bring the body back to a state of balance by providing a number of holistic benefits.*
One of these reported benefits is the reduction of inflammation, including the kind caused by histamines (the primary chemical released by the body that causes allergy symptoms).* Reishi is also thought to support immune health — an important part of overall wellness.*
Peppermint (Mentha × piperita) is a refreshing herb that is known for its ability to settle the stomach. But research has also shown that peppermint may be effective in soothing certain symptoms associated with seasonal allergies — namely respiratory symptoms.*
The menthol contained in peppermint may help to open up airways, reducing the severity of allergy-related congestion, wheezing and coughing.* Menthol may also provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.* Finally, the cooling sensation triggered by menthol may feel soothing to irritated throats and nasal passages.*
It is important to keep in mind that seasonal allergies affect every individual differently. Be sure to monitor your allergy symptoms as you experiment with these herbal allies to determine which herbs provide you with the most relief.