If you are anything like me, you have a love-hate relationship with spring. I love spring because the weather starts getting warmer and I love seeing all the trees and flowers bloom. It is also a really fun time for an amateur wildcrafter like myself, finding most of the natural medicine bloom. However, I am allergic to grass pollen. All this blooming is making me so congested, my nose is constantly running, I am sneezing like crazy and my eyes are itchy. All the cars in my town have a yellow tint to them.
In Southern California, my hay fever is mild, here in Northern California, not so much. So the last couple of weeks I have been researching and using hay fever remedies like crazy and I thought I would share what I found and what I have been doing with you.
Everyone is different and reacts differently to hay fever, so you will have to customize these tips to fit your needs. For example, I am getting the works of your typical hay fever symptoms. Running nose, sneezing like crazy, itchy ears (like deep down where you can’t scratch, so you have to do this weird maneuver with your tongue and back of your throat to get some kind of relief...oh fun times), and itchy eyes. My husband has mainly been getting an itchy eye and has been sneezing here and there. My son just seems to be sneezing here and there. I just found out that one of my Aunts has been getting migraines because of hay fever, yikes! No fun! In this blog post, I am just going to talk about your typical hay fever symptoms.
Before we go any further and I give herbal advice, I need to give a couple of disclaimers. If you plan on using any of these herbs: 1. Make sure that if you are taking any medication that there are no interactions between the two. 2. If you decide to harvest any of these herbs, that you are 100% in the plant identification and you know that they haven’t been sprayed by pesticides.
If you have mild allergies you can probably get by with nettle. Nettle has natural antihistamine properties in it. Also, elderflower is very well known for helping with congestion.
However, if your hay fever is moderate to severe you will probably want to make a formula.
If you have congestion you will want to use anticatarrhal. Anticatarrhals help eliminate excess mucus, especially from the ear, nose, and throat. I recommend herbs like garlic, marshmallow leaf, cayenne, peppermint, sage, elderflower, thyme, yerba santa, and mullein.
For more decongestion but for the respiratory system and specifically the bronchial, for hay fever a relaxing expectorant will help. I recommend herbs like marshmallow leaf, licorice root, thyme, garlic, elderflower, yerba santa, or mullein.
Your allergic reaction is probably causing some inflammation, so we will probably want to add an anti-inflammatory herb. For that I recommend, licorice root or mullein.
If you are having trouble breathing you will probably want an herb with antispasmodic properties and for that, I would recommend wild cherry bark, mullein, ginger, licorice root, peppermint, or elderflower.
To help tone the Respiratory system, I would use an astringent. Thankfully most of the anticatarrhal herbs also have astringent properties.
Both diuretics and bitters can help support the gut, liver, and kidneys. When those three organs are happy they can probably work together to eliminate what’s causing trouble. For these herbs, I would recommend dandelion, burdock root, cleavers, elderflower, and linden.
There are a lot of other herbs that would totally work, but I prefer using more gentle herbs, Herbs that you can use every day. A lot of people will use and swear by elecampane. Which is a great herb and I use elecampane sometimes. However, for my personal comfort, I don’t feel comfortable using elecampane on a regular basis. I do feel comfortable using mullein on a regular basis though.
I did add licorice root, but I feel the same way with licorice root as I do with elecampane. I absolutely love licorice root. It has so many amazing properties however using too much can deplete your potassium. So it’s good to use for a few days and then take a break for a few days.
I also added yerba santa. This is a herb that was just recently introduced to me, so I am still getting to know this herb and all its wonderful properties. I can’t wait to share more details about yerba santa with you in the future.
Every herbalist is different. My personal preference when making a formula: the fewer amount of different herbs I use the happier I am. Some herbalists might like using a bunch and that is okay. For me, 4 is my happy number, 5 is the max I want to use. If you noticed there were certain herbs that were in more than one list. This helps a lot.
So here a recipe/formula I came up with that you are more than welcome to use, or can play around with and make it your own.
My Herbal Hay Fever Tea Remedy:
-Mullein 2 parts
-Elderflower 2 parts
-Dandelion 1 parts
-Plantain 2 parts
-Peppermint 1 part
Mix all ingredients together. Steep 1 tablespoon of mix per 1 cup of water. Click here for more directions.
Other natural remedies for hay fever:
Discover and remove any food allergies and food intolerances. More times than not hay fever is a sign that you are eating something that your body doesn’t approve of.
Limit or eliminate wheat and dairy. Both promote mucus. Wheat is very similar to grass pollen. So if you are allergic to grass pollen, there is a possibility that you are allergic to wheat. Note, there is a difference between wheat and gluten.
Make sure that you are consuming plenty of nutrients. Hayfever can be a sign of a deficiency in vitamins and minerals.
Consume as many whole foods as possible and limit processed foods.
There was a study that shows polyphenols in apples can decrease hay fever symptoms. You know what they say about an apple a day right? Leave the skin on though. Most of the nutrients are in the skin. The study also showed that the polyphenols in grapes may help as well.
Drink green tea.
Support both your liver and kidneys (I plan on doing blog posts on this soon).
Reduce stress and use stress management. Stress can deplete us of our nutrients and weaken our immune system.
Remove as many allergens from your home as possible.
Disclaimer: This blog post is for educational purposes only. I encourage you to do your own research.
Murray, M. T., & Pizzorno, J. E. (2014). The encyclopedia of natural medicine. London: Simon & Schuster.
Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: The science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.
Popham, S. (2019). Evolutionary herbalism: Science, medicine, and spirituality from the heart of nature. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
Groves, M. N. (2016). Body into Balance. Storey Publishing Llc.