Anyone who's worked with me long enough knows that my seasonal allergy strategy extends beyond symptomatic support. Meaning, I aim to address underlying inflammatory triggers and balance the immune system so that over the course of time, seasonal allergies require less allergy medicine, natural or pharmaceutical.
That said, nature provides us with many herbs and nutrients that can help calm symptoms while we address the underlying cause. Here's the rundown of my favorites - I hope they offer a good reminder of the things we may already have tucked away in our medicine cabinets. If this is new news to you, and you're wondering whether this is something you should try, make sure to discuss with your naturopathic doctor to see if it's appropriate for you.
Nettles - this wonderful food-based herb makes its annual rebirth during the spring season, which feels totally appropriate, given how it can help those who suffer with allergies. If you've ever come into contact with fresh nettles, you probably remember the experience - without proper protection it can be very uncomfortable, as the needles contain histamine. Hence the name "Stinging nettles!" After harvesting them, they can be eaten fresh or dried and taken as a tea (infusion), capsule or tincture. Nettles are rich in nutrients such as Vitamins C and K, beta carotene and Magnesium. They also contain quercetin, which helps inhibit the release of histamine from mast cells.
Quercetin - a bioflavonoid that is found in the skins of apples, grapes, onions, and other fruits and vegetables (including nettles!), this is a potent inhibitor of histamine, which causes most allergic symptoms. A common dose of 500mg, twice daily is safe for most, it's good to check with your doctor before dosing yourself, since it has the potential to interact with some medications. It's generally taken in capsule form, since therapeutic doses are difficult to achieve with food alone.
Note: Both Quercetin and Nettles are often found in combination formulas and may require a loading dose of more frequent daily dosing for 7 days, before reducing to a single daily dose.
Essential vitamins: It's important to remember that Vitamin C and D3 are important parts of any seasonal allergy protocol. If you haven't had Vitamin D levels checked in the last year, it can be helpful to assess levels, so as to know what dose is best for you. Vitamin D3 plays an important role in various pathways, and is an important part of balancing the immune system. Vitamin C is an exceptional immune booster and helps clean up oxidative stress. Many allergy herbal formulas will feature the all-start team of Nettles, Quercetin and Vitamin C.