Allergy Season & Nettles

by Mahalia Freed, ND

Allergy Season Tips

Hay fever (also known as seasonal allergies or allergic rhinitis) is estimated to affect 10-20 % of the population in developed countries. Hay fever occurs when your immune system overreacts to airborne particles, most commonly the pollens of trees, grass, and ragweed. The unfortunately familiar list of symptoms includes runny & itchy nose, itchy, red, watery eyes, sneezing and congestion. People who suffer from seasonal allergies are more likely to develop asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, ear infections, and other complications. Interestingly, there is also new research suggesting a link between seasonal allergies and depression. Naturopathic medicine offers a variety of treatments that can effectively manage symptoms and bring resolution, with individual plans drawing on nutrition, herbal medicine, constitutional homeopathy and acupuncture.  One of my personal favorite herbs is a star in treating allergies, and it is profiled below.

Spotlight on Nettles

Fresh spring tops of stinging nettles can be cooked and enjoyed in dishes similar to those where you find spinach, such as quiche, sautéed, in soup…

NB: If harvesting your own, wear gloves!

Dried nettle leaf is commonly prepared as a strong infusion, or tea, either on its own or in combination with other herbs. For an individualized, targeted prescription, consult with your naturopathic doctor or herbalist.

Nettles (Urtica dioica)

  • Act as a natural antihistamine
  • Are rich in calcium, a nutrient important for mucus membrane health
  • Are a good source of iron
  • Contain abundant chlorophyll, nature’s detoxifier
  • Are a traditional “blood cleanser”, found in many skin formulas, and as part of a spring cleanse
  • Are a central ingredient in prenatal tea – are recommended and can be safely consumed as a tea during pregnancy
  • Can help increase milk production in breast-feeding moms
  • Are diuretic, and tonifying for the kidneys
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