Many of our most common trees; maples, oaks and birch, are big pollen producers. Tree pollen concentrations begin in late April and peak in late May – just when grasses and molds concentrations start to rise! So what can an allergy sufferer do?
Many people reach for over the counter antihistamines. However, antihistamines can cause sedation and reduce concentration. A recent study conducted by Privilege Insurance revealed some alarming results. A survey of almost 5,000 adults found that one in seven suffered from hay fever or other allergies and almost half of these had driven after taking medication. Many of those questioned said they had lost concentration at the wheel because of side effects such as drowsiness.
Herbal Allergy Relief
Herbs are generally considered to be quite safe, and they can offer you natural allergy treatment without the drowsiness of conventional over the counter antihistamine drugs. Here are a few example of herbs that are used for allergy symptoms:
Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)
Stinging nettle has a long history as a treatment for a variety of respiratory conditions, including allergic rhinitis. Stinging Nettle juice contains an anti-inflammatory component similar to that of steroid drugs. It is thought that properties in the nettle prevent the body from making inflammatory chemicals known as prostaglandins1. A preliminary trial reported that capsules made from freeze-dried leaves reduced sneezing and itching in people with hay fever2.
1 Obertreis B, Giller K, Teucher T, et al. Antiphlogistic effects of Urtica dioica folia extract in comparison to caffeic malic acid. Arzneimittelforschung 1996;46:52-6.
2 Mittman P. Randomized, double-blind study of freeze-dried Urtica dioica in the treatment of allergic rhinitis.Planta Med 1990;56:44-7.
Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis)
Eyebright has anti-inflammatory and astringent properties. Due to its ability to reduce mucous secretions, it is often used for infectious and allergic conditions affecting the eyes, middle ear, sinuses, and nasal passages including: eye strain and inflammations, weeping eyes, itching eyes, and runny nose.
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Butterbur (Petasites hybridus)
A 2004 study published in "Clinical & Experimental Allergy" reported Butterbur to be as effective as the prescription drug fexofenadine (Allegra) for treating symptoms of hay fever. Another study published in "Phytotherapy Research" showed similar results. The clinical evidence of butterbur is still out for debate because both studies were conducted for a limited time of two to three weeks. Butterbur does contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) which can be toxic to your liver and kidneys. Only use preparations that are PA free.
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