I don’t know how you fare this time of year, but it’s usually right around now that I start to experience seasonal allergies. For me that means itchy eyes and throat and sneezing, especially in the morning. However, seasonal allergies can be present in many ways, with symptoms that span from a mild runny nose to severe chronic headaches.
For the past few years, I’ve mostly just toughed it out (thankfully my symptoms are mild enough that this is an option), but this year I have a natural medicine plan: Stinging Nettle tea.
In the United States, stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is considered a weed by many given the ease with which it grows. It’s funny name comes from the Latin verb urere, meaning “to burn,” because of its urticate (stinging) hairs that cover the stem and underside of the leaves. So, while walking through a field of this plant is probably not a good idea, using it for its anti-allergic activity can be an effective way to manage seasonal allergy symptoms. It has a nice amount of published research demonstrating positive benefit for a host of allergic and inflammatory conditions.
Stinging Nettle contains a set of compounds that act on the immune system to provide anti-inflammatory action and block histamine release. Perhaps you are familiar with over-the-counter medicines called “anti-histamines”? Well, stinging nettle works in a similar fashion, blocking the release of histamine compounds that alert our immune system and trigger inflammation, redness, and all those pesky symptoms those of us who are sensitive to pollen, etc. experience this time of year.
Because stinging nettle doesn’t contain caffeine, you can brew it as tea and exchange it for your water source throughout the day. Here’s my recipe/plan:
- Add 1tsp dried Stinging Nettle leaf to 16oz hot water. Steep for 2-3 minutes.
- Drink right away in the morning when I experience the most symptoms.
- Re-fill tea infuser with hot water and re-use same tea leaves a couple more times throughout day (although most of the anti-histamine activity will come from the first steep, there is a mild benefit from re-using the leaves)
- Continue as I feel like I need symptom relief throughout day
With any treatment, you should always talk to a licensed health professional and make sure the products and medicines you are using are appropriate for you. Licensed naturopathic doctors are a great source for natural therapies like this one.
Photo credit: John Tann