Evergreen Lifestyle: Season Allergy Relief Is Possible by Freya Farley


The enthusiasm for a beautiful spring day can be marred by symptoms of seasonal allergies, such as sneezing and stuffy noses. Worse yet, is that it seems more and more of us are being affected. There is a strong correlation of the development of allergies to an overuse of antibiotics, pollution exposure, poor diet, Vitamin D deficiency, and even an overly clean lifestyle (which interferes with our immune system).

The following is some the advice I give clients who come to me looking for either long-term allergy relief or even eliminating this seasonal occurrence:

Incorporate Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, which can be quite effective at helping to ease symptoms and boost the body’s natural ability to respond less reactively.

Use a good quality vitamin supplement daily.

Aim for a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet focused on whole foods and fresh local vegetables (especially seasonal bitter greens), fish, free-range animal products, nuts, and seeds.
Include fermented foods, such as kimchi, live kraut, kombucha, and shoyu, every day. They can improve the wellbeing of your body’s beneficial bacteria and make you less reactive to various allergens. (Note: One exception would be in histamine intolerance, where fermented foods can make symptoms worse.)

Identify and avoid any food allergens or intolerances that are problematic for you–common culprits include wheat and dairy.

Eat local raw honey. Honey is an excellent antioxidant and has antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-allergenic properties. Locally sourced honey is a popular natural remedy for allergies as it conditions the body to the presence of local pollens.

Use a Neti Pot daily to irrigate and cleanse the nostrils and sinuses, flush out irritants and thin the mucus, resulting in less congestion.

Start or continue to do stress reduction techniques such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, aromatherapy, and massage. While stress doesn’t cause allergies, it can make an allergic reaction worse by increasing the histamine in your bloodstream.

There is one additional recommendation I make that deserves further explanation, and that’s the use of integrating some specific allergy reducing herbs. These include butterbur, reishi and astragalus, and nettles. These can be purchased at Hill’s Drug Store or ordered through our online dispensary.

Butterbur: Among all the herbs used for allergies, butterbur has by far the most clinical research to back its use for allergies, migraines, and asthma. Studies have found it significantly better than placebo and comparable to common allergy medications Zyrtec and Allegra. It can be used symptomatically for occasional symptoms and daily in chronic allergies. Since butterbur root contains liver-toxic pyrrolizidine (PA) alkaloids, look for PA-free butterbur, such as Petadolex.

Reishi & Astragalus: These two tonics can be used together or separately; however they are often used as a blend and have shown to decrease the severity of allergy symptoms. Reishi is a mushroom and Astragalus is a plant, whose root is used medicinally. Each has anti-inflammatory and anti-stress properties. When taken on a regular basis, these immune tonics help modulate or regulate your immune system response to fight germs, yet are less over-reactive in allergies and autoimmune disease (Note: For some with autoimmune disease Astragalus may stimulate the immune function too much to tolerate well – reduce intake to build up slowly). Reishi and astragalus blend well with chai spices like cardamom, star anise, cinnamon, and a pinch of nutmeg when making tea, or you can add them to soup broth.

Nettles: The benefits of this herb have been documented for centuries as containing various compounds that decrease allergy-related inflammation and histamine. It is full of vitamins, minerals, protein and amino acids, and very safe to use long-term. Considered to be springtime’s natural elixir, nettle can be easily brewed into a tea or used as a tincture. Nettle tea is used to improve heart action, for headaches, and for urinary tract infections and inflammation of the bladder that can lead to gravel (kidney/bladder stones). Nettle tea is said to clean out the entire intestinal tract while activating the body’s natural defense mechanisms. It is also used as an overall health tonic and to treat high blood pressure, anemia, skin inflammations and more. For best results use daily as tea. Use the tincture for more acute symptoms.

Here is one of my favorite recipes for Nettle tea:

Sparkling Nettle Lemon Mint Tea
Dried nettle leaves and stems, as needed (see note)
Boiling water, as needed (see note)
Ice, as needed
1 tbsp honey per serving
⅛ preserved or fresh lemon (or a ½-inch [1.5-cm] chunk) per serving
several mint leaves per serving
1 cup sparkling water per serving

Place the nettles in a teapot or a non reactive pot and pour the boiling water over them. Let the nettles steep for 15 minutes, and then strain them from the water.

Add ice to a tall glass and muddle the honey and mint with the preserved lemon. Pour in ½ cup (120 ml) of the strong nettle tea and finish with the sparkling water.

Notes: As a general rule of thumb use 1 tablespoon dried nettles per 1-cup water. If using ice and sparkling water, use 2 tablespoons dried nettles per 1 cup water. For example, to make 4 servings, use 8 teaspoons nettles and 4 cups water. *Best – Use double the amount of fresh nettles leaves and steep overnight for a stronger tonic.

Now, go out and enjoy the spring weather!

Freya Farley is Evergreen Easton Point’s executive director, and an acupuncturist and herbal medicine specialist at Evergreen’s Wellness Center with a focus on women’s health and fertility. Freya practices a food-as-medicine approach, helping others to utilize the healing powers of food to nourish their bodies, minds, and spirits. She also offers personal consultations, a Community Acupuncture Clinic, and Open Studio morning yoga sessions. Evergreen’s Wellness Center also offers holistic and integrated approaches to Health & Wellness. Please visit here or email freyaf@mac.com for more information.

The information in this article is intended for your educational use only, does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Evergreen’s Wellness Center, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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