By: Sandra Clair
Allergies are becoming more and more prevalent in New Zealand and around the world. A large study in progress by Auckland University shows that by the age of two, 10 per cent of the 7000 children they are studying had an allergy which was diagnosed by a doctor.
Traditional plant medicine can help with not only the day-to-day management and relief of allergy symptoms, but also strengthen resilience to allergic reactions, and help mitigate side effects from conventional treatment and prevent secondary infections.
Spring is a great season for getting out to enjoy the sunshine and get a good dose of natural Vitamin D, but for those with hay fever it can be unbearable – it is like having a cold for months on end.
Hay fever is triggered by pollen, dust and certain plants. Symptoms include a runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, congestion, blocked sinuses and headaches. It can be very uncomfortable and very annoying! Luckily, certain plants can help mitigate the symptoms of hay fever and reduce the allergic reaction if taken regularly.
Broadly, allergies are caused by a dysregulated immune system. Supporting the immune system can go a long way to reducing the frequency and severity of reactions to the summer environment. Specific medicinal plants do this by balancing the immune response, and looking after the respiratory system. Furthermore, plant medicine helps to protect the upper respiratory tract against pathogens and air pollution which can aggravate allergy issues like hay fever.
In particular these herbs are great:
Aniseed (Pimpinella anisum semen) is a decongestant in fluid swelling and has further expectorant and antispasmodic action. Apart from the treatment of hay fever, it is clinically prescribed to treat bronchitis, whooping cough and persistent, irritable coughing. It has a regulatory endorsement as an antibacterial plant in catarrhs of the respiratory system.
Elderflower Blossoms (Sambucus nigra flos) is a specific remedy for the treatment of hay fever, sinusitis, head colds and influenza. It dries up runny mucus and stimulates the immune system by enhancing immune function and helping defend the body against viruses and infection. It has potent antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Plantain (Plantago lanceolata folia) is a restorative to the respiratory mucus membranes. It helps to expel phlegm and treat tissue congestion in allergic conditions such as in hay fever and asthma. It soothes inflamed and painful mucous membranes in the respiratory tract. It is further recommended for all forms of respiratory congestion such as nasal catarrh, sinusitis, middle-ear infections and bronchitis. It has a long-term beneficial effect and is particularly useful in the treatment of such conditions in children.
While it is important to address the uncomfortable symptoms of allergies, often conventional treatment does only that. Plant medicine is a great both as a treatment and complementary approach because it provides us with the tools to address the underlying cause.
If your symptoms persist, please see you leading healthcare professional.
Lee, J. B., Yamagishi, C., Hayashi, K., & Hayashi, T. (2011). Antiviral and immunostimulating effects of lignin-carbohydrate-protein complexes from Pimpinella anisum. Bioscience, biotechnology, and biochemistry, 75(3), 459-465. Chiang, L. C., Chiang, W., Chang, M. Y., Ng, L. T., & Lin, C. C. (2002). Antiviral activity of Plantago major extracts and related compounds in vitro. Antiviral research, 55(1), 53-62. Chiang, L. C., Chiang, W., Chang, M. Y., & Lin, C. C. (2003). In vitro cytotoxic, antiviral and immunomodulatory effects of Plantago major and Plantago asiatica. The American journal of Chinese medicine, 31(02), 225-234.
Source: NZ Herald