Top 4 Apothékary Herbs for Allergy Season
Mar 22, 2023
By Casie Giroux
For over 25% of Americans, springtime can mean irritating sniffles and itchy, watery eyes. Pollen from trees, grasses, and other plants travel through the air and end up in our mucus membranes, leading to uncomfortable seasonal allergic rhinitis a.k.a. hay fever. The allergen–in this case pollen–leads to reactivity of our immune system. In order to flush out these irritating invaders, our body goes on the defensive, releasing histamine chemicals which can lead to a runny nose, itchiness, and watery eyes. A minor response is helpful for the body but chronic reactions can lead to intense sinus pressure, inflammation, headache, brain fog, sore throat, and even stomach irritation.
Herbs can be our allies during spring allergy season to help support the body’s natural inflammatory response and ease its histamine response. The best way to keep allergies in check with herbs is to take them consistently prior to allergy season–ideally a month or more before your allergies start to kick in.
The top recommended Apothékary herbs for supporting a stronger immune system this allergy season:
- Reishi mushroom
- Nettle leaf
- Turmeric rhizome
- Astragalus root
Reishi mushrooms have a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for balancing vital energy and promoting longevity. Recent research has shown reishi’s value in curbing our response to allergens, modulating our immune systems, and easing inflammation. With consistent use, steroid-like compounds within reishi can help support the body’s natural inflammatory and histamine responses and in turn, reduce the effects of allergies and possibly asthma. We recommend starting regular reishi supplementation (5-7 days a week) 1 month prior to when your spring allergies generally begin. If your allergies tend to linger all year long, reishi could be a great long term herbal ally.
Link to reishi, Chill The F Out, and Mind Over Matter
Nettle, also known as stinging nettle, is an abundant and nutrient-rich herb. One study claims that it’s possibly the richest source of minerals found in plants! It has been shown to have a beneficial effect on the immune system as well as supporting our natural pathways of detoxification. Without proper elimination, toxin build up can further aggravate seasonal allergies. A study revealed that with over 50% of participants, ingesting nettles reduced allergy symptoms. Similar to reishi, I recommend starting nettles supplementation a month prior to allergy season.
Link to Pinch Me seasoning, Bittersweet Symphony, and Milky Way
Turmeric has bitter and stimulating actions that can help move digestive stagnation and ease inflammation. Curcumin—the main active ingredient in turmeric—has been well researched for its ability to support immune system modulation and help to support the body’s natural inflammatory response. Both actions are beneficial for decreasing our allergen response. In addition, studies have shown that curcumin can help alleviate nasal congestion from hay fever. While reishi and nettle are supportive to help lower our overall immune response overtime–turmeric can aid us in the moment.
Link to Follow Your Gut
Astragalus is an adaptogenic root that has been utilized for thousands of years to help strengthen the body’s immune system. It has a particular affinity for the respiratory system so it can be particularly beneficial for people who suffer from chronic allergies or asthma. A clinical study revealed the roots’ ability to help curb the uncomfortable feelings associated with seasonal allergies. The roots are also packed with prebiotic fiber to support the lower GI tract in feeding our beneficial gut bacteria. Keeping our good gut bacteria in balance is important to ward off potential pathogens, reduce inflammation, and even help prevent some chronic diseases.
Link to astragalus and Follow Your Gut
Herbs almost always work best in combination for synergistic effect so we recommend adding a combination of these herbs to your routine this spring! A helpful routine would be to take reishi in your morning coffee or tea, Bittersweet Symphony during the day with hot water and lemon, and add Follow Your Gut lattes when the allergies are at their worst.
Additional herbalist tips for curbing allergy discomfort
- Reduce trigger foods: Avoiding or reducing consumption of certain food that can further increase mucus production
- Dairy, wheat, processed foods, sugar, and alcohol
- Eat the rainbow: Increasing your intake of quercetin rich fruits and veggies can lower histamine release and increasing aromatic spices in meals helps thin out mucus
- Quercetin rich foods: Broccoli, apples, tomatoes, berries, onions, asparagus
- Aromatic spices: Ginger, garlic, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, rosemary, thyme, and sage
- Steam away: Doing “herbal tea” face steams with aromatic herbs to break up sinus congestion
- Rosemary, mint, lavender, and thyme are favorites used together or individually
- Rinse away: Saline neti-pot rises every few days to clear out pollen and break up clogged mucus
- Spring clean your body: Support your body's natural detoxification pathways (especially the liver) because improper elimination can make inflammation and allergies worse
About Casie Giroux
Casie Giroux is a Clinical Herbalist with a background in communication sciences, herbal product formulation and creation, sustainable wildcrafting, teaching, and organic farming. She earned her certification through the California School of Herbal Studies in Forestville, CA. On the weekends you can find her playing in the garden, foraging for abundant plants, and camping by the water.