Image by James Bowe
It’s March already and with the changing calendar comes the changing weather. This year the temperatures have been all over the map in our area. We can go from a 70 degree sunny day to a forecast of 6 inches of snow in less than 4 days. With such fluctuations in temperatures and weather patterns, the plants and animals are clueless as to what is going on. Buds are forming in our yard. And allergies are starting to pop up all around.
I’ve Heard About Nettle
One of the herbs I’ve heard about in the past regarding allergies is Nettle. I’ve always been curious but just haven’t taken the time to educate myself. With the impending arrival of another person in our home, I’ve been trying to broaden my knowledge of holistic and natural healing. I knew that there was nettle in my pregnancy tea blend, but I had no idea why. So, I decided to dig further.
What’s Great About Nettle?
Stinging Nettle – or it’s scientific name Urtica Dioica – has been used for it’s herbal quality for centuries. Other than being used for allergies, nettle is commonly used for inflammation and water retention. The leaves contain biologically active compounds that reduce inflammation. They can also be used as a diuretic. The leaves have also been used to treat conditions such as arthritis, high blood pressure, and Alzheimer’s disease. The roots contain unique and helpful qualities in similar and different ways from the leaves. Also useful as a diuretic, the root has been known to assist in prostate problems and treatment, including BPH (an enlarged prostate). An infusion of the plant also stems intern bleeding and can be used to lessen and control excessive menstruation. Similar infusions have also been used to treat hemorrhoids and skin complaints like eczema.
So, How Can It Help My Allergies?
All those uses for the plant are great, but I was specifically looking for ways that the plant could help treat allergies. I wanted to understand why this plant in particular could help with allergies. What I found in my research is that stinging nettle’s leaf contains a quality that blocks histamine receptors. This quality means that the leaf can function just as a common allergy treatment such as Allegra or Claritin as a histamine blocker but has none of the side effects that those drugs carry.
The best ways to receive the benefits of the plant as a histamine blocker are to either take a supplement or make a nettle infusion. Taking a supplement of freeze dried extract provides you with the best possible option as a supplement – the activity of the leaves are biologically preserved in the freeze drying process. A dosage of 300 mg 2-3 times a day should keep allergies at bay.
Making an infusion of the leaves is also a successful way to treat and prevent allergies, much more effective than a tea. A trip around the web will give you multiple recipes for infusions. Most lead to a recipe of 1 cup of dried leaves to 1 quart of water. Some people recommend boiling the water and then having the leaves steep/set for 8-10 hours. Others recommend using the sun as the heating element for the process. I’m going to start with hot water while the temperatures are still unpredictable and then move to sun steeping once spring is solidly here. (I am also waiting until this little boy is born before I start taking infusions.)
Give It A Try!
Anything that is natural and side effect free is worth trying in my book. Although I am sure an infusion may be an acquired taste, it’s worth trying to keep myself and my family allergy free this spring. We’ll be trying it and I hope you will too!
How do you treat allergies naturally? Have you ever considered or used nettle for seasonal allergies?