With weed-growth-speed, there seems to be an escalating prevalence in the Western world of health problems caused by our body’s innate immunity somehow going haywire. There are many theories as to why this is, and it’s likely for a combination of reasons. Whichever they are, the stresses put upon us by our diets, our environment and even our society are definitely taking their toll.

What’s interesting about allergies, is that they so plainly represent a growing inability to live in peace with our world. It seems unthinkable to want to curse the beauty of cherry blossom lined street in spring. Though even as we do, the plant kingdom simultaneously provides us with herbs that aid the body in coping with allergies.

An allergy is an abnormally sensitive reaction to a substance in the environment. Often the “thing” itself is not necessarily harmful, but in sensitive people it will be able to trigger the reaction. The commonest allergens are flower or tree pollen, foods (wheat, gluten, dairy), pets and household dust. Each persons triggers will be unique to them, because each person’s immune system contains it’s individual set of arsenal. Depending on the person’s toxic load to begin with, their diet, and their overall health status, the severity of the symptoms will also vary. Times of stress or feelings of anxiety will usually increase the severity or frequency of attacks. With some people, emotional upsets can even be the main factor involved.

The classic reaction that takes place commonly appears as itching, sneezing, a constantly runny nose, wheezing and joint pains. These are generally similar with different allergies because the body is reacting with the release of a chemical called histamine in the bloodstream. Commonly used drugs are antihistamines which suppress the reaction in the body that the allergen is eliciting. This a classic case of band-aiding the problem, and potential creating harm.

Of course, the basis of any truly helpful treatment or management of allergic reactions is to stop the exposure to the “thing” that is triggering it. This can either be easy (avoid that “thing”) or more difficult (what is that “thing”?!), though avoidance is clearly the best cure.

There are 3 routes to the way a herbalist will combat any allergy:

1) Use remedies that will help the person get better as a whole. What other problems might be going on that are unique to that person? This will give you clues as to where the system is deficient. The liver, lungs, kidneys and skin are all especially important.

2) Use herbs in conjunction with an individually planned diet. Eating is something we do multiple time a day. It’s important to identify potential food allergies or sensitivities that may be acting as an obstacle to cure.

3) Teach relaxation techniques to help deal with stress. Deep breathing exercises are a great place to start.

There are tons of different herbs that can because used, mostly because of the individual nature of our reactions and symptoms. Herbs that will ease the symptoms of hayfever such as itching eyes, runny nose and tight chest include anti-catarrhal and anti-inflammatory remedies Sambucus nigra (elder flower & berry), Euphrasia off. (eye bright), Allium sativum (garlic), Solidago canadensis (golden rod), Urtica diocia (nettle), and Mentha piperita (peppermint). Ma Huang (Ephedra) should be used only under professional supervision.

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