Fleetneedles Forage: Summertime and the livin’ is…sneezy
Summertime is upon us and this year we have already seen some fabulous temperatures. Unfortunately the accompanying humidity has resulted in extremely high pollen counts, enough to trigger hayfever symptoms in those who are usually immune.
My partner and I never normally suffer from this midsummer curse but this year both of us have been sneezing and streaming, so inevitably it started me thinking about natural ways to combat the nasty symptoms of hayfever which ruin summer for so many people.
The first remedy I discovered was local honey, made from the pollen causing the irritation. Although yet to be proved scientifically the theory suggests that ingesting a food made from the allergen builds up resistance in your body. I suspect the multifaceted healing properties of natural honey play a big part in its curative abilities. As a hayfever cure, apparently the best results are achieved if the sufferer begins taking the honey a few weeks before the pollen season begins. Given that is not an option in July maybe take a spoonful every day and see how it goes. To be honest I have read so many good results for this particular cure I suspect it will be helpful no matter when you begin.
Another remedy which helped me recently was Elderflower, which can be made into a refreshing cordial as I mentioned in my last article. A few flower heads popped into a pot of boiling water will make a tea that will similarly boost your immunity to the pollen, relieving the summer sniffles amazingly well.
Chamomile is known to be equally valuable in combating the worst side effects of hayfever. Commercial Chamomile tea is readily available but I suspect that a tea made from the fresh leaves and flower heads would be better. Chamomile essential oil breathed in from a tissue or on your pillow would be equally beneficial.
Vitamin C naturally boosts your immune system enabling your body to fight allergic reactions, so adding foods high in Vitamin C can only help. Nettles are rich in Vitamins A, B6, C, D and K and the plant is also a natural antihistamine. In herbal medicine, nettle is thought particularly effective in the treatment of allergies – specifically hay fever and food allergies. Nettle tops can be steamed and eaten or fresh leaves can be made into a tea. Alternatively commercial dried nettle tea is available in most health food shops. You can also make your own nettle syrup, which might be easier to get the kids to take and will also act as a general tonic.
Nettle syrup recipe
Take four or five handfuls of freshly washed nettle tops. Boil quarter of a pint of water in a pan, then add the tops and stir through. Take them off the heat and cover the pan – leave to steep for at least four hours. Then strain the juice through a sieve and some cheese cloth. Reheat the juice adding at least equal quantities of white sugar, boil until it begins to thicken slightly then decant into sterilised bottles for future use.
Natural honey may be used instead of sugar which will boost its hayfever relieving action but will shorten the syrup’s shelf life. Refrigerate once the bottle has been opened.
- Elderflower should be avoided by pregnant or breast feeding women
- Elderflower is known to lower blood sugar levels so should be avoided by diabetics and for 2 weeks prior to surgery
- Elder tree leaves are mildly poisonous and should never be ingested
- Chamomile should be avoided by pregnant or breast feeding women
- Chamomile should be avoid by people suffering from ragweed, chrysanthemum, marigold and other related allergies
- Chamomile can effect hormone sensitive ailments due to its oestrogen like qualities and should therefore be strictly avoided by those with breast, uterine or ovarian cancer as well as women with endometriosis or fibroids.
- WARNING Chamomile can cause allergic reactions in some people
- Nettles should be avoided by pregnant or breast feeding women
- Avoid using stinging nettles if you are taking medication for blood thinning, high blood pressure or diabetes or if you are already taking water retention/diuretic medication
- It is always advisable to wear protective gloves when picking stinging nettles
DISCLAIMER: These are some of my personal experiences or using the above herbs combined with information I have researched over a number of years. I am not encouraging people to self-medicate, in the treatment of specific conditions it is best to consult a herbalist or your GP. Always check if any pharmaceutical medication you are taking is compatible before trying herbs. If you should develop an adverse reaction to any of the herbs mentioned above please stop using them immediately. Always take care when identifying plants.
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