By Karen Appold
People suffer from allergies due to certain animals, plants, and foods. Instead of taking prescription medication, you may want to try to get rid of watery eyes, a runny nose, and a scratchy throat naturally–with herbs. Research shows that some herbs seem to calm sniffles and sneezes, although in many cases, more research is needed to determine the true benefits.
Here’s a sampling of herbs, herbal nutritional supplements, and foods you may want to try to ease allergy symptoms:
Butterbur. Research shows that butterbur seems to be the best herb in treating allergies. It seems to work as a leukotriene inhibitor, blocking chemicals that cause swelling in your nasal passages. It doesn’t cause drowsiness, like a lot of antihistamines. If you buy butterbur supplements, make sure they are labeled UPA-free.
Cayenne peppers. These peppers contain high amounts of quercetin, which prevents the release of histamines and other inflammatory chemicals that can bring on allergy symptoms. Cayenne peppers can also soothe a sore throat.
Chamomile. This herb’s anti-inflammatory properties can bring relief to dry, itchy eyes. Instead of consuming it, put wet chamomile tea bags over your eyes for several minutes.
Devil’s claw. This herb, used to treat allergies, is available in dried or fresh root supplements.
Ginger. This natural pain killer can help soothe a sore throat. It works even better with honey.
Honey. Honey’s expectorant properties help to calm coughs and soothe an irritated throat. Try putting a spoonful in a cup of tea.
Peppermint. The menthol oils and tannins in peppermint make it a strong decongestant. Put fresh or dried leaves in boiling water to make a tea to clear your sinuses.
Quercetin. This herb is found in a lot of fruits and vegetables, as well as in wine. It seems to work by blocking the release of histamine (which causes inflammation).
Stinging Nettle. This botanical contains vitamin K, carotene, and quercetin. It acts as an antihistamine. Studies show that using stinging nettle when you first have allergic symptoms may help. Only use extracts made from the leaf, not the root.
Thyme. Use thyme to treat coughs, soothe a sore throat, and clear congestion. Drink it as a tea.
Karen Appold is a medical writer in Lehigh Valley, PA.