If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you know how frustrating the symptoms can be. Dealing with watery, itchy eyes and a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and wheezing can make life very uncomfortable. Unfortunately, prescription allergy medications can leave you feeling groggy and tired. There are ways, however, to treat allergies holistically. While the results may not be immediately effective, when the treatments are done faithfully, you may find permanent relief from seasonal allergies and better overall health.
It is best to start this part of the treatment when you are having the least amount symptoms, well before the onset of an acute allergic reaction. Continue the below program for 6 months to a year.
Support the Liver with Diet & Herbs
Allergies occur when the liver over reacts to foreign protein bodies in the environment, including things like plant pollens, dust, animal hairs, chemicals, foods, and cosmetics. Usually, this hypersensitivity to environmental factors is caused by a weakness or breakdown somewhere in our internal system.
If cellular wastes are not being efficiently broken down or eliminated, they build up and begin to weaken internal tissues and organs. This excess protein build up in the blood triggers white blood cell activity, which activates other defense systems in the body. This creates a state of chronic low level agitation in the body that makes it hypersensitive to foreign proteins, also known as antigens.
When an antigen enters the blood stream, the body produces antibodies to “protect” itself. This reaction causes the production of histamine, which is toxic to membranes. This substance causes blood vessels to dilate and makes them more permeable. Histamine is responsible for causing allergy symptoms, like swelling of the mucous membranes in the nose, eyes, and lungs, and the contraction of air passages that results in wheezing and edema.
The liver is responsible for deactivating poisonous substances in the body, even those that the body itself creates. When the liver is healthy, it is able to produce an enzyme, histaminases, which is a natural antihistamine. However, when the liver is stressed, it can not produce enough histaminases to eliminate the histamine the body produced and allergy symptoms continue. Thus, a healthy liver is crucial to being able to eliminate allergies.
Because the liver plays such an important role in the allergic process, the first step to treating hay fever and getting rid of allergies is cleansing and toning the liver.
Most liver imbalances can be classified as deficiencies or excesses. A person who suffers from hay fever tends to be liver deficient.
In this case, the liver function is slow and weak. Cellular wastes are not properly eliminated, and the body is polluted with its own toxic metabolic wastes (as described above). A liver deficiency results in poor use of ingested nutrients and inefficient uptake of the proteins and cholesterol the body needs to regenerate cells. Diet is crucial to helping to improve the health of the liver and establish balance in the body.
Deficient livers are often caused by a diet that includes too many simple carbohydrates and not enough quality protein and fats. Usually, too much emphasis has been put on raw, or cold “yin” type foods; dairy, fruits, and carbs. So in general, a corrective diet for a liver deficient person should include more high quality proteins, fats & oils, and warming foods, as well as:
- dark leafy greens
- fresh sprouts — especially clover, fenugreek & alfalfa
- fresh, steamed vegetables — especially beets and other root veggies
- whole grains
- seeds — especially sesame
- raw almonds
- fresh, alkalizing fruits, like lemon & grapefruit
Foods to Avoid:
- cold drinks and foods
- fried, fatty, oily foods
- food preservatives and additives
- sweets, sugar, and fruit juices
- raw fruits and vegetables
Herbs can be extremely helpful in supporting and toning the liver to improve its health and function. Try any of the below formulas to give your liver a boost.
Liver Cleansing Tea
- 3 parts dandelion root
- 2 parts burdock root
- 2 parts cinnamon
- 2 parts licorice root
- 1 part pau du arco
- 1 part yellow dock root
Combine about 3 tablespoons of the above herb mixture per quart of water in a saucepan. Bring the mixture slowly to a boil, then simmer gently for 20-45 minutes. Then remove from heat and strain the herbs from your tea. Drink 3-4 cups daily.
Liver Tonic Tea
- 3 parts peppermint or spearmint
- 2 parts red clover blossom
- 2 parts nettle leaf
- 2 parts lemon balm
- 1 part alfalfa
- 1/2 part parsley
- 1/4 part stevia, if desired
Add 1-3 tablespoons of above herb mixture to a strainer or tea ball and place in a cup. Bring water to a boil. Pour hot water over herbs and cover. Let infuse 15 minutes to an hour and then strain out herbs. Drink 3-4 cups daily.
Stimulating Digestive Bitters Blend
- 1 part burdock root
- 1 part yellow dock root
- 1 part dandelion root
- 1 part ginger root
Chop herbs finely and place them in a glass jar. Fill only about 1/2 – 3/4 of the way full. Do not pack too tightly. Cover the herbs with alcohol (at least 80 proof), filling the jar to the top. Cover tightly with a lid.
Let extract for 6-8 weeks. During this time, store in a cool dark place and a few times a week. When the tincture has extracted, strain the herbs out using a cheese cloth. Store in a glass bottle.
To use: Add about a 1/4 teaspoon of this tincture to warm water or tea before or after meals.
Carrot & Beet Juice Tonic
Juice 1 part fresh, organic carrots and 1 part fresh, organic beets. Drink daily as a tonic for the liver.
Support the Adrenals
The adrenals are two small glands located above your kidneys. They produce a hormone, aldosterone, that helps prevent fatigue and stress, and a natural cortisone that reduces inflammation. Adrenal health is important during any type of stress, including allergic reactions.
The adrenals benefit from any of the liver tonic herbs, but trying any of the below suggestions will also be helpful for improving adrenal health.
- Sprinkle this blend on your food once or twice daily at meals.
-1 part nettle leaf powder
-1 part kelp powder
-1 part dulse powder
-1 part spirulina powder
-1/2 part garlic powder
- Add licorice root, wild yam root, or eleuthero root to tea blends.
- Add powdered licorice root or eleuthero root to smoothies.
- Add comfrey, red clover, and parsley to your tea blends. These herbs are all good sources of vitamin B complex, which is very important to proper adrenal function. During the onset of an allergic reaction, you may choose to take a vitamin B supplement to give the adrenals an extra boost, but do not continue this for more than 3-4 weeks.
Take a daily warm shower followed by a cold shower or swim in the ocean or a cold, mountain stream whenever possible to improve circulation and healthy waste elimination.
Support Healthy Digestion
- Do not drink liquids while eating
- Eat slowly and chew food well
- Eat high quality, easily digestible forms of starch and protein
- Take 1 teaspoon of acidophilus culture or 2 tablespoons of before or after each meal
- Enjoy fermented foods and drinks daily. Some lovely options are lacto-fermented condiments, kombucha, and beet kvass. Try our recipe for Fermented Dandelion Blossom Relish for a unique, tasty way to boost healthy digestion.
Avoid Dairy & Sugar
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, try to eliminate dairy products from your diet 2 months before allergy season begins. Often dairy products may aggravate and even cause allergy symptoms. Though avoiding dairy completely may be difficult, the benefits are often well worth it.
Excess sugar in the diet will also aggravate allergy systems and will be detrimental to proper liver and immune system function.
Take Preventative Supplements
- Take 1 teaspoon local bee pollen and 1 tablespoon local honey daily for 6 months to increase natural immunity to allergens.
- Take 1/2 a teaspoon of echinacea tincture twice daily for 3 months before allergy season begins.
Try the following to help treat the symptoms of hay fever and allergies.
- Take a 1/2 teaspoon of echinacea tincture every half an hour until symptoms subside or drink 3 cups of echinacea tea in small doses throughout the day.
- Take 1 teaspoon of Rosemary Gladstar’s Ginger-Garlic tonic syrup or homemade fire cider 3 times daily.
For acute allergy symptoms, take small doses as needed, for example, 1/4 teaspoon every hour, until symptoms subside.
Rosemary Gladstar’s Ginger-Garlic Tonic Syrup:
Juice enough fresh whole cloves of garlic and fresh ginger root to end up with about 1 to 2 cups of juice each. Put the juices in a saucepan and add about 1/4 cup honey per cup of ginger-garlic juice.
Warm the juice and honey only until it is able to combine throughly. Do not over heat. Remove the pan from the stove and add a pinch of cayenne powder. Pour the mixture into a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.
Next, wrap the jar tightly in a towel or cloth, then cover with an old sack or rags. Find a special spot in your yard or garden and dig a hole. Bury the cloth wrapped jar in the earth for 17 days before digging it up and rebottling it for use. Rosemary states she learned this remedy from Hari Das Baba, a spiritual teacher from India, and while she doesn’t know the significance of burying this concoction for 17 days, she swears it is more effective when this step is taken as he directed.
General suggestions for managing acute allergy symptoms:
- Avoid dairy products, they will make symptoms worse.
- Eat and drink hot, warming foods and beverages.
- Drink lots of fluids throughout the day. Liver cleansing and toning teas are an excellent option.
- Do daily herbal steams with sage, pine, chamomile, calendula, eucalyptus, or a blend of any of these herbs. Add a drop of eucalyptus essential oil if desired.
- Use a humidifier or diffuser with eucalyptus, pine, or sage essential oil.
Hoping these recommendations will bring you relief this upcoming allergy season! For a few more ideas on ways to manage allergy symptoms, check out this blog post I wrote a few years back, Natural Relief for Spring Allergies.
If you have a favorite natural remedy for managing allergy symptoms that I didn’t mention, leave a comment and let me know about it. Be well!
Gladstar, Rosemary. “Hay fever & Allergies.”
Gladstar, Rosemary. “Herbal Theraputics for the Liver.”
mcdonald, jim. “Blessed Bitters.”