Oct 9, 2012

Herbs That Can Help You

      If you don't have high blood pressure, the Chinese herb Ma huang (ephedra vulgaris) may be helpful. The active ingredient in most commercial allergy preparations made from herbs, Ma huang or Chinese ephedra is a powerful decongestant. It clears bronchial passageways, dries sinuses, helps relieve sneezing and makes breathing easier. It also speeds the pulse, raises blood pressure, makes it difficult to relax and feels like caffeine. The more you take, the more dramatic these side effects, so start with a small amount, don't take Ma huang in the evening (it may keep you awake) and, if brewing a tea with this herb, make a weak infusion to start.

      Nettle (Urtica dioica) may sting when you touch it, but nettle tea soothes the system. In "A Randomized Double-Blind Study of Freeze-Dried Urtica dioica in the Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis," published in the journal Planta Medica (February 1990), P. Mittman reported significant hay fever relief from capsules containing freeze-dried nettle. The therapy had few side effects and improvement came within a week for those who found the treatment effective. Andrew Weil, M.D., author of Spontaneous Healing, controls his own hay fever with this therapy. Nettle tea and fresh nettle juice are used in Europe for a variety of conditions, including several respiratory problems.

      Echinacea and goldenseal are a favorite combination for hay fever therapy. In fact, many herbalists consider goldenseal the most effective botanical treatment for acute sinus infections because it fights bacteria and viruses while soothing mucous membranes. Both herbs support the immune system. Teas and tinctures made with red clover, sage, burdock root or licorice root are often recommended for hay fever prevention and treatment and all have much to recommend them.

     Gail Ulrich, herbalist and director of the Blazing Star Herbal School recommends an infusion of dried mullein leaf (2 tablespoons or 1 ounce by volume of the dried herb per quart of boiling water) steeped 2 to 4 hours and given in [1/2] cup doses 4 times daily for 6 weeks to eliminate allergies to pet dander and relieve other allergy symptoms.

     Rosemary Gladstar has an unusual recipe for garlic-ginger syrup that helps prevent allergies and hay fevers.

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