Allergies – Part Two: Symptom Relief

herbal medicine

apothecary rose, photo by Madeline Ryan

To listen to a radio broadcast of The Herbal Highway on this topic, follow this link,

Welcome to allergy season! If you haven’t read the first part of this series, back up and read it. I don’t recommend going straight to symptomatic relief before doing preventive work. That is not holistic care.  Going straight to the symptoms is simply taking an herb in place of a pill. You’re not using the plant respectfully nor are you fully participating in your own health. Okay, lecture over.

So, you have prepared for the allergy season as best you can and you are still experiencing allergy symptoms. That happens and this is when we look at symptomatic relief. That being said, if you are allergic to something you are allergic to something.

With allergy prevention I’m looking at reducing your reactivity, not ‘curing’ you of your allergy. You will likely find, however, that if you are taking good care of yourself and doing the preventive work, you may find yourself not just less reactive, but non-reactive to things that aren’t truly allergies but you are sensitive to.

The first two herbs that I think of for symptomatic relief of allergies are ambrosia and eyebright.

Ragweed, Ambrosia artemisifolia – anti-histamine for allergy and hayfever symptoms; reduces mucus secretions

Eyebright, Euphrasia – anti-histamine, anti-inflammatory, allergies with sinus and eye component; itchy eustachion tubes, dry, itchy, red eyes

 Sometimes you need to dry or moisten your mucous membranes to feel more comfortable. If you do this, make sure that you don’t use the wrong herb. In other words, if you have too much mucus, use a drying herb. If your mucous membranes are dry, use a moistening herb. If you reverse that, you will make yourself more uncomfortable. Trust me on that.

Drying herbs

Yerba santa, Eriodictyon; leaf and flower – slightly stimulating to lungs; best for constant cough with lots of uninfected (white) phlegm; tones down inflammation in lungs, sinuses and bronchi; sinus congestion with mucous; works well in combination for hayfever

Yerba mansa, Anemopsis; root – cold, damp respiratory ailments; better for chronic than acute; laryngitis, rhinitis, sinusitis; contraindications: pregnancy

Horehound, Marrubium;  leaf – expectorant,  basic lung cold, moist hot bronchitis, asthma; mildly stimulates cardio function and mucus secretions; gagging w/ cough

Moistening herbs

herb school
mullein, photo by Claire Bohman

Marshmallow, Althea officinalis; root – demulscent, good for irritation and inflammation in respiratory system; coughs; use as cold infusion

Licorice, Glycrrhiza; root – dry cough, dry bronchial conditions; contraindications: hypothyroid,  high blood pressure

Break-up and move out the mucus

 Elder and mullein do this, see part one of this article for details on those plants.

Opening the lungs

 Mullein yet again! Passionflower also opens the lungs by relaxing the bronchi.

Cayenne, Capsicum; fruit – anti-catarrhal (inflamed mucus membranes, excess secretions and congestion); staves off colds and debility; gargle for laryngitis; opens blood flow to the bronchials; contraindications: acute renal failure or acute GI inflammation

Working with allergies energetically

I’ve talked a lot about the physical considerations when working with allergies herbally.  Now I want to talk about the energetics of allergies and how we approach improve our balance in that way. With allergies you’ll remember, we are talking about an over-reactive immune system. Our immune system is about boundaries and protection on a physical and metaphoric level. So consider any issues you might have with those topics and work on them. Here are some essences that may help you out.

Yarrow in bloom. Photo by Madeline Ryan

Yarrow– of course, yarrow, many of you already know about how yarrow helps you from merging with others; many flower essence companies have a yarrow FE, or you may just carry the plant

 From Alaskan Essences,

Black Tourmaline  – helps to release toxins held in the physical and spirit bodies; helps clean and clear the energy to create a space for positive energy in our environment

Covellite – when you feel unprotected, vulnerable and too easily stimulated by others; brings strength, clarity and definition to the auric field; acts as a protective filter so you can relax and be in your heart

Hematite – emotionally co-dependent; difficulty containing your emotional energy, especially in groups; promotes emotional independence; compassionate detachment; be clear with your energy

 From Greek Tree Essences,

Turpentine Tree – support where auto-immunity is an issue; recognize what is one’s self and what is not; blood cleanser

From Jane Bell Essences,

Ancient Power – connection to earth and ones’ own authority; being present and moving forward with core strength; balanced masculine energy; safe and gentle containment

 Sea Turtle – learning how to share space with others so you feel nourished rather than depleted by connection; increases appreciation for interdependent relationship with nature and other beings; helps move with grace and peace in any environment

 From Desert Alchemy,

Bright Star – encourages healthy boundaries so your individuality can shine; feeling safe and secure in yourself so that you can offer all of your actions from the heart and not become entangled in others and in situations 

Canyon Grapevine – see obstacles as opportunities; giving without fear of enmeshment; appreciating others because independent from you, not enmeshed; harmonizes issues of alienation

So, let’s use this last bit of winter energy to try clear up what is stuck, stagnant and get ready for the cleansing, new beginning energy of spring …without too much sneezing.

Be well!