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Herbs for Spring Sinuses

Discover which herbs can be safer alternatives for sinus health, eyes and noses, while providing support in the short and long term.

Bill Chioffi is Director of Herbal Education at Gaia Herbs and has been studying therapeutic protocols and teaching herbal medicine for the past 15 years.

Seasonal allergy symptoms are a natural reaction to certain substances in our environment:

  • Spring is a key time for allergies, which usually result from trees releasing pollen.
  • Tree pollination tends to start anytime from January to April depending on the climate and location, and those known to cause severe allergies include oak, olive, elm, birch, ash, hickory, poplar and sycamore.
  • Imbedded in the tissues of our body are immune cells known as mast cells, which become unstable and release histamine when they are repeatedly contacted by allergens from either the environment or as a by-product of metabolism.
  • Eventually, histamines and other inflammatory substances "leak" through our membranes, creating an inflammatory response. Mucous membranes may become irritated and swollen and secrete excess mucous all in an effort to rid the allergen from the tissue.

There are particular herbs that may bring relief for common allergy symptoms:

  • Look for formulas that include turmeric, nettle leaf, eyebright, bayberry, yarrow and goldenseal.
  • These plants have been studied for their role in supporting the mucous membranes of the sinuses and lungs.
  • These herbs support a healthy response to inflammation and promote upper respiratory health, especially eyebright and bayberry, which have astringent properties.

Herbs can provide both short and long-term relief for allergies:

  • For best results, Bill Chioffi suggests to begin supplementing about a month prior to allergy season and continue while the problem persists.
  • Enhancing the adrenals will directly assist numerous other parts of the body, such as the immune, endocrine, cardiovascular and nervous systems.
  • The safest and most effective way to do this is through the use of herbs classified as adaptogens. These are herbs that help the body adapt to numerous stressors through a primarily nutritive mechanism.

Using herbs preventatively may help with allergies developing later in life:

  • As we age our immune system becomes compromised due to several factors, among the most common is the impact of stress.
  • To address stress we look to support the adrenal system with adaptogens such as ashwaghanda, Holy Basil, rhodiola and schizandra berry.
  • Formulas with these herbs may help support normal energy levels during the allergy season.

Visit our Whole Body site to download this month’s featured Be Good to Your Whole Body pocket guide and more.

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anotheroneofthose says …

I have had chronic allergies for almost ten years and can attest that at least some of these herbs work very well. What I have found works the best is plain old raw garlic. If you can tolerate the garlic raw (such as choppped in salad, etc) and your body does not repel the smell they I highly recommend it if your fighting allergies. I eat it at night, do not have issues with the smell and it seems to open my entire respiratory system. My only regret is not trying this years ago.

Claire says …

I am so glad you spoke up nolamed, that way we can help you. In life in general you should not take medical advice from a grocery store blog. And please do research yourself before making claims of BS. Plenty of scientific evidence if you care to look for it. Quit being a hater! Free will it's a gift.

nolamed says …

this sounds an awful lot like medical advice. You should at least add a disclaimer that it is not medical advice, that people should seek the advice of an MD before taking supplements or quitting prescribed medications. What's more: there should be some acknowledgment that NO EVIDENCE SUPPORTS these claims, except the anecdotal, old wives BS that gets people more sick. I get that you want to sell expensive herbs to well-meaning people. Good on you. But you may also be putting people at risk.

Kari says …

Gaia's Aller-leaf is my favorite: http://www.gaiaherbs.com/products/detail/7/Aller-leaf-.

Jennie Elliott says …

Going gluten free has made HUGE impact on my allergy issues--in a good way! My biggest trouble with avoiding gluten so far has been giving up that yummy Whole Foods pizza...

Foxym286 says …

One of the best remedies I have used is the organic oregano oil. It comes in a bottle with a dropper. It is recommended by voice coaches for actors/actresses/singers/vocalists/ average person, who talks a lot/teachers. It works to soothe one's throat. It also helps my allergies, and calms a bronchial cough/irritations. Try it. I am not bsing ANYONE. If you haven't tried it, don't knock it. Garlic cloves work for abscessed gums/teeth.

lyle says …

Great stuff about the adaptogens, but I am curious if there are herbs to reduce histamines and therefore swelling and mucus (or do the adaptagens function that way tooo). Thanks Blessings.

Rita says …

Not everyone can take medicine. I am chemically sensitive and am allergic to most prescription and over the counter drugs. Supplements is the way I treat my allergies which include herbs, as well as allergy shots. I hope I never have to live without them.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@LYLE - Certain herbs, such as turmeric, nettle leaf, eyebright, bayberry, yarrow and goldenseal, have been studied for their role in supporting the mucous membranes of the sinuses and lungs. These herbs support a healthy inflammatory response and promote upper respiratory health. If you would like additional information about ingredients that will work specifically on reducing histamines, swelling, and mucus, we suggest that you check with your health care professional.

KINDO says …

I am from Burkina Faso and I visiting New York for the second time. My Sister has a frequent sinus infection with severe vaccum sinus headache. I"ll be very happy to bring her whole foods herbal tablets that could help.