BY DR. ANDREA PURCELL
If you love to be outdoors, but are irritated by seasonal pollen, consider the herb Stinging Nettle to help reduce the sneezing and itching symptoms of hay fever. A well-established remedy in Western botanical medicine, Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) leaves are recognized for their anti-inflammatory properties and other actions that support the immune system’s response to allergens.
Stinging Nettle does a good job at stabilizing mast cells, a type of white blood cell that becomes overactive in the body’s response to allergens and other substances that can enter the body. The leaves have been used to alleviate irritation seen in allergic respiratory symptoms as well as skin allergies. Stinging Nettle has a diuretic effect, which can help flush environmental irritants out of the body. It also supports the detoxifying action of the lymphatic system, which has important roles in immunity and recovery from illness or injury. Even though it has diuretic actions, which can flush nutrients along with toxins from the body, Stinging Nettle is also nourishing because of the robust nutrients it contains. This is why it’s considered to be a “balancing” herb.
One of the best ways to alleviate allergy symptoms is to drink a cup of warm Stinging Nettle tea a few times throughout the day: Steep 2 tablespoons crushed dried leaves in 12 ounces of water. Combine with 1 teaspoon local honey. If you are heading outdoors on a summer day, chill the tea the night before and bring it with you. When not combined with other herbs, nettle tea has a flavor profile similar to green tea: grassy with earthy notes.
Avoid Stinging Nettle if you’re allergic or sensitive to nettle or plants in the same family. There is evidence that this herb can lower blood pressure, change blood sugar and cause uterine contractions. If you take high blood pressure meds, have diabetes or are pregnant, check with your doctor before using Stinging Nettle on a regular basis.
Wishing You Well,