something's in the air

April showers bring May flowers--and pollen and runny noses and sneezing and stinging eyes. But when you get hay fever this year, turn to Mother Nature to relieve what she created in the first place.

This month's panel of experts recommend four common herbal allies to combat the respiratory nuisances that come with seasonal allergies. Tim Blakley, herbal educator for Frontier Natural Products Cooperative and manager of the National Center for the Preservation of Medicinal Herbs, offers a few more specific tips. First, he says, find out what's causing your hay fever--obviously you won't be able to stop oak tree blossoms from blooming, but you can prepare yourself for the inevitable by taking preventative doses of the following herbs before the pollen reaches your nose. (Stinging nettle works best if you start taking it about a week before allergy season.) Also, keep your house free of mold, which can compound seasonal allergies.

If hay fever still strikes, eat a little dollop of horseradish--it'll immediately open up your nasal passages (if only temporarily). For chapped lips and noses, Blakley recommends a lip balm (in a beeswax and olive oil base) containing comfrey and calendula. Apply the balm around your nostrils---even inside your nose-to ease the itching.

Contributing to this month's column are Blakley; Santa Fe herbalist Blade, who runs the Earth Wisdom Teachings workshops; and Mindy Green, director of education for the Herb Research Foundation, in Boulder, Colo.

Legend for Chart:

A - Herb
B - Function
C - Dosage[*]
D - Comments




Chickweed Anti-inflammatory;
(Stellaria media) relieves coughs and

Tincture: 40 drops in a little water daily
Capsules: Up to 9(400 - 500 mg.) capsules daily
Tea: Steep 1 oz. dried herb in hot water in 32-oz.
mason jar for 4 - 6 hours; drink 1 - 2 cups daily

Take for 3 to 4 months for long-
term relief from seasonal allergies;
also good for chronic asthma.

Fennel seed Anti-inflammatory; effec-
(Foeniculum tive, temporary relief for
vulgare) red, stinging eyes

Tea: Steep 1 tsp. dried herb in 1/2 cup hot water
until cool. Drain and drop clean liquid into an eye
cup. Rinse eyes as often as necessary

Refrigerate tea to keep from

Mullein leaf Expectorant, anti-
(Verbascum inflammatory, antispas-
thapsus) modic; soothes coughs
and clears lungs

Tincture: 25 -40 drops every 3 hours; follow
frequency directions below
Tea: Steep 1 oz. of dried herb in hot water in 32-
oz. mason jar for 4 - 6 hours; drink 2 - 4 cups daily
for 6 weeks. Take 2 weeks off. Repeat if necessary

A tonic, mullein is most effective
when you take for a time, then stop
for awhile. Also offers excellent
relief from chronic asthma.

Stinging nettle Anti-inflammatory;
(Urtica dioica) immune system sup-
port; nutritive--high in
vitamins A and C

Tincture: 2 milliliters daily (about 40 drops) for up
to 1 month
Capsules: Up to 6 (435 mg.) capsules daily
Tea: Steep 1 oz. dried leaves in hot water in 32-oz.
mason jar for 4 - 6 hours; drink 1 - 2 cups daily

Start taking stinging nettle about
one week before allergy season

By Ellen Cavalli

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