"Sit down and feed, and welcome to our table." -William Shakespeare

Monday, March 26, 2012

Herbs for Allergies

*DISCLAIMER* The author of this post is not a healthcare professional or a licensed herbalists. This information is provided for educational purposes only.*

Allergies suck. Food allergies, outdoor allergies... they suck. Those 2 types are what we deal with around here. The wildflowers and grasses are beginning to bloom int he mountains and we all have red eyes, plus mom has swollen sinuses and joints.

One of the finest ways to deal with the swelling (anywhere) associated with allergies is to EAT REALLY SPICY FOODS. (Incidentally, this is a Mexican folk remedy for allergies.) Jalapenos, cayene, real horseradish, and ginger are great for calming swollen sinuses and relieving aching joints. The 'hot oils' in these foods counteract the swelling caused by the allergic histamine reaction. That's why some people can't eat avocado without their throats swelling shut, but with the addition of enough chopped jalapeno, no problems, no near-death experience. Of course, my sister-in-law, who has this problem and solution, still keeps an epi-pen about just in case, but she's never had to use it.

(A note on hot peppers like jalapeno and cayenne: the 'hot oil' is called capsaicin, and it is amazing. It causes, among other things, the release of endorphins and lowering of blood triglyceride levels, just like when you exercise. New Mexico's heart disease rate is HALF the rest of the country's, though I'm pretty sure the overweight/ obesity rate is NOT half. Studies from the University of New Mexico link that to the very high rate of hot pepper consumption. Seriously, when local chile peppers are in high season, you can only buy them in the store in 40 lb boxes. Ummmm, do people really eat 40 lbs of hot chile peppers here? Yes, they do.)

Unfortunately when it comes to food allergies, no herb will help you much. Avoidance is the way most herbalists suggest dealing with food allergies. Sometimes, in the case of dairy allergies, extreme fermentation, usually in the form of really over-cultured kefir, can break down the allergens lactose and casein far enough to allow the individual to eat them without triggering a reaction. Not for us, unfortunately, but for some. Extreme kefir like that is good in smoothies or thickened as a sour cream or cream cheese sub.

As far as herbs go for seasonal allergies, stinging nettles, in the form of freeze-dried nettle capsules and tea, are helpful. Take them in advance of the season, following the dosage on your bottle, and drink any tea containing nettles 3-4 cups/ day. Mountain Rose Herbs (they should really pay me) make a great nettle-containing allergy tea called "Seasons of Discontent" that tastes great.

Well, that's it for me today. I've got a really messy kitchen because I made homemade pasta sauce yesterday but was too tired to clean the kitchen before bed... and I wanted to knit. It was really delicious and you can look forward to the recipe after I tweak it just a bit more.


"I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes."
-e.e. cummings

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