About 50 million Americans — more than ever — are suffering from seasonal allergies, and there is no escape. The majority of those allergies are outdoor plant-related ones, and it’s the time of year that most outdoor allergies are beginning to act-up.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, one in three children are born with an allergy of some kind.

Allergies are genetic and there are no cures, but they can be managed. Many people treat their allergies with natural, drug-free methods. Some of the most common and useful ones are the herbs Butterbur, Quercetin, and saline salt-water nasal spray. All of these can be found at health-food stores. By using natural remedies to tame roaring allergy symptoms, one will not become drowsy or feel the side effects of allergy drugs containing antihistamines.

There are two herbs that treat allergy symptoms especially well, said Michele Sanger, owner of Living Earth Herbs on Cornwall Avenue. Sanger is a trained Western Herbalist, meaning she is trained to use herbs found natively in the Western hemisphere.

Nettles, (urtica), and eye bright (euphrasia), are herbs that can be made into teas as well as special extracts to help manage symptoms. Nettles are a natural antihistamine and have no known side effects, she said. Drugs such as Claritin or Zyrtec contain antihistamines, and people may experience drowsiness or other side effects. She said eye bright helps soothe itchy eyes and throat, which are common outdoor allergy symptoms. Both herbs can be found in health-food stores in both tea and extract forms, she said.

People are responsible to weigh out the pros and cons of certain medicines according to their own discretion, Sanger said.
“I feel botanical remedies are very safe,” she said. “Herbs like nettles have been proven over hundreds of years. Claritin hasn’t been used for hundreds of years.”

Managing allergies the natural way

Naturopathic Physician Kimberly Sandstrom from Bellingham Natural Family Medicine said there are natural ways to manage allergies. Here are some tips the office gives to patients with outdoor allergies:

-Use an air filter in your house or apartment to avoid airborne allergies.

-Reduce clutter of objects that collect dust and dust mites.

-Eat foods that are high in vitamin C.

-Bioflavonoids/quercetin: You may want to take quercetin to reduce allergy symptoms.

-Nettle tea: Make your own nettle tea by steeping 1-3 teaspoons of nettle leaves in 1 cup of water for about 10 minutes.

-Saline salt nasal spray: Make your own solution that can help clear sinus congestion. Use 2 cups of warm water and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt or sea salt. It is important not to use table salt because it can irritate mucous membranes.