Tea and herbal infusions can be a major part of your arsenal when the “achoo!” season reigns across the land. We’re talking hay fever, complete with itchy, watery eyes, headaches, and lots of boxes of tissues for all the stuff your body produces while overreacting to the allergen.
Hay fever (technically called “rhinitis”) simply put is your immune system working overtime. It encounters something it thinks is dangerous to you and goes into total “Rambo” mode trying to fight it off, sort of like using a fire hose to put out a birthday candle flame. There are dozens and dozens of products in the pharmaceutical aisles that you can swallow or inhale to help relieve symptoms. But if you’re a tea and/or herbal infusion drinker, you have a bunch of options that might already be in your tea pantry.
When researching this, I found absolutely tons of herbals to take for hay fever. Only a few teas (made from the tea plant, Camellia Sinensis) came up.
The first herbal that comes to mind is chamomile. It’s good against hay fever but ironically has been painted as a cause of that allergy. There has been, according to Richard Romando, a tendency by some rather unethical merchants to pass off pineapple weed as chamomile. The pineapple weed causes the allergy, not the chamomile. People drinking the pineapple weed think they’re drinking chamomile and so think that is what is causing the allergic reaction. Just be sure to buy true chamomile, especially the Egyptian kind. [Note: You could still have an allergic reaction to chamomile, just not a hay fever reaction.]
Peppermint infusion can provide some hay fever relief along with several other benefits: alleviating stress and anxiety, soothing your digestion, and easing asthma. It’s also a breath freshener, has antioxidant properties, and is used in candies. An infusion made from 2 parts each of dried nettle and peppermint and 1 part each of red clover and Echinacea is another popular option. Throw in some honey and dried berries or other fruits to sweeten the taste as you prefer.
Rooibos is another good herbal to drink on a regular basis if you are prone to the sneezing, itchy eyes and other effects of hay fever. This infusion has flavonoids that are known to be anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic. Sort of like a psychiatrist for “Rambo.” (“There, there, it’s just a little histamine and mucus. No need to use the flame thrower or bazooka gun.”)
As for teas, green tea is a wunderkind (wonder child) in the world of tea. The catechins and caffeine in green tea keep your body from producing histamine, which causes all that mucus that ends up in your tissue or hanky. Unlike the antihistamines you buy at the store, green tea is stimulating and keeps you going during your busy day. Some people recommend drinking green tea about once every three hours, up to about two liters a day. You’ll have better results if you start drinking green tea about two weeks before hay fever season starts. Find a relaxing spot for your green tea moment to reduce stress, which makes you more susceptible to allergies.
A quick tip for those allergy-laden eyes: take two black teabags (any brand will do, in fact, the cheaper, the better) and steep in a little hot water briefly, then squeeze out excess water and place them over your closed eyes (you may want to let them cool for a few seconds first. This is a short but instant solution, especially if you have a meeting coming up. It’s also a great way to use those “office tea” teabags.
One thing that keeps popping up, for both teas and herbals, is freshness. The fresher, the better, especially with green teas. Again, a reputable vendor is your key. They will not only have untainted products, but also fresher products. Their reputation is on the line.
Hope this helps all you fellow hay fever sufferers. My teacup needs a refill and I feel another sneeze coming on!
Note: Please consult a physician before starting a tea/herbal regimen for your hay fever.
When you’ve finished sneezing, take a moment to check out A.C.’s fantastic blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill. It’s a great place to learn about tea!