In my quest for alternate forms of allergy relief, I recently came across information on one particular herb, stinging nettle, which is being used with good results for allergy relief, especially for the relief of hay fever. It has a long history of medicinal purpose, including treatments ranging from rheumatism to anemia to eczema. Today it is being used not only for those same ailments, but also for urinary tract problems and most importantly for us – allergies and eczema.
Stinging nettle grows naturally in the United States and Europe, but is often seen a nuisance plant due to the stinging nettles (hence, the name.) Brushing up against the actual nettles will cause severe skin irritations. However, its healing properties are widely touted, and for that you can purchase the dried leaves (to be brewed into teas) or ground in capsule form made from the freeze-dried leaves. It also comes in tincture form which can be added to water to drink. It is important to research the correct amounts, consult with your practitioner to discuss your herbal plan, and decide which form is best for you (tea, capsule or tincture).
While finding your correct does, it’s a good idea to start with a smaller dose and move up if necessary, rather than starting by taking too much. Some practitioners recommend taking nettle in conjunction with other vitamins, especially Vitamin C, and herbs for best benefits.
Reports show that the symptoms most relieved by stinging nettle are itchy eyes and sneezing. Some believe it also alleviates sensitivities to food allergies, though I have seen very little research on this as opposed to the more common use for hay fever. Perhaps, though, it is something on the horizon.
Though historically stinging nettle has been widely used with positive results, the laboratory studies are only now beginning to find scientific basis for the relief it provides. What this means is that though it appears to be very effective, studies are only now showing why, therefore, there is no FDA approval on stinging nettle in any forms. Herbs are a good treatment to try, yet since they usually are not FDA approved, people are often unaware of side effects. It would be wise to talk to your trusted practitioner or do some follow-up research before taking this herb, but could very well be worth a try, especially for severe hay fever.
Since studies are not conclusive at this time, stinging nettle is not recommended for children, as their bodies absorb and use herbs and medicines differently than adults do. However, the results for adults have been very positive, and stinging nettle can easily be found at health/nutritional stores or various places online such as www.zooscape.com or www.herblalove.com.
- Heather Legg