Effective Herbal medicine for Hayfever By Richard Collisson DipPhyt, MNIMH (Medical Herbalist)
Hayfever season is now in full flow and especially bad this year due to the unusual weather conditions combined no doubt with ever rising traffic pollution levels in our cities. Many over the counter antihistamines for hayfever have the unfortunate side effect of causing drowsiness. Herbal medicine can offer an effective non-drowsy alternative to antihistamines.
Ephedra sinica aka ‘JointFir’ or Ma Huang in Chinese, is a herb native to Mongolia, Russia and north east China, used both in Traditional Western Herbal medicine, as well as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), to treat asthma, bronchitis, hayfever and colds. It’s thought to be one of the oldest plants used in TCM with usage possibly as far back as 6,000 years.
In my over 25 years as a practicing medical herbalist, Ephedra is without doubt the most potent and effective hayfever remedy I have come across. In fact it is so potent that it cannot be sold as an over the counter remedy, but only on prescription from a qualified medical herbalist.
The plant contains the medicinally potent alkaloids ephedrine, pseudoephedrine and norephedrine which rapidly relieve bronchial spasms and hayfever symptoms by decreasing nasal and sinus congestion. Unlike many antihistamines which cause drowsiness, ephedra being a central nervous stimulant has the opposite effect and enhances wakefulness.
In TCM one aims to treat both the Stem (symptoms) and the Root (cause) of a condition. With hayfever Ephedra effectively treats the Stem, but this treatment is symptomatic and one must also treat the Root. The underlying cause of hayfever from a TCM perpective is a deficiency of the Lungs and Kidneys. Schisandra chinensis (Chinese Wolfberry) is an ideal remedy as it is both a Lung and Kidney tonic, it is also Yin tonic, so softens and balances Ephedras very Yang stimulating properties.
The Root (cause) of hayfever is ideally treated by taking immune modulating tonics for 6-8 weeks at the end of winter starting to strengthen and balance the immune system in advance of the hayfever season.
The most effective preventative treatment I have found for hayfever is to take a teaspoon of locally produced honey (which will contain tiny quantities of local pollens) or pollen granules, daily over the winter and spring which acts to innoculate the body and desensitize it to pollens, as well as acting as a medicinal tonic to strengthen immunity. *(Locally produced honey is available in Health Zone Shop).
Effective Herbal medicine for Hayfever By Richard Collisson DipPhyt, MNIMH (Medical Herbalist).