Saturday, June 2, 2018

Herbs Used For Hay Fever - The Acute Situation

We examined herbs used to prevent hay fever in the part four hay fever post. These same herbs that were used to prevent hay fever can continue to be used through-out hay fever season. In general, they are not herbs that provide immediate instantaneous relief, but they will help alleviate hay fever symptoms when used over time during hay fever season. If used ahead of time and then used during hay fever season (or similar herbs), an individual will often find a great relief of symptoms and some people will find they disappear.  These are supportive herbs and will serve as a source of necessary nutrients and organ trophorestoratives. Some forms of the herbs indicated for an individual should be continued through-out hay fever season on a daily basis, along with life-style and diet changes. Additional herbs are taken for acute symptomatic relief if needed.

The strengthening and long term herbs to consider continuing, as needed by the individual, would be immunomodulating herbs, liver and digestive herbs, adaptogens and nervous system herbs as well as herbs used for general respiratory support. Not all of these will be necessary. It will depend on the needs of each individual.

The acute herbs that are used for hay fever are generally anti-inflammatories, anticatarrhals, astringents and sometimes expectorants.


Herbs for Acute Assistance

Anticatarrhals

Anticatarrhal herbs are almost always thought of in relation to hay fever. They are considered when there is congestion, and the mucus gets out of hand. The respiratory tract makes mucus to protect the body from pollen. It becomes thin and excessive in order to remove the pollen. In the bodies attempt to protect an individual from an invader, it overreacts to the situation. The excessive mucus is annoying and when the irritation continues, the tissues can become very inflamed and edematous, causing congestion.

The groups of herbs used as anticatarrhals decrease congestion by a variety of methods. Anticatarrhals are generally anti-inflammatory, expectorant and/or astringent in nature. When focusing on acute relief of hay fever we are generally looking at herbs that are astringent and anti-inflammatory. Decreasing inflammation sounds pretty straight forward, but what does it mean to astringe a tissue?


Astringents – Defining An Astringent And How it Works
  
Astringent herbs have a drawing and drying effect. They decreases congestion and rid the area of excess edema, inflammation and mucus. When used topically on mucous membranes they cause contraction of the mucous membranes, thus causing expulsion of excess fluid and mucus.  Astringents can give acute relief from flaccid, boggy or edematous tissues by this secretion restraining and tissue constricting activity. This astringing action is due to the tannin content in the herb.


Because mucus is a natural and necessary body defense, mucus should not be stopped unless it is chronically in excess, and the cause can’t be eradicated, such as may take place acutely with hay fever.


When a person with congestion and mucus ingests an astringent herb, they will usually notice their nose and sinuses open up. The mucus decreases and their breathing becomes easier.  For acute use, when an individual wants instant effect, I often use yarrow. It is both anti-inflammatory and super astringent. It works quickly too. I usually have people put a few drops of Yarrow tincture under the tongue and it works almost immediately. However, Yarrow is contraindicated for long term use or in large doses. Other anticatarrhal herbs that can be used are Oregon grape root, Geranium root, Hawthorne flowers/leaves and berries, Ladies mantle leaves, Yerba mansa root, Calendula flowers, Strawberry leaves or Raspberry leaves. These all provide astringency and help decrease edema and inflammation. Which herb or herbs to pick depends on other needs of the individual. 


Another way to open up the nasal passages and sinuses is to use a stimulating herb such as horseradish or wasabi. You can also use steam inhalations to open the airways. Steam inhalations with herbs high in menthol such as peppermint are useful in keeping sinuses open. If infection is a concern, an antimicrobial herb such as Oregano or Thyme can be added to the steam inhalation.

  
Astringent herbs can also be used for irritated and inflamed eyes.

A cold compress over the closed eyes is beneficial. A cold, water compress is helpful, but even better is a cooled, astringent herbal tea compress. If you are unsure how to make an herbal compress, see this post on making them. Calendula is wonderful as a compress for inflamed eyes. Geranium can be added if the individual wants even more astringency. Keep the tea or tincture a bit on the diluted side as the eyes are delicate organs. You can also use them in an eye cup and wash the eye. Make sure you use sanitary methods when washing the eyes with any type of liquid. Be aware that if you make the wash too strong it can become irritating rather than healing.

Inflammation

Congestion is caused by inflammation, so ingesting anti-inflammatory herbs to decrease histamine, cytokines and other causes of inflammation is highly beneficial. Decreasing  systemic inflammation and local inflammation are both important.

Local inflammation in the nasal passages can be decreased with vulneray & astringent herb washes that are applied with a neti pot or similar methods. (Directions for neti pot here.)  The same combination previously mentioned as an eye-wash can do double duty as a nasal wash. I am referring to the use of Calendula, with the possible addition of Geranium for extra astringent activity.

There are many choices of herbs that are used internally to decrease inflammation associated with hay fever. I will share some of my favorite anti-inflammatory herbs below.


Anti-inflammatories

Some anti-inflammatory herbs to consider would include Licorice – Glycyrrhia spp., Calendula – Calendula officinalis, Marshmallow – Althaea officinalis, Peppermint – Mentha piperita, Turmeric – Curcuma longa, Yarrow – Achillea millefollium, Yucca – Yucca spp,  Forsythia Forsythia suspense.
 .
Yarrow Achillea millefolium - Reduces congestion and excess secretions. This is a wonderful herb to use acutely for any kind of nasal, or sinus congestion. It works great for acute hay fever as well as other acute forms of rhinitis and sinusitis. It can be a life saver. Just a few drops of tincture on the tongue and in seconds nasal passages are clear and sinuses are better.  I usually give this as temporary, acute, quick fix. Yarrow is not an herb for chronic use but short term use can be very helpful.

Yerba mansa – Anemopsis californica – Another herb that will reduce congestion and excess secretions in the upper respiratory tract. This is a warming herb while the yarrow I mentioned is more cooling. Yerba mansa has a pungent and pleasant taste, while Yarrow has a bitter taste.

Calendula – Calendula officinalis is soothing and healing. When nasal tissues are raw and, friable, crusty, or otherwise super irritated and healing is needed, this anti-inflammatory/vulneray/astringent can be used as a wash to assist the body in creating new, revitalized nasal tissue. It is also anti-inflammatory when ingested.

Licorice – Glycyrrhiza glabra/spp. Previously, in part 4, I shared how Licorice is used for liver support. Review this for additional data.

The constituent glycyrrhizin and it’s active aglycone glycerrhetic acid have been shown to inhibit several features of the allergic inflammatory response including histamine synthesis and release.

In Japan, glycyrrhizin has been used as an injection for allergic inflammation since 1948.
Licorice helps retain moisture in the body which is good for allergy sufferers who tend to be dry from excess loss of fluid, always thirsty and pee a lot. However, for someone with edema or high blood pressure, or chronic kidney failure this is an herb that would not be good for them.

Licorice in general helps decrease inflammation.  For this reason you will see it used in many herbal formulas. It can be used as a tea, as a capsule, as a tincture or powder. One cup of tea 2-3 times per day or 20-60 drops of tincture 2-3 times per day should be good for people who do not have any predispositions to side effects from Licorice.

Make sure you look up the side effects of Licorice, in case this herb is not appropriate for a given individual. The extensive list of side effects can be found in my new book, Herbal ABC’s as well as “Herbal Medicine From theHeart of the Earth”. You will also find various lists on the internet.

Turmeric – Curcuma longa This herb was also discussed for liver support in the hay fever prevention blog. It is used by many people for active hay fever symptoms and if taken every day can be very beneficial. It can be used liberally in food or taken in a capsule. It can also be used as a powder. Two teaspoons - One tablespoon, 2 times per day of powder should do the trick. It needs to be followed by a water chaser, and most people I admit will get tired of the taste. Often people add it to food and take capsules rather than the straight powder. The powder is much less expensive though. In food it works well as a curry, sprinkled on many different foods or the powder can be mixed into shakes, smoothies, or honey.  A nice tea with ginger can be made with turmeric. This tea is a great anti-inflammatory combination. The Ginger in the tea has been shown to lower IgE levels in people with hay fever. The longer people in the study took the ginger capsules the better the outcome. Many of the hay fever symptoms were significantly reduced.

A 2015 research study with an active constituent of Turmeric called curcumin was used in the nose of mice prior to exposure to lipopolysaccharide (causes an allergic response) showing, the curcumin had a protective effect, decreasing the airway irritation. Additionally, I found another study where the absorption of curcumin was studied in an intranasal application in mice, where they examined the amount of absorption and found it had good absorption and at doses lower than the drug disodium cromoglycate effected histamine release. Curcumin usually has poor absorption by itself so, the researchers were delighted it absorbed better nasally. It made me wonder if using Turmeric or curcumin as a neti pot wash to irrigate the nasal passages and reduce inflammation would be helpful, however it can stain the skin temporarily so this may never become a popular vehicle of application. Perhaps snorting the powder might also work but may still stain the skin. Let me know if any of you have experimented with an intranasal application of turmeric for hay fever relief. I would love to see a comparison of the Turmeric powder with the curcumin powder.

Turmeric’s constituent curcumin, has been shown to reduce histamine as well as decrease other avenues of bodily inflammation. Many people take the constituent curcumin by itself. One product that I have used with good results is called Meriva. Curcumin has been shown to have low solubility, be poorly absorbed by the intestines and have low systemic bioavailability. Another constituent in Turmeric called turmerone has been shown to facilitate absorption. (Once again proof of the whole herb being better than individual constituents).  Piperine in black pepper appears to make curcumin much more bioavailable. One of the ways the piperine helps is by decreasing glucuronidation. Glucuronidation is a pathway used to remove toxins, and as I explain in my book, "Herbal ABCS's" this may have repercussions. I am not comfortable with taking piperine or large doses of black pepper on a chronic basis.

I would also point out curcumin has been shown to be heat sensitive in research. It can start to disappear when temperatures are above 190 degrees C. 

Often anti-inflammatory herbs used for hay fever turn out to lower histamine or prevent the release by stabilizing mast cells. I thought I would share some methods to do this.

Mast cell stabilization

During hay fever season it is helpful for many people susceptible to pollen reactions to limit foods with high histamine content as well as foods/supplements/drugs that may increase histamine. See hay fever blog part II. 

Foods high in flavonoids are able to assist in decreasing mast cell activation and reduce histamine in the body. The individual should be eating high flavonoid foods continually through-out hay fever season as an additional long-term plan to decrease hay fever symptoms by decreasing histamine and lowering of other inflammatory mediators. These flavonoids include quercetin and catechin which are found in herbs such as Green tea, Chamomile, Hawthorne and Gingko. Quercetin is found in many foods/herbs and some good choices for quercetin content are garlic, onions, capers, fruits with dark red or blue colors such as blueberries and cranberries.  Elderberries are high in quercetin as well as Lovage and kale. Quercetin’s anti-inflammatory activity appears to be due to its antioxidant effects and inhibition of cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase, which in turn regulate the inflammatory mediators leukotrienes and prostaglandins. Quercetin has been shown to stabilize mast cells, which inhibits release of histamine.

Some of the constituents found in herbs that have been studied and found to stabilize mast cells besides quercetin are listed below.

Epigallocatechin gallate found in Green teaCamellia sinensis can inhibit the release of histamine from mast cells. 

Theanine is another constituents found in Green tea - Camellia sinensis. This amino acid has been shown to prevent histamine release from cells at low concentrations.

Ellagic acid found in fruits such as raspberries, strawberries, walnuts and pomegranate  inhibit histamine release as well as proinflammatory cytokines such as TNF-alpha and Il-6.

Khellin from KhellaAmmi visnaga has been shown to stabilize mast cells. This is also an herb that is used to prevent Asthma attacks. I have found it especially useful in the past for exercise induced asthma. For some people hay fever can lead to an asthma attack. Much better to control hay fever with long term herbs that support the liver and digestion rather than acute use if herbs or even long term use of Khella. (Khella is not an herb that is used for immediate relief, and high doses may cause side effects such as liver damage.)

Silibinin from Milk thistle- Silybum marianum prevents histamine release as well as other inflammatory cytokines from mast cells.

Reservatrol found in Japanese knoteweed - Polygonum cuspidatum, grapes, peanuts, and blueberries, was found to suppress inflammatory cytokines linked to mast cell disorders, specifically tumor necrosis factor and interleukins.

Curcumin from TurmericCurcuma longa prevents release of histamine by stabilizing mast cells and inhibits  cytokines IL-4 and TNF-alpha.

Parthenolide from FeverfewTanacetum parthenium stabalizeds mast cells.

Indoline from  Woad - Isatis tinctoria stabilized mast cells

Estragole from Basil Ocimum basilicum reduces inflammation due to edema and arachidonic acid

Additional foods/herbs that might be useful to stabilize mast cells/decrease histamine release are Holy Basil, Thyme, Watercress, Pea sprouts, Onions, Garlic, Black cumin, Peppermint, Chamomile, Tarragon, Nettle, Ginger, Turmeric, Apples, Pomegranate, Peaches, and Quince.

Remember these are all ideas for acute relief when the individual is in the thick of hay fever season. It is better to start a couple months prior and make sure the body is in good shape and less likely to need acute assistance.

The Other Hay Fever Blogs
Hay Fever, The What, How and Why - part I
Hay Fever, The What, How and Why - part II
Hay Fever and Diet 
Prevention with herbs
Treating The Acute Situation 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Herbs to Prevent Hay Fever - Part 4 of Hay Fever Blogs

This is the 4th part of a 5 part blog on hay fever. Here I will cover herbs used to prevent hay fever reactions before they start, as well as continuing them into hay fever season. The next installment (and last) will be about herbs used for acute relief.

In the prior hay fever blogs I mentioned hay fever is a reaction of an out of whack immune system with other underlying causes. Although it is easy to see that the immune system is identifying pollen as a threat and attempting to protect the body from the offending pollen intruders, it is less obvious that the immune system is itself in need of support and that the immune system reaction is actually just a symptom of a deeper issue. (I should add that for some people it appears there are genetic susceptibilities also.)

Generally, the reaction of the individual is to calm the immune system by providing anti-inflammatory herbs. This is helpful, in both acute situations as well as long term to decrease the overall inflammatory burden of the body. However, we also need to support the immune system with good nutrition and with herbs and supplements that assist various body organs as is appropriate for each individual. Just decreasing the immune system's overactive aspects will never solve the issues. Long term changes can be achieved through use of respiratory tract support, immunomodulators, antioxidants, as well as digestive, and liver herbs to help the immune system function optimally. The reason the immune system is out of whack is often related to digestive and liver issues. So it is important to support these organs. The use of herbs needs to be undertaken in conjunction with the previously discussed lifestyle and dietary changes one needs to implement. (See prior 3 blogs on hay fever) By addressing the lifestyle and dietary changes as well as supporting these various body systems, deeper issues are addressed. It is important to keep in mind that the individual issues are not the same for each person. Keep in mind that this article will examine very general ideas that can be applied as appropriate for each individual. In some people, due to other issues they have, the suggestions will not be applicable and may even be harmful.

Herbs can be used both in a preventative manner as well as in acute situations. The categories of herbs used most by people are those that astringe the upper respiratory tissues, decrease inflammation and edema, as well as vulnerary herbs to heal irritated tissues. Some of the herbs will also decrease histamine and other bodily substances that produce inflammation in response to pollen. Additional herbs that are often used are those for digestive support and stimulation, liver support and stimulation, and herbs that support  the neuroendocrine system.

Starting Early Before Hay Fever Season
Using herbs for hay fever, starts two months prior to hay fever season. This is the time we want to start a program that will support and nourish the body with a focus on the respiratory tract and the immune system.

Why This is Necessary
In the winter there are not as many fresh healthy vegetables and fruits available as the rest of the year, and there is a lack of health giving sun for a large chunk of us that do not live near the equator. People spend a lot of time indoors in the winter. Often they are in rooms with large groups of people where there is inadequate ventilation, breathing air that has a mix of chemicals, mycotoxins, and viruses. It is also a time of year when there are many holiday celebrations, which in themselves can be as stressful as they are entertaining and heart warming. This leaves some individuals run down from the physical and emotional stress, affecting the individual’s ability to modulate body inflammation. This is not a good way to start hay fever season.  This is why it is important for an individual susceptible to hay fever reactions to support their body in advance of hay fever season.

Two months prior to hay fever season is the time to begin taking supportive herbs to enhance nutrition, decrease overall inflammation and maintain tissue health. It is good to continue to support the respiratory tract with nutrition, daily life activities, as well as herbs through-out the entire hay fever season.

Some of the supportive herbs used are listed below. They are choices, and not intended to all be thrown into a formula and used all at once. The ones that get used in a formula will depend on the specific individual’s needs. It is necessary to look further into each herb and learn about the specifics of that herb. Often people will change up the herbs over time.

Respiratory Support
The focal point here is to decrease overall body inflammation and support the respiratory tract through nutrition and herbs.

Nettles (Stinging Nettles) – Urtica spp. In my neck of the woods, we have a lot of Nettles growing. Many people use them for acute symptoms of hay fever, however I find they really shine when used ahead of time, much before the start of hay fever season. This is often the base of any pre-hay fever season formula I give an individual. Nettle leaf contains many of the nutrients that have been found to be beneficial to hay fever sufferers in scientific research. I believe this is one of the reasons they are useful when consumed prior to hay fever season as well as through-out the season. 

Nettles have shown in-vitro inhibition of several proinflammatory substances that cause the symptoms of seasonal allergies. This includes decreasing the release of histamine, as well as inhibition of prostaglandin formation through inhibition of Cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1), Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), and Hematopoietic Prostaglandin D(2) synthase (HPGDS), which are enzymes involved in the pro-inflammatory pathways. 

Nettles can be taken as a tea (1 cup 2 times per day), a capsule (2 capsules 2 times per day), or eaten as part of your food. I do not suggest tincture as the tincture will usually not have the minerals intact unless they were added back into the tincture in ashen form as is done in Spagyric tinctures. Since the minerals add to it’s effectiveness for respiratory support, a tea,  capsule or food would be more efficacious. Do not eat them fresh though as they will sting you. This is how they got the name Stinging Nettles. The part you want to use is the aerial parts. The young aerial parts are harvested in the spring to use in stir fries, casseroles, soups and other cooked foods, similar to spinach. I think they are tastier than spinach though. They can be harvested to dry for tea or to encapsulate or to make into a cooked meal any time prior to flowering. Do not harvest after flowering, as at this time they can become irritating to the urinary tract.

Red clover - Trifolium pratense  Red Clover  builds up the respiratory tracts resistance to allergies also. It has a long history for use to support general respiratory tract health. It is the flowers and leaves immediately under the flower that are used. Red clover is often used for it’s phytoestrogen effect. If this is not an effect you want, I would suggest you do not use this herb. They are usually used as a tea but can also be used in capsule form or again added to food. The flowers by themselves are more likely to thin the blood than with the leaves intact, so may sure you include both unless you are attempting to thin the blood. They are harvested when the flowers are young, at their peak. Don’t harvest flowers after they start to look old (have a tinge of oranage or brown on them). 1 cup of tea twice per day is the average amount used.


Mullein – Verbascum Thapsus If someone has had trouble removing mucus for some reason, such as a lingering, winter, lower respiratory infection, it can be helpful to add an expectorant such as Mullein.  I would only add it as long as necessary though. Mullein will help keep debris out of the respiratory tract  and help get the tissues and cilia that line the respiratory tract into tip top functioning order. If there is indeed a lingering respiratory tract infection, the person needs to remedy that. Mycoplasma should be considered as a possible infection involved and I suggest looking around the person's environment to see if there is something in their home or work space that might be causing respiratory tract irritation or lowering their immune response.

Liver Support
Research studies indicate that individuals with chronic liver disease often have raised histamine levels in the body. Histamine is broken down by enzymes called diamine oxidase (DAO) and histamine N-methyltransferase (HNMT). HNMT is expressed in most body tissues, and more abundantly in some tissues including the liver. If the liver is not functioning to its fullest potential, histamine levels may remain high in the body, causing histamine intolerance. If the person has had issues with chemical sensitivity as well as hay fever, or has had other indications of poor biotransformation activity, I would make sure they add liver herbs to this protocol during this time. Liver herbs that are known to help lower the bodily inflammatory load and have evidence of acting to stabilize mast cells or lower histamine such as Turmeric, Milk Thistle or Licorice would be some of my first choices. 

These liver herbs are also antioxidants, which is beneficial in hay fever. Each of them support multiple organ systems, so you are getting a whole body make over when you start adding some of these heavy hitters into your daily protocol. Turmeric and Milk thistle have little chance of side effects while Licorice has the possibility of many side effects if you don't know who can and can not use Licorice. Now even though I said Turmeric and Milk thistle have less chance of side effect, I must admit I have seen a reaction to almost every herb and food under the sun, so one should always be careful when ingesting something for the first time.

Turmeric – Curcuma longa This wonderful liver herb is useful for both long term and acute relief of hay fever. It is a great choice for liver support in your two month formula. It can be used liberally in food or taken in a capsule. I have not seen anyone overdose on Turmeric yet. Often people add it to food and take capsules in addition. It can also be used as a powder. For prevention, 1-2 teaspoons 2 times per day will work for the average person. In food it works well as a curry, sprinkled on many different foods or the powder can be mixed into shakes, smoothies, or honey. A nice tea with ginger can be made with turmeric. This tea is a great anti-inflammatory combination. The Ginger in the tea has been shown to lower IgE levels in people with hay fever. The longer people in the study took the ginger capsules the better the outcome. Many of the hay fever symptoms were significantly reduced.  

Turmeric contains the constituent curcumin, which helps to reduce histamine as well as decrease other avenues of bodily inflammation. Many people take the constituent curcumin by itself. One product that I have used with good results is called Meriva. Curcumin has been shown to have low solubility, be poorly absorbed by the intestines and have low systemic bioavailability. Another constituent in Turmeric called tumerone has been shown to facilitate absorption. (Once again proof of the whole herb being better than individual constituents).  Piperine in black pepper appears to make curcumin much more bioavailable. One of the ways the piperine helps is by decreasing glucuronidation. Glucuronidation is a pathway used to remove toxins and as I explain in my book, "Herbal ABCS's" this may have repercussions.

Milk thistle - Silybum marianum This herb is well known for its activity on the liver. A less well known fact is  it's ability to reduce allergic, inflammatory, and histaminic reactions.  The Milk thistle constituent silibinin has been shown to stabilize mast cell membranes and prevent release of histamine. Milk thistle works in multiple forms. I have even seen someone get effects from putting whole seeds into a cup of water and microwaving it. Not that I suggest that route. However, I would suggest the use of powder, or capsules of whole Milk thistle. I generally have people powder the seed and keep the powder in the freezer until needed, as it goes rancid quickly. It can be used in spoonfuls. 1/2 - 2 tablespoons per day (taken in two doses) followed by a water chaser. Don’t breath in herbal powders when swallowing them. I give the upper levels of 2 tablespoons per day to people who have serious inflammatory/liver issues.

Licorice – Glycyrrhiza glabra/spp. Licorice is an amazing herb for liver support, however it also quells inflammation through a variety of mechanisms. Whole books can and have been written on the mechanisms of action of Licorice. 

In relation to hay fever, besides its liver support and digestive assistance one of it’s active ingredients has been studied for its ability to decrease allergic response. Glycyrrhizin and it’s active aglycone glycerrhetic acid have been shown to inhibit several features of the allergic inflammatory response including histamine synthesis and release.

In Japan, glycyrrhizin has been used as an injection for allergic inflammation since 1948.

Licorice helps retain moisture in the body which is good for allergy sufferers who tend to be dry, always thirsty and pee a lot. However, for someone with edema or high blood pressure, or chronic kidney failure this is an herb that would not be good for them.

Licorice in general helps decrease inflammation.  For this reason you will see it used in many herbal formulas. It can be used as a tea, as a capsule, as a tincture or powder. One cup of tea 2-3 times per day or 20-60 drops of tincture 2-3 times per day should be good for people who will not have side effects from Licorice.

It is important to note that Licorice has a long list of side effects. So, make sure you look up these side effects first in case this herb is not appropriate for a given individual. The extensive list of side effects can be found in my new book, Herbal ABC’s as well as “Herbal Medicine From theHeart of the Earth”. You will also find various lists on the internet.

Immunomodulators
All of the immunomodulators used with hay fever will help to quell the overzealous response of the immune system to allergens such as pollen and give the immune system the support it needs to function optimally.

Licorice, Milk thistle and Turmeric that we mentioned previously also have immunomodulator aspects to them. A couple additional immunomodulators used to tone up the body prior to hay fever season would be Astragalus - Astragalus membranaceus, and Reishi - Ganoderma lucidum. These two herbs are also herbs that support the liver and is part of the reason I feel either of them would be a good choice for the 2 month formula. 

Astragalus - Astragalus membranaceus This is an herb that is usually used long term, rather than in acute situations. It has been shown to improve airway inflammation and reduce airway hyper-responsiveness. It mitigates excess production of IgE and Th2 cytokines. Over time it helps decrease allergic airway hyperactivity. It is a good choice for the two month formula. In patients with hay fever, Astragalus significantly improved their symptoms and quality of life in a 6 week, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.   This herb makes a nice and almost bland tea. It can also be added to soups or taken as a capsule/tablet.

Reishi - Ganoderma lucidum This mushroom has been shown to activate non-specific immunity and dampen the allergic response. It decreases allergic hyperactivity and airway inflammation. Reishi normalizes Th1 and Th2 imbalance. Reishi has shown good results at 1-2,  500 mg tablets used twice per day.

Some Things to Consider
Some people may need neuroendocrine support and will be helped by adding adaptogens or nervous system herbs to the mix. 

Remember these herbs so far have been suggestions for herbs that can be included in a two month formula, used prior to hay fever season. Some of them will be better for some individuals and some will not be good choices for certain individuals. So study up on each herb. 

There are other herbs that are equally wonderful to use. I have simply chosen some specific herbs I wanted to share with you.

Additionally during this two month time period, supportive foods that build healthy respiratory tissues should be consumed. I would suggest increasing foods with vitamin C, beta-carotene, B vitamins, healthy fats, healthy proteins, foods/herbs high in minerals and flavonoids.

During the two month period it would also be helpful to read through the first 3 blogs on hay fever and the 5th (not yet published), to  get some additional helpful ideas.