How To Control Your Fall Allergies Naturally

Herbalists reveal that often when it comes to allergies, the problem can also be the solution.

September 11, 2017
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woman sneezing
Stefanie Grewel/getty

When it comes to dealing with pollen allergies, the philosophy of professional herbalists like me is simple: The problem can be the solution.

Allergies are caused by pollens that trigger histamine and leukotriene responses associated with inflammation in the body. Eating whatever flowers are rich in pollen when your hay fever hits—dandelions in spring; yarrow in summer; ambrosia or ragweed in the fall—helps your body learn to process them, like an inoculation, rather than reacting to them as if they are antigens. (Read more on whether honey can help alleviate your seasonal allergies.)

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To get the job done, these flowers and herbs can be cooked in foods, such as dandelion fritters, or made into tinctures, teas, and syrups. The flowers also bring relief when used in an herbal steam, steeped in boiling water in a soup pot. You can drape a towel over your head and carefully sit over the pot, inhaling.

An herb store is a good place to get these flowers and herbs. Generally, the less packaged they are, the more fresh and higher quality they’ll be. You can find elderberry tea and ambrosia or ragweed tea online, or also buy a ragweed tincture and take 1-2 teaspoons with water in the morning for allergy relief.

Related: 5 Herbalists Reveal Their Go-To Natural Remedies For Stress, Poor Sleep, And More

Elderberry flowers, which bloom in fragrant, white clusters in June in the northeastern United States, are my go-to for relieving sinus congestion and ear pain all year. You can steep the dried flowers for a tea rich in bioflavonoids, antioxidants that support the immune system. With its nourishing flavonoids, moistening mucilage (a gooey protective substance found in plants), and astringent tannins, the tea helps calm your over-reactive immune response. It bolsters the circulation of blood and lymph, which improves the immune system’s efficiency.

If you want to try your hand at picking and drying your own flowers, you can contact the American Herbalists Guild to find an herbalist in your area who can guide you on a walk to identify the wild blooms.


(Want to try making your own echinacea tincture? Watch this quick recipe for the immune-boosting natural remedy below.)

Anti-allergy elderberry flower tea 

This easy-to-make infusion helps to quiet the body’s reaction to pollens.

To make the tea: Place ½ cup dried elderberry flowers in a clean quart-sized glass jar. Pour boiling water over them, filling the jar to the very top. Cap the jar tightly, and let the flowers steep for two hours. Then strain the infusion, squeezing the excess liquid from the flowers into it. The tea is best when hot, but it can be stored in the refrigerator for three to five days.

Tags: allergies