If you have allergies or asthma, the changing of the seasons can be a particularly difficult time. Grass and tree pollens cause allergic reactions in about 20% of the population.1
If you have allergies you might get symptoms like an itching or swelling sensation in the nose and eyes, sneezing, a runny nose, watery eyes, and difficulty breathing.
There are many antihistamines available to treat the symptoms of allergies, but these are often costly, and may cause adverse reactions in some people. One remedy that is inexpensive, natural, and safe is nettle tea.
What Are the Causes of Allergies?
The most common cause of allergies is pollen from grass and trees. During the spring and summer, plants release pollen into the air. When you breathe in the airborne particles, they may cause your body to react negatively.
If you are allergic to pollens, your body tries to protect itself by making antibodies, which fight off foreign substances. These antibodies can produce chemicals such as histamine, which is the main culprit behind the irritating symptoms of allergic rhinitis (allergies).
As your body tries to fight off the histamine, it produces mucus so your nose runs, and your bronchial passageways become obstructed. This means that your nose, throat and chest are blocked, so you may find it difficult to breathe.1
How Can Nettle Tea Help?
Although nettles can cause allergic skin reactions if you touch the leaves, they are particularly useful in alleviating the symptoms of allergies if you drink them in tea. Nettle tea can ease symptoms such as congestion, difficulty breathing, runny noses, and coughs.2
In a 1990 study by the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon, doctors studied the effects of nettles on people with allergic rhinitis. Researchers split the test subjects into two groups, giving one group a nettle preparation and the other a placebo.1
The group that took the nettle preparation reported fewer allergic reactions than those that took the placebo. Another study by the Herbal Science Group shows that nettles can block histamine receptors and reduce inflammation in people who suffer from allergic rhinitis.3
Nettle leaves contain natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties. These work in the body to block the histamine receptors, which means you don’t experience such a strong reaction to pollens. This can help to reduce your hay fever.
How to Take Nettle Tea for Allergies
If you have allergies or respiratory problems, nettle tea can effectively reduce symptoms such as itchy, watery eyes, inflammation, and sneezing. Drink 2-3 cups of tea a day throughout the hay fever season to alleviate symptoms of allergies.5
Although nettles are a natural and safe alternative to antihistamines, you should speak to a health care professional before using them if you have a preexisting medical condition, or if you are pregnant or nursing.
What to read next
2 Church, Bill. West Virginia Medicinal Plants, Trees, & Shrubs, A Field Guide. Lulu.com, 2004
3 Roschek, B., Fink, R. C., McMichael, M. and Alberte, R. S. Nettle extract (Urtica dioica) affects key receptors and enzymes associated with allergic rhinitis. Phytotherapy Research, 23: 920-926. doi: 10.1002/ptr.2763, 2009
4 Warren, Piers. 101 Uses for Stinging Nettles. United Kingdom: Wildeye, 2006
5 Tilford, Gregory L.; Gladstar, Rosemary. From earth to herbalist:An earth-conscious guide to medicinal plants. Mountain Press Publishing, 1998