Grass and weed pollen season typically peaks between April and August in the Pacific Northwest, according to the Northwest Asthma and Allergy Center. But before you run off to the drug store, medical experts at Bastyr University say you might find some natural remedies in your backyard to help fight seasonal allergies.
"They don't have the same side effects as the drugs," said Dr. Jenn Dazey who works in the Department of Botanical Medicine at Bastyr University. "(Plants) tend to not need to stay in your system while they're active. Instead, they address the inflammation directly."
Dr. Dazey says look for three common plants that are found in abundance in Western Washington.
First, stinging nettles. They have sereted leaves and tiny thorns that can sting the skin. But when dipped in boiling water, the sting goes away. Dr. Dazey adds vinegar, butter and salt to hers once a day to fight allergies. She's says it's best to prepare them like any other leafy green.
Chickweed with many water drops.
Second, chickweed. This is a matted ground cover that's high in minerals and flavanoids. Chickweed has white flowers that open and closes with barometric pressure. You can put chickweed into a salad or throw it into a smoothie or juice. Dr. Dazey says chickweed can also fight eczema and asthma.
Galium aparine cleavers and grip grass close-up In the spring
Finally, cleavers. This plant helps with the lymphatics and reduces congestion. They're found in many local gardens and stick to your clothes. But when added to a salad or smoothie, cleavers can help naturally drain fluids in your head and neck.
Dr. Dazey says you can combine all three plants into a pesto to Spring allergies. Here's the recipe...
Nettle Pesto for Spring Allergy Relief
Jenn Dazey, ND, Bastyr University Botanical Medicine Department
8-10 cloves garlic (Allium sativa)
2 cups toasted pumpkin seeds (Curcubita max)
1 teaspoon salt
Zest and juice of 1 organic lemon
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cups fresh nettle (Urtica dioica) tops
2 cups fresh chickweed (Stellaria media), coarsely chopped
2 cups fresh cleavers (Gallium aparine), coarsely chopped
Boil a pot of water and use tongs to submerge the nettles for 10 seconds. Strain and run cool water over the nettles to stop the cooking process. Add ingredients to a food processor one by one, in the order listed. Blend until smooth and serve or freeze.
To use this pesto for acute allergy symptoms, be sure to eat at least a Tablespoon three times per day. More is just fine. Once symptoms are knocked down, you only need about a teaspoon per day to maintain it.