If spring is synonymous with itchy eyes, irritated airways, and non stop sniffles for you, you’re in good company. Over a quarter of Americans get seasonal rhinitis, aka hay fever. That’s over 81 MILLION people. During the spring months, every tree, flower, and weed releases pollen into the air, likely finding their way to your fragile mucus membranes. For many people, this isn’t problematic but if you’re one of the unlucky ones who is sensitive to pollen, your body stages a full blown allergic reaction. Unlike the fall season where ragweed and mold spores from decomposing leaves are the two allergy culprits, the spring is full of potential allergens, from cottonwood trees to grasses. 

Let’s break down the allergic reaction for a second. Once an allergen, like pollen, enters your body, a type of white blood cell called B lymphocytes produce antibodies that flag the allergen and signal other immune cells to get involved. Your mast cells then release histamine, which creates the typical allergy symptoms like runny nose, sneezing, itching, watery eyes, and irritation in order to flush out the foreign invaders from your body. While a small histamine response can be helpful and is actually quite healthy, a large reaction is really hard on your body.

Fortunately, herbal allies can help your symptoms immensely by acting as antiinflammatories, anti-histamines, and even by introducing a tiny amount of the allergen so that your body gets acquainted to it. So let’s get into our favorite herb friends that can help you out during spring allergy season as well as a few lifestyle tips for dealing with any uncomfortable symptoms that arise. 

Nettle Tea

By far the most well-known and loved herb for allergy support is good old stinging nettle. Not only are the leaves of the nettle plant incredibly mineral rich but they also contain antioxidants and antiinflammatory compounds (like phenols and flavonoids). Researchers think that one of the key mechanisms through which nettle can reduce allergy symptoms is by acting as a histamine antagonist (1). This means that nettle quite literally blocks the effects of histamine, thus reducing the symptoms associated with it.

Additionally, nettle has been shown in studies to inhibit an enzyme called tryptase which is released by your mast cells during an allergic reaction. Blocking tryptase prevents a cascade of inflammation and proinflammatory cytokines (2). You can get the impressive benefits of nettle by simply brewing a tea or an infusion (step-by-step here) with dried nettle leaves and enjoying a cup 1-3 times a day. If you know you get gnarly allergies each spring and find yourself dreading them, you can start drinking nettle tea a month or two before spring rolls around. 

Spring Defense Tonic 

Our secret weapon for the spring months is a hard-hitting formula of nettle, eyebright, turmeric, yerba santa, lobelia and ambrosia – the stand out herb. You may know ambrosia as ragweed, the pesky plant that causes allergic responses in about 16% of Americans. Now, you might be wondering why a known allergen is in a formula intended to help mitigate any allergy symptoms. By dosing yourself with a tiny amount of ragweed leaf (not pollen!), your body can slowly and gently get familiar with the plant so that it doesn’t stage a full-on reaction when it encounters its pollen in the spring. This is why it’s key to begin using Spring Defense Tonic anywhere from 2-6 weeks before spring begins, so that your body can get accustomed to the plants your immune system may have forgotten during the cold and gray winter months.

Raw Honey

The kicker here is that you source raw, LOCAL honey. Honey bees collect pollen from flowering plants all over your specific bioregion and make honey from highly localized pollen. In other words, when you consume a local honey, your body gets a dose of local pollen which helps your immune system learn to respond to pollen in the wild less severely – similar to the concept of ragweed pollen that we discussed above. One study found that consuming birch pollen honey reduced allergy symptoms by 60% and cut down conventional antihistamine use by 50% during birch pollen season (3). Another research study performed in Malaysia suggests that high doses (50-80 grams) of honey improved the overall symptoms of allergic rhinitis (hay fever) after 8 weeks of use (4). A few tablespoons of local honey each day is all you need to experience the benefits and you can even stack herbal remedies by adding honey to your nettle tea!

Liver Juice 

Did you know that your liver could be the reason why you struggle with seasonal allergies? In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the liver is the organ of the spring and tends to be a bit sluggish as we move out of the colder, darker days of winter and into bright spring energy. If your liver is backed up, you may also experience emotional symptoms like frustration and anger or physical symptoms like allergies.

This is why our liver support formula, Liver Juice, is a sneaky favorite for spring allergies. Your liver is responsible for filtering and purifying your blood as well as metabolizing histamine through a chemical process called methylation. When your liver function is slowed down, histamine isn’t broken down properly and starts to build up in your body, leading to allergy symptoms. Herbs in Liver Juice promote clear elimination pathways so that your liver can function at its best. Burdock and dandelion support Phase I detoxification, turmeric and milk thistle help with Phase II detoxification and Oregon grape root and beet root improve gut motility, which is now becoming known as Phase III detoxification.

Air Purifiers 

While you definitely can’t control the air outside your home, you can on the inside! Indoor air is often full of pollen from plants, pet dander and even mold spores – all of which are known allergens. Using an air purifier with a true HEPA filter, like AirDoctor, keeps out all major allergy triggers with three different types of filters (ultra HEPA filter, activated carbon filter and high CADR filter). 

Face Steaming

If you’re currently in the thick of it with your allergy symptoms and just want quick relief, this one’s for you. Simply inhaling steam through your nasal passages can be incredibly soothing to irritated or inflamed tissue and can help to flush out mucus that is hanging around. Better yet, you can easily set up a facial steaming station with items you already have at home. All you do is fill a large bowl with hot water and any aromatic herbs (thyme, lavender, rosemary, peppermint, lemon, etc) or essential oils (LESS is more here, only one or two drops is necessary), drape a towel over your head and lean over the bowl so that all the steam is trapped under the towel. Inhale the steam slowly through big, deep breaths for at least five full minutes. 

Eating Greens

Just as the liver is the organ of spring in TCM, green is the color of spring. It’s the season of new life, beginnings, and energy, seen in seedlings sprouting up out of the soil and buds blooming on the trees. As such, it’s the ideal time to harvest and enjoy fresh, young green leaves of any and all varieties. Greens are not only packed with nutrients and the maximum amount of chlorophyll they will have all year, but greens also help to cleanse and detoxify your liver. Bonus points if you can find bitter greens, as the bitterness stimulates your liver to produce bile, which is important for proper elimination and detoxification. Some examples are: dandelion leaves, arugula, mustard greens, collard greens, endive, fennel, chicories, cabbage, broccoli, spring onion and parsley. 


This powerful flavonoid is a natural antihistamine and anti inflammatory. It also gives pigmented foods like red onions, apples, capers, cherries, berries, grapes, nettles, broccoli, kale, cilantro, juniper and scallions their vibrant color. Studies show that taking 1,000 mg per day of quercetin may help to stop your body’s production of histamine and subsequent allergic symptoms (5). You can find Quercetin in our ZincPlus formula.

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