The question I’ve been asked most often lately is, “Does stinging nettle really work for allergies?” I asked a doctor. Meet Serron Wilkie, a clinical naturopath in Portland with a bachelor’s degree in ethnobotany and an advanced degree in Chinese medicine. She also co-edits a medical textbook.
First Ways: How have you used stinging nettle for allergies in your practice?
Dr. Wilkie: I have used both the tincture and the dried herb as a tea with success. The tea works best when one starts to drink two-plus cups daily about two months before allergy season begins. The tincture dose is two droppers-full three times a day for most adults during allergy season. I also am a big proponent of eating fresh nettles.
First Ways: Do any studies show that it works?
Dr. Wilkie: In this double-blind study 58 percent of people reported it to be effective and 48 percent said 300mg of freeze-dried herb was equally or more effective as other allergy medications.
First Ways: How does it work?
Dr. Wilkie: The stinging hairs contain amines — histamine, seratonin, acetylcholine — as well as glucoquinones and chlorophyll. It is thought that these are some of the active constituents (though as with all herbs the list of active constituents is much
First Ways: What other plants would you recommend for allergy sufferers?
Dr. Wilkie: Lobelia helps relax the bronchioles, which can be indicated for some people (though not all). Euphrasia is a nice homeopathic herb for the itchy, watery eyes. [And] mushrooms of course! The ones that are most specific to the respiratory system are cordyceps and reishi.
Have you ever taken stinging nettle for allergies? Did it help you?
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