“You’re weak. You’ve got weak blood,” he said to me.
He’s absolutely right, and while I know that he was just teasing me, those aren’t the kind of words a girl wants to hear from her soon-to-be husband. I sniffle and snivel, and make the occasional snorting noise in a feeble attempt to itch the wretched depths between my nose and the back of my throat. Yeah, weak blood is right. Though I’ve started my fresh bee pollen regimen in an attempt to naturally build up my allergen resistance, I sure could use all the help I can get with these darned allergies.
Let’s zoom back in time to the happy, allergy-free days of winter. I was steelhead fishing on the Ten Mile River north of Fort Bragg with not a care in the world (well, that’s not entirely true–I cared very much to catch a fish). As I usually do, I took note of the different plants thriving in the alder forest surrounding me: there’s always something new to find when one is on an adventure. I was thrilled to discover wild carrots growing in the moist ground just off the side of the road. Incredible! They even smelled “carroty” when I plucked a few thin, pale roots from the ground. In my brief foraging adventure I also noticed that about 60% of the underbrush was lush, vibrant, stinging nettle. I was thankful for my waders: they kept me warm, dry, and safe from the nettles.
In the back of my mind I knew that stinging nettles were good for . . . something.
I couldn’t remember what, but the contradiction of such a nasty plant being so beneficial was enough to motivate me to harvest some, then look it up later. I used my extra-sharp fly fishing scissors to snip the new growth from several plants; I collected enough to fill up an old cardboard granola bar box. I managed not to nail myself with any of the stinging leaves (they’ll do a number on you), and then tossed it into the back of the truck. And completely forgot about it.
At some point, someone brought the box into the house and was kind enough not to toss it into the recycle. The interior of the cardboard box happened to serve as just the right kind of container to dry out the stinging nettle leaves all on its own. I happened upon the old box this morning and thought: I should try to use this. After a quick internet search I found that, while supposedly beneficial for a plethora of ailments, nettle is also used to treat hay fever and allergies. I’m not entirely sure how it does so, but anything that can help me with my itchy-sneezy nastiness is worth a shot.
One randomized, double-blind study found that 300 mg of freeze-dried nettle leaf help to relieve allergy symptoms. Fifty-eight percent of those who participated in the trial reported significant symptomatic relief, whereas 48 percent said Urtica dioica was “equally or more effective” than medications they had used.
So I stuffed the entire box full of leaves into a tea ball, poured boiling water over it, and glugged it down.
Did I just poison myself? Ah well . . . side-effects shmide-effects.
Supposedly the worst I could do to myself was get a stomach ache, and possibly a skin rash. I experienced none of these negative effects.
Most of the foraged herbal teas I’ve made–Calendula and yarrow, for example, need a good dollop of honey to make them palatable. The nettle tea was surprisingly mild and good. I’m not sure how to describe it, but there’s not a single trace of bitterness, despite the strength of the brew. Good stuff.
Since I drank all of my forage in one shot, I’m going to head back out into the woods to go harvest some more.
Are you one of the bazillions who suffer from seasonal allergies? If you haven’t read it yet, check out my other allergy post: Bee Pollen & My Battle With Allergies. Be sure to leave your questions and comments in the section below: I’d love to hear from you about your experiences with using natural remedies.