by\nCheryl Hoard\n \nThere are a lot of us allergy sufferers out there! An estimated 30 million in this country deal with hay fever. Another 12 million experience allergies to food, drugs and bee stings. Other conditions like asthma and eczema are sometimes linked to allergies. We tend to blame dust, mold, pollen and animal dander as the culprits but it’s really our reactions to these everyday substances that is the problem. Our immune systems abnormally react or overreact to the chemicals the body releases to combat the enemy particles.\n \nConventional medical treatment and over-the-counter drugs often treat or mask symptoms only. While herbs and essential oils can also simply relieve symptoms at first, they provoke a more sustained or long term healing response from the body. Maybe a better way to describe their action is that plant medicine works with the body and supports a more normal and balanced reaction to the allergen. A good example of this is the way immune modulating herbs like Echinacea, Lapacho (Pau d ‘Arco) and Astragalus can both lower or increase the immune response depending on what the body needs at that moment. Here’s a tip though for the best results: Astragalus and Lapacho could be taken on a daily basis in large or small doses depending on what suits you. Many of you, like myself, have probably read all the conflicting reports and opinions on the proper use of Echinacea. What rings true for me is that small doses of Echinacea can balance not only a deficient immune system but can also bring down an overly active immune function. Larger doses of this herb though, definitely just increase the immune response. I also place a significant importance on the knowledge of my Indian friend who advises that Echinacea not be taken for long periods of time. Taking daily doses for many weeks or months at a time is not healthy in his view. With our modern technology we may have studied this herb extensively but the original people of the North American Continent, where this herb is native, have much more experience in its successful use. You can get hung up in the incomplete facts about allergies and immune balancing herbs but there is no dispute that these immune tonics really help people handle their allergies. Over the years in our herb business we have seen time and time again the successful use of these herbs, especially Lapacho, by people who use them on a daily basis starting in advance of their typical allergy season and continuing throughout the season. If they are under more stress or have emotional upsets this can bring on more symptoms. For temporary periods they increase their dose of Lapacho until they get things calmed down. The beauty of herbs, as I have already mentioned, is their use has a remarkable long-term effect over years. Allergy sufferers notice that after a few seasons go by using herbs, the condition noticeably lessens and is easier to manage.\n \nOne of my favorite herbal authorities is James Duke author of The Green Pharmacy. He recommends eating extra onions, garlic, vitamin C, the herbs nettle, ginkgo, feverfew, horseradish and aromatherapy application of Chamomile Essential Oil for treating allergies. Please visit our website or shop for the latest and most complete safety information on the use of these herbs. We also see a great many of our customers experience relief with the variety of respiratory and sinus products we offer. These formulas are designed to support the upper and lower respiratory system in all it’s many functions and changing environment. Because of the huge variety of products, you can find just the perfect remedy to suit your lifestyle and taste. There are teas to drink, extracts to ingest when you are on the run, capsules to swallow to avoid the cringing taste buds and essential oils like eucalyptus and peppermint to inhale and even apply. There are several choices to choose from within all these categories.\n \nFor the last two years, I have experienced allergies in the spring and summertime for the first time in my life. How annoying it is! I have success with the variety of herbal products at my disposal and an unusual one in particular gives me great relief. For our Respiratory Blend which is applied externally, we mix a couple of good herbal extracts into aloe gel, add essential oils and I apply this to the sinus areas of my face so that I can instantly feel relief from my runny nose, sneezing and congestion. External application of herbal extracts is a little known effective use of some of them. Historically though, herbs have been extensively used externally with remarkable results.\n \nMy husband, Jeff, has many more years of experience managing allergies and one of his successful techniques is to judiciously use Ma Huang (Ephedra) tea when there is congestion or a drippy condition. This is really the proper use of this antihistamine herb rather than the recent hype for its use for weight control. He drinks just a half or full cup of the tea only at certain times. The herb can easily be overused and can make your heart pound similar to drinking too much coffee. We know of some customers who just drink a tablespoon of the tea and that is the perfect dose for them. Historically, Ma Huang is combined with other respiratory herbs for very successful respiratory, allergy and asthma remedies. This recent abuse of it for body building or weight loss is very unfortunate. For the true facts of this subject read Jeff’s article titled The Abuse of Ma Huang (Ephedra sinica).\n \nThere really are so many good natural things you can do for yourself if you suffer with allergies. Perseverance pays off and with a little trial and error you will find just the right combination of efforts to be successful.\n \n \nREFERENCES:\n \nDuke, James A. The Green Pharmacy. New York: St. Martin’s Paperbacks. 1998.\nMowrey, Daniel B. Herbal Tonic Therapies. New Canaan: Keats Publishing Co. 1993.\nWhite, Linda B., Foster, Steven and the staff of Herbs for Health. The Herbal Drugstore. Emmaus, Pennsylvania: Rodale Press. 2000.