Goldenseal, a great herb to combat spring allergies

We are entering the season when patients start showing up at the office saying things like, “Oh man, my nose is always so stuffed up this time of year!” or “I can’t seem to get rid of that itch in my throat!” This is the season of allergic rhinitis, and the return of frequent sneezing, runny noses, sinus congestion, itching in the eyes, nose and throat and general discomfort.

These symptoms are commonly triggered in the spring by pollens released from grasses, trees, and weeds.  Other causes include dust mites and animal dander being stirred up from the annual spring cleaning process as well as molds which thrive in damp conditions.  Other factors which may contribute to the severity of allergy symptoms are food sensitivities, cigarette smoke exposure, family history of allergies and the co-existence of other allergic disorders like eczema and asthma.

I have had great success treating allergic rhinitis symptoms with the herb goldenseal, also known as hydrastis canadensis.  Goldenseal’s nickname, “King of the mucous membranes” describes its affinity to act on the mucous membranes of the eyes, sinuses, nose and throat by decreasing inflammation, swelling, itching and mucous production.  Goldenseal also contains a key ingredient called berberine which is anti-microbial therefore killing bacterial, viral and fungal infections which can develop alongside seasonal allergies.  It is also easily used with over the counter allergy medications to aid in symptom relief. As always, it is a good idea to consult with your healthcare practitioner prior to taking any new herbal supplement, especially if you are pregnant or nursing.

In general, this is a great herb to keep in the medicine cabinet to prevent and treat the symptoms of spring allergies.  Stay tuned for future posts about prevention and relief of spring allergies!