With springtime beginning to unfold, many of us are breathing a sigh of relief with warming temperatures, budding trees, and longer days. It was quite the winter this year for many parts of the United States! As we emerge from our hibernation, we may also be contending with sluggish livers and seasonal allergies. This is an excellent time to switch gears from the heavy foods of wintertime to lighter fare and tend to our detoxification pathways. We can also take steps to reduce the impact of hay fever. Here’s how.
Springtime and Liver Health
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring is the season of the liver. After eating a heavier diet during the wintertime with rich food, now is the time to lighten up and focus on supporting this important detoxification organ. Not only can a diet high in saturated fat and processed foods negatively impact the function of the liver, exposure to environmental toxins, obesity, viral infections, and autoimmune diseases can also compromise its health. If you are experiencing bloating and gas, constipation, moodiness, chronic fatigue, bruising easily, or difficulty with losing weight, your liver may be stressed.
A very real concern is the development of fatty liver disease. With rates rising in the United States, it is estimated that approximately 20-40% of the US population has been diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Generally, you don’t experience symptoms of this excess accumulation of fat in the liver until it becomes severe. Once the disease has progressed, it can cause loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal pain, jaundice, swelling in the upper abdomen, and edema in the legs. Along with dietary interventions and exercise, managing high blood sugar, insulin resistance, or type 2 diabetes is crucial as these are closely linked to fatty liver disease. Lemon balm, along with dual-extracted tinctures of turkey tail and reishi medicinal mushrooms, like the ones found in my apothecary, are exceptional for supporting healthy blood sugar levels.
While we recognize the importance of the liver for detoxification and general health, we may not know the best way to support it. Outstanding herbs for cleansing the liver include dandelion, milk thistle, chickweed, sheep sorrel, calendula, and cat’s claw. And don’t underestimate the power of rejuvenating sleep, drinking lemon water first thing in the morning, eating a healthy, whole foods diet that is rich in potassium, and tending to gut health.
You can learn more about these botanicals, including dosage and safety, plus lifestyle and dietary recommendations in my post “Ready for a Good Spring Cleaning? Here Are My Favorite Detox Methods — Recipes Included!“.
Defeating Seasonal Allergies
As life explodes onto the scene with abundant flowers and grasses during this vibrant season, we also can experience the bane of hay fever and the accompanying congestion, sneezing, fatigue, irritability, and itchy, irritated eyes. As with liver health, what you eat has a profound impact on overall wellbeing. To alleviate symptoms, gut health is important for reducing fatigue and cooling inflammation. Focus on prebiotic and probiotic foods, along with resistant starches. Good examples include:
- Jerusalem artichoke
- Raw garlic
- Cooked then cooled potatoes
- Turkey tail mushroom — you can find a convenient extract in my apothecary.
Moreover, taking ginger root internally can help soothe inflamed eyes, nose, and the lungs, while bee pollen may help reduce the activation of mast cells, which are a key driver in allergy symptoms. Adding a bit of heat to your life with spicy-hot foods is also helpful since the capsaicin thins mucus and expels it. Lastly, pineapple is outstanding for calming allergy symptoms as it cools inflammation and reduces swelling and irritation of the nose and sinuses.
Herbal Solutions for Hay Fever Relief
My number one go-to for tackling allergy symptoms is stinging nettle, so much so that I recommend everyone keep it on hand in their springtime medical kit. As I wrote in “Stinging Nettle: A Power-Packed Wild Green for Allergies, Arthritis, Inflammation, and More!“:
“Famously regarded as an outstanding natural treatment for seasonal allergies, nettle extract has been shown to reduce the inflammation that sparks hay fever symptoms. Part of this mechanism involves blocking histamine receptors and hindering the release of compounds that trigger allergy reactions. One double-blind study found that 57% of the participants reported that their seasonal allergies were significantly reduced with the use of nettle.”
Next is yerba santa. This powerful botanical helps to loosen mucus in the chest due to allergies. It is also exceptional for reducing the symptoms of asthma, sinus issues, and respiratory infections. If you are suffering from significant lung congestion and need a remedy to clear the lungs, alleviate tightness of breathing, and promote the expulsion of phlegm, lungwort lichen and mullein are my top recommendations. Both can be found in my potent Bronchial Blend. These mighty herbs are also helpful for asthma, COPD, colds, influenza, and bronchitis.
If you would like to try these tinctures in a convenient bundle, have a look at our Allergy & Asthma Support Bundle today!
Here’s to a happy and healthy spring!