Love Your Food, Let it Love You Back (Pt. II)

For every person twirling around in a sundress, exulting in the springy-ness of Spring, there are two more struggling to get out of bed every morning, because all this Spring is giving them allergies.

When you suffer from severe seasonal allergies, Spring kind of sucks. Not only do you sneeze every five seconds and have a balloon head, you feel like you’re missing out on all this natural beauty and great weather.

Allergies are woefully misunderstood in the health community. For instance, sneezing and watery eyes are just two of the myriad of symptoms caused by seasonal allergies.

Did you know that depression and sleeplessness are just as common? So are body aches, joint pain, headaches, and irritability.

Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to naturally minimize your allergic response. One of the most effective strategies is an elimination diet – an extended period of time during which you exclude certain foods, in order to determine your food sensitivities.

For the purposes of this article, suffice it to say that if your allergies are severe, you might benefit from eliminating any of the following: gluten, corn, dairy, and soy. (I’ll explain why in future posts).

A different strategy is to acclimatize your system to the local flora by ingesting as many wild, local foods as you can. Local, unheated honey is easy to get and chock full of enzymes and vitamins to boot.

There’s another Spring superfood that works wonders for allergies, and it’s the unsung hero of greens.

Nettles. Why you didn’t even know they existed:

Stinging Nettles are wild plants that grow in wooded areas all around the country. Their leaves are covered in tiny little hairs that sting the bejeezus out of you when touched. They usually grow right next to another plant called Jewel Weed, whose stems contain a gel that soothes the rash.

Isn’t nature cool?

Anyway. The reason you might not know about this nutrient-dense, allergy-fighting plant is because supermarkets don’t carry them. The only place you might see them is in the medicinal herbs section of a health food or supplement store. Farmers markets also carry big bags of them around this time of year, but it’s also pretty easy to harvest your own.

Check out this article for instructions on how to identify and harvest nettles.

If you’re not into wilderness foraging, you can get dried nettles at most health food stores. And definitely check the farmers markets right now.

Why they love you anyway:

  • Powerful blood builder – helps anemia
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Blood purifier
  • Often used to treat eczema, asthma, and sinusitis
  • Helps ease diarrhea, rheumatism, and water retention (diuretic)
  • Reduces severity of seasonal allergies

Most sources claim you need to ingest nettle tea every day for 30 days to reap the benefits. It’s best to drink it first thing in the morning, but I just like to make a big batch and sip it throughout the day. That formula again:

  • 2 handfuls dried leaves
  • 1 quart water
  • Steep at least 4 hours

More nettle recipes:

Nettle dip

Chicken and Nettle Soup

Here’s a beautiful article about how to handle the nettles when you get home from the wilderness.

Once you’ve blanched them, they are safe to handle. You can use the leaves in place of spinach in most recipes.

Nettle tea sweetened with local honey is a great way to ease your allergies (and it tastes amazing).

This one is a bit more adventurous for you. Are you going to try it? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Written by Damon

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