Best Herbal Teas for Allergy Relief
Hay Fever, Antihistamines, Herbal Teas, and Me!
I first became interested in the use of herbal teas for allergy relief some years ago because I found that over-the-counter antihistamines for my hay fever were either making me drowsy (in the case of products containing diphenhydramine) or giving me headaches or nausea.
In short, these products worked to treat my streaming eyes and runny nose—but made me feel either 'wiped out' or 'under-par'.
I decided to research whether I could relieve my symptoms in a more natural way, without these side effects. Now, I regularly take ginger or lemon balm tea, sweetened with a little locally produced, raw honey (also good for hay fever!).
I hope you will enjoy reading my article, in which I explain a little about different types of tea, my method of preparation, and the equipment I use to prepare my tea. If you would like to read further yourself, you can find a list of useful resources used in my research at the bottom of the page.
The Benefits of Herbal Teas
There are many effective over-the-counter medications, as well as prescription remedies, for allergies, but you might be surprised to find that many herbal teas are effective for providing allergy relief.
The teas have anti-inflammatory properties, and some work as natural antihistamines that dampen our immune system's response to the allergens that cause us such misery.
Sore, itchy eyes, streaming eyes and nose, sore throat, sinus pain, and constant sneezing are bad enough when you have a cold that just lasts a few days—but when the symptoms last a whole season in the case of hay fever, or strike suddenly in the case of pet hair and other similar allergies, it is time to take action!
A nice herbal cuppa helps you to stay hydrated, and there are many other health benefits such as trace elements and vital antioxidants, as well.
How To Prepare Herbal Tea
You can choose to prepare your own tea from fresh or dried herbs or buy ready to use packs of loose tea or tea bags.
You could just put a teabag in a mug and pour over freshly boiled water or you could choose to use a tea infuser, either for use in a single cup or in a teapot with a 'built in' infuser as I do at home.
Read on to learn the method I use.
How I Make Herbal Tea At Home
In my opinion, an infuser teapot makes the best herbal tea as the leaves can swirl freely in the hot water.
Teabags are the easiest and most convenient way to buy ready made herbal tea mixes but if you prefer not to use them, you can simply snip off the corner and empty the tea inside into your infuser.
I think this is a good compromise between making tea with loose leaves and the convenience of bags - plus, if you cannot get tea in unbleached bags, this is another consideration.
When making more than one cup of herbal tea, an infuser teapot is a really useful piece of kitchen equipment (see the picture of mine, below).
The following videos have helpful advice on making an herbal tea infusion and making tea using loose leaves.
How To Make a Herbal Tea Infusion
How To Make Herbal Tea With Loose Leaves
Herbal Teas for Allergies
Iced Ginger Tea
One of the best natural antihistamines, Ginger has great anti-inflammatory benefits as well. These properties make it a great choice for those suffering from the misery of hay fever and sinus inflammation although it is probably better known as a natural remedy for upset tummies and seasickness!
My Recipe For Iced Ginger Tea
- Peel some fresh ginger and grate (carefully!). You need about two tablespoons of grated ginger to 1 quart of water.
- Put the required amount of grated ginger into your tea infuser. Pour boiling water on the top and leave to steep for about five minutes. Add lemon juice to taste. (I use the juice of a whole lemon for 1 quart of water).
- If you like your tea sweetened, I use local, raw honey for its beneficial properties and for 1 quart of water I use a tablespoonful - this works out at about 1 teaspoonful per serving.
- Pour into a clean, glass container and refrigerate until cold.
- To serve, pour the tea over ice in your serving glass, relax and enjoy!
Lemon Balm Tea
Lemon Balm, as its name suggests has a citrus aroma and calming, soothing properties. For any allergy causing respiratory problems, it is a good choice although it has many other benefits including relieving headaches, lowering blood pressure and settling an upset tummy.
My Recipe For Lemon Balm Tea
- I grow lemon balm in my garden so I pick three or four sprigs of leaves and chop them fresh when I want to make my tea. As the plant dies back in winter, I collect sprigs in the summer and freeze them (dry), in freezer bags and then crumble the frozen herbs (while frozen), by squashing the bag with a rolling pin so that I have 'chopped' herbs to use in the winter.
- Use three or four sprigs of fresh herb, (or the equivalent of frozen leaves) to one pint of boiling water.
- If you do not have your own lemon balm, you can get the dried herb and you will need to use about one ounce to one pint of water.
Method: Add the leaves to your infuser teapot, add the boiling water and leave to steep for up to ten minutes. Enjoy hot or cold and sweeten with raw honey to taste.
Other Herbs You May Want To Try
This is a great herbal tea for those suffering from hayfever as it is very good for all the usual symptoms of a runny nose and sneezing and relieving those sore, itching and watering eyes too.
Peppermint can help to ease the congestion of the sinuses and nose that often come with allergic rhinitis. In addition, peppermint's anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial action can help to prevent a secondary infection that can be a problem if blood vessels get damaged after repeated nose blowing. For these reasons, it is often used in combination with nettle (above).
This South African tea is naturally caffeine free and has a natural sweetness that makes it a very good first introduction to herbal tea drinking as some teas can be quite bitter and something of an acquired taste.
As a tea for allergies, Rooibos works by inhibiting histamine production in the body. The ingredients in the tea responsible for this effect are the bioflavonoids quercetin and rutin. The good news is that you can also use cooled Rooibos tea directly on your skin if you have an insect bite or sting or skin irritation.
This South American herb does contain caffeine so probably not a good choice of bedtime drink. But, as an effective allergy tea, it damps down the body's immune system response to allergens and reduces inflammation. It also helps with sinus congestion and colds because it helps to open the respiratory passages.
Any of the individual ingredients mentioned above can be used alone or in combination with other herbs for effective relief of symptoms.
Some Sensible Precautions
As with all herbal remedies, not all ingredients are suitable for everyone.
If you are pregnant, breast-feeding or taking any prescription medications, please consult a health care professional before trying any of these herbal teas or the homemade allergy tea recipe.
If you have purchased ready-made herbal tea bags or loose leaf tea, consult the packaging for any contraindications before you use the tea.
Home Remedy Allergy Tea Recipe
If you would like to try making your own blend of allergy tea to help relieve allergic rhinitis, this blend is cool and minty with a nice, refreshing, citrus flavor.
Mix together a quantity of equal parts of the following dried herbs and store in a cool, dark, airtight container:
Fennel Seeds, Lavender (flowers), Lemongrass, Nettle, Peppermint and/or Spearmint, Red Clover,
When ready to make your tea use two teaspoons of the mixture per person if making a pot of tea or put two teaspoons into a tea ball infuser and place in a mug.
Pour over boiling water and leave to infuse for ten minutes or so before serving. Pour the tea through a tea strainer if you have made the tea in a teapot or simply lift out the tea ball from your cup or mug.
This tea is best drunk without milk or cream but can be sweetened if necessary with a little stevia or honey. It can be enjoyed hot or cold and will keep fresh for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
Allergic To Herbal Tea?
Whilst the teas mentioned above are safe and effective, as with all things, there is always going to be someone who has an adverse reaction to some herbal teas.
One of the chief culprits is Chamomile tea and if you suffer from hay fever, although this tea is usually a very calming and soothing one, it might be one to avoid as it is a close relative of ragweed, the pollen of which is responsible for causing hay fever in many individuals.
Buying ready-made herbal teas, either loose or as tea bags will be helpful as the ingredients list will give you a warning of any likely allergic reactions and any contraindications such as medication interactions, etc.
What Do You Think
Do You Suffer From Allergies - if so, which answer would you pick below?
Many people take herbal tea all year long rather than waiting for the symptoms to strike, either with the start of allergy season or exposure to allergens such as pet hair or dander.
Using these teas as a preventative can have other health benefits as well because of the vitamins, trace elements and antioxidants they contain.
Useful Resources and Links
I own the following book. It is packed with a wealth of information:
- Zak Victoria. (1999). 20,000 Secrets of Tea: The Most Effective ways to Benefit from Nature's Healing Herbs. New York: A Dell Book.
This website is full of useful information and recipes:
- Williams, J. Living Herbal Tea. (n.d.). Living Herbal Tea. Accessed May 11, 2017.
These articles are helpful resources:
- Edgar, J. Types of Teas and Their Health Benefits. (n.d.). WebMD. Accessed May 11, 2017
- Brown, A. 8 Herbal Teas You Can Grow in Your Garden. (n.d.). Readers Digest Best Health. Accessed May 11, 2017.
Author's note: In the citations above, (n.d.) indicates that there was no publication date on the article.
© 2014 Alison Graham