8 Herbs for Seasonal Allergies

A close-up of green stinging nettles

text-box-multiplePart 6 in our Herbs Series link

Our series on herbs, including both culinary and medicinal herbs!

Winter is becoming a distant memory in the northern Hemisphere, and spring is in the air! And so are the pollen, mold spores, and other irritants that can cause seasonal allergies. While most of us are happy for spring’s arrival, those with seasonal allergies have mixed feelings about the misery the changing season can bring. Allergies can also appear in autumn. Those in the southern hemisphere might be experiencing fall allergies right now. Wherever you are, learn how you can ease some of your annoying symptoms with these herbs:


Calendula can be very soothing to red, irritated, and puffy eyes. To make a strong infusion for an eyewash, make sure your hands are clean (since you’ll be touching near your eyes) before you:

Add 1 tablespoon of dried calendula to a jar.

Pour ½ cup of boiled water over the flowers and cover them with a jar lid or a plate.

After 15 minutes, strain the infusion using a coffee filter.

Soak a clean cloth into the infusion and cover your eyes. It’s okay if some of the tea gets into your eyes.

If you have allergies to plants in the Asteraceae (used to be Compositae) family, also called the marigold/ragweed/daisy family, you may want to avoid calendula. We’re trying to make your symptoms better, not worse!


Allergies can wreak havoc on you during the day and sometimes at night! Trying to sleep with a stuffy nose is almost impossible. Chamomile has anti-inflammatory and sleep-enhancing properties, so it could help promote a good night’s sleep. Try a cup of chamomile tea before bed or an herbal steam to help with congestion. How to make an herbal steam:

Put 1 tablespoon or more of dried herbs into a bowl.

Cover the herbs with some boiled water.

Drape a towel over your head to create a little “tent” while you hover over the bowl, being careful not to get too close to the steam. Take some deep breaths for a few minutes.

Chamomile is also in the Asteraceae family (marigold/daisy/ragweed), so use it with caution if you have allergies to plants in this family.


Elderberry is a popular herb to use during cold and flu season, but it may also have benefits during allergy season. There aren’t a lot of studies on elderberries’ effect on the symptoms of allergies, but one from 2013 suggests it can be helpful when dealing with allergies. Scientists say they need to do more research (as is the case with many herbs), but many people have anecdotal evidence elderberry has helped calm their symptoms. We do know that elderberries have a bioflavonoid called quercetin. Researchers think quercetin can help with symptoms like watery eyes and runny nose. Elderberry syrup is delicious and full of antioxidants, so it’s an herb worth considering!

Elderberries contain cyanogenic glycosides. Cooking or drying neutralizes these glycosides. Only use ripe berries from the blue and black varieties, do not use red elderberries. Remove any stems from the berries as well.

Ripe elderberries hanging from a branch


Goldenrod, Solidago spp., sometimes gets a bad rap as an allergy-causing weed. Of course, you can be allergic to anything, but it often gets mistaken for a look-alike plant: ragweed. Ragweed pollen flies through the air like it’s on a mission to cause misery. Goldenrod pollen is too heavy to fly around and cause mayhem. It might become your best friend if you get excess mucus production during a pollen attack. Goldenrod is known as a remedy against congestion in the sinuses. It’s also known to be a “drying” herb, so if you tend to feel dry, like dry skin, eyes, or mouth, try goldenrod on a short-term “as needed” basis.

Goldenrod is another herb in the Asteraceae family.

If you are foraging your own goldenrod make absolutely sure you have the right plant. You don’t want to mix it up with another poisonous look-a-like such as tansy.

Goldenrod in bloom


Lovers of horseradish sauce are probably familiar with horseradish’s ability to clear the sinuses. Horseradish for sinuses goes back to the days of folk medicine. Don’t overlook horseradish for your home garden if you have sinus problems; it could be worth growing. Because it can spread quickly, consider growing it in containers. Next time allergies cause a sinus situation, try whipping up a batch of sauerkraut with horseradish, or if you’re brave, hold some grated horseradish in your mouth for about 30 seconds.

Information is listed in the Planter App on how to grow horseradish
Find more information on how to grow horseradish in the Planter App


You may have had a close encounter with stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) and have no plans to get involved with this plant again. If you have allergies, you should reconsider. It’s true that nettles can leave you with a painful sting if you come into contact with hairs, but once nettle leaves are wilted, dried, or cooked, they can’t sting you anymore! Nettles are full of vitamins, minerals, and anti-inflammatory substances. Current research shows its anti-inflammatory effects may be helpful for nasal congestion and sneezing, and it may have antihistamine properties. Most herbalists suggest working with nettle weeks before your typical symptoms start to get the full benefits. Nettles are another drying herb, so be aware of how you feel if you take them as a tonic.

Urtica dioica may lower blood sugar and blood pressure, so it is recommended that you avoid it if you take certain medications.


A sage gargle might be helpful if you get an irritated and scratchy throat from allergies.

Put 1 teaspoon of dried sage (Salvia officinalis) in a jar and add 1 cup of boiled water.

Cover the jar and steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain and gargle with the tea for a couple of minutes.

Remember this tip next time you have a sore throat from an illness. This study shows it can be effective in cases of illness, too.


If you experience tightness in your respiratory passages during allergies, an herbal steam with thyme could help loosen things up. Thyme is also known to be an expectorant or mucus mover, so a nice cup of thyme tea might help ease congestion. A touch of honey in thyme tea makes it even better.

A person has a runny nose and a tissue

When it comes to seasonal allergies, nothing is a quick fix, but maybe something on the list above can give you a little break so you can get out and enjoy your garden. If you want to learn more about growing herbs, check out these other growing guides:

Grow Abundant Herbs

Why Should I Grow Herbs in my Garden

Herbs aren’t intended to replace prescription allergy medications. This information is about seasonal allergies, not anaphylactic severe allergies. It is for educational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Please refer to your healthcare provider before using herbs.

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