Eyebright and Sage: Two of your best friends in the pollen zone!
Spring is here… it’s magical, it’s a miracle. Light, warmth, birds, blossoms!
Also, for many of us… uh-oh! Those blossoms mean pollen. The trees are beginning to bloom, and soon the grass pollens will be taking their turn. Sneezes, sniffles, itchy eyes, scratchy throats!
Naturally, we’re always writing about our Aller-Geez tea blend right around this time of year. It’s a great combination of herbs for relieving the symptoms of seasonal allergies.
Right now, let’s just focus on two of its key ingredients, Eyebright and Sage. They’re amazing, time-tested plant allies that are well worth getting to know.
Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis, also known as E. rostkoviana) is a curious little plant, found in temperate Eurasia and North America. It grows 4-15 inches high, a flowering semi-parasitic weed that piggybacks on other plants, absorbing some of its nutrients and water from their roots. (In the image above, it’s shown growing in a patch of clover.) So cultivating Eyebright requires the presence of host plants, often grasses.
Eyebright’s name refers to its classic use for inflamed eyes, recorded in Europe as far back as the Middle Ages. It reduces excessive fluid secretions in hay fever, sinusitis, colds, earaches, and coughs. Known active components in Eyebright include histamine-inhibiting flavonoids like quercetin and luteolin, terpene-based iridoids such as aucubin—all with proven anti-inflammatory actions—and astringent tannins. It has antimicrobial activity, in addition, that can prevent or treat the infections that sometimes thrive where fluid and mucus gathers.
In mythology, Euphrasia's namesake Euphrosyne was one of the three Graces (pictured at left), who was given the plant to bring joy to people plagued with poor eyesight. The great medieval herbalist Culpepper praised Eyebright for strengthening the brain, among other virtues. If you've experienced hay fever, you've probably noticed that it's often accompanied by the dreaded brain fog. Eyebright, traditionally an herb of the Sun, can help clear that fog!
Sage (Salvia officinalis) is another plant venerated since ancient times, a member of the Mint family that originated in the Mediterranean zone. It's notable for its drying action on all kinds of bodily fluids, including respiratory mucus, perspiration, bleeding, and breast milk.
Sage offers a multitude of other benefits, including the anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antinociceptive (pain relieving), antioxidant, antimicrobial, antimutagenic, antidementia, hypoglycemic, and hypolipidemic effects that are documented in a 2017 literature review. Sage and its Salvia cousins are also known to help cognitive function—so again, help is on the way here for allergy brain fog.
Each of the other ingredients in Aller-Geez Tea, Chickweed, Nettles, and Licorice Root, are stellar for quelling allergy symptoms in various ways as well. Buy the blend ready-made, or order one or more of these herbs individually, and do a little research on your own body to see how each one works for you as single medicines.
Many conventional allergy medications are notorious for their side effects. Many common antihistamines may cause sedation and sleep problems, and even increase risks for dementia with continued use. Steroids can increase the incidence of diabetes, osteoporosis, glaucoma, cataracts, high blood pressure, and a number of other problems. Eyebright and Sage help us move in the other direction, toward enhanced overall health and longevity! This year, why not ride out the pollen season with these safe and potent plant medicines?