Meadows in flower are one of the joys of walking in spring and summer, but the grass pollen can be a nuisance for people suffering from hayfever. Luckily, there is a readily available, natural relief…
Here’s a quick tip for those that suffer from hay fever but can’t resist going out walking (I can’t blame you).
Probably you already have a few tricks up your sleeve to make sure you can still go out in the hayfever season. Maybe you take some medication or perhaps you use natural remedies such as raw honey or rooibos tea. But what if you’re out walking and suddenly you feel an allergy attack coming up? This tip will help and best of all it’s quick, easy, free, widely available and completely natural.
Nettles work well against hay fever
One thing I’ve found that works really well against hayfever is nettle. The good thing about this plant is that it grows almost anywhere. So you can quickly find some if you’re walking somewhere. They grow in many places; all they need is plenty of moisture.
But they sting…
I know, they sting. But that’s actually part of the secret. The stinging hairs of most nettle species contain formic acid, serotonin and … histamine; the stuff that helps against hayfever. With the right technique you can safely pick and eat some nettle-leaves without getting stung.
How to pick and eat them
The best parts are the young shoots at the tops, they are fresh and juicy. If you look closely (not too close or you’ll get a painful nose), you’ll see that almost all the hairs grow in one direction; towards the leaves.
Step 1 – Pinch off a leaf
So if you pinch a leaf just behind its base with your forefinger and your thumb you’ll find you can take it off easily without getting stung. The trick is to be careful, but confident. The slogan ‘just do it’ comes to mind. Anyway, if you do get stung, that’s a small price to pay for some instant hayfever relief.
Step 2 – Fold and roll into a ball
Now fold the back of the leaf (where the stings are) onto itself once. Now you can’t get stung anymore. Don’t put it in your mouth just yet though or it might unfold which could be rather unpleasant. You have to roll the leaf into a small ball and crush it a little anti-hayfever ball.
Step 3 – Enjoy
You’re ready to eat it now. So put that little, juicy ball of nettle into your mouth, chew it a bit and swallow. Give it a minute or so and you should notice your hayfever symptoms lessening. In my experience the effect is pretty quick and lasts for about 45 minutes.
Nettle is safe to eat (it’s actually very healthy) and it’s a very common plant that grows in many places. So it’s an ideal, natural, on-the-road snack to help you get rid of those runny noses.
Watch out if you’re walking in New Zealand
If you’re in New Zealand, you may want to take some extra care. Apparently there is a species of nettle there that has been known to kill horses. It’s called tree nettle and sounds rather big, so probably you’d recognise it. But maybe better to stick to honey if you’re unsure.
Did you know…
…that the Stinging Nettle is the host plant of many of our more common and beautiful butterflies? For example the Peacock butterfly lays its eggs in clumps on the underside of nettle leaves. The black caterpillars live together in groups in webs, and munch away happily on the leaves until they crawl away to find a suitable place to pupate. They can be seen on the wing from June to October, with many of them overwintering in hollow trees, outbuildings or your attic. At the first signs of spring, they re-emerge and brighten up our first spring walks.