Herbal Health Information on Hay Fever

It’s the time of year when plants are flowering and pollen is flying everywhere. It has been affecting people slightly earlier this year, as we have had such a warm spring and many plants are flowering early.

I know if you are a sufferer you can probably describe the symptoms better than I can, but for those who don’t know, hay fever can result in those with sensitivity, suffering from itchy and swollen eyes sneezing, running or blocked nose, sore throat and catarrh.

It can be mild, or it can make the sufferer’s life miserable for the length of time the plant pollen they are allergic to, is flowering.

If I have a hay fever sufferer visit me in clinic for the first time about this time of year, I treat the symptoms, but ensure the following year they come and see me to start their course of herbal medicine about a month before their normal hay fever season.

The logic behind this is, so that the mucous membranes in all those areas I have already mentioned are toned up. In a hay fever sufferer, the pollen attacks the lining of the eyes, nose and throat, irritating these linings and causing inflammation. The body’s natural defence mechanism is first to sneeze to try and expel the irritant from the airways and then to increase the amount of mucous produced in these areas to try and “wash” the irritants away. The inflammation of the membranes results in itching and the production of the mucous, in runny eyes and nose and catarrh. So if the mucous membranes are already toned up before the start of the hay fever season then either the sufferer will not get hay fever or the symptoms will be greatly reduced.

I have had an excellent success rate treating people who suffer from hay fever in my clinic. Remember there is no such thing as magic cure or 100% successful treatment. People all respond differently to medicines, whether orthodox or Herbal.

There is some dietary advice, which is to dramatically reduce the amount of dairy products you are eating and to drink plenty of WATER.

We humans eat too much dairy products in a day as it is “easy” food, starting with milk in cereals at breakfast, maybe cheese and yogurt at lunch time and perhaps ice cream at dinner time as well as milk in tea and coffee. Dairy is a difficult food for human adults to digest it is only babies who have the enzyme for milk break down in the digestive system. A large amount of dairy products in the diet may result in the mucous membranes already being inflamed, together with increased mucous production. So as Mister Spock would say, “it is logical Jim” * (if your name is not Jim substitute your own name here *).

The Herbs I use to treat hay fever are herbs which tone up the mucous membranes and protect them from the outside world as well as herbs that help to calm down the immune system.

Top of my list are:
EYEBRIGHT, this is an excellent mucous membrane toning herb,

ELDERFLOWER, amongst other properties, it is anti inflammatory and anti catarrhal (check out my herb walk at the long man),

MARHMALLOW LEAF, this soothes and protects the mucous membranes as it is a mucilage containing herb.

To this I would normally add something to calm the body down as the immune system has now gone into overdrive and will over-react to everything.

So depending on the patient, either PULSATILLA or PASSIFLORA both of which are gentle relaxants and I find, work well to calm the immune system.

All of these I use in tincture form, as tinctures are nice and easy to use , but you will probably be able to find an over the counter preparation with most of these Herbs in it.

If you are buying an over the counter preparation, make sure it is licensed as it has then been through a rigorous testing process.

If you suffer from any other conditions or are already taking orthodox medicine for anything, or are pregnant, consult a qualified Medical Herbalist or your doctor.
The Herbs I have mentioned above are all safe Herbs taken in the right quantities but Pulsatilla cannot be used fresh and Passiflora cannot be used in pregnancy.

It sounds a bit of a mine field but is really just a matter of knowing what you are doing and if you don’t, there are professionals around who will help you and do not charge too much.

It is usually cheaper to go to a qualified Medical Herbalist who will charge a reasonable fee to tailor make a preparation for you, than to buy an expensive product over the counter which may not be right for you.

There is a full write up of the herbs mentioned in this article on the website.
If nothing else it is all very interesting!

Linda Bostock
Medical Herbalist

Herbal Health Information

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About Me and Herbal Medicine



My name is Linda Bostock,

I qualified as a medical herbalist in 1993 after completing a four year diploma course at the school of Phytotherapy in East Sussex and have been running my clinic of herbal medicine since then, first in Slough and now in Eastbourne.

My oldest daughter had suffered very badly with allergies and food intolerance and had ended up at age 15, 5’7” tall, in hospital weighing 7 stone and very unwell. Despite me telling the nurses at registration that she had several allergies to medicines and listing them all and specifying that she must not be given anything orally without me being informed, she was given the drug Stemetil, to which she had a terrible reaction, causing her to have severe muscle spasms which affected her breathing.

The nurses and doctors at the time treated us appallingly, insinuating she was suffering from anorexia and as I had just had another baby she was attention seeking!!!! It took me about 4 hours of serious hassling to get a consultant to come and see her at 2 am, who laughed and said yes, Stemetil was known to have that reaction.

So I sat by her bed all night thinking this child, this precious, fantastic person I had nurtured for the past 15 years was going to die because nobody in that hospital cared. At 7 am I made them take her off her drip, picked her up from her hospital bed, carried her back to the car, took her home and phoned our G.P.

By the time we were together enough to ask to see her notes, they were predictably “lost”. Our G.P. Dr. Eyres was a slightly quirky slightly unorthodox man who would ask you if you had a cigarette on you that he could borrow, when you went in to the surgery (none of us have ever smoked so we never did), but who I trusted completely with my children’s lives.

Between the two of us we cared for her by putting her on a strict vegetarian diet and not giving her any foods that contained additives. She recovered slowly and now, at age 40 is married with her own three gorgeous children.

But I decided then that I would never sit beside a child’s bed and feel so hopeless and helpless. So with 2 big children, 2 little children, husband, house, garden, cats and working as an auxiliary nurse at the local hospital in the evenings (yes the same one) I embarked on a four year diploma course of herbal medicine, at that time the only accredited one in the world, which I did so that I could keep my children healthy, but discovered it was what I was supposed to be doing in life.

I will be taking you on herb walks on this site and pointing out the wealth of medicinal plants we all have growing in our local areas, even in towns. I will give an explanation of the medicinal properties of the plants, hopefully using examples of conditions for which they have been used in my Clinic.

I’ll also be reviewing topical conditions and treatments and a variety of over the counter products available for their treatment. It is very important to know when to self treat and when to seek professional help either from your Doctor or from a fully qualified herbal medicine practitioner and I will advise on this.

Please contact me below, if you would like to share any experiences with me. I would also be very interested to hear about medicinal plants that you have seen growing in your part of the world.

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Linda Bostock, EzineArticles Basic Author

Walk Around West Rise Marsh with video


My name is Linda Bostock, I qualified as a medical herbalist in 1993 after completing a four year diploma course at the school of Phytotherapy in East Sussex and have been running my clinic of herbal medicine since then, first in Slough and now in Eastbourne.

Over the next few months, I will be filming a number of herbal walks, firstly in the beautiful part of the country I live in, East Sussex, and then wider afield. I would like to invite you to come with me either through my text description or the films that I will be making.

The first herb walk is in an area near where we live in Eastbourne called West Rise marsh, which is a great dog walking place. It is a lake formed from an old gravel pit and like many once abandoned areas is now a mini nature reserve with interesting plant and bird life. The area is now managed by the caretaker of the local primary school who keeps Water Buffalo on the land and I have had interesting times observing the Buffalo, especially the new calf that was born at the end of last year. Throughout the year there are many different water fowls that visit the lake and I have often watched the ungainly landings or takings off of visiting swans. There are always Reed warblers flitting around the reed beds and in the summer Swallows and Swifts swooping around catching insects.

The two plants we are looking at on this herb walk are, Hawthorn and Cramp Bark, but we also stop and look at two other plants, Goosegrass and Water Dropwort.

Cramp Bark


Hawthorn in the hedgerow


I suppose I am the equivalent of a twitcher, except I like to collect knowledge of medicinal plants I have seen growing in the countryside, on my walks, but I don’t have to hide in a little wooden shed to see them!!!!. It still, after all this time, makes me feel thrilled to see plants I commonly use in my clinic, to treat various medical conditions, growing all around us.

I hope you enjoy these herb walks and if you have any interesting plants growing around you please share them with us on the website and we could all have a chat about them.

Sadly with the loss of so much countryside and pesticide use, our plants are all endangered species, an example of which is red clover. Red clover used to grow in all the fields when I was a child. I remember picking it and sucking the flower (we didn’t worry whether the cows had peed on it!) which was slightly sweet from the nectar it contained. Now I rarely see it, but when I do I get so excited!

So keep your eyes open next time you are walking around and look at the plants growing wild/in gardens/in the countryside. They may well be the origins of medicines you are taking.

If you would like to write to me about anything in this article or about medicinal plants you have seen in your area, please complete the form below.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist

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