Spring Fever

weed walk 1Spring is cause for joyful celebration; the daffodils are blooming, the sun is a little warmer, the sky lighter, and we suddenly remember—with itchy throats and runny noses—that pollen is back.

Yes, it’s that time of the year again. Spring heralds the start of the hay fever season making it hard to breathe, think or even hear very well for some children and adults.

Hay fever, allergies and sinusitis can be debilitating and produce symptoms such as throbbing headaches, sneezing, swollen eyes, facial pain and difficulty breathing.

Sinusitis is the inflammation of the lining of the sinus cavities – air-filled pockets at the front of the skull, which are connected to the nose and throat by passages designed to drain excess mucus.

The objective with treating sinusitis is to restore drainage and open up the nasal passages to allow easier breathing and to provide antibacterial or antiviral support where necessary.

Ribwort is a herb which flourishes here on Waiheke and acquires its name from the strong parallel veins in its leaves. A ubiquitous weed on roadsides and in lawns, it is used medicinally to dry out the mucus trapped in the sinus cavities, relieving pressure and allowing easier breathing.

If you are collecting fresh ribwort, the young leaves can be eaten raw in salads as it is rich in vitamin B1 and riboflavin. It can also be added to honey and used to soothe sore throats.

The aptly named herb, eyebright, can be used to promote healthy eyes especially when there is any sign of infection or irritation. The aerial parts (any part of the plant above ground) of this tiny plant are both astringent and anti-inflammatory, and decrease the hypersensitive response of the mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, throat, and ears.

In other words, this herb is the perfect remedy for hay fever sufferers. Taken internally, eyebright can help relieve tired eyes and have you looking and feeling your best.

Although antibiotic use must be considered in cases of chronic sinusitis with bacterial infection, widespread use and increasing drug resistance of antibiotics makes looking towards alternative treatments a valuable way to lessen the pain and discomfort of sinusitis and other spring time allergies.