The Health Benefits of Tea for Allergies

Grass, trees, weeds, and flowering plants release allergens that can cause a variety of allergy symptoms, including coughing, sneezing, and itchy and watery eyes.

To relieve the discomfort of these symptoms, you can take over-the-counter or prescription medications, such as antihistamines. Certain herbs and teas like green tea and stinging nettle tea contain antihistamines and may also help you reduce symptoms. 

young Asian woman pouring a cup of tea from a stylish transparent tea pot into a cup

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Allergy Symptoms and Triggers

Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, develops when the body’s immune system recognizes and overreacts to something in the environment that typically causes no problems in most people. It can be seasonal or perennial.

Seasonal allergies occur in spring, summer, and early fall. During these times, airborne mold spores or pollens from trees, grass, and weeds can trigger symptoms like sneezing and congestion. Perennial allergies occur year-round and are caused by many factors, including cigarette smoke, perfume, diesel exhaust, dust mites, pet hair or dander, cockroaches, or mold.

Symptoms of hay fever may include: 

  • Fatigue because of a decrease in sleep quality due to nasal congestion
  • Itchy eyes, nose, mouth, and skin
  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy nose
  • Rash

Some people may also have a condition called pollen food allergy syndrome (PFAS) associated with pollen allergy or hay fever. Symptoms to the mouth are immediate, and may include itching, irritations, and swelling of the lips, tongue, roof of the mouth, and throat, but go away as soon as the person stops eating. To avoid this type of reaction, only eat vegetables and fruits that are cooked.

Natural Allergy Relief

An integrative approach using both natural remedies and medications may provide the best treatment for hay fever symptoms.

Herbs and teas are among the many complementary and alternative therapies that may help. Before you take herbal extracts or drink infusions, however, speak with your doctor to make sure they won't interact with other medications you may take for your allergies or other conditions. 

Teas and Herbs for Allergies

Some herbs and teas that have antihistamine properties may include: 

  • Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica): This is a medicinal plant with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce allergy symptoms. One study showed positive effects of stinging nettle extract on hay fever, but the placebo showed similar effects. Researchers concluded that larger and longer studies are needed to verify the benefits of stinging nettle for allergies. 
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale): This is a flowering plant whose root is used as a spice in cooking. One study showed that ginger extract and loratadine, a medication for treating allergies, were equally good and both improved nasal symptoms in allergic rhinitis patients. The ginger extract also caused fewer side effects.
  • Green tea: This has also shown to hinder mast cell activation and block histamines. In a double-blind clinical trial, participants allergic to Japanese cedar pollinosis drank benifuuki green tea, and by the eleventh week of the trial, at the height of cedar pollen season, researcher saw reduced symptoms in the participants.
  • Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza uralensis): This is used to treat several inflammatory diseases, including allergies. Because of its strong anti-inflammatory properties, it may help reduce allergy symptoms. Studies with mice showed positive results after three days. However, more human studies are necessary to examine its positive effects on allergic rhinitis 
  • Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus): This has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and is used in many respiratory disorders. Research supports the use of rosemary in the prevention and treatment of asthma and allergies.
  • Turmeric (Curcuma longa): In one study, turmeric was shown to have anti-allergic properties that blocked histamine release from mast cells. Studies have found that it helped reduce the allergic response in animals. However, more human research is needed to confirm these results.

Dosage

Tea Dosage
Stinging Nettle Pour 8 oz. freshly boiled water over 1 tea bag. Cover and steep for 10–15 minutes. Enjoy three to four cups per day.
Ginger Pour 8 oz. freshly boiled water over 1 tea bag. Cover and steep for 10–15 minutes. Enjoy one to two cups per day.
Green Tea Daily intake of three to five cups per day.
Licorice Root Pour 8 oz. freshly boiled water over 1 tea bag. Cover and steep for 10–15 minutes. Enjoy three to four cups per day, especially after meals. Licorice root tea should not be drunk daily for more than four weeks.
 Rosemary Enjoy one to three cups per day. Steep 1-2 grams in 150 milliliters water.
Turmeric Powdered turmeric root has traditionally been used as a stimulant and carminative (preventing or relieving gas in the stomach) at dosages of 0.5 grams to 3 grams per day. 

Possible Side Effects

The herbal tea that could help with hay fever may cause the following side effects:

  • Stinging nettle: You may experience mild gastrointestinal effects.
  • Ginger: You may experience abdominal discomfort, heartburn, diarrhea, or mouth and throat irritation. Consult with your doctor before use if you are pregnant.
  • Green tea: Although uncommon, liver problems have been reported in people who took green tea extract in pill form. If you have been diagnosed with a liver condition, consult with your doctor. At high doses, green tea can reduce blood levels and the effectiveness of the beta-blocker nadolol.
  • Licorice root: Although considered safe as a food ingredient, licorice root can cause increased blood pressure and decreased potassium levels when consumed for a long period of time and in large quantities. People with hypertension or heart or kidney disease should consult with their doctors.
  • Rosemary: Taken in high doses, it may cause side effects like vomiting, spasms, coma, and fluid in the lungs in rare cases. Pregnant people should avoid rosemary dosages.
  • Turmeric: In large amounts, turmeric may be unsafe if you’re pregnant. 

Teas to Avoid

Some teas can actually aggravate allergies. Always read the ingredient labels of herbal tea blends that may include the various parts of the plant apart from the leaves. For example, if you are allergic to daisies that belong to the Asteraceae family, do not drink chamomile, dandelion, echinacea, or wormwood tea. If hollyhocks cause allergy symptoms, avoid hibiscus tea that comes from the Malvaceae family of plants.

A Word From Verywell

There's no question that a cup of herbal tea can be very soothing. It can help calm nerves and also invigorate you. If you plan to use tea to alleviate allergy symptoms, make sure that you consult with your doctor and see if it may cause side effects or interfere with any medications you are currently taking.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does tea help with allergies?

    Some teas, such as green tea and rosemary, have shown allergy relief, but most need more studies on humans for conclusive results.

  • What's the best natural allergy relief?

    Some herbs that have antihistamines may help with allergy relief, but they can affect every person differently. To find the best natural form, it's best to consult with a naturopath who specializes in allergies.

  • Which allergy medicine works the best?

    There are many allergy medications available both through prescription and over the counter, but it's difficult to gauge how one medication will react for each person. To find the best one, you may have to go through some trial and error. Before you blindly try any medication, however, speak with your doctor.

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11 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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