Hay Fever Havoc: Natural Medicines to Ease Your Hay Fever This Spring

Hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, is a result of your immune system reacting to increasing levels of pollen in the air. This creates inflammation and irritation throughout your respiratory tract, including your nose, mouth, throat and eyes.

Why does hay fever occur?

In cases of hay fever, there is an increased release of a chemical in your body called histamine. Histamine is secreted by specific immune cells, called mast cells, in response to a ‘trigger’ such as pollen or dust. Excess histamine in the body leads to itching, swelling and excess mucus production. This reaction is simply your body trying to protect itself from the trigger, but due to certain diet, lifestyle and environmental factors, our immune systems tend to over-react, and the allergic response needs to be calmed.

What symptoms are associated with hay fever?

Not sure if you experience hay fever? Symptoms include:

  • Watery or itchy eyes
  • Runny nose with clear discharge
  • Swollen nasal passages
  • Sneezing
  • Headaches
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Irritability or depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia

These symptoms will often only occur for you on days of high pollen count, most often in Spring and Summer (or around the same time every year). If you experience these symptoms all-year-round, you may be having an allergic response to another trigger, such as dust or mould.

Natural Treatments

The most common treatment that people reach for if hay fever is getting the better of them is an over-the-counter anti-histamine. These will be effective as they reduce the levels of histamine active in your body, so the symptoms are alleviated. However, these very potent anti-histamines can also cause undesired side effects, and many hay fever sufferers are now looking for natural alternatives to help with their symptoms.

Here are our top 3 nutritional supplements for hay fever:

  • Quercetin

In recent research, Quercetin has been shown to prevent the release of histamine from mast cells and other immune cells, making it one of nature’s greatest anti-histamines. Remember, excess histamine will be causing a lot of your hay fever symptoms.

Quercetin will also help to ease the high inflammation associated with your hay fever flare-ups, and act as an antioxidant to help protect your cells from damage.

Additionally, Quercetin exerts beneficial anti-bacterial and anti-viral action to further protect your immune system and help fight infection.

  • Vitamin C (plus Bioflavonoids)

Ah, is there anything that Vitamin C isn’t useful for?! As well as supporting your entire immune system through optimising white blood cell function and protecting your respiratory tissues, it also acts as an anti-allergic that supports the inhibition of histamine.

Using Vitamin C for respiratory illnesses, including hay fever, may reduce the amount of nasal discharge and any airway blockages or swelling that is present.

  • Vitamin E

When histamine levels are high, causing troublesome hay fever, there’s also an increase in other chemicals which encourage inflammation to the histamine-concentrated tissues. Vitamin E has been shown to be a useful nutrient to ease this inflammatory response, which is specifically related to high histamine levels.

Like Quercetin and Vitamin C, Vitamin E is also an important antioxidant in your body.

Check out our online store or give us a call on (03) 9576 3077 to shop our range of nutritional supplements and products for hay fever.

Herbs for Hay Fever

Once you’ve covered your nutritional bases, herbal medicines may be useful to further support balancing your immune response and calming down allergic reactions. Some of our favourite anti-allergic herbs include:

  • Albizia lebbeck (Albizia)

A well-known anti-allergic herb that is useful for seasonal hay fever as well as eczema and asthma. It can help to reduce inflammation and itching associated with hay fever.

  • Baical skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis)

A fantastic herb for any inflammatory conditions where there also exists an allergic component – perfect for hay fever! Baical skullcap has exhibited improvement in cases of allergic reactions and asthma, as well as the common cold, fevers and cough.

  • Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis)

While Albizia and Baical Skullcap work on the underlying allergic response for hay fever, Eyebright is particularly good for easing the symptoms in your upper respiratory tract (eyes, nose, sinuses, throat). It can help clear the mucus build up in your sinuses and nasal passages, and also reduce sneezing and inflammation of the eyes.

Please speak to our friendly in-store naturopaths to discuss whether these herbs would be suitable for you. You can email us or call on (03) 9576 3077. When appropriate, we can make up a lovely herbal mix (tincture or tea blend) that’s specially tailored to you.

An important note on prevention

While the above natural supplements can work wonderfully to reduce your symptoms and help you feel better, it’s crucial to consider the underlying causes for your immune hyper-sensitivity. Working one-on-one with a naturopath or natural healthcare practitioner can be a great way to discover what’s driving your unique symptoms. For example, food allergies or intolerances, chemical sensitivities, mould exposure or dormant infections in the body can all contribute to hay fever severity and should be addressed. Click here to see our practitioners who can help you at Botanica

It’s also important to limit your exposure to pollen wherever possible, to reduce the frequency of your body entering that inflammatory and allergic state. When this recurs repeatedly, it can lead to chronic issues like sinusitis, migraine, asthma, and even depression. Here’s how you can reduce your pollen exposure:

  1. Use a good app such as AusPollen or WeatherZone to check the daily pollen count in your area, and stay indoors as much as possible when pollen counts are very high or extreme.
  2. When you are indoors or in your car on high pollen days, keep all windows and doors closed as much as possible.
  3. Shower before bed to wash any pollen from the day off (especially from your face and hair).

We hope you’ve found these tips helpful! As always, our in-store naturopaths are happy to answer any questions you may have about natural medicines and your health. Contact us here.


Bone, K. (2003). A Clinical Guide To Blending Liquid Herbs. St. Louis, Missouri: Churchill Livingstone.

Hechtman, L. (2016). Clinical Naturopathic Medicine. Chatswood, New South Wales: Elsevier: Churchill Livingstone.

Jafarinia, M., Hosseini, M. ., Kasiri, N., Fazel, N., Fathi, F., Hakemi, M. ., & Eskandari, N.

Nutritional Medicine for Immunity: 3 Nutrients to Boost Your Immune Health

There’s nothing worse than coming down with a cold or flu and being out of action of a week (or more). The sore throat, runny nose, headache & fever. You’re lucky if it doesn’t turn into a chest or sinus infection!

For many of us, it’s simply an annual event that strikes in Winter that we quickly overcome, and we can get back to business in no time.

But for a growing number of people, more colds and flus are occurring throughout the year, and we’re taking longer to heal from them.

Over-the-counter medications can be useful to help alleviate the symptoms and make us feel a bit more “normal”, but they certainly don’t address why we’re getting more sick, more often.

The connection between what we eat (and the nutrients in the food we eat) and our immune function is phenomenal. Our white blood cells, which detect invading pathogens, help our body mount a reaction against them and prevent or kill any infections, rely on a number of nutrients to work best and get their jobs done.

Additionally, many areas of our body which are commonly involved in an immune response (such as the airways like your nasal passages, throat and lungs, or your gastrointestinal tract) also require certain nutrients to function properly and help us in our journey to healing.

Here are our top 3 nutrients to use for supporting your immune system:

Vitamin C

Ah, the classic Vitamin C! It’s highly likely we’ve all heard of this one, and it’s usually the first one we reach for when we feel that tickle in our throats starting up, or a sniffle coming on. So, why is Vitamin C so good for our immunity?

  • It helps your body produce the white blood cells needed to detect and clear infections & invading bugs
  • It has anti-viral action within the body
  • Taking Vitamin C at the start of respiratory illness can improve healing times and severity of symptoms
  • It’s great for wound healing, and skin is the first barrier we have against pathogens, so we want to keep it healthy & in-tact
  • It assists in the absorption of iron, another key mineral for optimal immune health

Some food sources high in Vitamin C include:

Reminder: any inflammation within the body will increase your body’s need for Vitamin C, and inflammation is a key component of many diseases we experience.

Tip: if you’re actively sick with a cold or flu, smaller doses of Vitamin C more frequently can be better utilised by your body than 1 large dose per day. Call to speak to our in-store naturopaths for more information on this.

Vitamin D

Another important nutrient which many of us are deficient in, especially in Winter time because (1) we’re getting less sun exposure which is crucial for Vitamin D production, and (2) bugs and viruses can spread more easily!

Here’s why you should consider Vitamin D as part of your immune-boosting protocol:

  • The immune cells in your respiratory tract (lungs, nasal passages, throat) have vitamin D receptors, and when there’s enough Vitamin D, improves their ability to protect against infection
  • It provides anti-viral and anti-inflammatory actions
  • Helps in the activation of genes that up-regulate your immunity
  • Deficiency of Vitamin D is linked to lower levels of white blood cells, increased chance of ‘catching’ infections, and increased inflammation

Food sources rich in Vitamin D:

  • Fish liver oils such as cod, herring & tuna
  • Good quality, organic butter
  • Egg yolks

However, you’ll need adequate sun exposure and healthy cholesterol levels to support your body in making its own Vitamin D. An hour of sun exposure per day, especially on the face, chest and arms, can be a great way to improve your Vitamin D levels.

If you do require supplementation, we stock a range of Vitamin D options includes capsules, liquid drops to add to your water, or a fast-absorbing oral spray.


Last but certainly not least, Zinc. This mineral has the job of monitoring & leading over 300 reactions in your body – that’s a pretty tall order! And you can probably imagine, a few of those 300 reactions are involved in you immune function and ensuring you can recover from illness.
Here are some of the key immune functions of zinc, as well as some broader actions that contribute to whole health and healing:

  • It works as an antioxidant to protective against oxidative stress (which is present in many diseases, much like inflammation)
  • Ensures all immune functions (particularly anti-viral processes) are running smoothly in the body
  • Zinc is important for DNA health. Healthy DNA = healthy genes & optimal health
  • Helps in the absorption of other B vitamins
  • It’s required by the brain to support stable moods
  • Like Vitamin C, Zinc is also good for keeping skin healthy and strong

Foods that are high in zinc include:

  • Beef
  • Offal
  • Oysters and other seafoods
  • Sunflower & pumpkin seeds
  • Whole grains with minimal processing

Because Zinc is crucial for so many actions in the body, it’s also easily depleted and can be an important one to top up on. Again, our naturopaths can help you decide if zinc will be appropriate for you and which form would be best.

And there you have it! 3 nutrients that can make a real difference in your immune functioning, preventing illness and helping you heal faster, all-year round!

If you have any questions or queries, feel free to call us on (03) 9576 3077 or email us contactus@botanicamedicines.com.au


Colotta, F., Jansson, B., & Bonelli, F. (2017). Modulation of inflammatory and immune responses by vitamin D. Journal of Autoimmunity. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaut.2017.07.007

Osiecki, H. (2014). The Nutrient Bible (9th ed.). Banyo, QLD: Bio Concepts Publishing.

Pizzorno, J., Murray, M. T., & Joiner-Bey, H. (2016). The Clinician’s Handbook of Natural Medicine (3rd ed.). St. Louis, Missouri: Elsevier.

Zdrenghea, M. T., Makrinioti, H., Bagacean, C., Bush, A., Johnston, S. L., & Stanciu, L. A. (2017). Vitamin D modulation of innate immune responses to respiratory viral infections. Reviews in Medical Virology. https://doi.org/10.1002/rmv.1909

Libido for men and women

Increasing Libido for Men and Women

There are many factors that can affect your sexual drive and function.

There are many factors that can lead to low libido in both Men and Women. These factors fall into four main areas; Social, Hormonal, Physiological and Psychological.

Social factors can include interpersonal problems within a couple, meaning lack of intimacy or attraction to a partner. Long term relationships and marriages can begin to bore with routine sexual relations.
Hormonal changes have a large impact for women, due to changes in oestrogen and progesterone that occurs during menstrual cycles. There is a pattern of low libido immediately prior to menstruation for women. Women’s sex drive can also be affected during pregnancy, nursing, and menopause.
High cortisol levels in men as a result of stress can affect testosterone production at any time, resulting in decreased functionality and libido.
Physiologically a common factor affecting men is erectile dysfunction and ejaculation problems. Women are affected by genito-pelvic pain and vaginal dryness. Also, medications such as SSRI’s for mental health can affect libido.
Psychological factors affect all parts of life, including people’s sex lives. Particularly in depression, stress, anxiety, and exhaustion.

What teas are good for increasing Libido?

We have put together two lovely tea combinations, Libido Tea for Women and Libido Tea for Men. Within these blends, there are a number of ingredients that may assist with increasing sexual function and overall libido.
Horny Goat Weed has long been used for sexual performance problems, such as erectile dysfunction (ED) and low sexual desire.
Shatavari is known for assisting with female health and libido. It works to increase sexual sensation for women and increase libido.
Tribulus is widely known for its ability to increase testosterone levels in men and increase libido.
And Ashwagandha is a fabulous adaptogenic herb, assisting the body to cope with stress and also act as a general tonic. It may also increase sexual desire in both men and women.


Lifestyle factors that could assist with increasing Libido

Decreasing stress will directly have an impact on your libido. As previously mentioned increased cortisol can affect both men and women when it comes to sex drive. Try including meditation, regular exercise, a healthy diet to manage your stress levels. There are also other supplements such as B Vitamins and magnesium, or herbs like Withania, Siberian ginseng and Rhodiola that can assist with the body’s ability to cope with stress. Herbal teas like our De-Stress Tea can be included as well. For more information on any of these supplements, you can visit our store, call us or email so one of our qualified Naturopaths can assist you. Contact us

Negative thoughts and emotions can sabotage your best efforts at relaxing.  Just like the diet, thoughts and emotions become habits. Concentrate more on what is going right. Be happy & contented for all you have.

Spice up your life and introduce new activities for yourself, and with your partner. This doesn’t necessarily have to be in the bedroom, it might be new adventure in the outdoors on the weekend or taking up a new sport or hobby together. Increasing your overall happy hormones and endorphins may assist with your sexual desire.

Other options for increasing libido

If you feel that there might be more to your reasons for decreased libido, then seeking the assistance of a qualified Naturopath or Homeopath would be of great value. At Botanica we have a number of highly qualified therapists who could tailor a personalized treatment plan just for you. Simply visit our website and see who fits best for you Practitioners

Additionally seeking out the help of a counselor for any mental/emotional factors that may need to be resolved would be of assistance.

If there are more physiological factors that women are worried about then visiting your Gynaecologist would be of great benefit

If you would like to discuss any of these points mentioned please don’t hesitate to contact one of our qualified Naturopaths at Botanica.

Contact us.

Tips For Breastfeeding Mums

Breastfeeding is rewarding but it can also be a challenging time for new mothers.

Not only are you recovering from the birth of your child you are also tired from lack of sleep and worried about how much or how little milk your baby is getting. Anxiety can creep in but remember that if your baby is gaining weight adequately then he is getting enough milk. He may be crying for some other reason and that is the frustrating part. She can grow quickly at times or more slowly so don’t worry if the growth is not uniform.

What teas are good for milk production?

Herbal teas are a wonderful aid for breastfeeding mums to increase the milk supply. Black teas and chais contain caffeine and are the teas best to avoid as the caffeine can affect the baby. The best tea for breastfeeding and increasing breast milk supply is a combination of herbal teas all of which have been used for centuries to increase breast milk.

What herbal teas are good for increasing milk supply?

The teas that I have chosen for the Botanica Breastfeeding Tea are Fennel seeds, Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle, Nettle Leaf, Spearmint and Raspberry Leaf. I have changed and added to this combination over the 30 years that I have been formulating teas as a Herbalist. I have found this tea to be very effective in increasing the milk supply. It is also delicious! This good mother’s milk tea can start working quickly. Sip 3-4 cups per day with a little honey if desired.

How long does it take for mother’s milk tea to start working?

You should notice that you have more milk by the end of the day within a few days.

Of course, you need to look at other factors that may influence your supply. Place your baby skin to skin whenever possible as this has been shown to be beneficial for you both. Focus on your baby and remove that mobile phone or Ipad so that are not distracted.

Drinking enough water each day is very important and unlike black tea which is dehydrating the herbal teas can be counted towards your two-litre intake each day.  Your lactation consultant may tell you to drink some stout and beer. They are also renowned for increasing milk supply – in moderation of course! Anxiety and worry about your baby can be overwhelming and can also affect the supply.  Drink a relaxing tea such as our Botanica Snooze Tea to help you and the baby relax. Your baby is very tuned in to you. Play some peaceful music through the house, sing to your baby and go for walks in the sunshine.

It is also important to get as much rest as possible during the day. Sleep when the baby sleeps or ask a relative or friend to take them out in the pram so that you can grab some rest. Try not to worry about a messy house or dishes piling up. It will all get done eventually (and hopefully by someone else!)

What foods should breastfeeding mums avoid?

It is important to eat regularly to keep your blood sugar stable and energy up. Eat lots of protein such as meat, fish and chicken,  vegetables, some fruit and nuts and seeds. Eat plenty of almonds and oatmeal as these two foods can also increase your milk supply. If your baby is crying a lot and not feeding well then keep your diet as bland as possible with no spicy or garlicky food.

If your baby is colicky or unsettled remove all dairy products from your diet and gassy vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage. Teach your baby to drink from a bottle with expressed breast milk so that you can give her Chamomile Tea if she is unsettled. Chamomile tea soothes the nerves of the stomach helping the baby’s digestion as well as having an overall relaxing and sleep inducing effect.

What supplements can I take when breastfeeding?

As well as the teas I always supplement mums before during and after pregnancy with a good multivitamin, a Practitioner brand probiotic and a high-quality fish oil. These supplements benefit both mother and baby in many ways. The probiotics are most important as they help the baby’s immune system and may help to prevent colic, allergies and skin conditions. Fish oil helps the baby’s brain to develop. Try not to buy them from the supermarket as these supplements are often substandard and not standardized to our standards. You can always visit, call or email my store and my friendly Naturopaths will help you. Contact Us

Robyn Thompson is the founder and owner of Botanica Medicines in Melbourne. With a background in science, she has been a Herbalist and Homoeopath for 35 years. Robyn formulates all of the herbal tea and liquid herbal formulas at Botanica Medicines and continues to enjoy helping clients specializing in oncology support and couples with fertility issues.

Vitamin D Vitamin Sunshine

Why Is Something So Simple, So Hard To Get? 

When we think of our Australian climate, we think of surf, sun and sand, and the great outdoors. With vitamin D readily available from the sun, why are so many people deficient in this important vitamin?

An estimated 73% of adults suffer from inadequate vitamin D levels, with almost 60% of women living in southern areas being completely deficient during the winter/spring months. Are we spending too much more time indoors?
Are we obsessed with the need to cover up and use sunscreen every time we step outside?
With so many factors influencing vitamin D, what can you do to ensure you and your family have adequate vitamin D levels?

Delving Into Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin naturally derived from UVB waves from the sun. Dietary sources are limited and include oily fish and egg yolks.
Vitamin D is well known for its role in maintaining the health of bones and improving calcium absorption; but D is so much more than this! It helps improve immunity; reducing the frequency of colds and flus, and managing more serious autoimmune conditions.

Vitamin D also improves muscle strength and can reduce fractures in the elderly. Did you realise that low levels of vitamin D have also been associated with an increased risk of certain cancers and other chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, and diabetes? Symptoms of fibromyalgia can also be helped with Vitamin D supplementation

Interestingly, vitamin D may even help support healthy moods and is a beneficial part of the treatment for depression. An adequate level of Vitamin D is essential for good health!

D Deficiency Is Widespread

It may be quite alarming to find out that so many of your family, friends and others in your community may be suffering from a vitamin D deficiency. With our main source of vitamin D coming from sunlight, keep a special eye out for those you know who may be at greater risk of deficiency. They include people who are older, housebound, darker skinned individuals, and those who wear covered clothes, work indoors or regularly avoid sun exposure.

You also need to keep in mind where you live, your climates and the seasons. It may be harder to get adequate vitamin D from the sun at certain latitudes and in southern areas where UV levels are lower. During the colder months, you may need to spend more time outdoors to obtain vitamin D; compared to summertime, when several minutes of sun exposure daily may be sufficient. With our position under the hole in the ozone layer, getting the sun exposure required for optimal vitamin D synthesis may present risks to skin health. Supplementation with vitamin D may be a safer option for many.
If you do live in a sunny climate – sit uncovered in the sun for 10-15 minutes early in the day to get your natural D dose.

Not All Ds Are The Same

With many different types of vitamin D available, you may be mistaken in thinking that they are all the alike. However, not all products are equal! Being a fat soluble vitamin, vitamin D is prone to oxidisation and deterioration, so it is important to use a high quality vitamin D with proven stability. Your Botanica Naturopath or Herbalist will help you select the most appropriate vitamin D for your needs, in a form that is readily available for your body to absorb to gain the many benefits.
Speak to your Naturopath or Herbalist at Botanica or our qualified staff on the floor today about a vitamin D that ticks all of your boxes.

Recommendations for Achieving Optimal D Levels

In order to achieve and maintain optimal vitamin D levels, here are a few simple steps:

If getting sun exposure, aim for 6 to 7 minutes mid-morning or mid-afternoon during warmer months, and 7 to 40 minutes at noon during winter. Arms and shoulders should be visible, and without sunscreen. Be aware that UV levels are highest between 11am and 3pm so be cautious going out uncovered for longer than this.
If you know you are low in vitamin D and you wish to avoid the sun, it may be more appropriate to correct a deficiency with a supplement to quickly and safely build up your vitamin D stores.
If you’re unsure about your current vitamin D levels, ask our friendly staff about how to get your levels assessed.

Put D Back in Your Day

Vitamin D is critical for the health of your entire body. With so many people deficient in this essential vitamin, it is important to get your levels assessed to ensure they are not low. Vitamin D deficiencies can have negative effects on your health and may increase your risk of chronic disease.

If your vitamin D levels are low, talk to our staff today. Make it a priority to build up our vitamin D stores with a high quality supplement and healthy sun exposure, and take another step closer to optimal health.