With the start of Spring, warmer weather and trees and flowers blossoming, the dreaded hay fever season is also just beginning for many of you. To help you have the best summer ever this year, I’ve put together my guide on how to reduce irritating hay fever symptoms, such as sneezing, congestion, runny nose and itchy eyes and throat, naturally.
By following this advice, almost all my hayfever clients have been able to reduce the severity of their symptoms and some have got rid of them completely.
The earlier you can start this the better (generally I’d advise 1-2 months before your hay fever symptoms usually start will get you the best results).
What is hay fever?
For people with hayfever, or allergic rhinitis, when airborne allergens such as dust, moulds, pollens, pollution and chemicals enter the nose they trigger an allergic immune response. The bodies immune cells release histamine, causing the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, sinuses and throat to become inflamed and leading to symptoms such as mucus production, runny nose, itchy nose and throat, itchy watery eyes, sneezing, blocked ears, post-nasal drip, fatigue and headaches.
The aims of natural treatment
As hay fever is essentially an over reaction by your immune system to a non life threatening invader, one of the main aims of natural treatment is to help balance the immune system.
Supporting the health of the digestive system is also key as there is a strong link between gut bacteria and the state of our immune system. Allergies are also related to poor liver function, because when the liver is less efficient at cleansing the blood of toxins, toxins can damage tissues and over stimulate the immune system causing it to produce inflammatory chemicals such as histamine. Therefore, supporting healthy liver function is also part of this plan.
Other treatment aims are reducing the inflammation and soothing the hypersensitive mucous membranes of the nose, sinuses, mouth and throat.
Overall this approach involves cutting down on foods which encourage mucus production, while eating more foods that have natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties.
What to avoid….
Avoid dairy and refined wheat and minimise food additives, sugar, yeast and alcohol – these foods either contribute to mucus production or weaken the digestive system and immune system
Consider getting tested for food intolerances – food sensitivities often underpin hay fever
Eat the following foods as often as you can:
- Yellow and orange vegetables such as carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes – contain carotenoids; a study from the Institute of Epidemiology in Germany found that people with high blood levels of carotenoids, reflecting a diet rich in these flavonoids, were at lower risk for allergic rhinitis
- Onions – a good source of quercetin (a powerful anti inflammatory and antihistamine)
- Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale – sources of quercetin and carotenoids
- Romaine lettuce and red leaf lettuce – contain quercetin
- Red cabbage, cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables – rich in vitamins, quercetin, anti histamines and compounds that support the liver
Herbs and spices
- Parsley – vitamin C and quercetin
- Watercress – natural anti histamine
- Coriander – strong natural anti histamine
- Garlic – powerful immune booster
- Chilli (cayenne) pepper – contains carotenoids and vitamin C (raw green chilli peppers as they are eaten in the Middle East are a particularly rich source of quercetin!)
- Horseradish – helps clear mucus and congestion
- Ginger – helps reduce inflammation
- Turmeric – helps reduce inflammation and supports liver health
- Grapefruit and other citrus fruits – high in vitamin C, a potent natural antihistamine, and quercetin
- Dark purple and red berries – high in vitamin C and rich in quercetin and anthocyanins that act as potent natural antihistamines and anti inflammatories.
- Apples – rich in quercetin
- Pineapple – contains lots of bromelain, a powerful natural anti inflammatory, anti histamine and decongestant
- Oily fish; wild salmon, fresh anchovies, mackerel, sardines, herring, wild Alaskan cod (Black cod) and lake trout are excellent sources of anti-inflammatory Omega 3 essential fatty acids
- Pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, walnuts and flaxseeds – excellent sources of anti inflammatory essential fatty acids
- Bee pollen and local honey – take 1 tspn of local organic bee pollen daily (unless you have an allergy to bees!)
- Kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir water, kombucha and other probiotic foods and drinks – to help increase good bacteria in the gut
- Lots of water – to help flush the lymphatic system of toxins
- Green tea – natural anti histamine flavonoids in green tea stabilize cells in the body responsible for the release of histamine and it contains L-theanine, an amino acid that has been shown to block histamine release
- Nettle tea – potent natural anti histamine
- German chamomile tea – natural anti histamine
If your hayfever symptoms are quite severe, it’s likely you’ll also need to take some supplements to get on top of all your symptoms
Supplements that I’ve found really useful at reducing hay fever symptoms:
Vitamin C and bioflavonoids – I like Viridian 100% Organic Acerola Vitamin C powder as it’s completely natural source of vitamin C and therefore easily absorbed by the body
Probiotics – several studies, including a double-blind clinical study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, have confirmed that taking the probiotic bacteria Lactobacilli and bifidobacteria reduces hayfever symptoms. I like Biocare’s BioAcidophilus (Probiotic)Capsules
Quercetin and bromelain – I like Nutri Advanced Aller-C or Terranova Quercetin Nettle Complex
And finally, a herbal blend of anti histamine, anti inflammatory and decongestant herbs, made by your naturopath/herbalist and tailored for your specific symptoms can be extremely effective at knocking symptoms on the head once and for all.