It is estimated that around 10 million of us in England alone suffer with hay fever. Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen, histamine is released into the bloodstream by the immune system when one of these allergens is detected, causing inflammation, sneezing, runny nose, and swollen and runny eyes.
However, for some people the symptoms can be more debilitating, causing headaches and earaches, facial pain from blocked sinuses, loss of smell and tiredness and fatigue, which can make life a misery during the warmer months. And for those with other health conditions like asthma and lung problems, hay fever can trigger symptoms to occur.
There are different types of pollen that affect us at different times of the year. For some, Spring is the worst season, with tree pollen being high. Come the summer, grass pollen is high and then in autumn it’s root pollen that’s the issue.
There are hundreds of anti-histamine medications on the market, but here at the Wellbeing Clinic we like to take a more holistic approach, so what can you do about it other than take prescription or over the counter drugs that may leave you feeling drowsy? Some diet changes, acupuncture, essential oils and supplements can help reduce the symptoms.
When it comes to supplements seek professional advice, as supplements can interact with prescribed medication and exacerbate certain conditions. Our friends at The Health Store recommend A.Vogel Pollinsan range of Tinctures, Tablets and nasal spray , and their owner Gary’s personal favourite Natures Aid Quercetin Complex which has Quercetin (a bioflavonoid), Vitamins C and B5, MSM and Pine Bark extract (as an anti oxidant).
Some foods to avoid during the hay fever season, which can make symptoms worse include; Alcohol, caffeine, dairy, chocolate, sugar, processed foods, peanuts, artificial sweeteners, bananas, cucumbers, wheat, soy, chamomile, shellfish and sunflower seeds. A bizarre mix!
Remove any foods you know you have an allergic reaction to as well. An elimination diet can help you identify offending foods. Some of the above can increase mucus production and others trigger a similar response to some pollens.
Foods that can be beneficial during hay fever season and can be enjoyed include
local honey (raw), bone broth, pineapple, free-range poultry, probiotic-rich foods, apple cider vinegar, wild-caught fish, hot & spicy foods and plenty of organic vegetables. The raw local honey seems to control symptoms as it contains local pollen. Look-up your local bee keeping society to find out where to get it from.
Bone broth helps to support the immune system, spicy foods help to thin mucus, probiotic-rich foods like kefir, sauerkraut, Kombucha & yogurt aid digestion and support the immune system. Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain, which can reduce swelling in the nasal passages, and other nutrients which can help reduce symptoms.
It may seem like we recommend acupuncture for everything, and we do because it really can be used to treat everything! In Chinese medicine when you are full of Qi or (energy) and it flows around you freely, then you are healthy. When it does not flow you are more likely to be ill. Acupuncture works brilliantly for allergies, as it restores the flow of Qi. Hay fever is seen as inflammation in Chinese medicine, and a sign that your energy is not flowing throughout your lymphatic system properly. After having acupuncture, your defences should become stronger, making your immune response better.
Diffusing essential oils has been found beneficial by some. Oils to try include menthol, eucalyptus, peppermint oil & lavender to ease nasal passages, reduce stress and support circulation. Book an aromatherapy massage, and request an oil blend to help reduce the symptoms of hay fever, or circulate the oils at home in an oil burner. Never use essential oils directly on the skin, unless directed to by a registered practitioner.
Don’t get caught out this year. Plan ahead and fill your cupboards with foods and treatments that will support you and avoid those that won’t. Then get out there and enjoy the beautiful spring weather!
Written by Carla Moore, resident Blogger and Nutritional Therapist Samantha Farmer.