At the beginning of the season, usually around April, hay fever sufferers often start to feel the dread of another season of itchy eyes, runny noses and sleepless nights – do I hear a conformational sneeze there?
Hayfever symptoms are not only annoying, irritating and utterly frustrating but they can also be very disruptive, interrupting our daily lives in more ways than we may realise.
Not only do you get the joy of stinging puffy eyes, blocked and runny noses, and mysterious skin rashes, you can also end up having difficulty sleeping, or having to cancel social engagements because your symptoms have made you feel so rubbish.
So, what is Hay fever?
Hay fever is a type of allergic rhinitis which arises when your immune system assesses a particle entering your body and reacts to it as a threat, aka an allergen. In this case, the allergen is in the form of pollen from trees, grass, or flowers.
If the immune system decides (rightly or wrongly) that this particle is going to endanger the body, it triggers a response to kill it, causing inflammation of the mucous lining of your respiratory system and encouraging a secretion of thick, sticky mucus to trap the foreign particle.
The cause of the swelling, redness and itching that goes hand-in-hand with hayfever is the result of elevated histamine, an inflammatory compound present within us. When histamine levels rise, this can lead to symptoms that are very similar to the feeling of a common cold and can occur immediately after coming into contact with the allergen.
These may include sneezing, running and stuffy nose, watery or itchy eyes, scratchy throat, skin itches and even the loss of your sense of taste or smell.
The swelling that histamine causes throughout your nasal passages makes your respiratory tract far more sensitive to airborne irritants, so you may want to avoid wearing perfume or using spray deodorants, as well as swapping chemical based household cleaning products such as air fresheners and cleaning sprays, all of which can aggravate your hay fever symptoms further for natural alternatives.
With so many of you out there disrupted by hay fever, and with none of you I’m sure, feeling the urge to don a mask when leaving the house to avoid that pesky pollen, here are my top 9 natural tips for easing those unwanted hay fever symptoms:
1. Boost your Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine, so keep yourself topped up throughout the day on small regular doses. Your body can’t make or store vitamin C, so it has to be available in low, consistent doses to be utilized and be effective.
Supplemental forms such as Viridian Ester C 950mg is an excellent addition to your diet to help keep those levels tip top.
2. Pack Your diet To The Brim With Scrumptious Anti-inflammatory Foods
You can also step up your intake of anti-inflammatory foods containing natural sources of vitamin A, C and E, polyphenols and flavonoids to keep your immune system in step and your mucous membranes healthy.
Try including the following scrumptious foods into your diet to boost your immune system and keep those histamine levels in check: blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, purple grapes, kiwis, blackcurrants, carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkin, butternut squash, mangoes, apricots, peaches, nectarines, papaya, pears, pineapples, prunes, plums, raisins, figs, avocados, spinach, watercress, pumpkinseed oil and flaxseed oil.
3. Cut or Reduce Refined Sugar
Refined sugar is the devil to your immune system. Refined sugar grabs a hockey stick and whacks your immune system in the shins and laughs at you. It triggers a dramatic rise and fall of blood sugar levels, which causes an adrenalin surge that activates histamine release, AKA swelling, inflammation, pain and grogginess.
Instead, opt for naturally sweet fresh fruit and learn how to keep your blood sugar levels balanced so you’re not having energy crashes and delving into the nearest sweet bag. Regular meals and healthy snacks, protein-rich foods with each meal and plenty of green leafy veg will help you keep those levels stable.
4. Curb the Caffeine
Caffeine in black tea, coffee and other caffeinated products trigger the release of histamine, bringing out the attractive puffy eyes, Rudolf-like nose and itchy red skin.
Instead, opt for anti-inflammatory, immune strengthening green or white tea if your nasal passages are pouring, or try out the large variety of herbal teas on offer, such as Chamomile tea and Ginger tea, both of which are reputed to relieve hay fever symptoms; or perhaps nettle tea (a very effective histamine reducer) or peppermint tea, known to help relieve nasal and sinus congestion.
5. Do Away with Dairy
Dairy can thicken mucus, elevate congestion, and even increase the amount of mucus you produce (lovely.) making your allergy symptoms worse.
For those of you who suffer from allergies, I highly encourage you to try out dairy free alternatives, such as almond, rice or coconut milk, and swap out dairy yoghurt for options like Coyo Coconut Milk Yoghurt instead.
They’re delicious and you’ll really notice a difference when your allergies are trying to bring you down.
6. Embrace Herbal Helpers
A. Vogel Luffa Tincture – This is a really useful herb to take if symptoms affect the eyes and nose. It helps relieve blocked and running noses, as well as watery and itchy eyes and a tickly throat, plus if you’re using other hay fever medications it doesn’t contradict.
If your symptoms include nasal congestion, you may find that the A. Vogel Pollinosan nasal spray helps to soothe and cleanse nasal passages, as well as remove allergens. It may even help to protect against allergens entering through your nose as you breathe.
A.Vogel Pollinosan tablets – specifically designed to help treat hay fever, this product is a licensed medicinal product and is a natural remedy containing seven tropical herbs that work on all the symptoms of hayfever and allergic rhinitis. There are also no drowsy side effects when taking this remedy unlike many other options available. For best results, Pollinosan can be taken a month before your symptoms usually start.
A.Vogel Eye Drops (with Euphrasia) – an excellent herbal remedy for helping to soothe irritated eyes. With its anti-inflammatory properties, Euphrasia helps to treat the unpleasant hay fever symptoms related to the eyes, including irritated, red, sore or inflamed eyes.
If you are suffering from other symptoms of hay fever more than just irritated eyes, you may find the herbal remedy Pollinosan Hayfever Tablets mentioned above taken in combination with the drops works effectively.
7. Try Quercetin
Quercetin is a plant pigment found in many common herbs and foods with anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine properties.
It’s fantastic at combating excessive histamine levels as it inhibits histamine release and can be easily found in foods such as onions, capers, broccoli, leafy greens, cranberries, apples, and raspberries.
For a more therapeutic dose, you may want to consider supplementation, for example Solgar Quercetin.
8. Try to Seclude the Pollen to One Room in Your House
Once you’ve been outside, come home and undress in the bathroom instead of your bedroom to avoid pollen from your clothes floating around your room. You may also wish to take a shower after being outside to remove any pollen from your skin or hair.
If you chose to wash your clothes after being outside, dry them inside rather than on the line, so as not to collect more pollen which you will ultimately bring inside and distribute around you home.
9. Keep an eye on the pollen count in your area
Being aware of the high pollen count days and the lower count days will help give you an indication of which days are going to be less of a nightmare for you than others. You may then be able to choose which days you can indulge in some outdoor activities and which days you need to be more careful.
Any questions? Drop into your local Nourish store to chat with our expert team and explore our full range of organic food, wholesome pantry essentials, nutritional supplements, herbal remedies, natural skincare, waste free and eco-friendly products. You can also find our full product range in our online store.
*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention
Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication.