Certain times of the year can mean hay fever. This is an affliction for many and, with climate change, in some places this has led to milder winters and longer pollen seasons so the numbers suffering could well rise.
I used to have hay fever rather badly and found that certain triggers were the culprit although not obviously pollen. The incense used at daily mass at my convent boarding school, the overpowering scent used by some females and, when I was a little older, drinking a glass of wine, were all enough to set off my sneezes, sniffles and general discomfort. Fortunately, I grew out of these allergic reactions in my 40s but my nose is still sensitive to such things.
The symptoms of hay fever
These can include
- Sneezing, runny or blocked nose
- Itchy, red or watery eyes
- An itchy throat mouth, nose and ears.
- Later symptoms include conjunctival swelling and erythema
- Swelling of the eyelids, lower eyelid venous stasis and middle ear effusion.
These symptoms usually last for longer than 4 weeks and are particularly noticeable between the months of March and August (spring and summer in the northern hemisphere).
Why does hay fever occur?
The symptoms can worsen on hot, humid or windy days. Hay fever is also known as allergic rhinitis and some of the plants that can cause this condition include trees like pine, birch, alder, cedar, hazel, horse chestnut, willow, poplar and olive, grasses like ryegrass and timothy and weeds like ragweed, plantain, mugwort and sorrel or dock.
Those Top 10 natural remedies for hay fever
There are several natural home remedies that you can try instead of the antihistamines which can often make you feel drowsy or even incredibly lethargic. This is why they come with the warning against driving or operating heavy machinery. Antihistamines can also cause challenges for children at school who have to sit exams during the hay fever season and often find it difficult to focus or concentrate.
1. Remove mucus forming foods from the diet such as dairy and and fried foods. Replace with olive oil spread or coconut oil (instead of butter ) and rice or nut milks. Yogurt is usually well tolerated, because it is already digested by the bacteria in it. At the same time, try removing grasses from the diet too if you know that grass triggers you off. Grains such as oats, rice and wheat are ‘grasses’.
2. Fresh garlic is anti-catarrhal and vitamin C acts as a natural antihistamine, so it’s worth taking lots of these in your food and adding in supplement form too.
3. Effect a pollen barrier by applying a sticky barrier cream around your nostrils as a defence against pollen. This will trap any tiny particles of pollen by up to 73% before they do their harm.
4. Take a concoction of herbs as a tincture or tea. Combine nettle with its anti-allergic properties; camomile with its anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory properties; and elderberry which can help to prevent catarrh.
5. Use an all natural salt water nasal spray to effectively help to wash out any pollen from the nose. Salt has a history of relieving inflammation in the upper respiratory tract to treat those symptoms of both allergies and asthma.
6. Homeopathic remedies have an excellent record as a natural therapy for easing the symptoms of hay fever. Such a remedy is also particularly safe for those who cannot take antihistamines such as during pregnancy.
7. Acupuncture is an ancient natural remedy (used to reduce the symptoms of hay fever and relieve allergies) where an acupuncturist will use needles to trigger the release of chemicals that stimulate the body's natural healing abilities while regulating the antibody reactions.
8. Personal air filters are small devices that are worn as tiny plugs in the nostrils to help filter pollen, mold spores and other allergens before you breathe them in.
9. A comparatively modern hay fever remedy is the use of infrared light through a probe placed in each nostril. The aim is for the desensitization of the soft tissue in the nose so that it becomes less reactive to pollen. Using such infrared probes 3 times a day for some 2 weeks has been found to reduce the symptoms of hay fever.
10. Something that might not appear too obvious is ensuring that you have the right balance in your gut and digestive system to reduce any tendency towards allergies. Studies have shown that those who take a probiotic (lactobacillus) throughout the hay fever season have lower levels of IgE than those who do not. IgE is the name of the chemical in our system that stimulates the release of histamine which causes hay fever symptoms in the first place. Make sure the gut is balanced by cutting out excessive sugars and yeasts from your diet and taking a good quality probiotic supplement to re-colonise the bowel.
A test for hay fever?
Hay fever allergy is usually detected by either a blood test to monitor IgE antibody in the blood or a skin test where the skin is exposed to a minute amount of a known allergen after which the amount of IgE antibodies is measured.