Hay-fever can make summer miserable. Even with cooler rainy days, if you are prone to pollen and grass sensitivity you can find summer a real struggle.
Hay-fever is an inflammatory condition where your immune system mistakes pollens, moulds, grasses etc. as dangerous invaders, so responds by producing inappropriate amounts of histamine to fight the invaders. It is the histamine that causes the symptoms of hay-fever like itchy eyes, runny nose and sneezing.
Most people rely upon anti-histamine medication to calm the immune response. As with any medication, there can be unpleasant side effect plus, using antihistamines will not actually help your body stop this inappropriate response.
So if you are dependent upon anti-histamine medication to get you through the summer, why not give these more natural options a go, some of which may actually help your body overcome hay-fever altogether.
- Honey is well known as a hay-fever remedy. The principle behind it is desensitisation. Honey being sticky, contains small amounts of wind-blown pollens that inflame the lining of the nose and eyes. By eating a spoonful of honey a day, preferably starting well before the pollen season, you will build immunity and stop your body over-reacting to the pollen released in summer. It is important that the honey is raw and is better if locally sourced.
- Increase Omega 3 Fatty Acids are strongly anti-inflammatory and taken consistently they can help to moderate your immune response, potentially reducing if not alleviating your hay-fever symptoms. Equally, reduce your omega 6 fats as these are pro-inflammatory. Most important, avoid cheap cooking oils like corn, vegetable, rapeseed etc. (see previous blog) and butter-replacement spreads as these are very inflammatory.
- Echinacea is an immune-modulating and immune-enhancing herb, as well as being anti-inflammatory. It boosts the immune system helping to prevent colds and flus and may help reduce sensitivity to allergens. It also helps to reduce inflammation and is effective in the treatment of nasal catarrh. This can be taken in capsule or tincture form.
- Eat a wide range of Colorful fruits & vegetables such as blueberries, strawberries, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and bell peppers. These foods are high in Vitamin C, a natural antihistamine and are also rich in flavanoids. These flavanoids act like antihistamines and also contain carotenoids (beta-carotene), which promote anti-inflammatory activity.
- Quercetin, like vitamin C is an antioxidant and thought to prevent the release of histamine in the body. Found naturally in certain foods, such as apples (with the skin on), berries, red grapes, garlic, red onions, capers, and black tea. It is also available in supplement form.
- Garlic helps to reduce excess catarrh, if possible eat a raw clove a day (stir into food after cooking).
- Bromelain an extract of pineapple, is one of the best natural antihistamines with anti-inflammatory properties – available in supplement form.
- Reduce foods rich in arachidonic acid as they have been found to worsen inflammation. This means reducing intake of egg yolks, red meat, and shellfish.
- Nettle is a herbal remedy derived from the stinging nettle. A number of studies suggest that nettle may help with allergy symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion, and itchiness
- Remove ‘grasses’ from the diet if known that grass trigger the hay-fever. Grains such as oats, rice and wheat are ‘grasses’.