A guide to natural hay fever reliefPosted on: 07 June 2010 by Mark O'haire
Ease the sneezes this summer with our advice for minimising hay fever misery.
As most of us eagerly await the warm summer months of basking in the sunshine and firing up the barbecue, a staggering 15 per cent of Britons struggle to cope with the misery of hayfever.
Blocked noses, constant tickly sneezing, watery itchy eyes, headaches, disturbed sleep, listlessness and depression - are all symptoms which can last for months.
Fortunately, there's help at hand with this advice for minimising hay fever misery:
- Keeping windows closed in the car and home to avoid exposure to pollens, especially on days when the pollen forecasts predict medium or high pollen levels.
- Limiting outdoor activities when pollen counts are highest - afternoon and early evening for summer grasses.
- Send out a fine spray on the hose sprinkler before you go in the garden to dampen down pollen in the air.
- Do not hang clothing outside to dry, instead, use a dryer or hang the clothes inside.
- Stay away from freshly mowed lawns.
- Keeping pets outside, because they can track pollen inside. If that is not possible, at least keep them out of rooms that you use most.
- Change your clothing after going outside and shower before bed to rinse off pollen.
Known medically as allergic rhinitis, Hayfever is an allergy that occurs when our immune system attacks invading airborne plant proteins and binds them to an antibody called IgE (immunoglobulin E).
The IgE-antigen complex then binds to white blood cells called mast cells. This binding causes the release of histamine, a chemical produced by the body, which results in the familiar Hayfever symptoms. This process is known as ‘degranulation’.
If Hayfever develops in the spring it’s usually due to tree pollen. If it develops in the summer, grass and weed pollen are probably to blame. Many people also develop Hayfever in response to mould or fungus spores, which commonly occur any time from mid-March to November.
Fortunately there are many natural remedies that can offer speedy and significant relief without the drowsiness and other side-effects often associated with medical treatments for hayfever.
Many of the nutrients discussed in this article can also help with other allergic reactions.
Quercetin is one of several bioflavanoids (special nutrients found with vitamin C in fruit and vegetables) with anti-oxidant and anti-histamine properties. Quercetin works as an anti-inflammatory agent by deactivating enzymes that produce inflammation and strengthening cell walls that would normally release histamine into the bloodstream. Quercetin may be helpful not only in allergies, but in all kinds of inflammatory responses, such as injury, bursitis, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Although it is becoming increasingly popular there is only limited clinical research that shows its benefits. Take 200mg three times daily.
To help with the symptoms of hayfever, take an herbal extract standardized to contain 8 mg of petasin per tablet, two or three times a day for two weeks. Studies have shown butterbur to be as effective as Zyrtec with lower incidence of side effects like drowsiness.
The combination of quercetin with vitamin C can be very helpful. Vitmain C is often used alongside quercetin as it enhances the effectiveness of bioflavanoids. Vitamin C also helps the body to detoxify histamines and has been shown to ease bronchial constriction. Organic acerola is a good source of vitamin C for kids. Although commonly used there is little clinical evidence for the benefits of Vitamin C in dealing with Hayfever symptoms.
At least one trial has reported that nettle leaf leads to a reduction in symptoms. Despite the lack of clinical evidence it may be worth trying. Take 450mg of nettle leaf capsules two times per day.
Bilberry for itchy eyes
Bilberry extracts are rich in a flavanoid known as antho-cyanoside, which improves blood flow and delivery of oxygen to the eye. Take 200mg three times daily.
Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) was used by ancient Greeks to treat eye infections. Eyebright is an astringent, tonic herb that helps to dry up watery excretions. Research suggests that it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s)
The essential fatty acids found in Golden Flax Seed Oil may also help to reduce inflammatory symptoms, especially when taken over time. Hemp seed oil has the beneficial anti-inflammatory EFA’s as well as GLS which has been shown to help with allergies. Take 1 to 3 teaspoons daily of hemp or flax seed oil.
A traditional yoga technique involving nasal saline inhalation, in which warm salt water is pored into one nostril and allowed to drain through the other. Use a ceramic or plastic ‘netti pot’, fill the pot with luke-warm water and add about one quarter of a teaspoon of salt. Stand over a basin and tilt your head to the side so that one ear is parallel to the floor. Poor the salt water into the upper nostril and allow it to drain through the other. Repeat through the other nostril.
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