Hay fever is a common allergy to pollen that affects millions of people. It’s sometimes called seasonal allergic rhinitis, and it’s caused by the immune system overreacting to pollen floating in the air. When hay fever sufferers breathe in pollen from grass, plants and trees, it registers as harmful. As a result, the body kickstarts the immune system and treats pollen in a similar way to bacteria or a virus attacking your body.
One of the biggest things that happens is the release of a chemical called histamine. This triggers a self-defence process that causes your nasal passage to inflame. As a sufferer, you’ll notice a range of unpleasant side effects - a runny nose, sore throat, teary eyes plus endless sneezing. This is your body’s well-meaning effort to eject the allergen from your body and prevent further pollen particles from getting in.
You’re probably familiar with the word antihistamine due to its infamous role in calming allergic reactions, as yes, you can take various antihistamine tablets to defend against hay fever, however, we have highlighted ways for you to become a histamine blocker with our natural hay fever remedies.
Daily Tips For Hay Fever Relief
* To soothe eyes, gently wipe them with cotton wool soaked in cold water.
* Keep your windows at home and in the car closed, especially at the worst times of day (early morning and 5pm – 7pm).
* Limit the amount of time spent outside when the pollen count is high or it’s windy.
* When you come inside from a day outdoors, change your clothes and wipe your face, hands and hair with a damp cloth.
* Clothes should be dried inside on airers as pollen can stick to clothes that are dried outside on washing lines.
* Wear sunglasses, (wraparound if your style can take it!) This will prevent pollen from going into yours eyes as much.
* If you suffer considerably, consider swapping the countryside, for trips to the coast as pollen counts are lower.
* Allergens can collect in your hair when you're outside, so a simple trick to prevent hay fever symptoms is to keep hair tied up and off your face, away from your eyes, mouth and nose.
* If you have a dog or cat at home, try to brush them outside before they enter your home and wipe them down with a damp towel.
Supplements That Could Relieve Hay Fever
There’s a lot of speculation and anecdotal advice on supplements that could provide natural remedies for hay fever. But scientific evidence is generally lacking or inconclusive. So, here we focus on two ingredients where research connecting them to hay fever is established or growing.
Quercetin - Is a natural antihistamine and contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It’s got some great nutritional credentials when it comes to fighting off hay fever symptoms. It’s commonly found in green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, red grapes and berries. But for the highest concentrations, look to onions and apples. Quercetin also comes as a food supplement
Vitamin D - The bone health and immune system supporting effects of vitamin D are well known. But what’s less widely recognised is that vitamin D deficiency is also related to allergic rhinitis. Both experimental and clinical studies show some links between vitamin D and hay fever. Although, there are slight discrepancies in the results of studies, there’s some recognition that a vitamin D deficiency may increase the severity of hay fever symptoms.
Vitamin C - Well known for supporting the immune system, it is thought that vitamin C may help to reduce histamine levels. In order to support the balanced functioning of your immune system, consider taking a vitamin C supplement with bioflavonoids to help reduce the severity of hay fever symptoms.
Allergy-Fighting Super Ingredients
What you eat can make a difference to the intensity of your hay fever symptoms. It's believed that some foods can exacerbate allergic reactions. Others can help relieve your discomfort. For example, consuming food and drinks that contain high levels of histamine, such as some dairy products and alcohol, could intensify your symptoms.
But remember, although nutrition can play a role in managing the severity of hay fever symptoms, the results won’t be immediate. If you can, it pays to be prepared and to start introducing allergy-fighting ingredients into your diet before the pollen count starts to rise.
Many fresh fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods are natural antihistamines. This means they contain chemicals that can interrupt or obstruct the histamine receptors in your immune system. These foods include tomatoes, bee pollen, salmon and oily fish. Garlic and onions are both rich in quercetin and vitamin C, giving them impressive allergy-fighting credentials.
Foods that are rich in flavonoids could also help. Apples, citrus fruits and berries are good natural food sources. Not to forget pineapples, as they are the only fruit to contain bromelain. This compound can be helpful for relieving symptoms of nasal and sinus inflammation. Bromelain could contribute to stabilising congestion caused by hay fever.
Turmeric contains curcumin, making the spice a great anti-inflammatory ingredient. It can help reduce swelling and irritation caused by hay fever. Combining it with ginger can increase its anti-inflammatory powers.
Cut Down On Dairy
Dairy products increase the production of mucus in your respiratory tract, worsening hay fever symptoms. The good news is there are so many delicious alternatives these days. Try switching to oat or almond milk and vegan butter for example.
Reishi Mushroom Powder
All medicinal mushrooms are rich in beta-glucans, powerful polysaccharides renowned for their profound effect on the immune system and on inflammation. Reishi mushroom, known as the ‘King of Mushrooms’ is considered an adaptogen. That means this powerful fungus can help your body handle stress, whether it be emotional, physical or environmental. It can be taken daily to support allergic conditions and reduce the symptoms of hay fever.
In addition to their immune modulating properties, mushrooms contain significant levels of vitamin D2. Low vitamin D status is linked to development of allergies, so mushrooms can provide a helpful boost of vitamin D throughout the year.
Nettles are thought to have the ability to block histamine activity and other pro-inflammatory molecules involved in hay fever. Pukka Herb’s Cleanse tea contains nettles and aloe vera which has a natural cooling effect, helping to calm any irritation. Pukka’s Clean Greens Super-blend tea is a combination of 11 nutrient-dense plant superfoods including nettles, chlorella and spirulina, which can be taken in the lead up to Spring to ease the symptoms of seasonal allergies.
A traditional Ayurvedic formulation that is particularly effective at detoxifying and cleansing a congested digestive tract. It will often work best when taken at night in a capsule or powder form.
A teaspoon of honey is said to do wonders for alleviating the symptoms of hay fever. For the best results, go for honey that is grown locally, derived from manuka and unprocessed. It’s also one of the sweetest hay fever remedies around, making it a definite favourite. To reap the full benefits, simply swallow one teaspoon of honey every morning before you leave the house.
Not only does it taste great, but peppermint tea also relieves nasal and sinus congestion associated with hay fever and allergies around the nose and a ‘heavy head’.
Organic Aloe Vera Juice
A natural cooling anti-inflammatory, soothing hot and irritated mucus membranes throughout the body. It’s a natural way of cleansing your liver and helping to reduce allergic response from the immune system.
The elder tree is traditionally known as ‘nature’s medicine chest’. Elderflowers can dry and tone mucous membranes which line the nose and throat, reducing sneezing and a runny and blocked nose from hay fever. Try an elderflower and echinacea syrup to boost immunity and provide relief from those irritating symptoms throughout hay fever season.
Chamomile Steam Inhalation
Inhaling steam is an old home remedy when it comes to relieving congestion. Combining chamomile (in fresh flower form or tea bag) in steaming hot water could be a helpful technique for those suffering with hay fever in high pollen season. It works by clearing excess mucus from the lungs as well as reducing inflammation.
Use Vaseline Or Pure Pollen Barrier
Vaseline or Pure Pollen Barrier help trap pollen entering the nostrils, effectively blocking it from entering the nasal passages, hence stopping hay fever symptoms from occurring or worsening. Combat hay fever and reduce symptoms by spreading a thin layer of Vaseline inside the lower nostrils and/or on the bone of the eye (not in the eye of course)!
In a study conducted by the Charité University Medical Centre in Berlin, it was reported that acupuncture could improve symptoms in hay fever sufferers. Therefore, it might be worth considering trying a session if you are struggling to find other ways of relieving your allergic reactions.
Remaining hydrated is not just a requirement for your overall health and wellbeing; it can also help you to feel better when you are suffering from hay fever. Water can soothe a sore throat and tickly cough, plus, if you drink enough of it, it can thin the inflamed mucous membranes, alleviating symptoms that are associated with congestion, such as a blocked nose, ears and headache.
Natural Nasal Sprays
If your hayfever symptoms revolve predominantly around nasal symptoms like congestion and a runny nose, then you could always try our Pollinosan Nasal Spray. This is a natural product that contains no preservatives and is suitable for anyone over the age of 6. It works by cleansing the nasal passages of potential allergens, and hydrates the nose, restoring fluid and moisture.
Ditch The Contact Lenses
According to Specsavers' Clinical Services Director, Giles Edmonds, hay fever sufferers who wear contact lenses may notice the vision through their lenses can appear smeary and eyes can generally feel uncomfortable which can be calmed down with contact lens-friendly eye drops.
Wearing prescription glasses (particularly wraparound sunglasses) can prevent pollen from getting into your eyes. He also suggests that those suffering with hay fever could also try daily disposable lenses during the summer months.
Switch To Gin
While alcoholic drinks like beer and red wine often make hay fever and asthma worse due to the histamine and sulphites they contain, switching your regular tipple to gin might help to relieve symptoms more than other drinks. Clear spirits like gin and vodka both have a low histamine content, while gin also contains no sulphites, so it is especially good for people who are suffering from itchy eyes and a runny nose. As happy as we are to hear this, it's important to note that G&T won't cure your hay fever, it is simply the best option for sufferers who want an alcoholic drink. Try The Sweet Potato Spirt Company for an award winning tasty artisan tipple which is also vegan and gluten free!