Yes, it’s that time of the year (in the northern hemisphere at least) when, if you’re like me, you’re dealing with itchy eyes, lots of sneezing and a snotty nose. It’s hay fever season. Statistics show that 10% to 30% of the world population suffers from hay fever. That’s a lot and the shitty thing about hay fever is that it’s hard to avoid. It’s not like a food that you can just cut out of your diet, the stuff that causes hay fever is all around us in the air.
After reading this blog, you’ll understand what hay fever is exactly, the reason for those annoying symptoms, why antihistamine is not for everybody (not for me at least!) and 6 proven natural hay fever remedies that will help you through it. Some of them will help you immediately, some are more long term remedies to prep your body, so that you won’t react to it so much.
WHAT EXACTLY IS HAY FEVER?
Hay fever is an allergic reaction to the pollen of grasses, trees and other plants that rely on pollination by the wind. This reaction happens when the pollen enter your system, through your nose and eyes. The weather plays a big role in hay fever and how bad you’re getting it. When it’s dry and sunny more flowers are blooming and there’s a lot more pollen in the air, when it’s raining not so much. And the reason why this pollen causes the annoying symptoms is because of histamine.
When you have hay fever your immune system reacts strongly when the pollen comes in contact with the mucous membrane of the nose and eyes. These mucous membranes are always ready to fight off intruders like bacteria, viruses, and anything your body recognizes as harmful. Normally when something enters that your body sees as harmful, your immune system produces a normal amount of antibodies and these antibodies deal with ‘the problem’ and don’t make you feel like crap. But when you have an allergic reaction, in this case to the pollen, this process gets disrupted and your immune system reacts in an extreme way to the allergen. It starts producing large, instead of normal amounts of antibodies which cause histamine to be released. It’s the histamine that causes the inflammation and irritation, like a blocked or runny nose and swollen, red or itchy eyes.
Of course, you can go to the doctor if you suffer from hay fever and get antihistamines, these reduce or block histamines, so they basically stop the allergy symptoms. Antihistamine is one of the most prescribed medicine in the world. But they come with a bunch of side effects.
Common side effects of antihistamines include:
- Drowsiness or sleepiness
- Dry mouth, nose, or throat
- Changes in vision
- Feeling nervous or irritable
Not so cool if you ask me. One of the things that is recommended for people with hay fever is to stay inside with the windows closed, but that’s never really been an option for me. I already go crazy if I’m inside too much and especially when the sun is out. Too much of an outdoors person I’m afraid and that’s why I go for other solutions. Here’s a list of 6 natural hay fever remedies.
1. NUTRIENTS WITH ANTIHISTAMINE
Instead of taking medical antihistamine, there are also certain plants that have an effect similar to antihistamine, plants rich in flavonoids for example. Flavonoids have an inhibiting effect on the release of histamine. The herb Scutellaria for example is full of flavonoids and Scutellaria has been shown to reduce the symptoms of hay fever. You can take this herb in capsule form, always read the instructions on the package for the right dosage and if it’s suitable for you. You should start taking these before the allergy season begins, just like quercetin. This is a type of flavonoid that can be found in leafy greens, onions, garlic, tomatoes, berries and broccoli. It reduces the symptoms of hay fever because it reduces the release of histamine. Quercetin is also an antioxidant, therefore its known to reduce inflammation, an added bonus when you’re stuck with a blocked nose! Quercetin can be bought in a capsule form as well. And again, always read the package and dosage guidelines carefully.
2. VITAMIN C
Vitamin C is an antioxidant and a natural antihistamine without the unpleasant effects of antihistamine medication. Good food sources of vitamin C include red, yellow and green capsicum, parsley, kiwi fruit, broccoli, chicory, turnip, Brussel sprouts, papaya and red cabbage. Vitamin C works especially well against hay fever when consumed with flavonoids. Vitamin C and flavonoids can be found in broccoli, capsicum, kiwifruit and citrus fruits or you may like to take a supplement. Ester C is a readily available and for most people easily absorbable form of vitamin C.
3. SUPPORT YOUR LIVER
It’s important to prepare your liver for the allergy season. The liver is the most important cleansing and detoxification organ of the body. Too much histamine in the blood can be toxic and it is the liver’s job to remove it quickly. So if the liver is overburdened and because of this struggling to deal with detoxifying the blood, the histamine will not be dealt with quickly. This will cause your hay fever symptoms to be worse. So before the allergy seasons starts, consider doing a liver detox. Simply remove foods and drinks that are a burden on the liver, like alcohol, coffee processed and junk foods.
4. SUPPORT YOUR GUT
80% of your immune system is in your gut. When this complex ecosystem in your gut is in balance it is full of beneficial microflora like bacteria and yeast that make sure your digestive system and your immune system are functioning properly. It’s your immune system that ‘decides’ if something that enters your body is good or bad. If it considers it bad it treats the intruder, in the case of hay fever the pollen, as a threat. Even though the pollen is not really a threat, unfortunately when your immune system thinks it is, you’ll suffer from the symptoms of hay fever. So it’s very important to support the gut and stimulate the immune system in the case of hay fever. Research has linked the presence of a large number of diverse and beneficial bacteria in the gut with being less prone to allergies. So how can you support your gut health? Eat more probiotic foods. Probiotics support the beneficial bacteria in your gut, which will help your immune system. Examples are: sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, miso. Eating foods rich in fiber is also important to support your gut health. Foods rich in fiber are: whole grains, peas and beans, broccoli, avocado, berries. Much more about gut health is coming up soon, sign up here if you’re interested (you should be)!
5. LOCAL HONEY
Another thing you can do, if you suffer from hay fever, is to slowly but surely built up your body’s resilience to the allergen. This can reduce the reactivity of your immune system to it. One way of doing this is by eating local honey. The bee pollen in the honey can help in desensitizing your immune system to the pollen that is the air. The bees in your local area will be pollinating the plants around you, some of which that may be causing you grief, so always make sure that you choose a local honey. Continue to eat small amounts of it throughout the year, and not just around hay fever season, for the best results.
6. A. VOGEL
I’ve been using Pollinosan from A. Vogel for a couple of years now. It is a 100% natural remedy and contains 7 tropical herbs. These herbs help to free up your respiratory passages and greatly reduce the symptoms of hay fever. You can buy this product in a nose spray or in tablet form. I’ve only tried the tablets and find that they really help me when my immune system dealing with the pollen in my system. I haven’t noticed any negative side effects.
We really hope these natural hay fever remedies will give you some relief this hay fever season! If you have any other suggestions besides the ones above, please feel free to share them with us. If you know anyone with hay fever, make sure to pass this blog on to them. It may be just what they need :-).
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