Spring is in the air – and with it the itches and sniffles of hayfever.
If you suffer from seasonal hayfever, also known as seasonal allergic rhinitis, there are natural ways to help reduce the frequency of, and alleviate those irritating symptoms of sneezing, a runny nose and itchy eyes and nose.
One of the first things to investigate is your diet. Some foods can sensitise the delicate tissues around the nose and eyes, which makes them more likely to react to airborne substances such as dust, grasses and pollen. One of the most common culprits for this increased sensitivity is dairy. Dairy products also have a tendency to increase mucus secretion which exacerbates the problem.
Try eliminating dairy products for 3 weeks and if you notice a change in the frequency or severity of your hay fever symptoms, you will know that dairy could be at least partly contributing. Re-introduce dairy to your diet over a 3 day period and if you symptoms reappear, you will know that dairy is definitely a problem.
The symptoms of hay fever occur because the body releases a compound called histamine, in response to the abnormal reaction to the airborne substances. That is why over the counter anti-histamines can dampen down the allergic responses. But as with all medications, there are unwanted side effects from anti- histamines.
Below are some natural vitamins and foods that can dampen down the allergic responses of hay fever:
Vitamin C – Try taking 250mg of vitamin C, four times daily. Vitamin C is a natural anti-histamine, supports your immune system and is anti inflammatory. You can also eat foods high in Vitamin C such as citrus fruit, strawberries, capsicum, broccoli, pineapple and paw paw. Rosehip tea is also a great way of increasing your Vitamin C levels.
Vitamin E – Vitamin E aids in tissue repair, is an anti oxidant and anti inflammatory and helps to thin the mucus secretions. Be careful of supplementing with Vitamin E because it is a fat soluble vitamin, so is able to be stored in the body. Foods high in Vitamin E include almonds, egg yolk, sunflower seeds, beef and corn.
Quercetin – Found in foods such as blueberries, cherries, blackberries, apples, grapes and onions, Quercetin is great to help reduce the inflammation associated with hay fever.
Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapple, which can help boost the immune system. It is anti-inflammatory and helps to break down and thin the mucus secretions. The bromelain is mainly found in the core of the pineapple, but is also found in the flesh.
Papain is another enzyme which is found in Paw Paw and has similar actions to Bromelain.
There are also some wonderful herbs that are anti allergic, like Nigella sativa, Albizia lebbeck and Baical skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis). Taking herbs should be under the guidance of a qualified herbalist.
So if you suffer from hay fever, try these natural remedies before opting for the over the counter anti histamines.
By Andrea Southern, Naturopath, Nutritionist, Herbalist at Stafford and The Gap in Brisbane. For an appointment phone 0412 791 705