Hay fever is definitely on the rise. It was extremely rare in the 1930s, affecting only 3% of children. Experts in immunology and allergies have calculated that more than one in four Britons is a now sufferer.
I can’t think of any of our friends where there isn’t at least one member of the family with some sort of allergies.
I went to my daughter’s sports day recently and noticed the teachers going along a line of children, saying “Have you taken your antihistamines/asthma medication?” Allergies are part of our everyday life now…
What is Hay Fever?
Hay Fever (also known as allergic rhinitis) is an allergic reaction to airborne irritants, such as grass, tree or flower pollen. These allergens trigger a reaction, which causes swelling of the nasal membrane and the production of the antibodies, which release histamine. It is this chemical substance that is responsible for the characteristic allergy symptoms.
What are the symptoms?
- Itchy eyes/throat
- Runny nose
- Red, itchy eyes
- Headaches, blocked sinuses
- Shortness of breath, wheezing
Symptoms will vary depending on the pollen count. The timing of the symptoms will depend on the type of pollen at fault. (If unsure, see your kinesiologist to test for environmental allergens)
I’ve been using kinesiology to treat hay fever for a number of years and I noticed that babies born in the spring, when more pollen is in the air, are more likely to develop hay fever later in life.
When a client comes to my clinic with presenting symptoms of hay fever, I immediately check two areas; the health of the gut and its corresponding immune system as there appears to be a strong link between the severity of allergies and the these two systems.
I always recommend restoring a healthy balance of gut flora with histamine-degrading strains of probiotics.
Furthermore, in all cases of acute hay fever, I test for psychological and emotional relevance. Very often I find underlying emotional issues that manifest the onset of hay fever.
- Antihistamines: these are the most commonly used allergy medications, they are available over the counter from a pharmacy without prescription
It’s important to remember that antihistamines don’t cure the allergies, they just ‘treat’ or suppress the symptoms. I always inform my clients to be cautious with taking antihistamines as they my cause drowsiness, loss of concentration, and it has been found that long-term use of antihistamines can lead to depression and even dementia.
Warning! Antihistamines are not recommended for people with high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney or liver disease, glaucoma, thyroid problems, or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Nasal spray, drops and washes: the problem with these is that they contain preservatives and toxic ingredients. Some of these may act as irritants – or the pH (acidity or alkalinity) of the preparation might cause problems.
Fortunately, there are effective natural alternatives for allergy treatment. Here are some of the ones I recommend:
Natural Remedies for Hay Fever
Vitamin D: has a very important function in the immune system. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with seasonal allergies.
Magnesium: When checking vitamin D levels, it is important to take Magnesium into consideration. Vitamin D cannot be metabolised without sufficient magnesium levels. Magnesium is important with regard to histamine metabolism.
Vitamin C with bioflavonoids: this is extremely important for strengthening the immune system. Vitamin C calms allergic reactions and is also anti-inflammatory.
Omega-3 Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial to help to support a healthy balanced immune system. The increased incidence of allergic conditions has recently been associated with the over-consumption of pro- inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids in relation to anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. It is very important that you have a healthy balance of these fatty acids. (If you’d like to test your omega 3 and 6 ratio, there’s a very simple finger prick blood test that you can do here.)
Supplementing daily with good quality Omega 3 oil is a MUST as it has a powerful, positive effect in seasonal allergies. It is important to ensure the oil you are taking is fresh and pure, otherwise it could actually do you more harm than good. Over the years I tested numerous omega oils and I found this one to be the purest and most effective.
Spirulina: The anti-histamine effects of spirulina are one of its many health benefits. Regular consumption of spirulina reduces allergic rhinitis symptoms such as nasal mucous and congestion, as well as itching.
Garlic: It contains Quercetin, a bioflavonoid, which is a natural antihistamine and is a potent antioxidant that promotes a healthy inflammatory response.
I often recommend high potency garlic for my hay fever sufferer clients, however many people experience digestive discomfort after taking garlic. Please check with your kinesiologist before taking garlic supplements.
Probiotics Research comparing the gut flora ofallergic and non-allergic children found that children with allergies tended to have an increased abundance of Staphylococcus, Clostridium, and Escherichia species, while numbers of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria were significantly reduced compared to healthy children.
Supplementing with probiotics can prevent the onset of allergic reactions and improve the symptoms of hay fever.
Bee Pollen: High in protein, as well as other antioxidants and vitamins, it is one of nature’s perfect superfoods. Bees go from flower to flower collecting pollen to bring back to the hive where they create the granules. Bee pollen actually reduces histamine, which is the same target over -the-counter medications act upon. It can be effective for a wide range of respiratory diseases, ranging from asthma to chronic sinus infections. It’s best to takewith food, especially fruit. The fruit fibres will activate the pollen faster and cleanse the colon simultaneously.
Mullein: This is my favourite herbal remedy for hay fever! It contains ear, nose and throat soothing mucilage. It also has chemicals called saponins that have an expectorant effect.
- Stinging nettle tea: For the runny nose and watery, itchy eyes of allergic rhinitis.
- Elderflowers tea: Strengthen immune resistance with elderflower tea for some weeks before the pollen season starts.
- Butterbur (Petasites hybridus): For treatment of allergies, asthma and migraines. Compared to the drug Zyrtec and Piriton for hay fever, 4 to 5 doses of butterbur daily have been shown to be as effective, less sedating and have fewer side effects.
- Kinesiology and homeopathy can reduce allergic responsiveness in many people.
Euphrasia: This remedy is indicated when the eyes are the most affected area and run with a hot, burning discharge that can make them red and swollen.
Nux Vomica: this is indicated when the nose runs during the day and is blocked during the night. Lots of sneezing with itchy nose and ears.
Pulsatilla: is for hay fever with thick, bland discharges from the eyes or nose. It’s great to use for hay fever when child is clingy and miserable.
I recommend that all hay fever sufferers go on a low-histamine, anti-inflammatory diet in order to reduce the severity of allergy symptoms. Certain type of foods can make symptoms much worse, so identifying and eliminating those food items is an important part of an overall plan.
Low histamine level foods:
- Fresh meat (cooled, frozen or fresh)
- Freshly caught fish
- Chicken (skinned and fresh)
- Egg yolk
- Fresh fruits – with the exception of strawberries, most fresh fruits are considered to have a low histamine level
- Fresh vegetables – with the exception of tomatoes
- Grains – rice noodles, yeast free rye bread, rice crisp bread, oats, puffed rice crackers, millet flour, pasta (spelt and corn based)
- Milk substitutes – coconut milk, rice milk
- Cream cheese, butter (without the histamine generating rancidity)
- Most cooking oils
- Most leafy herbs
- Most non-citric fruit juices
- Herbal teas
High histamine level foods:
- Pickled or canned foods – sauerkrauts
- Matured cheeses
- Smoked meat products – salami, ham, sausages
- Beans and pulses – chickpeas, soy beans, peanuts
- Nuts – walnuts, cashew nuts
- Chocolates and other cocoa based products
- Ready meals
- Salty snacks, sweets with preservatives and artificial colourings
Recommended anti-inflammatory, immune supporting foods:
- Blueberries, blackberries, purple grapes, blackcurrants, raspberries; these have powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. They also contain high quantities of vitamin C and quercetin, making them an excellent anti-inflammatory agent.
- Garlic, onions and ginger: these are high in quercetin, vitamin c and biotin. Ginger slows down histamine production.
Tips for reducing exposure to pollen and environmental allergens:
- Monitoring pollen forecasts daily and staying indoors with the windows closed when the count is high (generally on warmer, dry days). Rain washes pollen from the air so counts are normally lower on cooler, wet days
- Avoiding drying washing on a clothes-line outside when pollen counts are high
- High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. These remove particles of pollen from the air by forcing it through screens with microscopic pores.
If you have any questions regarding hay fever, supplements/dosage mentioned above, or any other health matters, please do contact me (Aniko) by email at any time firstname.lastname@example.org
Further reading If you need more tips on strengthening the immune system, read my blog ‘How to boost your child’s immune system naturally’ here