Bless you! It’s that time of year again peeps, the season of sneezing, itchy eyes and runny noses. For those of us who suffer with hay fever, late March time marks the entrance of tree pollen season, followed by grass pollen from the end of spring until summer time, and weed pollen from autumn time.
But what is hay fever? Here’s just a little bit of science for you. Hay fever is also known as allergic rhinitis; it is a common atopic condition and mostly occurs when high concentrations of pollens are released during late spring and summer, especially in hot weather. The symptoms of hay fever are caused by the release of histamine and other inflammatory chemicals into the blood stream.
Hay fever is usually worse in the morning and evening, which coincides with the changes in air temperature. House dust and animal hair can also produce a similar reaction. The allergic condition is thought to affect around one in five people in the UK at some point in their lives.
Hay fever is often genetic (as well as eczema and asthma) and will manifest itself when your immunity at its lowest (e.g. after long period of stress; after a long illness; in cases of dysbiosis and in people suffering with celiac disease). It is always better to prevent rather than treat the symptoms of hay fever. But what can you do to prevent hay fever?
Your hay fever prevention plan is best started around 2-4 months before the hay fever season which affects you the most, to ensure that your body is prepared to withstand upcoming waves of airborne irritants. It’s important to always consult your doctor before starting any new programme of herbal remedies or alternative treatments. Here are a few tips to get you ready for hay fever season:
- Take immune-supporting herbs such as echinacea and elderberry (15-20 drops of tincture, depending on the concentration, 3 times a day)
- Include in your daily diet 1 dessert spoon of local honey (preferably in honeycombs) with each meal (to strengthen the immune system)
- Drink elderflower tea (to reduce inflammation and support mucus membranes)
- Include ginger, garlic, thyme, and marigold a part of your diet to help balance gut flora.
And what can you do when you have already started with hay fever symptoms? Here are some of my top tips:
- Take immune-supporting herbs such as echinacea and elderberry (15-20 drops of tincture, depending on the concentration, 3 -5 times a day)
- Drink elderflower and nettle tea (to reduce inflammation and support mucus membranes) see details on how to make this below
- Make ginger, garlic, thyme and marigold a part of your diet to help balancing gut flora
- Cut down (or cut out) wheat/gluten, and dairy products in your diet as they may contribute to an allergic reaction and inflammation
- Include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetable to ensure regular bowel movements
- Ensure you have a good daily intake of fluids to support elimination of toxins from the body.
How to make elderflower/nettle tea: Use 1 heaped teaspoonful of dried herbs (50:50 of elderflower : nettle) per cupful of boiling water. Cover and allow infusing for at least 5 minutes. Then strain and drink warm. This tea can be taken every 3 hours in times of acute symptoms.
After incorporating natural herbal remedies into your daily routine, you should find your hay fever symptoms start to show signs of improvement. But if you still find you’re suffering, it may be worth considering having a detailed consultation with a qualified medical herbalist.
Blog by Natalia Williams, MPharm BSc (Hons) MNIMH. Natalia is a registered Medical Herbalist and owner of the Living Herbal practice, providing herbal medicine healthcare in Leeds, West Yorkshire.
You should always consult your GP or a physician with expertise in herbs before treating yourself with herbal teas or remedies or mixing them with any medications.