Treating hay fever naturally
Treating hay fever naturally
By Chantelle Bell, Naturopath at Ascot Vale Natural Therapies.
Spring is such a beautiful time of year, it allows us to break free from our winter shackles, enjoy more daylight and feel the sun’s warmth on our skin. But for some it can be an extremely uncomfortable time of year.
Do you get a runny and itchy nose, watery and red eyes, sneezing and the feeling that your face is about 10 times bigger than normal? Yep, that’s hay fever or allergic rhinitis, a huge immune inflammatory response in the body triggered by the pollens and seeds released from flowers, grasses, trees and weeds at spring time.
The immune system is trying to do the right thing by you; it releases large amounts of histamine, mast cells and eosinophils, which kick the symptoms into overdrive. The way the immune system sees it is that by increasing mucous production and sneezing, it’s going to flush and blow out all of the invading allergens. It can be quite debilitating and some people refuse to leave their homes to avoid an attack.
Let’s look at ways you can treat hay fever naturally.
- Vitamin C – a powerful nutrient that helps with the breakdown of histamine and will therefore help by reducing symptoms. Vitamin C rich foods also contain high amount of bioflavonoids.
- Bioflavonoids – such as quercetin, rutin, and hesperidin – help reduce the symptoms of an allergy by inhibiting the release and transport of inflammatory substances from the immune system.
- Vitamin E – helps to reduce the allergic response by modulating mast cells, which can get a bit hyper and lead to an increased inflammatory response, therefore reducing a blocked nose and mucous production.
When incorporating the foods listed below, into your diet, try to eat them raw or gently steamed as the cooking process can reduce their nutrient content.
VITAMIN C RICH FOODS
BIOFLAVANOID RICH FOODS
VITAMIN E RICH FOODS
Green leafy vegetables
PREBIOTIC RICH FOODS
- There are two herbs that possess anti-allergic properties that can be quite useful in the treatment of hay fever: Albizia has been found to stabilise mast cells, while Baical skullcap helps reduce the inflammation in rhinitis.
- NAC – N-acetylcysteine – helps with the breakdown of thick mucous within the nasal passages and down-regulates the immune system’s inflammatory response.
- Probiotics – in particular Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG strains. These two strains of probiotics have been used in clinical studies for hay fever and were found to reduce the incidences of runny and blocked noses.
- Prebiotics – these guys provide an energy source to the probiotics in our gut. A huge part of our immune system is within our gut and if our good to bad bacteria ratio is out of balance, it can have a negative effect on our health, especially our immune system. By including prebiotic foods in our diet we can encourage the body’s own growth of probiotics. Prebiotics supplements such as lactulose, fructooligosaccharides, galactooligosaccharides and arabinogalactans can help balance out the ratio by reducing bad bacteria and increasing good bacteria.
- Saline spray can be useful to help flush away any pollen, dander or dust that may be stuck in the nasal passages. The sodium will also provide an anti-inflammatory effect in the mucous membranes within the nasal passages.
- Remove the cause – naturopathically speaking, our aim is to find the cause of the problem and begin treatment there. In this case, it’s not that easy to remove the cause but some factors in the home can definitely aggravate it. For example, heavy curtains and carpets can trap pollens, animal dander and dust and when they are opened and closed and walked on the pollens, dander and dust are loosened and therefore put them back into circulation, increasing your chance of inhaling them. If the carpets and curtains can’t be removed and replaced with blinds or floorboards, ensure that they are cleaned regularly.
I would recommend a consultation with a naturopath before taking any of the above steps, as some suggestions may not be recommended in pregnancy or in combination with certain medications.
Find out more about Chantelle and Ascot Vale Natural Therapies here.