10 natural tips to avoid hay fever

Yay, the sun is here! But for some, that means misery and sniffles. According to Chemist4U, around 20% of people in the UK suffer from hay fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis. Symptoms often begin in childhood (although you can develop hay fever at any point during life), and include sore eyes, a blocked stuffy nose, itching, headaches, coughing and sneezing, which can be truly troublesome for sufferers.


What triggers hay fever?

Airborne particles are released from local trees, grasses and flowers that are inhaled. Some people only react to tree pollens (these are predominant from early to late spring), others to grass (late spring through to July) or to flower and weed pollens (early spring to early autumn). Allergic rhinitis may also occur due to dust mites, moulds or animal hair, and pollution could also be a cause but more research is needed.

Hay fever is caused when the inhaled pollen invades the body and is then perceived as a foreign attacker, causing an overstimulated immune response and the release of histamine. This is a malfunctioning of the immune system where usually harmless environmental substances are interpreted as being destructive - causing the immune system to react incorrectly towards them.

Conventional treatment focuses on antihistamine drugs to block the release of histamine from the mast cells lining the nose and throat, thereby reducing the symptoms. However, these just mask the symptoms.

Long-term use of medications may not be ideal as they work like a defence mechanism of the body to protect us from truly harmful pathogens. Also in doing this, these drugs can damage the delicate mucosal lining that is covered with billions of friendly bacteria. These gut flora are responsible for 70% of the total body's immune system. An altered gut flora, or a less diverse range of species, has been observed in those suffering from allergic diseases.

A potential cause

Hay fever has increased over the years in the population and some people put that down to the 'hygiene hypothesis'. This hypothesis is based on the fact that we are not subjected to enough bacteria as a baby/child in order to build up a strong immune system.

By being overly clean and using antibacterial sprays and wipes, we are destroying all the bacteria - including the friendly ones that could be protecting us. By letting your baby eat dirt, they build up a resistance to the nasty bacteria that may strike in the future, and they will be more equipped to fight off infection.

Did you know?

  • People with asthma and eczema are more likely to develop hay fever. The three conditions are classed as atopic conditions or atopy.
  • If your parents have an allergy, you may be prone to a different allergy.
  • 70% of your immune system is comprised in your gut.

Natural remedies to relieve and prevent hay fever

1. Eat healthier

Poor digestive health can have an impact on the severity of hay fever. Eating slowly in a relaxed atmosphere (not in front of the TV) and chewing your food thoroughly can improve digestion immensely. Also, cooking with lots of lovely natural flavours such as onions, garlic, cayenne pepper, ginger and turmeric, and consuming Omega three fatty acids in oily fish and flaxseed, are said to contain natural anti-inflammatory compounds.

2. Get out in the sun

It's a catch-22 situation because hay fever sufferers tend to stay indoors to avoid pollen. However, 20 minutes of sunshine a day without sunscreen can build up natural levels of vitamin D to support the immune system.

But, of course, ensure you check the pollen count on the forecast and do stay indoors if it is particularly bad, closing the windows and doors. At the very least, don't plan on gardening that day!

3. Avoid dehydration

Drinking two litres of water and herbal teas could be a solution. Histamine is naturally produced when we are dehydrated to cause an increase in thirst. Wheat, dairy, sugar, alcohol and caffeine all cause stress and dehydration on the body, so alternatives to these should be found.

4. Ditch the dairy

Foods to avoid are milk and sugar as they create a build-up of mucus and catarrh.

5. Reject the NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)

I realise this is difficult and sometimes impossible but, if you can avoid taking painkillers, try to. NSAIDs (e.g. aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen) cause damage to the intestinal wall and the friendly bacteria. This can lead to leaky gut and cause a hypersensitive immune response.

6. Eat a rainbow-coloured amount of fruit and vegetables

Immune support in nutrients such as vitamins A, C and E, zinc and selenium, and antioxidants are said to help prevent the release of inflammatory chemical histamine. Choosing a rainbow-coloured basket of vegetables and salads when you go shopping will provide you with this.

7. Look after your liver

Overloading the body with toxins and chemicals (which we are subjected to every day) will cause more stress and dehydration, weakening the immune system and affecting the liver. Excess chemicals will make the liver's job a lot more difficult and is more likely to cause hay fever and allergies.

8. Get a bee in your bonnet

Eating a spoonful of local honey daily during the build-up to hay fever season can build your immune system to the local pollen. So get shopping at your local farmers market!

9. Try natural remedies

  • Quercetin and Bromelain works as an anti-inflammatory agent by deactivating enzymes that produce inflammation and strengthening cell walls that would normally release histamines into the bloodstream.
  • Camomile contains natural antihistamines that can fight against histamines in the bloodstream.
  • Nettle contains biologically active compounds that reduce inflammation.
  • A neti pot flushes out the pollen sitting in the nostrils.
  • Pine bark extract blocks histamine release from mast cells.

10. Eat probiotics

Build up the immune system by putting those friendly bacteria back in. There are thousands of species of bacteria that we have no idea about, so taking a multi-strain of probiotics will help. Also eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kombucha and live yoghurt (prebiotics) can help the gut to produce friendly flora.

For more tailored one-to-one support, get in touch today.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Nutritionist Resource are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Brighton BN2 & Hove BN3
Written by Jayne Hopper, Dip CNM mBANT CNHC
Brighton BN2 & Hove BN3

I am a naturopathic nutritional therapist, hypnotherapist and NLP practitioner.

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