Earlier this week, I received a call from a lady who was frantically trying to find a cure for her son’s hay fever (allergic rhinitis). His main symptoms were streaming eyes, sneezing, mucous, thick head and the inability to sleep well. Nothing from the chemist was touching it. This call spurred me to share some ideas for treating hay fever naturally.
The familiar symptoms of hay fever are caused by the release of histamine and other inflammatory chemicals usually worse in hot weather. Hay fever can be an atopic condition, meaning there is a hypersensitivity to developing a certain reaction to that stimulant, often occurring when immunity is lowered.
For most, it is already too late this year, however it is important to start with the treatment before the pollen season gets underway, as this helps the body to de-sentise the immune system prior to being hit by the many pollens that fill the air at this time of year. Therefore, boosting the immune system is a wise preventative. Local honey (1-2 tablespoons, 2-3 times daily) can be helpful, as well as Echinacea taken daily for approximately 1-2 months prior to the season beginning.
Anti-inflammatory herbs such as Tumeric (Curcuma), Nettle (Taraxacum officinale), Chamomile (Matricaria recucita), and Lemon Melissa (Melissa officinalis) will help reduce symptoms once they start. Elderflower (Sambuccus nigra), Plaintain (Plantago major) and Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) are helpful in de-sensitizing the mucous membranes to the allergens.
In general, you can help yourself by drinking organic Chamomile tea, organic Nettle tea or organic Lemon Melissa tea. These teas can be mixed together or drunk separately. If using the fresh ingredients, use the leaves to make an infusion with two spoons of leaves to 2 cups of water. Drink daily. When the elderflowers come out you can do they same with them also. In addition I recommend that you consult an herbalist who will take into consideration all symptoms, as well as the general state of health before preparing a herb mix for you specifically.
As mentioned hay fever causes hyperactivity of mucous membranes and therefore ensuring your diet avoids such foods will support the overall healing process. This includes all dairy products, fast foods and sugar, as well as any food additives, especially Tartrazine (E102) which is found in processed foods and surprisingly can be found in some vitamin supplements.
Taking vitamin C is also advisable, as it appears to reduce histamine production as well as boosting the immune system. Vitamin C is found in peppers, berries, citrus fruits and green vegetables from the cabbage family, amongst others. Not only are these foods high in vitamin C, but also carotenoids, thus providing Vitamin A as well as antioxidants. Selenium and Vitamin E is also important. The latter is found in nuts and seeds, whilst selenium is found in Brazil nuts, whole grains, many raw berries, and avocados.
- Start early by boosting the immune system
- Avoid mucous forming foods
- Drink herbal teas
- Consult a herbalist to make up a tincture which is taken daily
The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods - Drs Michael Murray and Joseph Pizzorno with Lara Pizzorno, MA, LMT
The Complete Herbal Tutor – Anne McIntryre
Encylopedia of Herbal Medicine – Andrew Chevalier, FNIMH