Hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, is a result of your immune system reacting to increasing levels of pollen in the air. This creates inflammation and irritation throughout your respiratory tract, including your nose, mouth, throat and eyes.

Why does hay fever occur?

In cases of hay fever, there is an increased release of a chemical in your body called histamine. Histamine is secreted by specific immune cells, called mast cells, in response to a ‘trigger’ such as pollen or dust. Excess histamine in the body leads to itching, swelling and excess mucus production. This reaction is simply your body trying to protect itself from the trigger, but due to certain diet, lifestyle and environmental factors, our immune systems tend to over-react, and the allergic response needs to be calmed.

What symptoms are associated with hay fever?

Not sure if you experience hay fever? Symptoms include:

  • Watery or itchy eyes
  • Runny nose with clear discharge
  • Swollen nasal passages
  • Sneezing
  • Headaches
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Irritability or depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia

These symptoms will often only occur for you on days of high pollen count, most often in Spring and Summer (or around the same time every year). If you experience these symptoms all-year-round, you may be having an allergic response to another trigger, such as dust or mould.

Natural Treatments

The most common treatment that people reach for if hay fever is getting the better of them is an over-the-counter anti-histamine. These will be effective as they reduce the levels of histamine active in your body, so the symptoms are alleviated. However, these very potent anti-histamines can also cause undesired side effects, and many hay fever sufferers are now looking for natural alternatives to help with their symptoms.

Here are our top 3 nutritional supplements for hay fever:

  • Quercetin

In recent research, Quercetin has been shown to prevent the release of histamine from mast cells and other immune cells, making it one of nature’s greatest anti-histamines. Remember, excess histamine will be causing a lot of your hay fever symptoms.

Quercetin will also help to ease the high inflammation associated with your hay fever flare-ups, and act as an antioxidant to help protect your cells from damage.

Additionally, Quercetin exerts beneficial anti-bacterial and anti-viral action to further protect your immune system and help fight infection.

  • Vitamin C (plus Bioflavonoids)

Ah, is there anything that Vitamin C isn’t useful for?! As well as supporting your entire immune system through optimising white blood cell function and protecting your respiratory tissues, it also acts as an anti-allergic that supports the inhibition of histamine.

Using Vitamin C for respiratory illnesses, including hay fever, may reduce the amount of nasal discharge and any airway blockages or swelling that is present.

  • Vitamin E

When histamine levels are high, causing troublesome hay fever, there’s also an increase in other chemicals which encourage inflammation to the histamine-concentrated tissues. Vitamin E has been shown to be a useful nutrient to ease this inflammatory response, which is specifically related to high histamine levels.

Like Quercetin and Vitamin C, Vitamin E is also an important antioxidant in your body.

Check out our online store or give us a call on (03) 9576 3077 to shop our range of nutritional supplements and products for hay fever.

Herbs for Hay Fever

Once you’ve covered your nutritional bases, herbal medicines may be useful to further support balancing your immune response and calming down allergic reactions. Some of our favourite anti-allergic herbs include:

  • Albizia lebbeck (Albizia)

A well-known anti-allergic herb that is useful for seasonal hay fever as well as eczema and asthma. It can help to reduce inflammation and itching associated with hay fever.

  • Baical skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis)

A fantastic herb for any inflammatory conditions where there also exists an allergic component – perfect for hay fever! Baical skullcap has exhibited improvement in cases of allergic reactions and asthma, as well as the common cold, fevers and cough.

  • Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis)

While Albizia and Baical Skullcap work on the underlying allergic response for hay fever, Eyebright is particularly good for easing the symptoms in your upper respiratory tract (eyes, nose, sinuses, throat). It can help clear the mucus build up in your sinuses and nasal passages, and also reduce sneezing and inflammation of the eyes.

Please speak to our friendly in-store naturopaths to discuss whether these herbs would be suitable for you. You can email us or call on (03) 9576 3077. When appropriate, we can make up a lovely herbal mix (tincture or tea blend) that’s specially tailored to you.

An important note on prevention

While the above natural supplements can work wonderfully to reduce your symptoms and help you feel better, it’s crucial to consider the underlying causes for your immune hyper-sensitivity. Working one-on-one with a naturopath or natural healthcare practitioner can be a great way to discover what’s driving your unique symptoms. For example, food allergies or intolerances, chemical sensitivities, mould exposure or dormant infections in the body can all contribute to hay fever severity and should be addressed. Click here to see our practitioners who can help you at Botanica

It’s also important to limit your exposure to pollen wherever possible, to reduce the frequency of your body entering that inflammatory and allergic state. When this recurs repeatedly, it can lead to chronic issues like sinusitis, migraine, asthma, and even depression. Here’s how you can reduce your pollen exposure:

  1. Use a good app such as AusPollen or WeatherZone to check the daily pollen count in your area, and stay indoors as much as possible when pollen counts are very high or extreme.
  2. When you are indoors or in your car on high pollen days, keep all windows and doors closed as much as possible.
  3. Shower before bed to wash any pollen from the day off (especially from your face and hair).

We hope you’ve found these tips helpful! As always, our in-store naturopaths are happy to answer any questions you may have about natural medicines and your health. Contact us here.

Resources

Bone, K. (2003). A Clinical Guide To Blending Liquid Herbs. St. Louis, Missouri: Churchill Livingstone.

Hechtman, L. (2016). Clinical Naturopathic Medicine. Chatswood, New South Wales: Elsevier: Churchill Livingstone.

Jafarinia, M., Hosseini, M. ., Kasiri, N., Fazel, N., Fathi, F., Hakemi, M. ., & Eskandari, N.