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Preparing for the hay fever season

What is hay fever?

Hay fever is an allergy caused by Pollen. Pollen is the fine powder produced by plants, trees and flowers to fertilise other plants, trees and flowers of the same species. Grass pollen is the most common cause of hay fever and is evident from about May to July (late spring to early summer). Tree pollen tends to affect people from March to May (early to late spring) each year. There are also weed pollen allergies such as nettles and this is usually from early spring to early autumn.

How do you know you have Hay fever?

The symptoms that you may experience mimic cold like symptoms such as runny nose (rhinitis), watery eyes (conjunctivitis), problems with sinuses and throat can be affected too. Symptoms are due to the immune system reacting to the pollen. Cells on the lining of the nose and eyes release histamines and other chemicals when they come into contact with pollen. This causes inflammation bringing about the symptoms of a runny nose (rhinitis) and red, watery and puffy eyes (conjunctivitis). If your immune system is low then people may be more susceptible to getting hay fever.

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Treating Hay fever with Orthodox medicine

Orthodox medicine tends to treat hay fever by giving antihistamine drugs in a nasal spray or tablet form. The corticosteroids (antihistamine drug) treat hay fever by blocking the action of the chemical histamine, which the body releases when it is under attack from the pollen. This prevents the symptoms of itching, sneezing and watery eyes, but may not help clear a blocked nose. So whilst the drugs are preventing hay fever symptoms they are also causing other symptoms such as irritation and dryness of the nose, nose bleeds, an unpleasant taste in the mouth and/or itchy skin rash around the nose, these are all side effects.

However, if you choose to treat hay fever naturally through Naturopathy, the process of treating the symptoms are different.

Treating Hay Fever with Naturopathy (naturally)

Naturopathy treats the whole person and not just some of its parts. When we are confronted with presenting symptoms of hay fever we do not just look at the symptoms but look at the underlying causes that have lead to these symptoms. Since hay fever is related to immunity and inflammation, we may initially look at the reasons why the individual is having these immune responses.

Food is the fuel to our body so eating the correct kind of foods can help build the immune system. Certain foods are considered inflammatory foods, meaning they tend to provoke inflammatory processes in the body causing the body to have a lower immunity to fight off toxins from the environment (such as pollen). These foods are usually white in colour, potatoes, white bread, rice, pasta and sugar. Substituting these foods in their whole form will have a different chemical reaction in the body. Whole grains such as brown rice, brown bread, brown pasta and honey are considered less inflammatory although avoiding grains altogether will provide the most benefit. Some people can have food intolerances and typically these are wheat, dairy products, eggs and citrus fruit (especially oranges) which can exacerbate the symptoms. Reducing or avoiding these foods are then important in reducing or preventing hay fever symptoms.

Equally important, reducing your exposure to foods that have additives, preservatives and are sprayed with pesticides (non-organic) are also important aspects of diet to consider.

Other important Tips:

Garlic and onions are high in flavoniod quercetin, help reduce severity of allergic reactions.
Nettle tea helps reduce allergic rhinitis (runny nose)
Having freshly squeezed vegetable juice (especially beetroot, garlic, ginger, artichokes, apples and carrots) helps build the immune system and help eliminate toxins.
Berries such as blueberries and blackberries have high bioflavonoids which are important in protectors of the mucus membranes (in the nose area) and reducing inflammation.
Reducing the amount of low quality or non organic meat in the diet has also shown to reduce symptoms of hay fever.
Increasing oily fish or taking fish oil supplements may also help reduce inflammation in the body.

 

Preparing the body for the months of high pollen count does not only possibly prevent causes of hay fever but also helps to reduce symptoms.

Why not see a naturopath that could support you in building and strengthening your immune system and in the long run prevent any hay fever symptoms while not have to deal with other side effects?!

About The Author
Maria Panayi naturopathMaria is the naturopath at Ashley James Health and has been working throughout North London for several years, she has great experience working with children naturopathically as well as people suffering with depression and gynaecological issues. As a naturopath, Maria has the skills and tools you need to be able to strengthen your immune system and reduce your hay fever symptoms!

If you would like to find out more about Maria, have a look at her website, Naturopathy For Life

References:

Courtney, H., (2006). 500 of the most important health tips you’ll ever need. An A to Z of alternative health hints to help over 200 conditions. London: Cico Books.

NHS, (2011). NHS Choices: Treating Hay fever. Available from: <http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Hay-fever/Pages/Treatment.aspx>[Accessed on 30 April 2013].

Patient.co.uk, (2012). Hay Fever. Available from: <http://www.patient.co.uk/health/hay-fever>[Accessed on 30 April 2013].

Rosenkranz, R.R., Rosenkranz, S.K., Neessen, K.J., (2012). Dietary factors associated with lifetime asthma or hayfever diagnosis in Australian middle-aged and older adults: a cross-sectional study. Nutritional Jounal. 84 (11), 1475-2891.

Tratter, R., Jones, A., (2003). Better Health through Natural healing. How to get well without drugs or surgery. Australia: Hinkler Books.