Longer days, blue skies and frothy blooms on trees; all optimistic signs that the warmer months have arrived. However, alongside these delights comes a collection of symptoms that, for some, range from annoying to debilitating.
Hayfever occurs when:
“the immune system overreacts and releases chemicals such as histamine which cause inflammation. These work quickly, causing sneezing, itching and runny nose…” (Allergy UK)
Hay fever can come and go for many and often, irrespective of pollen count, you can suddenly get symptoms where before you didn’t. Out of desperation, most turn to drugs when their symptoms kick in and don’t even consider that there may be other options that don’t come annoying side effects like drowsiness and poor concentration. The other issue with drugs is that they don’t actually get to the heart of the issue, rather like sticking a plaster over a gaping wound. Conversely, natural solutions can work to temper the immune system and discourage excessive inflammation and histamine production, which often happens in those who have poor immunity, are stressed, overworked or may have taken medication such as antibiotics.
Reducing the Effects of Seasonal Allergies at Home
Short of chopping down every tree in your local area, switching from grass to AstroTurf and living in an ET style bubble, there isn’t a great deal you can do about the presence of environmental allergens. But what you can focus on is managing your body’s reaction to the pollen.
Reduce Histamine in the Diet
Amazingly, eating the wrong foods can also make produce more histamine, and this is because some foods actually contain histamine. These include the following, and you would be wise to limit these as much as possible during a flare up:
- Alcohol – Especially wine, champagne, cider, beer.
- Fermented foods – Cheeses, vinegars, pickles and pickled vegetables (including sauerkraut and kimchee), preserves, miso, soy sauce, tamari.
- Aged and smoked meats – salami, smoked salmon, anchovies etc.
- Leftovers – of anything (the older the food, the more histamine)
- Dark chocolate and cacao
- Coffee and tea
- Dried fruit
- Ripe fruits such as banana and avocado
- Citrus fruits
- Strawberries, cherries, tomatoes, aubergine and spinach
Increase Anti-histamine foods
Some foods are also anti-histamines, especially those rich in quercetin (an antioxidant believed to inhibit the release of the inflammatory histamine) and Vitamin C (an anti-inflammatory immune system booster) can be of significant benefit.
Aim to increase the following:
- All colourful fruits and vegetables (apart from those listed above) especially red onions and apples with skin.
- Zinc rich foods – sunflower seeds, poultry, fresh oily fish
- Magnesium rich foods – fresh nuts and seeds, broccoli, watercress, cabbage, chickpeas.
- Anti-inflammatory foods such as ginger, garlic, turmeric, olive oil,
If you struggle to eat enough of these, both quercetin, zinc, magnesium, vitamin C can also be taken as a supplement to boost your levels. Propalis from bees also helps – all of these are found in Equi supplements.
Practice Effective Sleep Hygiene
Getting a great night’s sleep is essential to the reduction of inflammation yet often frustratingly elusive courtesy of the discomfort and breathing issues caused by hayfever. Showering before bed during the high pollen season could help ease night time symptoms (you wash off pollen residues that may have settled on you during the daytime) and the closing of windows overnight can also help. We also recommend buying a new pillow if yours is over 4 years old and symptoms are bad a night.
Invest in an air purifier for your home
Clearly if pollens find their way onto you during the day, it’s fair to expect them to find their way into your house. More effective than wearing yourself out with constant cleaning (which is still unlikely to remove all pollen and spores) you may benefit from investing in an air purifier which filters out the pollen particles – remember to change filters regularly and look for a HEPA standard model.
Other ways to reduce the effects of seasonal allergies out and about
Whether it’s a quick trip to the shops or commuting to the office, it’s highly likely during hayfever season that outside of home you will encounter irritating pollen. You can help alleviate your symptoms and the amount of pollen introduced to your system in a few easy steps:
- To reduce the amount of pollen entering your system, pollen barrier balm can be dabbed around your nostrils, where it will trap pollen particles before they enter your airways.
- Also available are hayfever bands that target acupressure areas which are thought to help relieve symptoms. Whilst the science behind these is inconclusive, as inexpensive remedies go these may be worth trying.
- Herbs such as liquorice root, chamomile and nettle make wonderful, symptom reducing teas - ideal for popping in a flask and sipping on your travels.
Hayfever needn’t mean foul tasting concoctions, barrels of drugs and hiding away indoors; with these straightforward tips you could reduce your symptoms and importantly enjoy more of the warmer months. Bring on Summer!
Disclaimer: Certain supplements are used for different reasons and a one-size-fits-all approach shouldn’t be adopted. In addition, pregnant women and anyone on medication should always consult a doctor before embarking on a supplements programme.