It’s spring-time! Tender and energetic, exquisite and colourful, spring is the living picture of the beginning of life. The days are getting longer and warmer. Birds are returning and baby animals are all around. New leaves are starting to grow on trees and blossoms are coming out. Isn’t it just beautiful?
Spring is also the time for hay fever aka allergic rhinitis. It’s an allergic reaction to irritants such as pollen, dust, animal hair and pollution. This is when the immune system overreacts to irritants in people with a natural sensitivity. Hay fever can occur all year round but often occur seasonally, mostly in spring.
What are the symptoms?
If you have hay fever, you’ll be struggling with symptoms such as sneezing, a runny or stuffy nose, sinus congestion, headaches, and red, watery, irritated eyes.
The release of histamine and inflammatory chemicals cause these symptoms. They are signs of how the body reacts to allergens. Symptoms are generally worse in the morning and evening which coincides with temperature change. Genetics and a weak immune system is often a cause for hay fever.
You can prevent or control hay fever by reducing your contact with the allergens while working on reducing the body’s oversensitivity to the irritant.
Herbal remedies for Hay Fever:
Bring relief to allergic states and gradually reduce the allergic reaction by using herbs. They can be used to strengthen the mucous membranes as well as the immune system before the season starts, and provide symptomatic relief during the season.
Improve your immune system and help prevent allergies before the season with adaptogenic and immune boosting herbs such as Siberian Ginseng, Ashwagandha, Aloe Vera and Liquorice.
Echinacea is a wonder herb as it strengthens the immune system with its antihistamine, antioxidant, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. Echinacea wards off infections before and during the season. It acts as a decongestant and strengthens the respiratory system.
Chamomile, Lemon Balm, and Nettle contain antihistamine properties and may be used to sooth the allergic response as they inhibit the histamine production which is responsible for the inflammatory symptoms. These will help reduce symptoms once they start. Nettle, Thyme, and Echinacea can be used to help ease breathing.
Expectorant and decongestant herbs such as Liquorice, Lobelia and Fennel help break up and expel mucus from the body. Tone and desensitise your mucous membranes to allergens by using Elderflower or Plantain.
Detoxification herbs support the liver and help to expel unwanted toxins caused by the allergic response, these herbs include milk thistle and dandelion root.
Herbs can be taken as a tea or tincture.
Aromatherapy for Hay Fever:
Aromatherapy is another great way to control and relieve an allergic reaction. Use essential oils in a diffuser, diluted on the skin, in the bath or by inhaling them from the container.
Allergies can be treated with Lavender, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree and Peppermint essential oils. All of these have anti-inflammatory properties to relieve your hay fever symptoms as well as open up the airway to aid breathing.
Adjust your diet:
It’s important to eat foods that support the immune system and which contain natural antihistamines. These will help to reduce the symptoms as well as prevent them.
Foods high in Vitamin C, such as oranges, broccoli, kiwi, and tomatoes boost the immune system and reduce allergic reactions.
Battle hay fever symptoms by eating foods packed with quercetin, which is a natural antihistamine and has anti-inflammatory properties, examples are onions and apples.
Seeds that are high in omega 3 and 6 contain anti-inflammatory properties and help to prevent allergies in susceptible people.
Modulate your immune response, reduce congestion and stimulate circulation to alleviate symptoms using culinary herbs such as ginger, garlic, turmeric and cayenne pepper.
Drink lots of water. Water keeps you hydrated, improves your circulation and combat symptoms of both sinusitis and allergies.
Reduce mucus-forming foods such as dairy, eggs, sugar, white flour, fatty foods, coffee and alcohol as they increase the susceptibility to allergens.
Remember everyone is unique and herbs will work differently in all of us. Meaning, what works for one, might not work for another. Therefore it’s important to play around with different herbs to see which work best for you.