Hay fever or Allergic Rhinitis is a problem affecting around 10-30% of the UK adult population and as many as 40% of children! At this time of year when the temperature rises, we all want to enjoy the warmer days getting out and about. However, with the warmer temperatures also brings higher pollen counts, creating misery for many of those hay fever sufferers.
Natural strategies for overcoming hay fever is an extremely common question here at Therapy Organics at this time of year, so we thought we would provide you with a quick rundown of my top tips to help you get out and enjoy the outdoors.
It starts with Gut Health as with many conditions, balancing digestive health is critical to lay the foundations for good health. Our gut flora provides the first line of defence against external allergens and also most of our immune cells start life in the gut.
Both probiotics and fermented foods may be a helpful strategy as a foundation nutritional programme to alleviate hay fever.
The word Rhinitis comes from the Greek for nose with the ending 'itis' implying inflammation. Where this is inflammation present in a condition, anything to activate anti-inflammatory pathways may be helpful. One common food, much renowned at the moment for its anti-inflammatory benefit is turmeric but the more accessible ginger is also a potent anti-inflammatory. These foods can be used in your foods, juices or steeped as a tea. Where these foods are less used in the diet, then supplements with stronger extracts and cofactors for absorption may be helpful.
We also should evaluate essential fat balance when it comes to inflammation. Omega 6 fats such as those from animal fats should be moderated due to their pro-inflammatory effect and omega 3 fats such as those from oily fish or flaxseed should be well represented in the diet due to their anti-inflammatory effect.
In hay fever sufferers, the pollen creates an IgE mediated mast cell reaction followed by a late stage Th2 immune response and histamine release . It is therefore important to look at immune modulation and how we can use natural therapeutics in this area. Firstly, quercetin, a flavonoid found in grapefruit, apples and onions may be helpful to reduce mast cell secretions, thereby having natural anti-histamine activity.
Nettles have also shown natural anti-histamine potential and are a gift of nature given that they are currently in season! Nettle can be used in supplement form but for those who love the wild, get your gardening gloves on and pick out the nettle tips before they start to flower to make your own nettle tea! Pick them away from any known dog walking routes and give them a little wash first just in case!
Pycnogenol, derived from the French Maritime Pine tree also has proven potential but best results are shown when this is taken in supplemental form 7-8 weeks prior to onset of seasonal allergies . It's also worth noting that pycnogenol also has also shown clinical use for improvement of skin elasticity and hydration, nice!
Lastly, but by no means least is yummy Raw Local Honey. Studies on its efficacy are limited, potentially due to the fact that local beekeepers wouldn't have the money to invest in such research yet anecdotal evidence based on feedback from our customers would suggest good efficacy. However, one small scale study did show promise using a birch pollen honey for birch pollen allergy with a 60% reduction in the total symptom score of sufferers, showing promise for further research in this area.
Again, in my experience efficacy is best with daily intake prior to onset of the season. Wishing all of our customers good health and happiness with fun outdoors.
Jackie Coldwell is co-Director of Therapy Organics, and leads the Nutrtional Therapy Team.See more Articles by Jackie
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