Michael van Straten
Michael van Straten

Relieve Your Hay Fever

You wake on a bright spring day, the birds are singing, the cherry blossom’s blooming and you’re thinking of the first barbecue. It’s everybody’s dream but sadly not for the 20% of the population who suffer badly from hay fever, asthma and other allergies. Another 20% of you live with increasing chances of having some form of allergic response to pollen from a variety of plants.

If the coming months mean non-stop sneezing, sore eyes, itchy skin, scratchy throat and constant asthma, don’t despair of help.

There may not be a guaranteed cure but there’s lots of natural self help to ease the symptoms so you can enjoy the sunshine. Real hay fever is caused by grass pollens, but trees and flowering plants are culprits too, birch being one of the earliest.

Hay fever season starts earliest in the south, latest in Scotland but wherever you live, eating a couple of spoons of honey a day will help. It must come from your locality so it contains tiny amounts of the pollens which help desensitise you and reduce your symptoms.

Farm shops, delis and health stores are the place to look and you’ll even find beehives producing honey in city gardens

Vitamin C helps reduce symptoms too. Take 1 gram daily throughout the season but look for non-acidic ester-C products.

Butterbur is a traditional herbal remedy, which is now widely available as tablets in health stores and most pharmacies.

Anyone with hay fever should take 15 ml of Barleans organic flax seed oil daily. This anti-inflammatory oil soothes inflamed membranes.

There are many other foods that help with the discomfort. Eat lots of citrus fruits, blueberries and blackcurrants for extra vitamin C.

Make sure your diet includes olive oil, avocados and safflower oil for more anti-inflammatory soothing essential fatty acids. Eat as much as you can of garlic, leeks, onions, chives and spring onions which contain antibacterial chemicals to prevent infections.

Herbs and spices are valuable too. Ginger, horseradish and chilli help to clear sinuses, relieving headaches caused by congestion.

Thyme, rosemary and lemon balm attack bacteria and viruses so they are all important to help you avoid secondary infections.

For sore eyes buy extracts of the herb Eyebright. For sore throats gargle with sage tea – 6 chopped leaves in a cup, cool before use.

To stop a sneezing attack, sniff cold water up your nose then spit it out. Sounds disgusting but it washes away the pollen grains. Keep distilled water in the fridge and use in an eyebath for instant relief. Avoid mascara as pollen sticks to it and it gets in the eyes. If you suffer severely, undress and leave your clothes in the hall, and have a shower to remove pollen from your hair and skin.

A few practical steps will really help you join in the fun of spring and summer. Start by getting someone else to mow the lawn. Even if it’s hot keep car windows closed as sweating is better than sneezing. Air conditioning is great but at least fit your car with a fine filter in the heating system. Wear wrap around sunglasses to keep pollen away from the eyes and on bad days never go out without wearing a filter mask.


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