Condition - Hay Fever
Does the onset of summer make you rush for the tissues to stop constant sniffles and sneezes? If so, follow our guide to tackle your allergies and make the most of the warmer weather ahead.
Known as the ‘modern epidemic’, allergies appear to be on the increase. One in five people in the UK, for example, suffer from hay fever. The symptoms can include itchy eyes, sneezing, a blocked and runny nose, itchy skin, ears and throat, coughing and wheezing. An allergic reaction happens when your immune system, which protects your body from attack by foreign substances such as viruses and bacteria, reacts to harmless substances. Allergens can range from pollen to dust, animal fur and even food. During an allergic response, chemicals, such as histamine, are released. These are responsible for the familiar red, watery eyes, sneezing and itchy, runny nose.
The conventional approach involves taking medications designed to open the airways, reduce inflammation and lower histamine. While these may offer some relief, they can cause drowsiness and other side effects. Fortunately, there are a number of natural solutions available, which may help you through the summer season.
The first approach is to support your immune system. Take a daily multivitamin and mineral formula to provide essential nutrients, which the immune system needs to function. As vitamin A is important for the mucus membranes, include plenty of eggs and oily fish, as well as fruit and vegetables rich in beta carotene, in your diet. It’s also worth including an antioxidant supplement containing vitamins C and E, beta carotene and the minerals selenium and zinc. Green tea, alpha lipoic acid and lycopene are also powerful antioxidants and are commonly included in supplements for this reason. For eye comfort, choose one rich in lutein, zeaxanthin or astaxanthin.
Quercetin is a bioflavonoid found in foods such as onions, citrus fruits, tea and apples. It is known to support immunity and is an especially helpful support for those who have allergies, including hay fever.
Bromelain is a protein-digesting enzyme found in pineapples. It aids the absorption of quercetin and also has anti-inflammatory properties. Its protein-digesting properties may be particularly useful for breaking down mucus, which is often associated with allergic reactions.
Vitamin C is helpful for maintaining healthy, clear airways. It also works synergistically with quercetin and helps support immune function.
Essential fats can have a beneficial, calming effect on those with allergies. Supplementing with fish oil; or flax seed, hemp or an essential balance oil; and including oily fish, nuts and seeds in your diet can help improve essential fatty acid intake.
Salt has been used for centuries as an aid for the respiratory tract. Breathing in salt-saturated air may help maintain healthy airways. A trip to the seaside or using a Saltpipe will keep the airways clear.
Aloe vera gel has been used for many years, for its soothing and calming benefits, on sensitive skin.
It is also worth protecting yourself as much as possible. Tough as it can be on a beautiful summer’s day, if there’s a high pollen count, it’s often better for hay fever sufferers to stay indoors with the windows closed. If you have to venture out, try to avoid peak pollen times (first thing in the morning and the early evening).