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Hay Fever: Impact, Treatment, Nutritional Considerations, and Recipes Ideas



Impact of Hayfever

 

Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is an allergic reaction to airborne substances such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander, or mould. These allergens cause the immune system to react, resulting in symptoms like sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, itchy eyes, throat, or ears, and general fatigue.  For some the impact on work activity and quality of life can be quite significant.  In 78% of cases it triggers asthma.

 

Drug Treatments for Hay fever

There are a range of medications available depending on the severity of the hay fever.  They include antihistamines which are the most common off the shelf medication, steroids, decongestants and leukotriene receptor antagonists which help to prevent hay fever and asthmatic symptoms.


Sadly, long term use of these products may be challenging for some and there is some anecdotal evidence that they may result in side effects.

 

Natural Treatments for Hay Fever

There is evidence (either scientific or anecdotal) that natural products may help reduce the impact of hay fever. 

 

1. Local Honey

Consuming local honey is believed to help the body gradually adapt to the local pollen, potentially reducing allergic reactions. Although anecdotal it is thought to work in a similar way to allergen immunotherapy where people with severe wasp, bee or peanut allergies are treatment with small amounts of the allergen extract over a period of time to help build immunity to the allergen.  In the same way by consuming small amounts of local honey the body may build up immunity to the pollen and reduces the reaction that cause the hay fever symptoms.


Check out local honey growers or local health food store who often stock it.  You may not get it at the beginning of the hay fever season so buy at the end of the summer season and store unopened until the beginning of the next hay fever season.  Take before symptoms normally begin to help build up immunity before the worst of the season.

 

2. Quercetin

Found in foods like onions, apples, and berries, quercetin is a natural antihistamine that can help reduce allergic responses.  As they say – an apple a day keeps the doctor away!

 

3. Nettle Leaf

Nettle leaf is a natural anti-inflammatory and antihistamine that can be taken as a tea or in capsule form to alleviate hay fever symptoms.  Alternatively, pick your own leaves (using gloves of course!) which are abundant at this time of year and make your own brew by adding the nettles to hot water and allowing to soak for 5 minutes. To sweetened use natural honey.

 

4. Oregano and Rosemary

Both these herbs have strong anti-inflammatory properties.  Oregano contains a property called carvacrol which done-regulates (reduces) the expression of inflammatory genes which in turn reduces symptoms associated with hay fever.  Rosemary inhibits the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines which trigger a cascade of other reactions resulting in hay fever symptoms.

 

5. Probiotics

Probiotics can help improve gut health, which in turn can bolster the immune system and reduce the severity of allergic reactions.  In a 2022 research paper which reviewed 22 studies on probiotics to reduce allergic reactions to pollen found that:

·       there was some evidence that showed a protective effect of probiotics in comparison to the placebo.

·       When combined with a histamine the outcome was better.

·       It improves the immune by reducing the Th2 cytokine reaction which has a beneficial effect for the sufferer.

 

6. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine and immune booster. Increasing intake through citrus fruits, berries, and supplements can help manage symptoms.

 

7. Vitamin E

One study suggests that when you combine vitamin E and selenium supplements it may help to control the allergic reaction by reducing inflammation in the airways and mucus in the bronchi which may help to open up the airways in the respiratory system.  Foods that contain both vitamin C and selenium include nuts, seeds and leafy green vegetables.

 

8. Carotenoids

Carotenoids have been associated with better control of allergic conditions.  They are found abundantly in fruit and vegetables.  If you are eating a diet with seven fruit and vegetables, you will significantly increase your intake of carotenoids.

 

9. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is traditionally used as an anti-inflammatory, it also used for pain, fever, arthritis and as an immune booster.  Research has shown that it contains a polyphenol which is effective against chronic hay fever.  In this research results included reduction in the severity of symptoms, and improvement in quality of life, work productivity and regular daily activities.  Cinnamon can be used in many recipes especially sprinkled on breakfast or added to stew, chillis and curries.

 

10. Lifestyle Changes

To reduce your exposure to pollen they following practices may help.

    - Keep windows closed during high pollen seasons.

    - Use air purifiers to reduce indoor allergens.

    - Regularly wash bedding and vacuum with a HEPA filter to minimize dust mites and pet dander.

 

Recipes to help with hayfever


Cinnamon & Apple Oats

This contains probiotics, vitamin E, cinnamon, carotenoids, quercetin, selenium.

·       40g Oats

·       1 tbsp ground flaxseed

·       1 tbsp sunflower seeds

·       1 small apple (chopped)

·       1 tsp cinnamon

·       80 ml milk of your choice

·       2 tsp local honey

·       Spoonful of natural yoghurt

You have 2 options.

1.      Mix all the ingredient in a bowl the night before and store them in a jar overnight in the fridge.

2.      Add all the ingredients, except the honey and yoghurt, to a small pan and cook slowly until the oats are cooked through.  If too thick add a little more milk.  Serve in a bowl and spoon over the honey and yoghurt.

 

Apple, Broccoli and Walnut Salad

This contains vitamin E, vitamin C, oregano, carotenoids, quercetin, selenium.

For the salad

·       80g broccoli (chopped into small florets)

·       1 small apple (chopped)

·       Handful of chopped walnuts

·       1 small red onion (sliced)

·       40g cucumber

·       1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

·       ¼ lettuce

·       Protein of your choice: tofu, chicken, eggs, cheese (optional)

For the dressing

·       1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

·       1 tbsp oregano or ½ tsp dried oregano (chopped)

·       1 small clove garlic (crushed)

·       ½ juice of a lemon

Instructions

1.      For the salad toss all the ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.

2.      Mix together the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl and mix well.  Keep in a container until needed and pour over the salad.  Can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days so can be made in bulk.

 

Disclaimer

It's important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any natural treatment, especially if you have other health conditions or are taking other medications.  These suggestions are not a substitute for medication and you should consult your doctor if you wish to refrain from taking them.

 

Marie Jarvis is a BANT Registered Nutritional Therapist.  If you would like help to improve your nutrition status to achieve a diet that is supportive to your health, please book in for at 15 minute pre-consultation so that I find out more about you and your challenges and you can find out how I can help.

 

 

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