What is Hay Fever?

Hay fever is an airborne allergy to pollen produced by plants and flowers that effects around 25% of the word's population during summer months. The medical name is Allergic Rhinitis and it is now regarded as a major chronic respiratory disease which can aggravate other respiratory diseases such as asthma.

That's the theory of the disease but the symptoms are uncomfortable to say the least ranging from eyes that wont stop running and sneezing to real difficulties in breathing. I have known some sufferers who have had acute pains in their ears for long periods during the summer months. It all happens at the time of the year when the sun is shining and fed up with the dark winter months we want to get out  and enjoy the sun in our gardens and public parks.

There are many hay fever treatments on the market to alleviate some of the symptoms, from tablets, powders and lozenges to air purifiers. Some of the treatments are marked as non drowsy but many sufferers find themselves dropping off to sleep which is not so good if you have a busy schedule. Many people want to know about natural remedies as they are concerned that the build up of toxins from medication is what causes the hay fever in the first place. Medical treatments include anti histamine nasal sprays or medicine sometimes accompanied by steroid nasal sprays. The problem is that you can't avoid the pollen it is in the air throughout the summer and it is extremely problematical if you are allergic to grass pollen as that is in the air throughout the summer.

Don't walk past the Vegetable counter
Credit: By Jeremy Keith from Brighton & Hove, United Kingdom (Vegetables Uploaded by Fæ) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Nettle leaf is said to help, Research has shown that taking Nettle leaf extract caplets at least three months before the season starts does help. If you can obtain fresh nettles, it is possible to use these to infuse in a tea pot as a drink- although the taste might not be too agreeable.Those who hate gardening may be glad of an excuse to neglect their plot!

Elderflower- This acts as an anti inflammatory and teas or infusions made from the plant when in flower may help to relieve the symptoms. It can be quite a pleasant and calming drink.

I have tried to list here some of the more popular natural treatments for the symptons of hayfever.

Honeycomb- this contains a natural anti histamine and has anti inflammatory properties. The honeycomb should be obtained locally to the area you live in and a small square chewed 3 times daily. This treatment should start a month before the season and continue throughout the season. By using local honey it is believed that you build up a resistance to local pollens. You may need to make enquiries well before the next pollen season with your local herbalist to arrange supplies.

Onions-Onions include a chemical called Quercertin which can help alleviate the symptoms. Onions contain a high level of Quercertin. A diet full of onions may help but it should start well before the pollen season to allow levels of Quercertin to build up in your body. 

Vegetables-Vegetables such as carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, spinach, kale, butternut squash and collard greens, contain carotenoids which are plant pigments. A lack of carotenoids is thought to encourage inflammation of your airways. It is always healthier to eat a diet with plenty of vegetables so if you lack them in your diet then again start eating them before the pollen season starts- don't expect that eating a carrot on the first day of the season will ward off all symptons!

Omega 3

Omega 3 fatty acids are an essential to good health  and they come from what you eat. If a good amount of these are eaten research suggests that they may reduce the production of inflammatory chemicals in the body. To ensure a good supply of Omega 3 try fish oil or eat a diet high in fish. A tablespoon or two of flaxseed oil is a good supply as is 1 ounce of walnuts each day

Honeycomb- would it be a hardship eating this?
Credit: By Emmanuel Boutet (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

It is worth trying these natural therapies as they are diet related and cannot do you any harm. If they don't improve your hay fever then at least your general health might improve. Eating a diet rich in these foods should not cause you any side effects. The main thing to remember is to make the changes before the pollen season gets underway and to allow time for results to be felt.