What is Hay Fever?
Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is an allergy to proteins in the pollen of grasses, trees, plants or certain types of mould. It usually peaks in Spring when pollen counts are at their peak. If you suffer from hay fever-like symptoms throughout the year, it is known as perennial rhinitis which can be caused by dust mites, animal hair, fungus spores or plants. Hay fever can be debilitating for some people; itchy eyes, nose and throat, violent sneezing, congestion and headaches are just some of the symptoms. It can last all throughout Spring and Summer and can be incredibly frustrating.
Allergies & The Immune Response
Allergens trigger the body’s immune system to produce IgE antibodies. These antibodies cause mast cells and basophils (cells involved in the immune response) to release chemicals into the bloodstream, including histamine. Because IgE antibodies are concentrated in mucous membranes, they can affect the airways quite significantly when histamine is liberated from mast cells. The goal of therapy is to stabilise the mast cells and to reduce the release of inflammatory chemicals that cause allergy symptoms. Anti-histamines like Telfast and Zyrtec are the usual go-to products for allergy sufferers, but there are some natural alternatives that can help or even reduce the need for them.
Proven for its role in enhancing immunity, vitamin C is vital to help combat allergy symptoms. It has antiallergic properties as it assists in the stabilisation of mast cells, preventing them from releasing histamine.
The richest natural source of vitamin C on the planet? Australia’s very own Kakadu plum. It contains around 3000mg of vitamin C per 100gm of fruit – that’s over 50 times the concentration found in oranges! As these plums can be difficult to source, try incorporating more fruit and vegetables into your diet. Other rich sources of vitamin C include capsicum, kiwis, strawberries, oranges, lemons, papaya and pineapple.
I’m a fan of fresh juices in moderation and Pressed Juices ‘PJ OJ’ is my go to for a vitamin C hit. It’s a mix of Kakadu plum, orange juice and lemon myrtle – a beautiful blend of Australian Natives.
It’s been suggested that, the worldwide increase in allergic diseases like asthma, allergic rhinitis and food allergies is associated with a low vitamin D intake. Numerous studies have confirmed this theory with The World Allergy Organization publishing a study last year that showed Vitamin D deficiency was more prevalent in people suffering from allergic rhinitis. This makes sense because during the Winter months we’re exposed to less sunlight (which synthesises vitamin D in our bodies) which may make us more sensitive to allergens during the Spring.
My suggestion would be to get your Vitamin D levels tested and if it’s anything less than 20ng/ml, supplementation with Vitamin D may be something to consider.* Alternatively, get outside and enjoy some sun everyday for at least 20 minutes.
According to the longest running study in history comparing vegetarian to non-vegetarians, women who eat meat appear to have a 30% greater chance of reporting chemical allergies, 17% more drug and bee sting allergies and 15% more hay fever. However, in men, it was found to only significantly increase the risk of chemical and drug allergies. After adjusting for other factors like smoking, the findings do suggest a favourable effect of a plant based diet. Try reducing meat intake by having a meat-free day once a week; Meatless Monday’s have been a trending notion on social media lately which could be something fun to try.
If you’re an avid brown rice eater, consider swapping to red rice. Not only has red rice got 10 times more antioxidants than brown rice, studies have shown it also has anti allergic properties which suppress histamine release. This can also be of benefit to asthma sufferers.
I would strongly suggest a meticulous clean of where you live to remove all potential allergens and dust. Clean and freshen up your bed linen by adding two capfuls of eucalyptus oil to the rinse cycle of the washing machine; this helps to kill dust mites (and also makes your sheets smell beautiful). I use the Eco Store’s Eucalyptus Laundry Liquid. Vacuum diligently and wipe all surfaces in the bedroom to get rid of extra dust. If you suspect a mould allergy, a dehumidifier will be the best investment you’ll ever make; it will reduce moisture in the air which prevents mould from spreading.
When allergy season begins, reduce the amount of time you spend outside. It might sound counter-intuitive as a vitamin D deficiency could exacerbate the allergy, but it is effective in quelling hay fever symptoms as you’re reducing your exposure to pollen. Grasses generally pollinate at midday and the wind keeps the pollen floating around at night, so keep an eye on pollen counts in the newspaper and get outside earlier in the day rather than later.
Keep all windows and doors closed during blossoming season and make sure whilst driving to keep the windows closed. Use the air conditioner instead and ensure your car air-con setting circulates air from inside the car and doesn’t use fresh air from the outside.
Shower thoroughly, wash your hair, and change your clothes when you come home from a day spent outdoors; it also may be a good idea to shower just before bed. Pollen can stick to skin, hair and clothes, especially on a windy day.
I hope you found this post useful. Any questions or feedback are more than welcome so feel free to comment below or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Suffer from hayfever and need some more advice? Book in a consult with me and receive a complementary hayfever blend. *Valid until September 30, 2015.
I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend.
Love Stace x
Always consult a healthcare professional before supplementation with Vitamin D*