Natural remedies for hay fever
Spring and summer are a wonderful time of year. We’ve made it through a long and cold winter and the sun is starting to shine again (hopefully). The once bare landscape makes way for tender buds and glossy greens – an awakening for all of nature, including ourselves. For those of us who suffer with hay fever, spring and summer can symbolise a time of apprehension as we prepare for the increase in pollen.
Why does hay fever occur?
Hay fever is often seen as a reflection of the change in seasons that occurs during the transition from winter through to spring. As the warmth of spring increases, it also warms the body influencing a ‘melting’ of congestion and toxic accumulation that has occurred over the winter period. Hay fever is an allergic reaction (an immune system overreaction) to pollen released primarily by grasses, but can also be triggered by pollen released from trees.
Pollen particles contain a protein that causes inflammation, irritation and swelling of the nasal passages, but can also affect the eyes and the throat. The pollen (the allergen) causes the release of a substance known as an inflammatory mediator called histamine. It is the histamine that influences the symptoms of ‘hay fever’ in the body.
The symptoms of hay fever can often be split into two categories:
- Sinus congestion, watery eyes, copious mucus, itchy nose
- Red eyes, itchy eyes, inflamed nose and mucus membranes, headache
These are a reflection of our current state of health. Those of us who are more prone to mucus accumulations will tend to suffer more from runny eyes and nose. Those who perhaps have a greater tendency towards hot, irritated and itching skin conditions will suffer more from itching and red eyes, ears and throat.
Hay fever and the doshas
Since all of us have a different dosha (or mind body type) hay fever symptoms will also differ from person to person. Ayurveda also differentiates hay fever symptoms according to a person’s dominant dosha:
- Vata types (or those with aggravated vata) are more prone to symptom wheezing, sneezing, headaches, and dryness of the mouth and throat.
- Pitta types (or those with aggravated pitta) often experience more eye irritation, with burning, inflammation and a sore throat, with the potential for fever and hives too.
- Kapha types (or those with aggravated kapha) experience more congestion, with runny noses, sinus infections, itching along with feelings of heaviness.
Since symptoms vary according to the dosha involved, following the right diet for your dosha (or dosha imbalance) can be very helpful.
Luckily, help is also at hand with some of nature’s finest remedies:
- Mushroom Gold contains beta-glucans and is a great source of vitamin D, which contributes to the normal function of the immune system.
- Turmeric & Ginger: Naturally hot, spicy and stimulating, these herbs either in combination or separately will stimulate the system, warm the digestion and improve nutrient assimilation. The combination of these two herbs is a specific remedy for allergic rhinitis, hay fever and colds.
- Triphala: A traditional Ayurvedic formulation that is particularly effective at detoxifying and cleansing a congested digestive tract. It will often work best when taken at night.
- Peppermint: An excellent herb for releasing stuck congestion and mucus around the nose and a ‘heavy head’.
- Liquorice soothes the lung and throat and acts as expectorant.
- Aloe vera: A natural cooling anti-inflammatory, soothing hot and irritated mucus membranes throughout the body. It’s a natural way of cleansing your liver and helping to reduce allergic response from the immune system. Organic Aloe Vera does not contain sodium benzoate, that is so often a causative factor in allergies.
- Cleanse tea: a delicious blend of peppermint, nettle, fennel and aloevera - all of which can provide benefits.
- Rose: Rose is a drying, cooling anti-inflammatory with an affinity for the skin and eyes. It can be taken internally as a tincture, but a spray or drop of rosewater on the face and also in the eyes can be particularly effective at relieving itching and inflammation.
Other diet and lifestyle tips to help ease hay fever symptoms
- For 3-5 days drink plenty of hot water with grated fresh ginger or honey, this will help to digest toxins and regulate digestion.
- Favour foods that are warm and nourishing but easy to digest such as soups, grains and leafy green vegetables.
- Include helpful herbs for the digestion such as cumin, coriander, ginger and fennel.
- Both vitamins C and D contribute to the normal function of the immune system, so increasing their intake can help. Good sources of vitamin C include oranges, lemons, peppers and broccoli, while good dietary sources of vitamin D include oily fish, eggs and mushrooms.
- Avoid substances which are mucus producing such as dairy products, wheat and sugar.
- Avoid cold foods such as salads and iced water. These reduce digestive capacity and can create stagnation.