10 ways to prevent and treat hay fever naturally, so you can still enjoy the summer
About 1 in 6 of us suffer from hay fever in the UK. It often develops during adolescence, and leaves us with puffy eyes, sneezy noses and itchy rashes – not much fun on a sunny day.
Hay fever is associated with two other health conditions, eczema and asthma, in what doctors term the ‘atopic triad’. Someone suffering from one of these conditions is more likely to develop one or both of the others. Atopy, the name for this type of allergic tendency, can also run in families.
Hay fever is more prevalent in temperate climates like ours than in tropical countries, and often peaks mid-morning and early evening on dry days. As with all allergies, the immune system attacks the substance it sees as harmful, in this case pollen from grass, trees or flowers.
Our list of ways to tackle the symptoms of hay fever includes nutritional and natural preventative measures, which are alternatives to the conventional antihistamine route. Take heart! There are things you can do that don’t involve staying indoors and avoiding freshly cut grass on sunny days.
- A.Vogel Pollisan Hay Fever £9.15/120 tablets, Pollisan Nasal Spray £7.99
- A. Vogel Luffa Complex Drops £9.15/50ml
Many of the remedies below are available as supplements as well as raw products…
2 Apply coconut oil
Among many other fantastic properties, raw virgin coconut oil has natural emollient and antibacterial effects when applied directly to the skin. Studies have suggested benefits for those with eczema and acne. Also try wiping a small amount around your nostrils – it acts as a sticky barrier, trapping up to 73% of tiny pollen particles before they irritate the inside of your nose.
We have a great range of raw virgin coconut oils, which can be eaten or applied directly to the skin, from Viridian, Pukka, Biona, RAW and Optima. Prices start at £3.49 for 210ml, and it’s worth checking in store for regular offers.
If you’re not nuts for coconuts, try balms from Caro’s Creams – handmade in Bristol. Caro’s Calendula Salve and Lavender Balm are available at our St. Werburghs store, and cost £5.
3 Try Reishi mushroom
Reishi mushroom contains polysaccharides, which trick the body into switching off the part of the immune system that reacts to antibodies and causes the symptoms of hay fever.
Available as a supplement from Terra Nova, £11.95/50 tablets, and Mushrooms 4 Life Organic Reishi, £19.99/60 capsules.
4 Buy fresh garlic and quercetin
Fresh garlic contains quercetin, a natural antihistamine. It’s also anti-catarrhal and contains vitamin C. Eat it raw as much as possible, and consider taking it as a supplement. Other quercetin-rich foods include red onions and apples, and it’s also found in both green and black tea.
Available as a supplement from Viridian, Quercetin B5+ Complex, £17.45/60 capsules, and Terra Nova Quercetin Nettle Complex, £17.49/50 capsules. Terra Nova Complex is currently 20% off (£13.49) at our St. Werburghs branch while stocks last.
5 Brew herbal teas
Herbal teas, especially those containing nettle, chamomile, elderberry, ginger or peppermint. Nettle has anti-allergic properties, as does chamomile (which is also an anti-inflammatory), while elderberry can help to prevent catarrh.
Ginger tea with a spoonful of honey can overcome chest congestion, as well as strengthening the immune system and acting as an antihistamine. Peppermint tea can soothe nasal congestion.
See our huge range of herbal teas from Pukka, Heath & Heather and Clipper. Many of these ingredients are also available as supplements, drinks or cordials. And if you are really adventurous, try foraging for some of these ingredients when they are in season, or growing your own ginger. Despite our mild climate, some people have success in growing this spicy root.
6 Remove mucus-forming foods from the diet, such as dairy and fried foods
Replace butter with olive oil spread or coconut oil, and milk with rice or nut-based alternatives. Yoghurt is usually fine, because it is already digested by the bacteria in it. Better Food stock a huge range of alternatives so experiment and see which ones you prefer.
7 Support local honey producers
As the most delicious way of treating hay fever, this may well be our favourite remedies (though not for vegans, obviously) … Often-cited but not scientifically-proven claims point to local honey as a way of desensitising your body to local pollen. Advocates advise taking a spoonful daily a few months before the hay fever season kicks in. It’s also well-known for its soothing, antibacterial properties and is a wonderful remedy for scratchy, sore throats.
Local honey also supports the local economy as it keeps money circulating within the city. We often have a local honey in stock, though sometimes we sell out as it comes from small producers with limited supplies. When local isn’t available, choose a good quality raw one to treat the symptoms of hay fever.
8 Choose citrus fruits
Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine, and citrus fruits are rich in bioflavonoids, which have powerful anti-allergy and decongestant effects. Choose organic citrus for fruit with higher nutritional quality, and fewer pesticides. And don’t forget many vegetables also have high levels of vitamin C. Sauerkraut and many fermented foods are also packed full of the stuff!
9 Add some spice
Spicy curries are a well-known remedy for colds and bunged-up noses, and chillies are just as effective at treating symptoms of hay fever. They contain a compound called capsaicin, which opens and clears nasal passages to reduce congestion, helping you to breathe easy.
10 Seek out omega-3
Omega-3, found in oily fish such as salmon, good-quality eggs, walnuts, chia seeds or flaxseeds, is good for more than just the heart. These super-powered fatty acids can reduce the levels of inflammatory chemicals the body creates after it’s exposed to allergens such as pollen.
We have a range of Omega-3 supplements available in store.
With these simple tips, you can let food be thy medicine and potentially put a lid on hay fever, once and for all.