Bless you! Natural relief for Hay Fever

  16/06/2017 at 09:58 am

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Bless you! Natural relief for Hay Fever remedies & relief


In Ireland, we long for the arrival of a warm summer. We think of brighter evenings and watching nature come to full bloom. Yet for those who suffer from hay fever, the spring and summer can be an unwelcome visitor. Around 20pc of people living in Ireland experience hay fever symptoms and summer can be a time of sheer misery. Grass and birch tree pollen are the most common allergen in Ireland. However, many people also react to spores released by certain fungi, herbs and other trees. The right hay fever remedies can make all the difference.

     What is Hay Fever?

Hay fever (or allergic rhinitis) is an umbrella term that describes a range of different symptoms caused by allergic reactions, all of which peak around the same time of the year. The predominant symptoms are:

  • Sneezing
  • Running nose
  • Itchy and streaming eyes
  • Scratchy or sore throat
  • Headaches
  • Increased asthma attacks
  • Hives or worsening of skin conditions such as eczema or dermatitis

       What Causes Hay Fever?

For us humans to survive and stay healthy we developed an intricate, intelligent. immune system. This system learned to recognise substances that were non-self (usually viruses, bacteria and parasites). Our immune system uses barriers (such as skin, mucous, saliva, and mucosal surfaces) to prevent foreign substances entering. Mucosal surfaces line the digestive system, respiratory system and urinary system and are colonised by a distinct group of good bacteria.  These bacteria “teach” your immune system to tolerate dietary proteins such as gluten and other harmless allergens (such as dust, pollen and animal dander) in the environment

If these mucosal barriers are breached, our immune system mounts a powerful response using specalised cells to seek out and destroy any “non-self” particles. Some of the major immune system cells involved are called basophils and mast cells and they release histamine. Histamine’s job is to act as an alarm signal that heightens your immune response. It causes inflammation and blood vessels to dilate which attracts more immune system cells in to an area to destroy the invader. The body also uses antibodies such as IgE to neutralize the foreign substance.

In spring & summer, plant life comes into bloom and release pollen and spores in order to reproduce. For those with hay fever, their immune system views pollen as if it was a dangerous non-self organism and mounts a full immune response. Their body tries to capture the pollen in mucosal surfaces (nose, throat and lungs) and get rid of it through sneezing, coughing and watering nose and eyes.  It also produces inflammatory response involving inflammation, histamine and antibodies.

Hay fever is a relatively modern illness, so history contains little in the way of hay fever remedies. It was almost unknown before 1800 but it has become extremely common worldwide during the last century.  Air temperature, sunlight, rainfall and air pollution affect pollen production by the plant. Plants are subjected to the same environmental stresses as we are (more pollution, viruses, bacteria, pesticides fungicides). In order to cope with this they also produce defence proteins, which are carried in pollen to the next generation. Plants appear to be making more pollen, and pollen that is more allergenic.

Potential Hay fever remedies...

Preparation is the key!

One of the most important factors to remember is that allergies are very specific and affect each person differently. Certain hay fever remedies may work for one person and not another.  A multi-layered approach has to be considered. Most successful protocols for hay fever and seasonal allergies involve lasting life changes rather than a sporadic seasonal approach. Below are some suggestions, but pop in to Nuts & Grains and to see what we have on offer or complete an enquiry form.

Hay fever remedies that use natural substances to reduce histamine & inflammation

Quercetin: Quercetin is a flavonoid found in many foods such as onions, apples, berries, tea, grapes and red wine. It has been shown in studies to stabilise basophils and prevent the production and release of histamine. If taking a supplement, the recommended dose for hay fever is between 250-600mg, three times a day about 10 minutes before eating.

Bromelain: Bromelain found in pineapple is also a powerful anti-inflammatory, which on its own may be useful for reducing inflammation especially of the nose and sinuses. It also enhances the efficacy of Quercetin. A supplemental dose of 90mg a day is thought to be beneficial.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D is a modulator of the immune system and reduces inflammation. 

Pycnogenol and other antioxidants such as grapeseed extract have been shown in laboratory studies to block histamine release from immune cells exposed to airborne allergens such as pollen.

Vitamin C: A daily 2g dose of vitamin C has been shown to successfully reduce levels by 38%. 

Omega 3 fatty acids: Omega 3 from fish oils and nuts such as walnuts contain powerful anti-inflammatory prostaglandins, which dampen down the immune response. 

Curcuminoids from Turmeric: Curcuminoids inhibit the release of destructive inflammatory chemicals and reduce oxidative stress. 

Probiotics modulate the integrity of the junctions between mucosal cells and help modulate immune response. Look for a probiotic that contains B-infantis, B-longum and L-Plantarum strains such as these can also degrade histamine.

 Honey: Eating locally produced honey is often recommended as a treatment for hay fever. Honey contains pollen and taking pollen allergens by mouth is effective in inducing immune tolerance. Honey may also contain natural antihistamines or other anti-inflammatory substances that could be one of the successful hay fever remedies worth employing to reduce symptoms.

Why not try a 4 week low histamine diet?

If histamine is the main chemical involved in the symptoms of hay fever, then learning how dietary histamine affects your reactions is a valuable tool.

Histamine is a naturally occurring chemical found in foods such as, sauerkraut, yogurt or kefir, kombucha, aged cheese, alcohol of any kind, vinegar and cured meat fish and seafood, especially canned or smoked fish, tomatoes, canned vegetables, strawberries.

More information can be found at:

Strengthen mucosal membranes

L-glutamine can promote the growth of mucosal barrier function and integrity.    

For the best result these supplements should be started 7 to 8 weeks before the onset of the hay fever season.

Reduce exposure to known allergens – The Asthma Society of Ireland produces a pollen forecast, which is available at

Keep house and car windows closed during peak pollen hours.

Wear wraparound sunglasses if you're going to be outdoors.

If you are a hay feverf sufferer, I hope that some of these hay fever remedies will help to alleviate your symptoms.

Grace Kinirons Nutritional Therapist BSc (Hons) Health Sciences & Nutritional Therapy, Post Graduate Certificate in Nutritional Medicine, MA in Dramatherapy. MNTOI  

By Grace Kinirons