The flowers are blooming, the sun is shining and tissue sales are soaring as hay fever season is in full
spring swing! If the mere sight of blooming flowers has you reaching for the tissue box, chances are you’re familiar with hay fever: an allergic reaction in the nose and sinuses, triggered by environmental allergens like dust, mould and pollen.
Those of you who experience hay fever are likely all too familiar with the symptoms of:
- Red, itchy and watery eyes
- A runny or congested nose
- Itchy or blocked ears
- An itchy throat
- Wheezing or coughing
- Loss of smell
- And more!
There is also a link between hay fever and conditions like anxiety and depression, due to the impact of nasal congestion on an individual’s breathing patterns, sleep quality, self-esteem and quality of life. This is why when we treat patients for anxiety or depression, we always assess whether hay fever may be playing a role, and if so, how we can go about managing it.
Fortunately, there is fantastic research being conducted and published in the field of allergies and immunology, and with this knowledge, relief is in sight for hay fever sufferers. At our clinic, we integrate modern, evidence-based healthcare with traditional naturopathic approaches to reduce or resolve symptoms, minimise aggravating factors, repair the nasal mucous membranes and reduce immunological over-sensitivity. We also have access to a beautiful range of nutritional and herbal medicines that can help alleviate symptoms, lessen allergic sensitivity and restore the health and function of the nasal mucous membranes. For example:
- Quercetin is a wonderfully therapeutic nutrient found in highly pigmented fruits and veggies, like red onions, dark leafy greens, blackberries, purple carrots and cherries. It is highly anti-inflammatory and has anti-histamine effects, not dissimilar to pharmaceutical anti-histamines. For our hay fever patients, we often use quercetin in therapeutic doses to down-regulate the allergic response that triggers symptoms like congestion, itchy eyes and sneezing.
- Albizia lebbeck, Nigella sativa and Perilla frutescens are just some of the wonderful herbs we use for hay fever, for their anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory and mast-cell stabilising effects. We also use herbs to support and regulate the function of the immune system, to reduce over-reactivity and modulate the allergic response.
- Vitamin C and Vitamin A are another two crucial nutrients for hay fever sufferers. Like quercetin, Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory, anti-histamine and anti-allergic effects, while Vitamin A is needed to repair and restore the the nasal mucous membranes, so they can function as an effective physical barrier to inhaled allergens (like pollen and dust).
- Probiotics, prebiotics and gut-healing nutrients like glutamine and quercetin are also a key part of our approach, as 70-80 percent of our immune tissue is based in the gut! For this reason, optimising the health of the digestive tract and gut micorbiota is critical to regulating immune function and reducing allergic sensitivity. We often find allergic symptoms go hand-in-hand with sub-optimal gut health, so restoring the health of the digestive tract is integral to a holistic approach managing hay fever.
While this is just a basic snapshot of some key naturopathic approaches to hay fever, we are fortunate to have a fabulous arsenal of tools at our disposal, so that none of our patients should dread the onset of spring or suffer the symptoms of hay fever. From a naturopathic perspective, managing hay fever requires a holistic approach that integrates nutrition, lifestyle habits and herbal or nutritional medicine to relieve the congestion, so you can ditch the tissues and breathe easy again!