Spring has definitely sprung, and what a wonderful time of year it is! Long days, daffodils and sunshine certainly call for celebration but if you suffer from hay fever even the brightest of days can get you down.
Hay fever can be more than just a sniffle and an itch. It’s an abnormal immune response to pollen, which can lead to a diverse range of symptoms (e.g. itchy eyes, sneezing, coughs, hives, achy bones and feeling drowsy).
Over the counter anti-histamines can be useful for symptomatic relief. However, to help combat allergies for good, it’s vital to get to the route of the problem! If you know you suffer from hay fever then try these holistic preventative treatments:
1. Take a probiotic supplement
Much of the immune system depends on the gut, which means a healthy and happy digestive system is paramount for immunity. Probiotics can help balance the gut flora, taking pressure off the immune system and reducing the allergic response. Fermented foods such as yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut and cultured veggies also contain probiotics that are beneficial to gut health.
2. Improve the body’s resistance
You can do this by avoiding inflammatory dietary triggers. During allergy season avoid foods that are either taxing to the digestive system, mucus forming or allergy provoking. These include foods high in refined sugar, dairy products, wheat and gluten products, eggs and citrus foods. You should slowly introduce these foods back into your diet once your allergies have subsided and be sure to observe any flare-ups or reactions.
3. Reduce your exposure
Limiting your exposure to pollen and dust will reduce the burden on your immune system. This can be done by controlling your home environment through the use of air-filtering vacuum cleaners, installing air cleaners and using allergy sensitive bedding. Killing microbes by washing your clothes in temperatures of 40 degrees or more can also be highly effective. When spending time outdoors coat the outside of your nasal passage with Vaseline, which will create a physical barrier against pollen and dust!
4. Drink at least 2L of filtered water per day
Filtered water will reduce inflammation and washout mucus. Other beneficial fluids such as vegetable juices, soups and herbal teas will also help the process. Hot liquids such as thyme and ginger tea are especially beneficial as the heat can enhance mucus drainage.
5. Increase foods high in zinc
Zinc has immune enhancing properties and can suppress inflammation in the respiratory tract. Foods high in zinc include beef, capsicum, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and whole grains.
6. Boost up your vitamin C status
Vitamin C helps to prevent the secretion of histamine. High amounts are found in blackcurrants, broccoli, brussels sprouts, parsley, peppers, potatoes and strawberries.
7. Eat foods that contain quercetin
As a potent antioxidant found in buckwheat, apples, green tea, brassica vegetables, cranberries, red grapes and raspberries, quercetin has the ability to stabilize the membranes of cells that release histamine. This helps to inhibit the inflammatory process.
8. Increase your vitamin E consumption
Through eating almonds, beef and corn, this fat-soluble antioxidant can perform its anti-allergic affects. Vitamin E has the ability to modulate cells that cause inflammation, leading to a reduced allergic response.
9. Eat foods high in Vitamin A
Apricots, carrots, sweet potato and spinach all contain vitamin A, which plays numerous roles in the immune system such as enhancing the effectiveness of white blood cells and increasing resistance to infection.
10. Eat Pineapple
Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain. Bromelain has been shown to help reduce local inflammation and produce antimicrobial effects. Don’t forget to eat the core, which is where there bromelain is concentrated!
11. Treat topically
Use a humidifier with tea tree, thyme, eucalyptus or peppermint essential oil, which all exhibit antimicrobial actions. Using saline sinus washes once or twice a day can also be highly effective, especially for sinusitis.
Stress, anxiety, depression and other negative mental and emotional states put a toll on the immune system. Consequently, this reduces the body’s ability to deal with allergies. Exercise, mediation and a good belly laugh are just a few ways to uplift your mood. For more help and advice, book an appointment with your local natural therapist.