Advice from our herbalists, nutritional therapists, and Chinese medical practitioners.
There is much that can be done from a dietary appraoch to help hay fever sufferers. As with all therapies, the sooner you start treatment the better. Ideally it is best to see a practitioner before Spring begins so that your body has lots of time to build up it's defences and calm down an overreactive immune system. However, it is never too late to start and the advice below can be extremely effective in relieving symptoms.
The body releases histamine when an allergic reaction occurs. This results in symptoms such as sneezing, difficulty breathing, inflammation and itching.
It therefore makes sense that avoiding histamine-rich foods may reduce symptoms. These include...
Alcohol (beer, wine and spirits).
Tinned or smoked fish
Food allergies can weaken your body's ability to cope with pollen. A food diary is useful for identifying allergies or intolerances. By recording your consumption of food and beverages along with allergy symptoms, triggers can be identified and removed from the diet. Common Allergens include...
- Milk and diary products
- Tree nuts
Medical Herbalists often see patients presenting with hay fever. Generally a full consultation is advised to assess which herbs would be most suited to each patient. However there are a few herbs that are often found to be useful and can be tried before seeing a practitioner.
Nettle (Urtica dioica
Nettle contains histamine-like molecules in a weak form. These attach to the body's histamine receptors and block the histamine uptake, reducing its effect as a result. Nettle leaves are anti-inflammatory, astringent, and nutritive. They also assist in elimination.
Infuse 1 teaspoon of dried herb in a cup of boiling water and steep for 5 minutes. Drink 3 cups a day.
If possible start drinking nettle leaf tea a few weeks before the onset of symptoms and continue throughout the pollen season.
Traditionally the leaves were also known as spring vegetable, the young shoots being cooked and eaten like spinach.
Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis)
As the name gives away, this herb is used to treat conditions related to the eyes.
Having astringent, anti-catarrhal and anti-inflammatory properties, Eyebright can help to relieve itchy and red eyes, runny and blocked nose and frequent sneezing - symptoms commonly experienced by hay fever sufferers.
Infuse 1 teaspoon of dried herb in a cup of boiling water, steep for 5 minutes and drink 3 times a day.
Baldwins stock these herbs as loose tea.
In Chinese Medicine, the symptoms of hay fever are caused by invasions of external pathogens, especially Wind (allergens can be seen as a form of 'wind'). The main diagnoses will usually be Wind Heat or Wind Cold invasion, depending on the specific symptoms. The Wind enters the channels on the face causing symptoms such as itchiness, sneezing, and blocked or runny noses.
This external invasion is called the 'biao' of the disease - the manifesting symptoms. It is also vital to address the 'ben' of the disease - the root of the problem. With regards to hay fever there is always an underlying deficiency, normally of the Spleen qi, Lung qi, or Kidney qi.
It can be very effective to focus on strengthening the weaknesses through out the year, and then to focus on the symptoms during the hay fever season.
Self massage on acupuncture points can bring some relief.
This point is located to the side of the nose, in the naso-labial groove. It is on the YangMing channel which governs the facial area. It is used to open the nasal passages and expel Wind and Heat from the face.
BITONG (extra point)
This point is located above LI20, at the highest point of the naso-labial groove. It is often used for allergic rhinitis as it benefits the nose.
This point is located in a small depression near the medial end of the eyebrow. It is used to expel heat and is especially useful for symptoms affecting the eyes.
With one finger vigorously rub naso-labial groove (the area where the nose attaches to the face). You can do this for a minute or as long as is comfortable. Move your finger slightly higher, around Bitong area, and continue to rub a couple of minutes or until you feel the area clear. Move up to Bl-2 and either press on this point or again rub the area with one finger for a minute or so.
POINTS ON THE FOREHEAD
There are many points on the forehead and just with in the hairline that are used for expelling Wind from the facial area.
Shangxing (Du-23) Located along the midline of the head. About one fingers width behind the hairline.
Yangbai (GB-14) About one fingers width above the middle of the eyebrow.
With two finger tips, vigorously make small circles all over the forehead area, paying particular attention to the points suggested above, or any other areas that feel especially tender.