By Paul Abraham
As we celebrate Easter and we turn our thoughts to spring and summer, for many of us the dread of hay fever also enters our minds.
As the pollen levels rise, then the need to reduce the symptoms of hay fever also rise.
There are plenty of unwanted side effects associated with over-the-counter hay fever medications, such as drowsiness, which can affect your focus and make you feel tired all the time.
Eye drops can cause eyes to sting, and nasal decongestants can lead to an itchy rash around the nose. There’s also a debate over hay fever medication during pregnancy and how safe antihistamines are for certain people – including babies, who can also get hay fever. So here in the first of a two part series are the best recommended natural hay fever remedies.
Honey is said to be a natural remedy for hay fever because the bee pollen in honey can desensitise your body to other pollens. Increasing honey in your daily dietary intake should reduce hay fever symptoms significantly. Make sure you use local honey to your area to see the best results.
When to take: Daily before hay fever season starts.
2. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a known natural antihistamine and can be found in oranges, lemons and grapefruit. Also present are bioflavonoids, which have powerful anti-allergy effects. The combination of vitamin C and bioflavonoids together provide a natural decongestant and antihistamine for sufferers and help alleviate symptoms.
“Vitamin C acts as a natural antihistamine,” says Nutritional Therapist Alison Cullen. “Your body can’t make or store vitamin C, so it has to be available in low, consistent doses to support your nasal lining.”
Oranges are a good source of vitamin C or you can take a supplement.
What to take: 1,000mg of vitamin C a day.
3. Hot peppers
Red and chilli peppers contain an active component called capsaicin. When eaten, capsaicin opens the nasal passages, helping to reduce congestion.
What to take: Add red and chilli peppers to your daily diet, on salads or cooked with your evening meal.
Naturally occurring pigments in plants, carotenoids act as powerful antioxidants to help reduce inflammation in your airways and improve your immune system. A good source of carotenoids can be found in foods such as carrots, apricots, pumpkin, sweet potato and spinach – natural remedies for hay fever can actually be pretty tasty!
When to take: One to two servings of carotenoid-rich food per day.
5. Chamomile tea
An antioxidant and antihistamine, chamomile tea contains flavonoids that act as an anti-inflammatory agent. While best taken as a cuppa during the day, chamomile tea can also be used as an eye compress to cool swollen, red eyes.
What to take: Daily as a cuppa or as an eye compress. Make sure to use a fresh compress for each eye to avoid infection.
Making and using a compress:
1. Submerge an instant chamomile teabag in water. Leave it there for at least 3 mins.
2. Dump out the water and gently squeeze the excess water from the teabag.
3. Refrigerate the chamomile tea bag for 15 to 30 mins and remove from the fridge once cool.
4. Hold the cool tea bag against the swollen eye for up to 5 mins at a time.
5. Allow your inflamed eye to breathe for an hour before attempting to re-apply a new compress.
There will be another six natural hay fever remedies in my next column.