Spring is a wonderful season, a time of sunshine and renewal, but for many people it is also a time of congested sinuses, runny noses, watery and itchy eyes and general unpleasantness!
So what exactly causes allergic rhinitis – commonly known as hay fever? At this time of year, as the weather warms up, many grasses and plants produce an abundance of pollen (the allergen). For many people when this pollen is inhaled the body produces an immune cell (IgE), which attaches to another cell called a mast cell. This mast cell then produces an abundance of a chemical called histamine.It is this histamine which fights the allergen.
It is histamine therefore, which is responsible for the symptoms of hayfever, and it is anti-histamines that people reach for during this time.
Hay fever affects one in five Australians and is big business with over the counter medications. The good news however, is there are a number of nutritional and herbal medicines which have a good track record at managing this often debilitating condition.
Good old vitamin C is well known for it’s immune enhancing activity, and particularly for its antihistamine activity. For best results take 500mg of vitamin C with bioflavonoids every few hours throughout the day. If you start to see the bowels becoming loose you know you have reached your limit for the day.
Zinc helps reduce the symptoms of hayfever by acting as an antioxidant. Aim to eat zinc rich foods everyday such as pumpkin seeds, oysters, pine nuts, and red meat (eat only a few times each week).
This is a compound from the flavonoid family which acts as an anti-inflammatory and stabilises mast cells, thereby reducing histamine release. Quercetin is rich in onions, kale, broccoli and dark coloured fruits such as apples, grapes, blueberries and cherries.
This is an enzyme found in pineapples which reduces sinus congestion by breaking down the mucus. The core of the pineapple is richest so add it to your juices!
The correct balance of intestinal microflora can have profound effect on our immune system protect us against allergies. A particular strain of probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG has been found effective in reducing allergies as it suppresses the IgE production.
There are a number of beautiful herbs that modulate the immune system and IgE activity. As is always the case it is very important to seek professional advice when taking herbal medicines.
The options mentioned here are for general advice. If you are suffering chronic and/or severe allergies then a comprehensive wellness program may be of benefit. Just get in touch for a chat about how natural therapies may help you.