A Natural Approach to Hayfever – not to be sneezed at!

While most of us welcome the warmer, drier days of Summer, it can bring misery for thousands of hayfever sufferers in Ireland. Hayfever, or allergic rhinitis, is caused by the pollen of specific seasonal plants, airborne chemicals and dust particles. Constant sneezing, red, watery and itchy eyes, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat and wheezing are the symptoms of hayfever that ruin their summers.

The current mainstream approach suppresses the symptoms with antihistamines, steroids and decongestants. These drugs are effective because they dampen the immune response by suppressing the body’s natural defence mechanisms, which include histamine release, mucous production and inflammation. However, this is the same defence mechanism the body uses to protect us from harmful bacteria, viruses and other pathogens, so the long term use of these type of drugs is not ideal.


Irish health stores have a wide range of alternatives and staff knowledge can be of great service to many hayfever sufferers.  Preventing pollen or dust entering the  respiratory tract with nostril gels and barriers are effective at minimizing exposure.  Products such as echinacea, luffa, stinging nettle and coltsfoot (butterbur) are well known herbal remedies for allergic symptoms.

A  holistic approach is directed at controlling histamine release and inflammation.  Vitamin C is a powerful antihistamine and a must for anyone suffering from allergies.  Keeping well hydrated is also crucial as dehydration is a key factor in histamine release.  A cooled herbal tea using nettle, hibiscus, ginger or chamomile will provide greater antihistamine support than plain water.

Another great natural antihistamine is quercetin – a flavonoid found in apples, red onions, citrus fruits, red grapes and black tea.  Quercetin is best supplemented to achieve doses that have a therapeutic effect and works best taken with another anti-inflammatory – bromelain.  Omega -3, coconut oil and good quality cold pressed oils are anti-inflammatory and need to replace pro-inflammatory oils found in animal fats and hydrogenated or heat-treated oils.  Probiotics, too, have their role in immune support.

A walk around the shop floor of any Irish health store will enlighten hayfever sufferers to the wealth of natural foods, herbs and spices that can be incorporated into summer eating which can reduce inflammatory conditions as well as histamine release.  Turmeric, ginger, garlic, red onions used regularly in meals, along with seasonal berries, fruit and vegetables are Mother Nature’s way of getting what we need – when we need it most.

Research into natural healthcare continually expands our knowledge of Nature’s pharmacy.

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