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    Beat Hay Fever This Spring

    Posted by: Gillian Day BHSc. Comp Med, Adv Dip Nat, AFMCP Grad

    Beat Hay Fever This Spring

    Do you dread the hay fever season like so many Australians? Do you suffer with allergic reactions or have other allergy-linked health challenges such as itchy eyes, chronic nasal congestion or eczema, asthma, dermatitis? The Latest statistics tell us that 3 million people in this country; around 15% of the population suffer some form of hay fever and/or allergy. Whilst you may feel fine now, even the healthiest of us can succumb to an attack of hay fever as the spring season starts. Symptoms of itchy eyes, nasal congestion and chronic catarrh can be miserable, however the good news is there are a number of substances that can reduce your allergic potential; so you’re less likely to have symptoms in the first place or reduce their severity if you do have them and can even assist when you’re having an ‘attack’.

    Hay Fever – Why you have it


    Grass pollens are the major outdoor trigger for hay fever in Australia. The timing and severity of the grass pollen season varies considerably between years and location e.g. Victoria has a short but intense grass pollen season, reaching peak in late October-early November. In contrast, Brisbane and the NT have grass pollen seasons extending for most of the year, with peaks in the summer months of January through March. The amount of pollen as well as the number of days a pollen will circulate at high levels are both on the increase; meaning for some, that previous levels of pollen were too low to initiate a response.


    Traffic fumes are sometimes blamed for the spread of “urban hay fever”, as allergens and pollution work together and enhance the responsiveness of each other which creates more symptoms. Fumes from cars and buses contain nitric oxide when breathed in, stop our hair like projections in the nose from clearing away mucous, keeping people feeling congested and miserable.


    Histamines are amino acids naturally produced in the body to signal immune activity and commonly found in a wide range of food sources, particularly fermented, or aged food and beverage products such as aged cheeses, preserved meats, berries, citrus, cocoa, spinach and eggs. Histamine is normally processed, or metabolised by a specific enzyme found in the gut, called diamine oxidase (DAO). Deficiencies in this enzyme stop the body being able to break down dietary histamine and can result in excessive levels of histamine circulating in the body, which contribute to the symptoms of watery/itchy eyes, blocked and runny nose, sneezing and/or a scratchy throat. Many factors inhibit the DAO enzyme from helping to process histamine in the body including alcohol, and medications including antidepressants, anti-pyschotics and some blood pressure medications.

    Hay Fever – How you can fix it

    Antihistamines have been used to manage hay fever for decades and are a common first line treatment for many. Whilst this option is widely available, many clients report back common side effects such as dry mouth, drowsiness, restlessness and moodiness (particularly in  children) and dizziness.

    Vitamin C

    Without a doubt, vitamin C is our most important anti-allergy vitamin as it can calm an allergic response. Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin, meaning it travels in and out of the body fairly quickly and we need a constant supply. If taking in supplement form for hay fever, consider taking a staggered dose throughout the day – e.g. 1g in the morning and 1g in the afternoon. Obviously, food is an easy and delicious way to increase vitamin C status by eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, although you would have to eat an enormous amount to get to therapeutic doses in the body of around to 2g. E.g. 100g of broccoli contains 110mg of vitamin C and 100g of strawberries around 60mg, assuming they are very, very fresh. Foods that contain vitamin C typically also naturally contain antioxidant bioflavonoids such as hesperidin, rutin and quercetin. These bioflavonoids can help maximise the absorption of vitamin C we take in.


    Quercetin is natures anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory which assists in the relief of hayfever and upper respiratory tract allergies such as sneezing, runny noses, watery eyes and itching.


    You may be wondering how on earth a probiotic can support hay fever? However, the gut is where much of your immune system (75% +) is located and a probiotic will enhance immune system function through supporting the health of the bacteria already residing within your gut. Two strains of probiotics are particularly helpful for hay fever – they are Lactobacillus rhamnosus (LGG®) and Lactobacillus paracasei. Both increase the activity of specialised cells in the immune system called natural killer (NK) cells, which target and kill infected cells – exactly what you want to tackle when hay fever and/or a cold or flu attack.


    Glutamine is an essential component to support the immune system as it promotes healthy mucous membranes and reduces the potential of allergies to cause a response in our bodies. It is also a powerful nutrient for supporting immune function as it promotes healthy mucous membranes, particularly in our gastrointestinal tract and thereby reduces the potential of allergies to cause a response in our bodies. I always recommend it for anyone experiencing allergy symptoms and for best results, take an empty stomach first thing in the morning.


    Curcuminoids are the natural anti-inflammatory agents found in the spice Turmeric. Unfortunately, these active constituents, curcuminoids are not very well absorbed in the body so if you want a therapeutic outcome (i.e. reduction in your hay fever symptoms) from this very powerful herb, then you need a therapeutic dose from high quality, and highly bio-available supplements.


    Derived from fresh pineapple, Bromelain is an enzyme that not only assists with the digestion of proteins, but in reducing inflammation, pain and swelling in the body.


    Many don’t associate using MSM directly with allergy like symptoms, however it can be a fantastic place to start in any natural treatment protocol as it has potential to reduce symptoms including nasal congestion and cough.


    No doubt the sweetest of all treatments – 1 of the active ingredients in manuka honey, methylgloxal may be effective in targeting excessive nasal mucous.

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