Best Hayfever Remedies – to reduce any symptoms
If you want to banish your symptoms for the season, as a Nutritional Therapist I recommend a selection of natural remedies which can be used instead of, or even alongside, any anti-histamine pill.
An inspired idea for managing a sneezing fit
I really thought I had things under control, but when a short cycle through the park made everything kick off – eyes streaming, sneezing so much that I almost wobbled off my bike – I knew it was time to step up my hayfever routine.
If you’re one of the 1 in 4 people who suffer from hayfever – with your itchy eyes, nose and throat and sneezing fits you’ll definitely know about it – then you’ll be familiar with the constant search for a hay fever remedy that works. One that doesn’t burn your nose, leave your throat dry, or make you annoyingly drowsy.
Another pain from having seasonal allergies, or allergic rhinitis, is how exhausted you can feel by the end of the day. As much fun as it may be to sneeze, I know how the constant sneezing and itching can really take it out of you. Many hayfever sufferers also report having poor sleep, daytime fatigue, reduced focus and lack of concentration throughout their allergy season.
This year I started with my hayfever-prevention routine in April, and was congratulating myself on how organised I’ve been. But then by June 1 it was as if a switch had been flicked. A short cycle BESIDE a park caused my eyes to tear up and stream and sent me into an alarming sneezing fit.
I thought I would have to just cycle and bear it, but then inspiration hit – I had the brilliant idea to whip out my N95 mask and pop it on. Surely if it was an effective barrier to viruses and bacteria it could serve as a barrier to pollen as well?
As it turned out, it worked like a treat. In fact, it was so useful in this instance that I’ve also added it to my essential gear for whenever I’m on my bike.
Hi-vis jacket? Check.
At least now I can cycle safely.
What else can work to reduce hayfever symptoms? Take a look at these other natural remedies to see if you can add them to your anti-hay fever routine.
BEST HAYFEVER REMEDIES
To Reduce Any Symptoms
1. Create a barrier
Creating a barrier which reduces the amount of pollen you inhale is one of the key ways to manage and reduce hayfever symptoms. If you do suffer from itchy eyes, an itchy nose or itchy throat, blocked nose or sneezing fits, then finding anything that works (even cycling in a mask on the hottest day of the year!) would be a huge relief.
Pollens (from tree, grass or weeds) are the irritants that produce hayfever symptoms. Mould spores and the faeces from house dust mites can also trigger allergies. Settling on the mucosal membrane lining your nose and throat they cause irritation that makes your nose and eyes stream.
As it turns out, size is everything.
The N95 mask filters particles as small as 0.04 micrometers. (A standard surgical mask blocks particles larger than 3 micrometers.) In comparison pollens are gigantic (between 10 – 100 micrometers), while spores and dust mite faeces are huge (from between 2 – 50 and 10 – 40 micrometers respectively).
This is why wearing a mask can block them out, and was so efficient at stopping me sneeze.
2. Increase your intake of histamine-fighting supplements
Apart from reducing the amount of pollen getting in, another way to reduce hayfever symptoms is to make it easier to tackle high histamine levels.
When more and more pollen enters the body, it accumulates on a special type of cell (mast cells) until it reaches a significant load which makes the cell membrane rupture. This is how histamine is released into your circulation. When it floods through your system, your over-reaction to histamine creates the itchiness and wateriness and discomfort that is associated with having hayfever. Everyone has mast cells, and everyone produces histamine, but not everyone reacts to it: this is why 3 out of 4 people don’t have hay fever.
Vitamin C is directly anti-histaminic.
Unlike anti-histamine tablets which prevent histamine from binding to particular receptors, vitamin C is believed to destroy histamine’s molecular structure. In an old study from 1992 with 10 healthy participants, a single 2g dose of vitamin C depressed histamine levels by 38% .
Pycnogenol is directly anti-histaminic.
Unlike over-the-counter anti-histamines which prevent histamine from binding to specific receptors, or vitamin C which destroys its structure, pycnogenol goes one step back in the histamine pathway; it inhibits an enzyme known as histidine decarboxylase (HDC) which prevents histamine from ever being formed. Even if your pollen load gets high AND cells split open, there’s less histamine released and therefore, less histamine for you to deal with.
Supplements of vitamin D, quercetin and luffa may also be useful. You can read more about them here in a previous blog: Hayfever: A Nutritionist’s Tips.
In another review of supplements for hayfever  researchers concluded:
“Promising evidence for the following single supplements were found: apple polyphenols, tomato extract, spirulina, chlorophyll c2, honey, conjugated linoleic acid, MSM, isoquercitrin, vitamins C, D and E, as well as probiotics. Combination formulas may also be beneficial, particularly specific probiotic complexes, a mixture of vitamin D3, quercetin and Perilla frutescens, as well as the combination of vitamin D3 and L. reuteri.”
3. Eat more of the foods which reduce inflammation
If there’s one time of the year where your diet has a huge influence on health, then it’s the season when your allergies appear. It all depends on the type of pollen that you react to, but with tree pollen release peaking between March to April, grass pollens from May to July, weed pollens filling the air from June to August, and mould spores from September to October, there’ll be a particular time of the year when addressing your diet makes the most sense.
An anti-inflammatory diet can help dampen down inflamation in general, and go someway to targeting localised inflammation – which can affect your nasal passages, throat and eyes.
Scratch the surface about the story of inflammation and you’ll find a world of chemicals, letters and numbers – cytokines such as IL-10, TBF-beta, IL-6, IL-1BETA, and branches of the immune system TH1 and TH2. While these may be confusing, the effects of the foods you eat isn’t.
Here are some of the easy food swaps that can help bring inflammation down:
- Switch from coffee and caffeinated drinks to green tea, turmeric tea, white tea and nettle tea.
- Switch from dairy to non-dairy plant mylk, yogurts and cheese.
- Replace nut and seed oils with healthier options like unrefined flax seed oil (to serve cold), macadamia nut oil (for cooked dishes) and avocado, rice bran or virgin olive oil (for foods cooked at high temperatures).
- Swap creamy dishes like pasta carbonaras to spicier dishes with ginger and chilies.
Get the recipe here for one of my favourite dairy-free, gluten-free, spicy recipes: NewStyle Pot Noodles
1 in 4 people are unfortunate enough to suffer from hayfever, or allergic rhinitis, at some time of the year. If the constant sneezing fits, streaming eyes, blocked or runny nose aren’t enough to deal with, hay fever can also leave you unable to sleep at night and tired and unfocused during the day. Anti-histamines are one way to rapidly decrease your hayfever symptoms but they can leave you drowsy, and with a dry nose, throat and eyes. Natural supplements can have an anti-histamine effect, and some canny dietary changes can also help. If you’re tempted to explore these natural ideas to quickly reduce your hayfever symptoms then, apart from your fits of sneezes, I don’t think there’s anything to lose.
References Johnston C et al (1992) Antihistamine effect of supplemental ascorbic acid and neutrophil chemotaxis  Pellow J et al (2020) Health supplements for allergic rhinitis: A mixed-methods systematic review
Eye for Ebony, Engin Akyurt, Diana Polekhina, Phuonh Nguyen at Unsplash.com