Hay fever season and natural remedies

Natural tips for hay fever relief

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Are you one of the three million Australians who suffer from hay fever? Here are some great natural tips for relief

Every year as winter turns to spring, many people rejoice at the promise of warmer days to come. Flowers show their coloured faces and warm breezes greet you as you step outside. But for some people, those breezes are a headache waiting to happen. Hay fever is a serious spring-killer for some, so how do we avoid it?

But if you suffer from hay fever, you may look upon this time with a little less fondness. 

The dirt on hay fever

What is hay fever and why does it make your head feel heavy?

Hay fever is an acute inflammation of the nasal passages which usually occurs seasonally. It's often caused by pollens or other airborne allergens such as dust mites.

Signs and symptoms, which generally occur soon after exposure to pollens, can include:

  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy eyes, nose or roof of mouth
  • Cough
  • Sinus pressure and facial pain
  • Sleeplessness
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability  

What’s behind hay fever?

Why do some people suffer from hay fever while others don’t?

Those that suffer from hay fever have, at some point, had their immune system mistakenly identify a harmless airborne substance (like pollen) to be harmful. This is a process called sensitisation.

After sensitisation,  when the body is exposed to an allergen, it produces chemicals such as histamine. These chemicals are produced to fight off the allergen, and cause cold and flu-like symptoms.

Does a runny nose always equal hay fever?

Hay fever can sometimes be confused with other conditions that can cause a runny nose, such as the common cold or flu virus.

Colds develop five to seven days after being exposed to a cold virus, and symptoms can include a runny nose with watery or thick yellow discharge and fever. Get more information on the difference between colds and allergies here.

Allergies, on the other hand, have no associated fever and generally occur soon after exposure to pollen.

If you believe you have allergies, it is best to see your healthcare provider to get allergy tests. This will help you to avoid allergens when possible. For those allergic to dust mites, vacuuming and washing curtains, bedding, rugs, etc, in hot water will help kill off the little critters. If you are allergic to pollen, then you have a good excuse not to mow the lawn!

Natural relief for hay fever symptoms

Instead of simply avoiding pollen or dust – which is quite difficult! – here are some natural remedies you can try:

Vitamin C

Studies suggest that vitamin C supplementation has an antihistamine effect. Vitamin C also plays a role in supporting the immune system. Oranges and red capsicum are an excellent source of vitamin C. Add them to lunchboxes and have some fresh capsicum with dinner.

Horseradish and garlic
This is a traditional combination of herbs which is used to ease congestion. Horseradish is traditionally known as a decongestant and may help to provide relief from a blocked up nose. Garlic has anti-inflammatory properties which may be useful for inflamed nasal passages. It also has an immune enhancing effect.

Vitamin A
Vitamin A is useful in maintaining the health of mucous membranes. This can be particularly beneficial in hay fever if there is constant inflammation of the mucous membranes. Snacking on carrots and adding sweet potato to salads will give you extra vitamin A throughout the day.

Lifestyle factors that can help with hay fever:

  • Be sure to eat a healthy whole food diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. A good diet can ensure you are armed with all the vitamins and minerals which may be helpful in hay fever symptom relief.
  • Reduce or cut out dairy foods. They are considered to be mucus producers and may increase the amount of mucus produced during hay fever bouts.
  • Minimise your exposure to pollens and moulds where possible.
  • Avoid going outside on windy days, especially during spring when the pollen count is high.
  • Use essential oil inhalations. Combine essential oils such as tea tree, eucalyptus or lemon myrtle with boiling water in a bowl.
  • Place your head over the bowl and inhale the steam. This can help to loosen up the mucus and get you breathing easier.

References available on request 

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My brother suffers badly from hayfever and uses sinubalmer and applyes it to the inside at the entrance to his nose. I've noticed he is sneezing much less and is not complaining as much about his hayfever. I also think the antihistamines are a good idea especially the natural type.
I take antihistamine tablets for my hay fever, it's at it's worst in the morning almost as soon as i wake up in the morning but my antihistamines take a long time to kick in. I take them as needed which is about twice as day. The packet say i can take it every 6 hours, should be on a more structured treatment than as needed? Would this prevent waking up feeling like a train has hit me??
Anonymous 25 Mar 2013
Hi Paul,
Thank you for your post and I am sorry to hear about what you are going through in terms of your symptoms of hay fever and eczema
It does seem that you have identified one of the causes of this latest bout (the dusty place you work!)
Firstly, is there any way that you can address the dust issue at your workplace? There are some devices on the market that help to eliminate dust mites and a high powered vacuum can work wonders.
I would also suggest some allergy testing if you have not already done so as then you will be able to identify specific triggers of for the hay fever.
There are also naturopathic dietary protocols that may help to strengthen your immune system and assist with general dietary and lifestyle that may help.
You may like to have as look at these articles written by one our naturopaths:
In terms of the eczema, high doses of essential fatty acids can help the eczema as well as helping to reduce general inflammation.
I do suggest that you consult with a naturopath who has experience in treating both of your conditions and who can work in conjunction with your doctor
All the best Paul.
Kind regards,
Charmaine (Blackmores Naturopath)
Charmaine 15 Mar 2013
I'm usually fine at home but when I'm out or at work it's very dusty, I suffer hayfever and eczma (can't spell it)
The doctor told me I have a rather narrow nasal passage and probably need surgery. I have nasonex and avermys nasal spray. Is there anything I could do to avoid the surgery?
Anonymous 13 Mar 2013
Hello, it sounds like your immune system may need support with some essential fatty acids like fish oils and immune boosting nutrients to help with allergies.
Inhalant and environmental allergies may also need to be identified/tested for to reduce the burden on your system. Common ones for the home include dust, mould and animals.
Horseradish contains pungent compounds, called mustard oils, which are thought to be the constituents which may have a decongestant effect. Horseradish has been used to help clear the respiratory passages.
Garlic has traditionally been used for the relief of hayfever, coughs, colds, flu and rhinitis. Garlic contains sulphur compounds which are responsible for many of the beneficial immune boosting actions of garlic.
Fenugreek acts as a demulcent which helps to soothe inflamed mucous membranes.
Vitamin C is important in immunity as it is involved in the function of white blood cells and antibodies.

If you would like to contact the Naturopathic Advisory Service for further assistance please call us on 1800 803 760.

I trust that you find this information helpful and I wish you all the best of health.
Kind regards, Gina (A Blackmores naturopath)

Anonymous 15 Nov 2012
I feel like dying every spring, I eat healthy & unhealthy which make no difference, often feel tired restless and look awful. Does anyone knows something else that can help :(
Anonymous 15 Nov 2012