Hay fever

Hay fever

April 20, 2021

Are you someone who dreads the change of season to spring or fall because you know your allergies are going to act up? Dry eyes, blowing your nose all the time and sneezing everywhere? Well, you might have what is known as Hayfever. 


Don’t fret - keep reading and we may have something to help!



What is it?


Hayfever is also known as allergic rhinitis. This happens to many of us during the spring and fall when there are more particles like pollen in the air. These little particles can then irritate the inside of our noses, throat, eyes and cause our immune system to react. Some people have mild reactions, while others experience many symptoms at once, affecting daily life. If this irritation continues, and our immune response stays in a high response mode, this can lead to further inflammation. This can lead to more asthma-like symptoms, sinusitis (inflammation or infection of sinuses), or even food triggers. 



Symptoms can include one or many of the following:

  • Eyes that are dry, itchy, watery, red or even swollen
  • A runny nose that may also be itchy or stuffy 
  • Sneezing
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Loss of smell
  • Headache
  • Possible fatigue
  • Asthma or eczema can be triggered in some people

Causes:

  • Pollen
  • Dust
  • Mould
  • Food Sensitivities
  • Perfumes 
  • Pet Dander 


What about the skin? Some people will notice hives, or that their eczema will flare along with hayfever symptoms. Since all of these reactions relate to the immune system, and majority of our lymphatic system (which houses much of our immune cells) is in our digestive tract, it is paramount to consider your diet with herbs and supplements that can aid in the health of your digestive tract (ideas further down!).



What can you do?


There are actually a few different things we can do to mitigate and decrease our symptoms of hayfever. There are things we can do in our day to day life and living spaces, such as:


  • Cleaning - spring cleaning! Decreasing the dust build up and changing our air filters is helpful at decreasing potential triggers. Additionally, checking with how dry your home or work environment is, as this can also irritate the nose, throat and eyes.
  • Food - What we put in our bodies determines what resources (nutrients, minerals and more!) that our body can utilize during allergy reactions. Make sure you’re staying hydrated, getting all your fruits and veggies as they have so many great antioxidants to support our bodies. Additionally, dairy can increase mucus production and be pro-inflammatory, causing further symptoms. Some people notice a decrease in intensity of their congestion and symptoms when removing this from their diet during the change of seasons. 
  • Keep reading for more specific ideas!



Herbs to Consider


Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis): This anti-inflammatory herb helps to dry mucus membranes. Funny enough its name gives away where it helps most - the eyes! This herb is excellent at reducing watery, itchy eyes, but also at decreasing excess mucus production. 


Goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea): We see this plant growing usually in the fall, during allergy time. Although it may look like it could cause allergies - it actually can be quite helpful! It reduces congestion by thinning mucus secretions and decreasing inflammation.


Nettle Leaf (Urtica dioica): A potent nutritive tonic, nettle is naturally anti-allergic, helping to reduce hayfever. It also helps with hives by supporting detoxification through the kidneys and bowels.


Baikal Skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis): Helps to reduce inflammation and histamine (this causes itch!) release by mast cells, therefore reducing allergies and hayfever symptoms.


Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum): This mushroom helps to down regulate excessive immune activity, making it useful in allergies and auto-immunity. It also helps to reduce histamine release from mast cells, therefore reducing allergic reactions.




Supplements for Symptoms + Immune Support


  • Quercetin - This specific antioxidant is found in apples, onions, cranberries and green tea. It has an affinity for the lungs, while also decreasing histamine, which decreases itching. 
  • Vit C with bioflavonoids  - A great antioxidant for overall support to our bodies, but specifically for our immune system and decreasing inflammation, helping with allergic responses. 
  • Probiotics -  Did you know that a huge portion of our immune system resides in our gut? Many of our skin reactions, irritations and susceptibility on the outside, reflect what’s happening on the inside. Probiotics can help balance our gut bacteria, in turn supporting healthy immune responses and decreasing allergic reactions, especially if our symptoms are due to food sensitivities. 


Prevention


For some of us, this has been an annoying and chronic recurrent concern. If this is so, prevention and interventions throughout the year can help us prepare for the times when we are triggered, resulting in decreased symptoms and reactions. But, how? Implementing the above strategies such as cleaning, checking your air quality and starting to take quercetin, vitamin C and probiotics before allergy season starts, are important places to begin. Additionally, working with a health care practitioner like a naturopathic doctor or an herbalist can help you develop an individual treatment plan. Consults with a practitioner can help you find triggers, while identifying and supporting other systems in your body that may be related to your symptoms. Some people have very specific triggers to their symptoms, and this is very helpful to learn how to avoid or mitigate them. Triggers can be specific foods to specific scents, however investigation can also identify mould, cigarette smoke, overly dry or damp environment, or even pet dander as the culprit. Examples of other systems involved could be the gastrointestinal tract, immune system, but could be related to stress and sleep. Overall, reflecting on when your symptoms arise, your diet, sleep patterns and strategies for stress are a great place to start. If you want to talk about your own experience, or are interested in speaking to a professional, Apotheka has holistic nutritionists and herbalists on staff that would be happy to help navigate a plan just for you! 



How can Apotheka help you? 


We carry dried herbs for teas and have herbs in tinctures and would love to help formulate something for your hayfever symptoms to get you through the season, deal with acute itchiness or even help with prevention. Come on in to chat and see what options could be for you! If this is something that has been an ongoing issue an individualized consult with an herbalist staff member could be for you!


Bonus Tip! 


Acupressure:


Want to try something else?


Find the outside of your nostrils, in the little grooves on your face, press in on both sides. Press towards your face and slightly up the bridge of the nose. This is a meridian point called bitong, used in Chinese Acupuncture. Usually it is needled, but pressure in this area can also help with releasing congestion and irritation of the nose. 

Give it a try and let us know how it goes!


Written by Claire Watson




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