If you think that people are scratching, wheezing and sneezing more frequently, you’re right. Worldwide, eczema, asthma, hay fever and food allergies have doubled in the past 20 years according to Dr. Marc McMorris, clinical associate professor at University of Michigan and medical director of the university’s allergy specialty and food allergy clinic. According to the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy, admissions for anaphylaxis due to food allergy in children aged 0 to 4 years have increased fivefold over the past decade in Australia.
About 3.1 million Australians, or 15% of the population, suffer from hay fever, making it one of the most common chronic respiratory conditions in Australia, according to a report recently released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
Thankfully, I have never suffered from hay fever. My husband on the other hand has suffered for years and this year has been a particularly bad year. I am pleased to say that despite his initial scepticism, he has had great success with using essential oils. This is discussed in more detail below, in the Natural Remedies for Hay Fever section.
So why is hay fever so bad this year?
There is evidence that hay fever symptoms have been rising over the past 20 years and that there is a direct relationship between symptoms and pollen levels.
Around the globe, pollen counts are increasing and Australian Bureau of Statistics data suggests it could be affecting our health: 17.1 per cent of the Australian population reported hay fever symptoms in 2008, compared with 10.3 per cent in 1990. Meanwhile, the number of asthma-related deaths among children more than doubled between 2006 and 2010.
Some scientists believe climate change could be to blame for the rise in pollen. Associate Professor Paul Beggs, deputy head of the Department of Environment and Geography at Macquarie University, says: “There is generally earlier timing of spring events in both plants and animals. And earlier flowering is obviously related to earlier release of pollen into the atmosphere.”
Whether there is a direct correlation between carbon dioxide levels, global temperatures and shifting seasons is still open for debate. What has been proven is that the behavior of some flora is altering and that more research is required.
What Causes Hay Fever?
Hay fever is an acute inflammation of the nasal passages which usually occurs seasonally and is often caused by pollens or other airborne allergens such as house dust, animal fur, pollen, fungal spores, air pollutants, and occupational sources.
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, and on exposure to an allergen, the body produces chemicals such as histamine which lead to symptoms traditionally experienced in hay fever.
Hay Fever Symptoms
Signs and symptoms, which generally occur soon after exposure to pollens, can include: runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, itchy eyes, cough, sinus pressure and facial pain, sleeplessness, fatigue and irritability.
Hay Fever Treatments
The main medicines used to treat hay fever are intranasal corticosteroids (nasal sprays) and oral antihistamines. Side effects of these medications can include bleeding from the nose, drowsiness, headaches, dry mouth and urinary problems.
Comprehensive data is not available on the use of these medicines. Data from pharmacy suppliers, however, suggests that spending by pharmacies on these medicines doubled between 2001 and 2010, going from $107.8 million to $226.8 million per year.
Natural Relief for Hay Fever Symptoms
About a year ago, I met a lady who used to suffer from a range of allergies, including an allergy to nuts. Sharon Edlin managed to overcome her allergies by focusing mainly on gut health and now helps others overcome a variety of health issues including allergies and hay fever. I was fascinated to learn more and have since come to understand the importance of good gut health and its part in our overall health and wellbeing and have been researching this for some time now. For more information on gut health you can click here and continue reading for some ideas on how your diet can help reduce allergy and hay fever symptoms.
Sharon believes that GMO food may be one of the main causes of the increase in allergies. She also considers that the allergy increase in children is a warning sign that we should be listening to. There are many others with similar thoughts, and you can read more in an alarming blog by Lifehealth Choices, where our children are compared to ‘canaries in a cage’.
The information below presents some ideas on how you can improve your gut health, booste your immune system, and reduce or even eliminate allergy symptoms.
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, as well as other allergies. The following foods can help fight off sneezes, sniffles and sore eyes:
- Orange and green fruit and vegetables – The vibrant colour of carrots, pumpkin, apricots, mango and papaya indicates high levels of beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Green leafy veg are also an excellent source. Vitamin A is important for healthy mucous membranes throughout the respiratory tract. It also helps promote healthy immune function, prevent secondary respiratory infections and reduce inflammation. Kiwifruit, citrus fruits, strawberries, red capsicums, broccoli, papaya, guava and mango are also are high in Vitamin C, which has an anti-histamine effect. Fruit and vegetables are also rich in antioxidants, in particular bioflavanoids, which that are potent anti-histamines and anti-inflammatories & carotenoids which promote freedom and openness in your airways. Antioxidants also have many other benefits (see here) including boosting the immune system.
- Pineapple – Pineapple is a rich source of bromelain, an enzyme with strong systemic anti-inflammatory effects, which helps decrease mucosal inflammation and nasal congestion.
- Onion – an onion a day can help keep hay fever at bay. Onions contain high levels of quercetin, a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and natural anti-histamine.
- 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 is extremely anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral, and is a good source quercetin.
- Ginger – a powerful natural anti-inflammatory that helps reduce nasal swelling and associated hay fever symptoms.
- Turmeric – this spice contains curcumin, which has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions that are comparable to steroidal and nonsteroidal drugs. Curcumin has been found to inhibit the release of histamine.
- Liquorice and nettle teas – Studies have shown that nettle tea can help relieve inflammation of the upper respiratory tract and ease nasal congestion, sneezing and itching. Drinking liquorice tea can also alleviate symptoms.
- Avoid certain foods – Limit or avoid cow’s milk and other dairy products as they can increase the production of mucus in the respiratory tract and exacerbate hay fever nasal congestion. Try alternatives such as rice, almond, quinoa and coconut milks. Avoid GMO, processed foods and sugary foods wherever possible.
- Vitamin C – Studies have shown that vitamin C supplementation has an antihistamine effect. Vitamin C also plays a role in supporting the immune system.
- 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.
- Probiotics – Probiotics contain beneficial bacteria, and taking them can help boost our intestinal tract, so a daily dose of probiotics can help hay fever sufferers restore a more balanced immune response to pollens. Without a healthy balance of good bacteria in our gut (click here for information on gut health and candida), our immunity is likely to be compromised, leaving us more susceptible to developing allergies and illnesses. Taking a probiotic supplement daily is recommended, along with consuming fermented foods such as sauerkraut, pickled sprouts and vegetables, miso and kefir.
- Omega 3: Research suggests that may they omega 3 may reduce the production of inflammatory chemicals in the body which makes it very effective in combating the symptoms and treating the causes of hay fever. Getting enough omega 3 through diet is difficult, so I strongly recommend supplementation of your omega 3 intake.
- Wholefood Supplements – Taking a good wholefood supplement can also help reduce allergy symptoms or even eliminate completely. Make sure you do some research before taking any supplement and avoid synthetic supplements wherever possible as our bodies cannot readily absorb them. I take and can highly recommend doTERRAS Life Long Vitality Pack which includes a food nutrient complex MICROPLEX VMZ (high in Vitamin A and C), a cellular vitality complex ALPHA CRS (which contains turmeric and quercetin) and an essential oil omega complex
xEO MEGA. For more information you can also click here.
Essential oils are a great way of helping to reduce the symptoms, or even eliminating completely. I would recommend using a Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade (CPTG) essential oil, such as doTERRA, which can be applied directly to the skin or taken internally.
For running noses, a drop of lemon oil or doTERRAs Digestzen blend works almost instantly. A few drops of peppermint oil rubbed on the neck helps with sneezing and tickly throats, and breathing in peppermint of doTERRAs Breathe blend can help with congestion and clearing sinuses.
To help reduce the symptoms and even eliminate entirely, mix equal parts Lavender, Lemon, and Peppermint and take them in one of the following ways. The frequency of application will depend on the severity of the allergens. Use as often as needed to eliminate the symptoms.
Put 2 drops each of Lavender, Lemon, and Peppermint in an empty veg capsule then take internally.
Mix the oils in a ¼ cup of water, swish 10-20 seconds in the mouth and swallow.
Pre-make a blend of the oils then as needed put the mix on the fingers and inhale deeply.
Other Lifestyle factors that can help with hay fever:
- Minimize your exposure to pollens and moulds where possible.
- Avoid going outside on windy days, especially during spring when the pollen count is high.
- Exercise: Scientific research proves that hay fever is more prevalent in people who are physically inactive
If you have any questions about any of the above, then please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org for further information or visit www.mydoterra.com/tanyamaidment.