Help for Hayfever Sufferers
The Telegraph last weekreported “The number of hay fever sufferers could reach 30 million within 20 years as city living, pollution and climate change exacerbate symptoms, experts have warned.”
Those of you that suffer hayfever (around 10 million in the u.k) will know that this apparently simple and very common allergy can be really unpleasant, exhausting and even debilitating. It can keep you home when you would rather be out enjoying the sun. It can waylay any plans of camping and make driving or operating machinery hazardous.
Grass pollen which is just flowering now, is the biggest trigger affecting 95% of sufferers, so we are now moving into the height of the hayfever season.
In Chinese Medicine the Triple warmer, lung and Large Intestine meridians are indicated and treated for hayfever. These key meridians are related to our boundaries both physical and emotional so it makes sense to say that hayfever is born of and further creates a heightened sensitivity.
So it’s a time to “wrap yourself up” and be gentle with yourself. Here are some ways to take care of yourself in hayfever time. There is a lot you can do that’s easy and even fun that will alleviate stress and reduce symptoms helping you to feel much better. Here's a long list of possibilities and there are more to explore. Choose the things that feel good to you and remember there is always therapeutic help to support your system whilst it is under pressure. Complementary medicine has a long history of benefit for Hayfever sufferers.
General Self help
- Generally the pollen counts peak at between 9 a.m. and 12 midday. Then they lower until about 5 p.m. when they rise until about 7 p.m. Keep windows closed at peak times and take your walks in the afternoons.
- Wear sunglasses. This can keep pollen out of the eyes and soothe them when they are sore and tired.
- Rinse your eyes in cool water when you get home and shower regularly to wash off pollens… especially after walks and when coming home for the evening.
- Hayfever can make you very tired weather you take medications or not. So make sure you get plenty of sleep.
- Like most things, hayfever is worse when we are stressed. Meditation, deep breathing and yoga will all help with symptoms.
- Simply lying on your bed in a dark room listening to your breathing can be a great replenisher.
To Clear Sinuses
Fill a bowl with hot water, put a towel over your head, then hold your face over the the steam and breathe. Add 2 drops of Eucylyptus oil for maximum cleansing.
Stretches and Exercises
In Chinese Medicine twists regulate the triple warmer meridian, relieving symptoms and strengthening your resilience. Try these two easy twists (if you have a yoga practice you can try out all the ones that you know).
- Standing with your feet under your hips, bring the tips of your middle fingers together, palms flat to the ground. Elbows at shoulder height. Keeping this position with the arms, twist the upper body to the left as far as you go and turn your head to look over your left shoulder. Breathe deeply. Return to centre. Repeat to the right side. Repeat the whole exercise 6 – 8 times with deep breathing.
- Lie flat on your back and bring your knees to your chest and flex your feet (push your heals away). Take your arms out at a 90 degree angle making a T shape. Now press your arms into the floor as you take your knees to the left. Let your knees rest on the floor. Breathe deeply into your chest. Your right arm may rise a little. Aim to bring the arm back towards / into the ground. Repeat to the right.
A useful stress buster and replenisher
Lie on your back in a dark room, eyes closed. Take a deep breath into the chest, hold the breath in for a second or two then open the mouth and let go. Let your breath find its own out. Listen to the out breath and when there is no breath left inside wait, the breath will return of its own accord. Let the breath fill up the lungs beginning the cycle again.
Help from foods and supplements
Honey and Proppolis
Taking local honey or proppolis in the months leading up to the hayfever season will help to immunise you. Before and during the season:
- Reduce histamine levels by eating plenty of magnesium and methionine-rich foods. Good sources are sunflower seeds, nuts, oats and leafy greens.
- Eat cabbage, onions and apples regularly. These foods are good sources of quercetin, a natural antihistamine.
- Eat plenty of purple berries, such as blueberries, blackberries and elderberries, for their anti-inflammatory benefits. Try making a refreshing fruit smoothie with frozen blueberries, or add a spoonful of elderberry jam onto your morning cereal.
- Drink peppermint tea. Peppermint contains a substance called rosmarinic acid, a powerful antioxidant that blocks production of allergy-producing leukotrienes.
- Ensure you’re getting plenty of immune-boosting nutrients. Vitamin B6 and zinc play an important role in balancing histamine levels and supporting the immune system.
- Increased sunlight in the summer results in higher levels of pollution in urban areas, causing the immune system to react. A good all-round antioxidant supplement can increase your resistance. Try one that includes vitamins A, C and E, selenium and zinc.
- Food intolerances can sometimes make symptoms worse. Try limiting common culprits such as wheat and dairy products for a couple of weeks to see if symptoms begin to improve.
- Omega-3 oils are one of nature’s best anti-inflammatory nutrients. Include oily fish in your diet at least twice weekly, and supplement with a good quality fish oil or flaxseed oil
Foods to Avoid
The three most common substances that are reacted to are pollen, wheat and milk. All of these were originally grass products. So you can try reducing or illiminating wheat and dairy from your diet. Plus take out anything that contains histamine, the obvious being red wine.
For more information about Hayfever and how Complementary Medicine can help please visit our Hayfever page.