Hayfever? Allergies? – Don’t over react…
While most of us can’t wait for spring and summer to be here – spare a thought for 20% of the population who suffer from Hayfever.
The beginning of spring, for these people, means the beginning of the allergy season, which is officially underway, when plants start flowering and pollination begins. Typically this is from September to March, with variations in intensity and duration of symptoms seen among individuals. The word allergy originates from two Greek words meaning ‘altered reactivity’. An allergy or hypersensitivity occurs when a person’s immune system reacts to a normally harmless substance. This is often an inherited trait, although anyone is at risk of becoming over-sensitive to a commonly encountered substance.
What is Hayfever?
First of all Hayfever isn’t caused by hay and doesn’t exhibit symptoms of fever, but since grasses shed their pollens into the air at about the same time that hay is being cut, the common term hayfever is used.
The correct term is Allergic rhinitis which essentially means ‘irritation of the nose’. If this occurs during a specific season it is called ‘seasonal allergic rhinitis’. If it occurs throughout the year, it is called ‘perennial allergic rhinitis’.
Symptoms of hayfever (or allergic rhinitis) include nasal congestion, a clear runny nose, sneezing, itchy nose and eyes, watery eyes, postnasal drip or clear mucus which may cause coughing. Either way – It’s no fun and it can really interfere with one’s quality of life and overall health.
What causes it?
The culprits for initiating many spring allergies are pollen grains and fertilising dust that fertilises other flowers. This ‘problem’ pollen generally comes from trees and grasses which are carried by the wind from plant to plant.
Interestingly, the pollen from brightly coloured flowers, transported by bees and other insects, does not trigger allergies unless a person has prolonged and direct contact with them (like a florist). Pollens aren’t the only offenders in initiating allergic reactions. Animal fur, certain foods, dust mites and chemicals can all affect sensitive individuals, often resulting in the symptoms and discomfort being present all year round.
Why does it affect some people and not others?
When pollen, or dust is breathed into our nasal passages or eyes, our immune system releases a substance called Immunoglobulin E (IgE) to fight the invading substance. Even though everyone has some level of IgE’s, an allergic person has an unusually large amount. Basically their immune system gets a bit over-enthusiastic in it’s attempts to fight the invading substance and ends up actually damaging some of it’s own tissue – this causes mast cells to release histamine – which in turn causes an allergic response.
What can help?
It’s hard to avoid all the pollen in the air, but here are a few handy hints to help lessen the exposure to pollen;
- Be aware of pollen counts and stay indoors when counts are high .
- Keep windows closed (including car windows).
- Use air conditioning.
- Avoid open grassy areas, particularly in the evenings and on windy days.
- Wear sunglasses.
- Wash your hands before touching your eyes.
- Don’t hang laundry outdoors.
What can I take?
Herbs most commonly used to help with allergies include; Boswellia, Perilla, Fenugreek, Eyebright and Elderflower. They have anti inflammatory and anti allergy actions and help get rid of mucus.
Other ingredients like Histadine and Quercitin help to stabilise the membranes of the body’s mast cells.
Quercetin is one of my favourites. I remember years ago when I was working in a health shop and a lady raced in the door asking for help. She was covered from head to toe in a rash and felt like she was going crazy she was itching so much. She had driven by a sports field that was being mowed. I gave her whatever we had that contained Quercetin (amongst other anti allergy ingredients). She came in the store the next day with a big bunch of flowers for me. It had given her relief and she had been able to sleep that night and she looked normal once again.
By Lynley Baker
Good Health Naturopath
Good Health Allergy Check is a potent combination of key herbs and nutrients selected for their action in helping to reduce the symptoms of allergies such as hayfever, watery eyes, sneezing, blocked nasal passages, profuse watery nasel flow and breathing difficulties. It is available for secure order from our online shop.
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