Hayfever season has arrived with spring and over the last few weeks I have seen an increase in hayfever in my patients. For most, hayfever is seasonal because spring time means an increase in pollen from trees, grasses and weeds. In some people prone to allergies, their immune system believes pollen is a harmful invader, triggering production of the antibody immunoglobulin E. This encourages the release of histamine, causing inflammation and swelling of the nasal passages, sinus, throat and eyes. Other symptoms of hay fever include excessive mucus production, sneezing, itching nose and throat, watery eyes and a clear, runny nose. Hay fever (sometimes called allergic rhinitis) is one of the most common chronic respiratory conditions in this country, affecting around three million Australians.
However, before you reach for antihistamine medications this spring, there are a number of foods, nutrients, herbs and dietary changes that are extremely beneficial for alleviating hay fever symptoms.
Just as the right type of petrol helps your car run properly, the right diet and nutrients for allergies are important to help you feel your best. Nutritional medicines, when in the correct dosage and concentration, can prevent hayfever outbreaks from occurring meaning that there is no need for an antihistamine. A low dairy and low sugar diet can also help to reduce mucous production.
There are some food-based natural treatments for hayfever that are easy to incorporate into your diet to reduce your symptoms. Below I have outlined two easy remedies for hayfever that you can use at home.
Hay fever tea recipe
- ¼ Orange, ½ lime or ½ lemon
- ½ tsp Cayenne pepper
- 1 thumb size knob of ginger
- 1 tsp of Manuka honey
Combine all ingredients into a 250 ml cup of boiling water and stir. Enjoy!
Vitamin C is a known natural antihistamine and can be found in oranges, lemons and limes. Also present are bioflavonoids, which have powerful anti-allergy effects. The combination of vitamin C and bioflavonoids provides a natural decongestant and antihistamine for sufferers and helps alleviate symptoms effectively. Other sources of vitamin C that may be beneficial include berries, strawberries, kiwi fruit, cabbage, broccoli and carrots.
Cayenne pepper aids in breaking up and moving congested mucous.
Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory and circulatory stimulant. It therefore reduces the inflammation of your respiratory passage while clearing mucous.
Manuka honey is said to aid hayfever because the bee pollen in honey can desensitize your body to other pollens. It also stimulates production of cells that can repair tissue damaged by infection. In addition, honey has an anti-inflammatory action that can quickly reduce pain and inflammation once it is applied. It’s also an antibacterial to reduce the risk of developing a secondary infection
Hay fever onion soup
- 50g unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 4 large onions (about 1kg), sliced
- 50ml brandy
- 3 cups (750ml) chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 thyme sprigs
1. Melt the butter with the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion, honey and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until golden and caramelized.
2. Add the brandy, then increase heat to medium-high and cook for 1-2 minutes until liquid is almost evaporated. Add the chicken stock, balsamic and herbs, bring to a simmer, and then reduce heat to low. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened.
3. Serve with some wholemeal bread.
Onion skins are a good source of quercetin, a natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory shown to reduce symptoms in hay fever sufferers. Onions contain three times as much quercetin as kale and 10 times as much as broccoli and can be eaten throughout the day in a variety of meals. Try making onion soup which is delicious and nourishing for hay fever suffers.
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