The Whys and Wherefores of Hayfever

The hay fever season is on its way, infact for many people, the minute the sun came out, it started!

The media are predicting that this year’s allergy season will be the worst ever! They said the same for last year! However for the sufferer it doesn’t really matter what they say because whatever it is, it brings misery in the form of runny nose, itchy watery eyes, sneezing, itchy sore throat, coughing, congestion and many more symptoms!

So what causes these symptoms and why?

People who are susceptible to allergies, when they come into contact with the allergen, such as the pollens, cats, dogs etc, those allergens get absorbed into the blood. The white blood cells then produce billions of antibodies, IgE, that travel through the blood stream until they combine with Mast cells that contain histamine and other chemicals that are involved with the inflammatory process.

The IgE antibodies cause the membranes of the Mast cells to release their stores of histamine into the blood that in turn causes the allergic reactions. The Mast cells produce 2 other chemicals, leucotriences and prostaglandins both of which may cause airway constriction and asthma which are very common in allergic reactions.

However it is not just hayfever that relates to allergies, almost all chronic inflammatory conditions have allergic hypersensitivity as their root cause and an allergy also underlies auto-immune problems. Something goes wrong and healthy tissue gets targeted by immune cells so that the body is turning on itself producing an autoimmune response. So whether it is Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or lupus, they all have a hypersensitivity immune reaction leading to inflammation.

Inflammation is involved in almost all diseases, from heart disease, to diabetes, to obesity, skin problems, joint pain, lung disorders, liver and intestinal problems. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) one of the most important risk factors is an unhealthy diet, and the authors of The China Study concluded that 97% of all chronic illness is attributed to an unhealthy lifestyle!

A huge part of your immune system lies within your gut and that is why your intestinal health is so important. It doesn’t take alot to disrupt the gut immune system and the most common things that do are:

• Antibiotics – they promote an overgrowth of resistant bacteria, fungus and parasites
• Medications especially anti inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, and anti-acids as they hamper the healing process.
• Alcohol and caffeine – are strong gut irritants that wear down the mucosa
• Chemicals and preservatives
• Digestive enzyme deficiency and low stomach acid
• High sugar and processed foods devoid of fibre.

Other possible immune triggers of chronic disease are stress, chronic low grade infections, viruses, fungi and parasites.

So allergies are one of the main causes of inflammation behind chronic disease and hayfever, and therefore correcting the cause of the inflammation is the way to go to help.

The first thing that I suggest, is to look at your food sensitivities, whether you are suffering from hayfever or any other inflammatory disease, and remove from your diet those foods that you are sensitive to, to stop them causing problems. You can then take supplements to help the gut permeability and absorption, improve the gut flora and aid digestion.

For hayfever symptoms most people will turn to conventional treatments to relieve their symptoms such as taking anti-histamines and steroids. They certainly do suppress the reactions but they all come with side effects that range from mild to potentially harmful, and are not good. The most common side effect with antihistamines is extreme tiredness which makes driving or using any machinery very dangerous, they can also make you dizzy and some even overstimulate.

The good news is that there are natural alternatives that can help:

Quercetin – is a member of the bioflavonoid family and is found naturally in the skins of fruit especially grapes, apples, berries, onions and tea. It prevents mast cells from producing histamine and other chemicals from causing allergic reactions and it also has anti inflammatory, anti cancer and heart protecting qualities.
Although quercetin is found in many foods, for therapeutic doses it is necessary to take it in a supplement form. Quercetin is not very easily absorbed so taking it with a digestive enzyme such as bromelain will help its absorption. Bromelain also has an anti inflammatory effect that works synergistically with Quercetin.

Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant that helps to support the immune system.

• Homeopathy can be very helpful in relieving hayfever symptoms and you can either use the single dose remedies in a 30 potency for grass, tree or mixed pollens or specific drops that are bespoke to you, using the Miller Technique. With the Miller Technique I start with a ‘mother tincture’ which is diluted by 1 in 10 and then that one is diluted by 1 in 10 and so on. I use this method to desensitise to many airborne allergens and I test them to find out the exact potency that will help your symptoms.

Other homeopathic remedies for hayfever include:

Allium Cepa 6 which is good for bouts of sneezing, burning watery nasal discharge, sore nostrils, watery, itchy eyes and a tickling cough.

Sabadilla 6 which is good for bouts of sneezing, profuse watery nasal discharge, numbness and itching of the throat, and sinus pains.

Arundo 6 which is good for itchy eyes, itchy roof of mouth and back of the throat, itching deep in the ears and itchy nostrils.

Euphrasia 6 which helps sneezing, watery nose, red eyes, burning tears, and general headaches. Euphrasia drops are also excellent for sore eyes.

Nasal flushing with a saline solution can effectively manage hayfever symptoms. You can buy Neti Pots in chemists or on Amazon that are especially designed for that purpose.

So don’t immediately stretch for the antihistamines and steroids when your hayfever symptoms arrive. Have a food sensitivity test, and try the more natural remedies first.

I used to have very bad hayfever, but once I took milk and dairy products out of my diet my hayfever improved dramatically. Now I can use the natural remedies to keep the last few symptoms at bay!

Wyndham Health