Prevent hay fever early

Autumn 2015 1

Start early to prevent hay fever this season with natural health remedies.

Hay fever facts :sneezing newsletter

  • Around 12 million people have hay fever in the UK
  • 95  per cent are affected by grass pollen, but many suffer from the tree pollens that are abundant from the spring.
  • Silver birch is the most prevalent hay fever trigger from trees, and it releases pollen as the temperature goes up.

Nutritional changes

More and more people are getting hay fever and age is no  barrier – you can start getting it at any age.   Ali Cullen, nutritional therapist at A. Vogel suggests some nutritional changes:

• Eat foods with anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties: including carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, avocado, mango, apricots, peaches, nectarines, papaya, pears, pineapples, blueberries, blackberries, purple grapes, blackcurrants, prunes, plums, raisins, figs, herring, salmon, sardines, trout, and pilchards.
• Cut down on foods that trigger inflammation such as: caffeine and refined sugar.
• Avoid mucus-forming dairy foods – milk products – to help to reduce catarrh.

The symptoms

Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen or mould which the body reacts to as alien substances. It causes numerous symptoms:

• Sneezing
• Runny, red and itchy eyes
• Blocked nose
• Wheezing
• Itchy throat
• Coughing
• Headaches and tiredness
• Sleep problems

Although it’s unpleasant the body is dealing with the alien substance by trying to get rid of it through sneezing and runny nose and eyes. Not surprisingly all this makes people feel very run down and unwell for as long as it lasts.

What else could it be?

Different people react to different pollens such as grass pollen, tree pollen and mould spores. Some weeds like nettle can affect people who are sensitive and often sufferers also react to house dust mites, animal fur and chemicals in household products and furniture.

Where you live

If you live in the south-east, the Midlands, north-east or central Scotland, particularly in a city you are more likely to suffer than people in most of Scotland and Wales, the north and the west country. The pollen season is shorter in Scotland and Wales and places like Devon or the Lake District benefit because of mountains and moorland.

What can you do about it?

Most people use anti-histamines, but they can make you drowsy.  There are some great natural remedies including a nasal wash – with a tiny bit of salt in warm water, or beetroot juice (if you can bear it) to clear out the nostrils. You can buy neti pots that enable you to do this easily – it has a little spout. This isn’t a pleasant experience and you might prefer one of the nasal sprays below.

A few tips

  • Avoid caffeine as it triggers histamine release – green teas and herbal teas are better.
  • Stay away from grassy areas particularly in the early evening when the pollen count peaks.
  • Cut down on dairy as it can increase the production of mucus.
  • Refined sugar makes blood sugar levels rise and fall, resulting in a surge of adrenaline which releases histamine.
  • Inhale steam with a few drops of basil, tea tree in to soothe nostrils.
  •  Rub some olive oil, Vaseline or HayMax on the inside of your nose to trap pollen.
  • Keep windows closed where possible. Net curtains can trap the pollen.
  • Wear sunglasses to keep pollen away from eyes

Herbal Remedies

• Luffa is little known but believed by nutritional experts such as Alison Cullen from Ayrshire to be the ‘number one treatment’. Clears a blocked or runny nose, and watery red eyes but has no side-effects, and children can take it. Start two weeks before the hayfever season is in force.
• Echinacea can be taken from one month before the hayfever season and then combined with Luffa.
• Euphrasia as a herbal tincture can ease watery sore eyes.
• Nettle for people who get skin rashes as well – a natural antihistamine.

Quercetin is a substance found in onions that is believed to stabilise the body’s cells that produce histamine and cause the allergic response (sniffing, sneezing, wheezing). It is enhanced by Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapples, which is said to help the absorption of quercetin into the body.

Homeopathic remedies for hay fever

Susanne Haar, Nelsons Homeopathic Pharmacist recommends trying a homeopathic consultation. Homeopathy can be used to help with the symptoms of hay fever and useful remedies include:

•    Nux vomica: for a runny nose during the day, which is dry at night; irritable and impatient mood; a person who feels worse in the morning, better in open air.
•    Euphrasia: for watery irritated eyes.
•    Allium cepa: for sneezing; runny nose; irritated eyes; when a person feels better in cool open air.

Hay fever top tips

grass kidsYou’ve started sneezing, your eyes are sore, and you know that this year’s hay fever has started. This year it seems the pollen count has been high, affecting people who don’t normally have a problem with hay fever.

Read our top tips from Alison Cullen of A. Vogel.

And read Prevent hay fever.

1. Caffeine triggers histamine release which can bring the skin up in a red, itchy, angry looking rash and dilate your blood vessels until everything feels inflamed – try green tea or herbal teas instead.

2. Dairy products are mucus forming. People prone to allergic reactions often struggle with dairy, so check out dairy-free options like goat’s milk, soya milk, almond milk, rice milk, for a start.

3. Refined sugar triggers a dramatic rise and fall of blood sugar levels, which causes an adrenalin surge that activates histamine release. Choose sweet dried or fresh fruit for a natural sugar fix instead, or stevia which is a natural sugar substitute.

4. Vitamin C acts as a natural antihistamine – fresh fruit and vegetables ensure a steady intake throughout the day. Your body can’t make or store vitamin C, so it has to be available in low, consistent doses to support your nasal lining.

5. Eat anti-inflammatory foods including blueberries, blackberries, purple grapes, blackcurrants, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, butternut squash, mangoes, apricots, peaches, nectarines, papaya, pears, pineapples, prunes, plums, raisins, figs, avocadoes, herring, pilchards, sardines, salmon, pumpkinseed oil and flaxseed oil to help counter inflammation.

6. Dry clothes indoors as damp clothes on the washing line will collect pollen.

7. Undress in the bathroom not the bedroom so the pollen from clothes doesn’t float around the bedroom.

8. Spread Vaseline around the edge of each nostril to trap or block pollen. Reapply each time you blow your nose.

9. Keep an eye on the pollen count using the free A.Vogel hayfever app at so you know when levels are high. It uses GPS to find your location and shows forecast levels for trees, grass and weed pollen.

10. Stock up on A.Vogel Pollinosan tablets, a natural remedy containing seven tropical herbs that work on all the symptoms of hayfever and allergic rhinitis, without the drowsy side effects associated with some medicine. For best results, it can be taken a month before your symptoms usually start.


How many people do you know who have hay fever, eczema, asthma or who can’t eat certain foods?

It is claimed that one third of the British population – around 20 million people – suffer from an allergy. There are only 33 NHS allergy specialists in the UK and waiting lists run up to nine months.

There are far too few allergy specialists in the UK, and only a handful of allergy clinics available to patients. Allergic reactions can be caused by a variety of allergens:

• Pollen (hayfever)
• House dust mites (asthma)
• Wasps or bees
• Foods – particularly dairy and wheat
• Chemicals in household cleaning products, cosmetics and toiletries
• Pesticides sprayed on foods

And allergies are on the rise with over 6,000 people a year being admitted to hospital. One quarter of these are as a result of anaphylaxis which is a very severe reaction to certain substances – often nuts – and can be life-threatening. An anaphylactic reaction can induce:

• Swelling of the lips and face
• Breathing problems

Many people are frustrated by the lack of knowledge GPs have and may find it difficult to be referred to a special allergy clinic as there are around 12 full time clinics in the whole country and about the same part-time, whereas there should be one at every hospital.

Food intolerances

Choosing to go on a food elimination diet can often help to improve health enormously. In a trial carried out by the Centre of Health Economics at the University of York and commissioned by Allergy UK it was found out of 5,286 people suffering from various health conditions that:

75.8 per cent improved after identifying food allergies
38 per cent had gastro-intestinal problems
13.7 per cent had skin problems
10.7 per cent had nerve problems
10.1 per cent were respiratory conditions
9.4 per cent were psychological
6.2 per cent were musculo-skeletal – aches and pains

According to YorkTest three foods that many people are intolerant to are:

Chilli peppers – found in curry and eaten by millions shows up in 9 per cent of YorkTest’s food intolerance tests
Kiwi fruit

What you can do

Often diet has much to do with allergic reactions and visiting a nutritionist can prove to be the answer, or visiting a complementary therapist in any of the following:

• Homeopathy
• Naturopathy
• Acupuncture
• Herbal medicine
• Chirokinetics
• Nutrition
• Electronic Gem Therapy
• Chinese Herbal Medicine
• Ayurvedic Medicine


Christine Boothman woke every morning at 2 a.m with a terrible headache which lasted until 11 o’clock each morning. By this time she felt incredibly tired which was made especially difficult as she works as a nursery nurse with noisy children. The doctor couldn’t find anything wrong with her, but when she went to YorkTest and had a food intolerance test she found she was intolerant to beef, eggs, dairy and wheat. She cut them in October 2007 and hasn’t had a headache since.

Natalie Tadman, 32, is an art teacher who has had eczema since she was a child when she had patches on her face and hands. Whatever treatment she was given did not help but after taking a food intolerance test she found that she needed to cut out bread, dates and wine. She is now in control of her eczema more than she has ever been.

Go to our Therapies A-Z page to find out more.


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