When working well, our immune system protects us from the bacteria, viruses and toxins that enter our bodies. With hay fever though, something goes horribly wrong and it starts to over-react to harmless substances such as pollens, grasses, and animal dander.
This allergic response results in a cluster of symptoms that make life miserable such as sneezing, stuffy or running nose, itching, headaches, asthma, watery eyes, post nasal drip and fogginess.
While hay fever may seem to be about surface symptoms only, it is really a deep-seated complaint. Commonly prescribed sprays and tablets that suppress hay fever symptoms may bring temporary relief but don’t get to the root of the problem. They are also associated with side effects and probably the least helpful option for long-term improvement.
Simple steps for managing hay fever
There are several self help measures at little cost which may help with hay fever. They are:
Using food as your medicine
- Drink plenty of water. When you’re well hydrated the mucous membranes of your nose remain moist to expel allergens more easily.
- Consider using a neti pot. These small pots can be filled with a warm sea salt solution and used to flush your nasal passages and expel irritants.
- Coat your nostrils. Lightly smear a non-absorbent ointment onto the inner surface of your nostrils to create a protective film that traps allergens.
- Know your triggers. Most hay fever sufferers are affected by the wind but some are worse indoors while others itch and sneeze when outside. Avoid your triggers when pollen counts are high.
Common homeopathic remedies for hay fever
- Healthy fats and oils such as olive oil, fish oil and even moderate amounts of animal fats are important for a healthy immune system. Studies show that those who eat mostly polyunsaturated and trans-fats, as found in many margarines and processed foods, are more likely to suffer allergies.
- Onions and garlic can be used for their homeopathic effect - the symptoms they cause, they can also treat. Both contain natural compounds that reduce the inflammation of hay fever. Add them liberally to your meals or, if you are up to it, eat them by themselves to reduce nasal irritation and streaming eyes.
- Local raw honey can be used as a crude form of homeopathy to desensitise yourself to local pollens from which the honey was produced. Start by taking a small amount each day before the start of hay fever season, gradually increasing to a teaspoon or more. Continue right through the season for best results.
- Spices such as horseradish, mustard, chillies and fenugreek also help through a crude homeopathic effect - they can relieve the very hay fever-like symptoms they produce. Add them liberally to meals or take them alone to thin mucus and expel irritants.
- Allium cepa: This remedy, prepared from the red onion, treats the symptom of streaming eyes and nose that is worse in warm and stuffy rooms. Sneezing can be intense and frequent and eyes are sensitive to the light.
- Arsenicum album: This is one of the best remedies for hay fever. Burning or itching in the nose, eyes or throat being a strong indication. The discharges from both eyes and nose will be burning. An improvement of the symptoms in the open air, although sensitive to light, is usually an indication for this remedy.
- Euphrasia: A classic remedy for hay fever where, again, there is lots of sneezing with streaming eyes and nose. If the water from the eyes burns the cheeks and the discharge from the nose is not too bad, this remedy is needed. The remedy is indicated if the symptoms improve in the open air - obviously away from pollen. Sensitivity to light may be apparent in both Euphrasia and Allium cepa.
- Natrum muriaticum: Initially, there is a streaming, bland discharge from both the eyes and nose with lots of sneezing. Later, there is nasal discharge that is thick and clear like the white of an egg with loss of taste and smell. This is not one of the main remedies for hay fever but it can bring great relief to the type who gets easily burned, feel generally miserable, uncomfortable, blotchy and irritated in the sun.
- Sulphur: Watery, burning nasal discharge, or a blocked nose, when outside. Frequent sneezing, blocking of nose on alternate sides and burning pain in eyes. Symptoms are worsened by warmth and becoming warm in bed, better for being in open air. May be lazy, opinionated, and desire sweets, alcohol, and spicy food.
When symptoms get worse, an appointment can be made with a homeopath
who will assess your condition in full and make a constitutional prescription to help you get on top of the problem once and for all.