If you are a hay fever sufferer, specifically with tree pollen like me, you may already be feeling its effects in the past weeks or so if you are in the UK.
There are two types of hay fever/ allergic rhinitis); seasonal and perennial. Seasonal hay fever coincides with the pollination of certain plants, for example, trees, grasses and certain weeds that tend to be the most common triggers for people. Pollen contains proteins that can cause the nose, eyes, throat and sinuses to become swollen, irritated and inflamed.
Another trigger that can be overlooked is mould. Moulds release spores into the air at similar times of the year as plants and could also be to blame for symptoms. (If your asthma gets worse in Autumn, the damp air and humidity not only makes it worse, it is also the optimal environment for mould and spores that can add to the discomfort).
Perennial allergies are generally caused by indoor triggers that can last all year long. Triggers can be dust mites, pet hair or dander (tiny flecks of skin shed by cats, dogs, and other animals with fur or feathers), cockroaches, or mould.
You may be unlucky enough to have both perennial and seasonal, noticing your symptoms worsen in the spring and/or autumn.
So what is happening to cause all this?
Hay fever or allergic rhinitis, is caused by an allergic response to a harmless outdoor or indoor substance the body identifies as harmful (allergen). Your immune system then goes into action in response and produces immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to protect against the allergen.
The next time you come in contact with the allergen, these antibodies signal your immune system to release chemicals, such as histamine, into your bloodstream to help defend against the allergen. Histamine levels increase and bind to their receptors for activity, this reaction can manifest into hay fever symptoms of runny and/ or itchy eyes. sneezing, wheezing, runny nose, itchy mouth, the list goes on.
It’s important to note that histamine is not the villain here, it is actually pretty important in relation to your overall immune response. For example, histamine helps to widen your blood vessels for your white blood cells to access an affected area quickly to deal with any injuries, infections or pathogens more efficiently.
If you suffer with the classic hay fever symptoms, such as watery eyes and sneezing, a congested, runny or itchy nose, all year round, with the added symptoms of sinus issues, fatigue, headaches and migraines, hives and itchy skin, digestive issues (diarrhoea, bloating, constipation and/or IBS-like symptoms), irregular menstruation, unexplained anxiety, then you may have a histamine intolerance rather than perennial allergies.
Hay fever and histamine intolerance may present in a similar way but the underlying cause can be very different, therefore need to be managed differently.
Antihistamines (natural or over the counter), are taken to help with seasonal hay fever symptoms. Their role is to prevent the histamine reaction, from the immune system response to the allergen, that causes the problematic symptoms. They are not to lower histamine levels.
Whereas histamine intolerance is when the body has difficulty managing and metabolising histamine, allowing it to build up or have an excess in the body. Our bodies have an enzyme to breakdown histamine, and some people produce insufficient amounts of this enzyme. So you can see how an antihistamine would not help with this in the long run, if at all.
In kinesiology, we check to find out the underlying cause of your symptoms and will use specific techniques if they are relevant. One technique called Nambudripad Allergy Elimination Technique (NAET) can be a natural solution to alleviate allergies of all types and intensities.
Another called Energy Mismatch is a technique to determine whether or not the energy system recognises or correctly categorises a substance such as a food, bacteria or toxin. If it perceives it as harmful, it will do its best to block entry or excrete the substance quickly. Energy mismatch can amend this if it is relevant.
Many kinesiologists have also found there to be an emotional component to hay fever. Hay fever can actually be triggered with an emotional trauma, so it is important to check and clear any possible emotional connection to enable the immune system to return to normal.
So if you know it is classic hay fever causing your symptoms but you can’t get to a pharmacy or perhaps over the counter antihistamines aren’t for you, what else could you try? You could try adding some of these foods that are natural antihistamines and anti-inflammatories into your daily meals to see if they help.
Garlic s high in vitamin C and a natural antihistamine. It also helps to eliminate scavenging free-radicals which can damage your immune system. Garlic also contains allicin which acts as a natural decongestant to help ease blocked, stuffy noses.
Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory, that could help ease some of the swelling associated with allergies.
Fresh pineapple, not canned, is rich source of vitamin C and contains a potent anti-inflammatory compound, which could help to reduce swelling.
OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS
Omega 3 helps to reduce inflammation, a major cause of hay fever symptoms. Find omega-3 in fresh (not canned) oily fish or plant-based sources such as chia seeds, hemp seed oil, walnuts and flaxseeds.
This amazing spice contains a compound called curcumin that is a natural anti-inflammatory agent, and an antioxidant combating free-radical damage. Studies have found that curcumin may be useful in easing nasal symptoms such as congestion and sneezing from pollen allergies.
This plant has potent anti-inflammatory properties and may actually help to relieve symptoms such as redness, irritation, runny nose and sore eyes. Nettles are at their seasonal best right now while they are tender in early to mid spring, so why not try making your own nettle tea?
EASY RECIPES TO TRY
One cup of nettle leaves
Two cups of water.
Add the nettle leaves to the water and bring to the boil, then simmer for a few minutes
Strain the mixture into a cup, (Ensure no nettles go through the strainer).
Drink straight away. (Make stronger or weaker by adding more, or less water).
250ml Oat Milk (barista one- more creamy)
One teaspoon of turmeric
Couple of turns on the black pepper mill
1-2 teaspoons of maple syrup
Heat your milk of choice
Pour into your cup
Stir in the rest of the ingredients.
If you’d like to take out all the guess work, why not try a kinesiology session, where we can find out exactly what’s going on and what you specifically need.