Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Allergy Season Aid!

Feel like you're allergic to summer?! Our nutritionist Pippa is at hand to help. 

Most of us look forward to the arrival of the warmer weather, blossoms blooming and more time spent outdoors but for those unfortunate ones the spring and summer seasons brings misery in the form of seasonal allergic rhinitis AKA hay fever.

What causes Hayfever? 

Proteins in pollen irritate the delicate membranes of the nose and eyes causing inflammation. Causing the all too familiar symptoms of red, itchy, watery eyes and a runny  nose. But not all hay fever sufferers are alike. Some react to tree pollen which is present from February to May with the peak time being April (this month, eeek!). Grass pollens are prevalent in June and July and weed pollens (such as nettle) are worst in July and August. 

So what can be done to alleviate the symptoms, whichever month they fall in? 

 There are practical measures to help ward off the worst effects of pollen such as...

applying a thin layer of petroleum jelly or lipbalm around and just inside the nostrils can trap minute pollen particles and prevent them from being inhaled and starting an allergic reaction.

Steam inhalations help to reduce the “blocked nose” feeling.

Secondly there are some simple preparations that can reduce the severity of attacks later in the season....


If you are lucky enough to be able to buy organic honey that is produced locally, take a teaspoon every day. It's been shown in some studies that ingestion of tiny molecules of pollen in local honey helps build resistance to pollens when they appear in full force later in the year.


Butterbur is a herb that has undergone scientific trials showing a substantial health benefit for relieving hay fever.

Butterbur has been shown to relax blood vessels and various smooth muscles in the body. It contains chemicals that are also known to reduce inflammation, (this has been demonstrated in human studies). Some studies have also shown that butterbur extract performed as well as a common antihistamine drug taken by hay fever sufferers, but without causing that dreaded drowsiness!

Suppplement and Eat Well!

Bioflavanoids are plant compounds that have shown anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory activity. Along with Vitamin C, these supplements can help prevent the formation of histamine – the chemical that causes the common reactions of irritated itchy eyes and a congested nose. Quercitin is king! Foods rich in the bioflavanoid quercitin include onions, garlic, green tea, red wine (1-2 glasses!) and dark chocolate (the good stuff, 70%+ cocoa solids). 

Vitamin C is found in broccoli, lemon juice, green peppers, oranges, strawberries and blackcurrants, kiwi, cabbage and cauliflower.

Plant sterols are fats found naturally in plant foods. Phytosterols are highly versatile substances that have been shown to be helpful in the management of several conditions including immune disorders. Phytosterols inhibit the release of prostaglandins (hormone-like substances) thus reducing the production of histamine. Plant sterols are present in foods such as soya (tempeh, tofu, miso, soya sauce etc.) and whole grains, particularly whole oats, being rich sources. Porridge is not just for winter!

Omega 3 fatty acids found in flaxseeds (AKA linseeds) and cold water fish such as salmon and mackerel, can affect chemical pathways in the body to help ease allergy symptoms and reduce inflammation.

Vitamin E taken during the pollen season alongside other anti-allergy treatments can reduce the severity of hay fever symptoms by 23% studies show. Good sources of Vitamin E in the diet include cold pressed wheatgerm and sunflower oils, hazelnuts, sweet potato, avocado and spinach.

KEY: A strong immune system is essential to help fight off allergic symptoms. The Vitamins A, C, D, E and minerals zinc and selenium are all antioxidant supplements that can help immune function.

Vitamin A is found in egg yolk, watercress, squash and oily fish such as mackerel and herring. Likewise, top sources of Vitamin D include mackerel, herring, sardines, mushrooms as well as eggs and cheddar cheese. Oh and (safe) amounts of lovely sunshine on the skin!

Zinc is plentiful in pumpkin seeds, wholemeal bread and red meats. Eating just four to five brazil nuts daily can provide your recommended intake of selenium but other sources include fresh tuna, sunflower seeds, wholemeal bread and cashew nuts.

If you are taking any medication, always check with your GP or health practitioner before taking any herbal or vitamin supplements.

More on Pippa here.

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