Hay fever can range from mildly irritating symptoms of sneezing, nasal congestion, itchy and watery eyes to much more severe symptoms that can make the summer months a misery. Although hay fever is a seasonal allergy to tree pollen (occurring from April to June), grass pollen (occurring from June to August) or mould spores (occurring from July to September), up to 80% of sufferers also have a year round allergy. Allergy that occurs all year is most commonly due to house dust mites or animal dander
Hay fever is related to asthma and eczema and is more likely to affect people who have a family history of these allergic conditions. Interestingly disruption to the normal bacterial population of the digestive system has long been implicated in the development of these allergies. Other factors which may play a role include food allergy or intolerance and an abnormal response of the immune system. The most effective solution is removal or avoidance of the offending allergen. However, whilst sufferers can opt to not have pets and much can be done to control dust mites or mould in the home, avoidance of pollens and other allergens is far more difficult. Fortunately there are many herbs on hand that can offer relief for sufferers.
Traditional remedies for hay fever are herbs that have an anti-catarrhal action and include plants such as elderflower, eyebright, goldenrod and ribwort plantain. Anti-allergic herbs are also used and common examples are German chamomile, nettle, and ribwort plantain. Sometimes herbs are used to help support liver function with a hepatic herbal remedy such as milkthistle or with a bitter remedy such as dandelion root. It may also be a good idea to use a probiotic supplement and maintain a diet high in soluble fibre to help promote a healthy bacterial population in the digestive system.
Herbalists may also employ a variety of herbs with the aim of normalising immune function, improving digestion, and supporting digestive health and detoxification processes. Where stress plays a role in worsening the symptoms, herbs would be included to help with relaxation.
It is generally recommended to use herbs for 2 or 3 months prior to the onset of symptoms. For some, a simple blend of dried herbs to be consumed as a tea can be enough but where symptoms are more severe or harder to manage, then it may be beneficial to see a qualified Medical Herbalist.
At Brighton Apothecary the herbalists are able to advise you further and help to select the most appropriate remedies for you. You can drop in at any time and have a free 10 minute consultation for minor health complaints and have your remedy tailor made.