Phone: (0274) 837 188
Open: Tues-Fri 10am-6pm
Phone: (0274) 837 188
Open: Tues-Fri 10am-6pm

Spring and Summer – a wonderful time of year with sunshine and blossoming plants but marred for so many of us by the symptoms loosely referred to as “hay fever”. What does that mean? Well, there is a spectrum of hay fever symptoms and severity, but typically it may include very itchy eyes, uncontrollable sneezing with a runny nose, wheezing, and itchy back of throat and ears, itchy skin and fatigue. It’s miserable, and very common!

Types of hay fever

Spring hay fever tends to be more tree pollen related, while late Spring and early Summer tend to be more grass pollen related, and late Summer and early Autumn tend to be weed pollen related – and you may be sensitive to all three types, or just one or two.

You may need to be careful about identifying whether you actually are pollen allergic, or whether it is mould, dust mites or pet dander – you may be exposed to all those year-round, and your symptoms may be just below threshold, but then when pollens are in the air you may notice a worsening of symptoms as your sensitivity pushes your reaction across that threshold. The pollens tend to be highest around 5am – 10am.

Possible root causes of pollen allergies and hay fever

Even though most people don’t connect gut health to allergies, the most common issue that can increase your symptoms or make you prone to allergies is altered and unbalanced gut flora. Your gut is responsible for 70 percent of your body’s innate immune response and allows your body to differentiate between safe environmental particles, including pollen, weed, and dust, and unsafe environmental particles, including bad bacteria, viruses, and unhealthy yeast.

When your gut flora is altered, it can lead to an oversensitivity to safe environmental particles. This may not only increase your risk of pollen and other seasonal allergies, but also increase your risk of asthma and chronic inflammation.

While many people with pollen allergies have allergies since childhood or teenage years, it is certainly possible to develop pollen allergies later in life or experience worsening symptoms as you grow older. It is also possible to reduce symptoms and pollen allergies through proper Naturopathic Medicine that includes Supplemental / Herbal / Diet / Exercise / Meditation, Mindfulness & Mind-Body Medicine all boosting immune support. This is called Lifestyle Medicine first coined by Dr Ian Gawler, in Australia, last century!

Hay fever, pollen allergies and foods

Pollen and seasonal allergies are some of the signs of histamine intolerance. Histamine intolerance can affect your entire body, including your lungs, gut, brain, heart, and hormones. It can lead to a variety of issues, including digestive problems, sleep disturbances, bladder problems, anxiety, headaches, and skin problems.

To reduce histamine intolerance and consequent pollen allergies, it may help if you remove or reduce high-histamine foods, including cured meat, dried fruit, sour food, vinegar-containing food, aged cheese, nuts, high-histamine vegetables (eg. tomatoes, spinach, eggplant), and smoked fish.

Avoid histamine-releasing food, including bananas, chocolate, avocado, tomatoes, shellfish, strawberries, cow’s milk, preservatives, and dyes. Focus on low-histamine foods instead, including artichoke, beets, bok choy, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, courgettes, cucumber, kale, leek, lettuce, onion, silverbeet, leafy herbs, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, apples, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, pears, pasture-raised beef, grass-fed poultry, wild-caught fish, and venison. 

You can try reducing your consumption of these foods for a week or two and see if you notice an improvement in your pollen allergies.  If so, you have issues with histamine and should consider a lower histamine on a more regular basis. I can give guidance on this.

Other healthy habits may include making sure you are adequately hydrated, and that means clean, filtered, unsweetened, non-caffeinated water, and getting adequate sleep each night, usually no less than 6 or 7 hours a night.

Improving gut health against hay fever and allergies

To improve gut health, you should eat an anti-inflammatory gut-friendly diet, reduce environmental toxicity by using natural and organic products, not smoking, and spending time in nature, reducing stress. Probiotics also play an important role in your gut microbiome and immune coordination.

Probiotics can be very effective in reducing allergy symptoms. I recommend  MegaSporebiotic probiotics to optimize your gut health and reduce symptoms of pollen allergies.  (You may need to take 2 or 3 months’ worth to get a really good result). I can supply these for you during a consultation.

I often recommend Vitamin D, Quercetin, Vit C, Glutathione & Proteolytic enzymes and a specific tailor made herbal formula which may include such herbs as nettle, Baikal skullcap and albizzia may also be of benefit. These can all be written up as a script sheet for you as well as making specific herbal formulas that is one of my specialities on request during a consultation.

Further treatment for hay fever and allergies

You can get a personalised hay fever action plan when you come in to see us at Holden HealthCare. A biofeedback session can help identify you own particular sensitivities, and a homeopathic desensitisation programme (which may include environmental pollutants and moulds etc) may also be indicated. I can make up bottles of herbal medicine including the herbs mentioned above if those are appropriate for you for you to take with you when you leave the clinic.

In a previous article, we also gave some tips if you have sinus problems.

If you would like to discuss your needs with Marion please contact her on to arrange a free 10 min Q & A to ask her if she feels she can help you or not. It doesn’t cost you and there is no obligation to have an appointment. We don’t use hard sell tactics, if you feel after speaking to Marion that she can help then please contact David on 0274 837 188 to make your booking. Thank you.

Marion Stobie, PhD (Cand.), MSc, BA (Hons), ND, MH, Dip. Therapeutic Massage; member of: Natural Health Practitioners New Zealand, NZ Society of Naturopaths, NZ Association of Medical Herbalists, NZ Natural Medicine Association. Marion is a highly qualified and experienced Naturopath and Medical Herbalist, and utilizes Fitgenes for advanced DNA health analysis. She has also been a tertiary-level lecturer in Natural Medicine.

It’s been a long time coming but everyone is noticing the longer days and warmer nights as we slip into the Summer sun and warm balmy days ahead. After covid we all need some respite so please take advantage of the better weather and get out in it.

But do remember to be sun smart and wear wider brimmed hats and no toxicity sunblock (avoid the common commercial brands that contain a wide range of toxic and potentially toxic chemicals). Ironically the Cancer Society version is one of the most toxic! It is far quicker to mention the brands that are best than the best ones to avoid.

Best brands from my initial research are the ones that contain no parabens and have an SPF of at least 30. If you have sensitive white skin, like me, you can go as high as SPF 50 if you are in sun during the heat of the day like trades people working outside a lot as well as those who work in office buildings and don’t get much sun, who are so much more likely to burn when over exposed at the weekends on the beach!

Sunblocks to choose

No sunblock is biochemically perfect if you want upwards of SPF 30+, but one of the common ones you can get in most Pharmacies or better Health Food Stores in the New Zealand-made “Oasis Sun” brand with the orange tube packaging. It has less of the nasties and is as organic as they can make it in New Zealand. If you can’t find it then “Jason’s” brand is one of the best out there as it is totally organic and has no nasties in it but has become harder to find in New Zealand as it is imported from the USA and shipping routes are not as busy or as regular as NZ retailers would like. They are having trouble getting enough stock in as with winter coming in the Northern Hemisphere production of sun blocks is dropping.

Good luck and remember the best protection is clothing and avoidance if you have had issues with skin cancers, like I have unfortunately. A good sunblock is a necessary back up these days, especially with kids over summer.

If we listen to the media, it may seem at times that the message is quite confusing, from the alarmist “anyone of any age can get Covid, at any time” to the “well, I’m not in an at-risk group, so precautions don’t apply to me.”

But actually as often happens the truth is somewhere in between, and as natural health practitioners who like to look at the evidence, the actual science is revealing.

Covid-19 is an “opportunistic infection”, meaning that it takes advantage of people whose immune systems are not functioning optimally. Often this is taken as a characteristic of people who are said to have co-morbidities.

What does this mean? Who are these people?

What it means is that these people have underlying conditions which impair their immune function and make them more vulnerable to opportunistic infections – such as Covid-19. Sometimes these conditions are known and obvious, such as a diagnosed cancer, but sometimes they are hidden and the person is unaware of them, such as early onset heart disease, which can be developing even in a young person without any symptoms and without their knowledge.

Basically a co-morbidity encompasses inflammation in any of its manifestations in the body. We can all think of a few, and there may be others that don’t immediately come to mind. If we can think of inflammation as a small fire, and then along comes an inflammatory infection (such as Covid), then the inflammatory infection stokes that fire, like it puts petrol on it, and the person quickly contracts the disease and the fire is hard to put out. However, if the person does not have a co-morbidity, the flame of Covid is much easier for the healthy immune system to put out.

And it is worth mentioning that a 20 year old with obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle may be more likely to get Covid than a healthy weight 70 year old who eats a diet low in inflammatory food, so this is a lesson for the young not to be complacent nor for our senior citizens to all be concerned.

So what are included among the most common co-morbidities?

As mentioned before, being obese is a risk factor as obesity is an inflammatory condition – it is associated with a 46% higher risk of being Covid-19 positive. Cancer or anyone having chemotherapy or radiation treatment. Heart disease; diabetes, arthritis. Increasing age is inflammatory to varying degrees as degeneration does provoke an inflammation response as it breaks down tissue.

But it’s important to recognise that we are not powerless when it comes to both our infection risk and outcomes. Our lifestyle choices in areas like diet, sleep, exercise, and dealing with stress all factor into our immune competence and may well deny this coronavirus the notion of opportunism.

At Holden Health we like to explore causative factors implicated in ill-health, so we do take an active interest in working with co-morbidities and can help draw up a health plan for you to reduce your own risks.

If you are interested to see how we can help you, please call 09 282 3588 for an appointment.

While New Zealanders have not suffered the same degree of impact of the Covid-19 disease itself that other nations have, it is worth acknowledging that just under 2000 New Zealanders have had Covid-19 and some of that number may be living with post-Covid unwellness. This unwellness needs to be recognised and the patients supported.

In the esteemed medical journal The Lancet, a recent study has found that 6 months after leaving hospital:

These long-term issues may involve the lungs, the cardiovascular system, the brain and other parts of the nervous system, and even may have psychological consequences, any of which may prove to be debilitating.

While this study only looked at people who were hospitalised with it & whose average age was 57, previous research showed that the likelihood of developing Long Covid was more common in the young than the old, and the most common prolonged symptoms being a cough (or breathlessness) and especially fatigue (or decreased exercise tolerance), even among those who had been very fit prior to illness. While men seem to be at increased risk of severe infection, women and those with a higher BMI seem to be more affected by Long Covid. Studies seem to think that altered hormonal status is one of the predictors for it.

Research suggests around one in five people who test positive for Covid-19 have symptoms for five weeks or longer. For around one in ten people, they last 12 weeks or longer.

Symptom management tips from the UK include:

Flexibility exercises (like stretches, yoga and tai chi) and strength exercises (like climbing stairs, lifting weights and working with resistance bands) can be useful. (

Results from data analysis by a team from the Cleveland Clinic (PLoS Biol. 2020 Nov 6;18) showed that patients who used melatonin as a supplement had, on average, a 28% lower risk of testing positive for SARS-CoV-2. 

This is interesting, but not very helpful for us in New Zealand where melatonin is available on prescription only. The usual reason a GP will prescribe melatonin here is for the treatment of insomnia.

Other recommended pro-active habits such as discussed earlier and across the media still apply, such as using PPE appropriately and maintaining a good diet, exercise and sleep and not putting oneself at risk. The best advice is to try to avoid contracting Covid-19 in the first place!

For those wanting to prevent or reduce the effects of Covid-19, Marion Stobie offers tailored health programmes specifically for your genetic predispositions, health history, and current circumstances. Contact us to book a Fitgenes DNA test and naturopathic consultation.

Photo by Evgeni Tcherkasski on Unsplash

It is one thing to contract Covid-19 and treat it, and our emotional reaction to Covid-19 in March 2020 in NZ may be different from our reaction in August 2020 (so, it’s 5 months already and Covid is still amongst us? Really?). The whole issue is clearly not in the same category as a passing ‘flu. But it is quite another thing to view it as a long-haul issue with no definite end-point and (seemingly) indiscriminate incidence.

However, I contest that view, as evidence shows that it is mainly people with impaired immunity or chronic inflammatory conditions who are most at risk, and these people happen, for the most part (but not solely), to be the older part of our population. But don’t believe that it only hits old people. Half of people hospitalized in France are less than 60 years old, and we’re talking 20+ days of hospitalization with severe pneumonia and lung damage. However, data is not available that tells us what the pre-existing health conditions were, for instance, obesity.

Risk factors for Covid-19

Here is a reminder of who are deemed the people most at risk (HealthMeans):

My previous stance on “focus on building immunity, not on killing the virus” still holds, and as we in New Zealand appear to have contained the virus for now, it is easy to drop our vigilance. However, now is the time to continue and consolidate those healthy habits, or to adopt them if they are not already in place.

How to boost your immunity against Covid-19

Gargle and green tea

Here are a few recommendations to reduce risk and promote immunity:
Gargle and drink green tea. Consuming green tea, in particular gargling it, has been shown to reduce the risk of contracting influenza and the common cold. The tannins in green tea have been shown to have broad antiviral effects topically. Gargling helps coat the mucous membranes in the mouth & throat, which together with the nasal passages are the main points of entry for viruses. If these surfaces are coated with an antiviral substance, there is less likelihood of the virus taking hold. Also, it is known that the coronavirus likes dry surfaces, so keeping our mucous membranes well-hydrated offers some protection.

Stay hydrated

Stay well-hydrated. One of the questions I always ask my clients is “How much water, or non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic, non-sugary drinks do you have daily?”. About 85% of responses is a wry grin accompanying the answer “Not enough!” We know we should drink somewhere between 6 – 10 glasses per day, depending on our age and circumstance, but we do get caught up in the busy-ness of our days and it is easy to forget. Setting a timer on our phones (or alarm clocks) is one way to prompt us to get up and get a drink.

Take vitamin D

Taking vitamin D, particularly for people who are vitamin D deficient, reduces the chances of developing acute respiratory infections including influenza. Most studies reviewed used adult doses ranging from 2000IU to 4000IU a day, which is known to be safe to take long term even in the absence of deficiency.

We know that humans can convert sunlight on our skin into vitamin D, and there are two factors currently which directly affect that. The first is that it is winter, and although it is a fairly mild one so far, we are less likely to be baring our arms and legs when outside. The second is that to some extent some people are hesitant to leave their homes and go for walks outside because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is an interesting fact that mushrooms also convert sunlight into vitamin D, which is another good reason to factor mushrooms into the diet (or take medicinal mushrooms as a supplement).

Keep your home warm

Keep your home above 16°C. Having a cold home reduces respiratory resilience and increases susceptibility to and mortality from respiratory tract infections. This is especially important for people who are elderly, asthmatic or have other chronic/recurrent respiratory conditions.

This is especially true for us in New Zealand, where some of our older homes are inadequately insulated and heated, and perhaps where the people living there do not notice the temperature dropping. It is much harder to heat up a cold house than to maintain the heat.

Sleep, exercise, stress managment, stay social

Get enough sleep (insufficient sleep or waking up frequently through the night can directly affect the immune system).

Maintain a healthy exercise regime to boost endorphins, maintain a healthy weight and pump the lymphatic system to get rid of waste metabolites.

Try to keep stress levels in check.

Socialise as much as you are able, whether it is in person or by phone or Zoom or messaging – it has been shown that social interaction is critical for healthy immune function, whereas isolation and loneliness detract from our immunity. It is physical distance that we need, not emotional.

All of these are integral to your immune system working well. 

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87 Knights Road
Rothesay Bay
Auckland 0630
New Zealand

(0274) 837 188 - Please SMS as we are not always available to take your call.



Legal Medical Disclaimer: Information and statements made on this website and all our associated literature are for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. David Holden & Holden Health Care do not dispense medical advice, prescribe restricted medicines, or diagnose disease. If you have a medical condition, we recommend that you consult your physician of choice.
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