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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 email@example.com 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.