You may have seen recent research linking over the counter antihistamine medication with Alzheimers’ Disease and as a hay fever sufferer, had a little cry.
It’s miserable, and right about now, when the trees are sending their romantic emissions through the air via your face, you’re probably not feeling too kindly disposed to the great outdoors. Which is a shame, as we’re in peak free vitamin D season too!
There are loads of natural remedies out there, but do they work? First of all, as with all things there is no quick fix magical pill, once again, sorry about that! From my experience as a clinician, the most effective solution to hay fever, is to really increase your intake of seasonal green vegetables. However great supplements are, vegetables come with their nutrients already packed in a way that complements one another, and increases each others’ usefulness in the body.
Is honey the answer?
You may have heard the old wives tale about honey for hay fever. But is there any evidence? Well, it is scant, but there is one study from 2011 to suggest that birch pollen honey reduced symptoms of birch pollen allergy by 60%, and was more effective than ‘regular honey’ (which didn’t have the infusion of birch pollen). It’s not unreasonable to suppose that local honey might help too.
The regular honey sample also saw some improvement compared to the no honey group. Whilst there’s not a lot of harm in adding a spot of honey to your tea in the hope this helps your hay fever, I’d be wary of giving your sweet tooth free reign to terrorise your food choices further down the line.
Bee pollen – or propolis, has a little more scientific evidence to back it up, and isn’t going to turn you into Winnie The Pooh! You can buy it raw, and sprinkle it on yoghurt as part of your breakfast, or add it to smoothies. It’s also available in supplement form, but my experience (entirely unscientifically tested!) is that processing cuts the effectiveness. Check with your physician first if you have asthma or are taking any blood thinning medications, and as always if you’re expecting.
Quercetin is also backed up by some pretty cool research, and is undoubtedly why upping the veg seems to help control the itchy snotty symptoms. When it comes to taking quercetin in supplementary form, there’s evidence that it may work better with added vitamin D3, contact your practitioner for the correct dose for you. If you’re eating a nutrient dense diet, you’ll be consuming over 500mg per day of quercetin already!
Vitamin C is nature’s anti-histamine, and again, eating lots of broccoli, spring greens, green peppers, strawberries etc will see you right! However, 250mg – 500mg supplementation with bioflavonoids has been shown to help reduce symptoms.
The main thing to remember is that as with all conditions, our best bet is always to eat real food with lots of fresh veggies, drink plenty of water, and get a good night’s kip. We need to do this all year round too, not just in the summer! However, if you do use these remedies and get good results, tell me what worked for you!
Finally, if you’re going to a wedding on a day when it’s the pollen apocalypse and you’d like to be still wearing your make up at lunchtime, don’t worry about taking a couple of anti-histamine (and then watch the booze!). The worrying side effects are amassed over prolonged usage. As I may have mentioned before, it’s all about BALANCE!