Hayfever Relief Supplements
“If you notice symptoms during the warm weather you may have seasonal hayfever triggered by irritants such as grass or tree pollen during later spring/early summer, typically march-may for tree pollen and May to July for grass pollen.”
According to recent statistics Hayfever is one of the most common allergies in UK, affecting about 12 million people, 15 to 25% in the population as a whole. Virtually unknown before the year 1800, becoming common only during the last century, the first case to be described medically was in 1819 with the causes of the disease identified in 1873.
What are the causes of hayfever?
Hayfever, also known as allergic Rhinitis, is an allergic response to pollen or mould that affects the mucous membranes of the nose, eyes and air passages. If you notice symptoms during the warm weather you may have seasonal hayfever triggered by irritants such as grass or tree pollen during later spring/early summer, typically march-may for tree pollen and May to July for grass pollen. These dates can be about a week earlier in the south of England and one to two weeks later in Scotland. If you experience symptoms all year round you could be suffering from perennial allergies, the triggers being animal fur, household mites or mould. All these irritants produce the same symptoms.
What are the symptoms?
Itchy, red eyes; watery discharge from the nose and eyes; sneezing; fatigue and nervous irritability are all symptoms of hayfever. Many of the symptoms are similar to that of a cold but without the feverish feelings. Many sufferers can have a feeling of being ‘wiped out’ for weeks on end and can seriously disturb daily life during this time.
What causes this reaction?
When bacteria, viruses or other substances such as pollen and mould spores, enter the body, the immune system aims to destroy those that might cause illness and ignore those that do not. In allergic individuals the immune system cannot tell the difference between threatening and benign material; as a result, innocuous particles such as pollen trigger the release of a naturally occurring substance called histamine and other inflammatory compounds in the area where the irritant entered the body – in the case of hayfever, the nose, throat or eyes.
Why do we sufferer from it and who is at risk?
Approximately two-thirds of sufferers develop the symptoms before the age of 30 but the condition can occur at any age. As it takes two years of exposure to the allergens to develop the condition, occurrence is low in children under 12 months. It is not known exactly why the immune system reacts in this way and the causes can be multifaceted as highlighted below:
Hereditary: Clinical studies have shown that the risk of developing the condition is 30% if one parent has a history of atopic disease (eczema, asthma, allergies), and rises to 50% if both parents suffer.
Climate: Experts have suggested that Global warming could lead to greater misery for hay fever sufferers believing that the milder climate in the UK is likely to lead to many plants flowering earlier and for longer periods. The modern trend for mowing the lawn all year round is also suggested to pile on the misery still further. Although cut grass is usually too short to flower, hay fever can still be triggered by chemicals contained in the grass sap released when it is cut.
Hygiene Hypothesis: Epidemiological studies suggest that reduced exposure to pathogens and infection in childhood can alter the balance of the immune system thus causing allergic reactionlater on.
Nutritional deficiencies: Some researchers think that our increased exposure to stress, poor nutrition, and air pollution is having a substantially detrimental effect on our immune system.
What can be done about it?
Treatment of hayfever is commonly found in the use of OTC (over-the-counter) medicines to manage symptoms. Oral anthistamines, topical antihistamines, corticosteroids and nasal decongestants to name a few, all work well to reduce sneezing, itchy nose and eyes but do not come without side effects and could be addressing only the symptoms not the cause. Complementary approaches such as homeopathy, acupuncture, diet and nutritional supplements work well to address both symptoms of hayfever; excess histamine and inflammation.
Antioxidants: Vitamin C has been well documented as the main antioxidant in the cells of the respiratory passage. However, it is not just its protective antioxidant abilities that prove wondrous in easing hayfever, it is also its welcome ability to work as an anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory.
Flavonoids: Quercitin and Pine Bark Extract, a renowned flavanoid for its antihistamine effect, inhibits the release of histamine and reduces damage to the nasal passages. Where conventional drugs work to block the effect of histamine, Quercitin works to inhibit its release, lending itself as a powerful natural approach to hayfever.
Omega 3 fatty acids: When taken on a long term basis omega 3 fatty acids from fish oils, or flaxseed, may help to reduce inflammatory symptoms in the areas under ‘attack’.
Flavonoids: The anti-histamine action of the flavanoid Quercitin and those found in abundance in Pine Bark Extract is added to by their potent ability to reduce inflammation by blocking the release of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins.
MSM: is a commonly used acronym for methylsulfonylmethane, is a naturally occurring source of sulphur necessary for the production of collagen (needed for healthy nasal passages and respiratory organs) and certain antioxidants. MSM encourages blood circulation to carry necessary nutrients and helps in itself to promote healing and reduce soreness and inflammation.
Deficiency in any of the above nutrients can be seen to contribute to the random onset of ‘hayfever’ symptoms in supposed ‘non-sufferers’. This may explain why some people may experience hayfever symptoms one year but not the next.
In summary here are some tips to avoid the arduous onset of hayfever this year: • At times of high pollen count, remain indoors if possible. If this is not possible, avoid fields, newly mown grass and picking fruit and flowers.
• Close all doors and windows.
• Plan holidays carefully. Pollen levels tend to be lower on the coast, in mountainous & moorland areas.
• Follow pollen count reports. Useful contacts are; National Pollen Research unit (UK) http://pollenuk.worc.ac.uk, European Pollen Information: www.pollen.cat.at/pollen/index.en.html.
• Support the body’s defences with a supplement