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Herbal answers to hay fever.

Some of my friends and actually loads of people around me I happen to come across suffer from hay fever in any form either mild, moderate or severe. There’s no doubt as summer hits in and all these beautiful flowers of all kinds are in full bloom now. Pollen season usually starts from late March to September. According to Met Office (2018) 1 in 5 people in UK suffer from hay fever and 95% is caused by a grass pollen.

Hay-fever or allergic rhinitis is a reaction to an allergen - in this case pollen from flowering trees, bushes, grass, weed or flowers manifesting mostly with itchy and runny nose, sneezing, congestion, red, swollen, watery or itchy eyes, and associated tiredness. Naturally, such symptoms are extremely uncomfortable affecting our mood and performance. The symptoms are caused by histamine release from mast cells abundant in connective tissue and mucosal membranes.

I myself suffered with seasonal hay fever since my teenage years and was diagnosed with chronic rhinitis and asthma in my early 20s taking antihistamines and inhalers on daily basis with never ending cure. Since studying my HM degree I was lucky to try various herbs to alleviate symptoms of hay fever extremely effectively. By improving my immune system in general I no longer suffer from chronic cold or asthma. One of my favourites are reishi mushrooms and baical skullcap alongside of plantain or nettles. However, the treatment doesn’t stops here and it’s recommended to manage individual symptoms and support your immune system with herbs and diet way before pollen season kicks in.

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) is a mushoom growing on oak trees native to Japan, China and Russia. Ganoderic acids (A-D) as one of the phytoactive constituents inhibit histamine release from mast cells (causing the symptoms of hay fever). Group of polysaccharides (and it’s beta glucans) possesses anti-inflammatory actions, acts as antioxidant and normalises the immune system responses associated with allergies. This means excessive immune responses are suppressed and weak immune system will be stimulated. There is an interesting article explaining mechanism of action of reishi mushroom with case studies:

Baical skullcap (Scutelaria baicalensis) is a member of a mint family native to eastern Assia. Baicalein as the main phytoactive constituent has a strong antiallergic effect by modulating overactive immune responses, it inhibits histamine release, and therefore, is extremely effective in managing symptoms of allergic rhinitis, asthma or dermatitis.

S. baicalensis photo curtesy of OMAFRA

Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) is a small weedy plant native to Europe. Plant extract is anti-inflammatory, astringent and demulcent, which is very useful remedy to reduce bronchial irritation and sooth down mucosal membranes affected by allergies.

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is a common weedy plant growing across the Europe. The plant is anti-inflammatory, antiallergic and very nutritive as it's rich in calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, silicon, zinc, selenium and vitamins necessary for connective tissue regeneration.

There are various treatments available for us allergy sufferers but by all means we don’t need to suffer necessarily. We have a choice and freedom to access an information to do our own research. As we are lucky to possess our own health we should therefore invest in our own heath. Whichever route we choose is entirely on each of us, whether it’s a route of affordability or convenience there are always ways to feel better.

Love and hugs J.

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