Category Archives: pollen

Effective, Natural Hay Fever Relief for the Worst Allergy Season in Decades

The long winter and the late start to spring have resulted in the highest pollen counts in decades. These extraordinarily high levels of pollen are now wreaking havoc on hay fever sufferers throughout the UK, with urban area residents suffering the most.[1]

Antihistamines are the conventional treatment for managing hay fever symptoms, such as sneezing, itchy eyes and a runny nose. Seasonal allergy symptoms are the result of immunoglobulin E antibodies (IgE) detecting the pollen ‘antigens’ and activating mast cells and T helper cells (specifically type 2 or Th2 cells) [2] which is known as a histamine response. Antihistamine drugs focus on reducing the immune response to harmless pollen particles and eliminating the aggravating symptoms of hay fever.

There are natural alternatives to antihistamine drugs, which are often full of chemicals and may only offer a short-term solution for allergies. Various nutrients, which have antihistamine actions in the body, include Vitamin C [3] and Quercetin [4]. Cherries and dark berries, such as elderberries, have high concentrates of both vitamin C and quercetin. Other types of phytonutrients provide anti-histamine benefits as well. For example, oleic acid and cyclo octasulfur compounds are potent natural anti-histamines and are both found in reishi mushrooms. [5]

Lifestyle practices are helpful in reducing hay fever symptoms.  A few strategies include:

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Bee Prepared Daily Defence can help guard against the symptoms of Hay Fever
  • Closing windows at night and in early mornings when the pollen counts are high.
  • Using barrier methods such as balms to block pollen from around the nose.
  • Boosting immunity via diet or supplementation.
  • Using a nettie pot to clear nasal passages.

Finally, for long term management and to help prevent severity of seasonal allergies, it is best to start addressing immune imbalances months before the onset of allergy symptoms, if not year round. A great ingredient which helps support immune function and modulation is bee propolis.

Bee propolis, a resin which bees collect from buds of plants & trees, contains a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients and is high in phenolic compounds, potent antioxidant substances which have anti-inflammatory properties [6]. Propolis has been found to effectively modulate the immune system without over stimulating it [7] and is a great natural remedy for hay fever.

Quality supplementation is key to help relieve allergy symptoms naturally. An effective combination for immune modulation and antihistamine supplementation would be Bee Prepared Immune Support Max Strength. Bee Prepared Max Strength contains therapeutic doses of bee propolis extract, elderberry extract and reishi mushroom extract and is a high quality source of natural antihistamine and immune supporting agents to help aid in the prevention and treatment of hay fever, naturally. The Bee Prepared Daily Defence is also helpful for helping manage seasonal allergies.

Why not try to manage your allergies the natural way this season? The combination of the above actions may be helpful in supporting long-term treatment for hay fever. Seasonal allergies can be managed naturally with quality foods, supplements as well as lifestyle changes.

References

1.  Dillner, L., 2013. Hay fever remedies: how to prepare for the worst season in decades. The Guardian, [online](Last updated 14:45 on 28th April 2013) Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/apr/28/hay-fever-remedies-worst-season-decades [Accessed on 30 May 2013]

2.  Nauta, AJ., et al. 2008. Mechanism of allergy and asthma. European Journal of Pharmacology. May, 13:585(2-3), pp.354-60.

3.  Johnston, CS., Martin LJ, Cai, X., 1992. Anti Histamine effect of supplemental ascorbic acid and neutrophil chemotaxis. Journal of American Nutrition, Apr 11(2), pp. 172 – 6.

4.  Schwartz, A., Sutton, S.L., Middleton E., 1982. Quercetin inhibition of the induction and function of cytotoxic T lymphocytes. Immunopharmacology. April 4(2), pp.125-38.

5.  Trigos, A., Medellin, JS., 2011. Biologically active metabolites of genus Ganoderma: Three decades of myco-chemistry research. Revista Mexicana De Micologica, 34, pp. 63-83.

6.  Sulaiman, GM, et al., 2011. Chemical characterization of Iraqi propolis samples and assessing their antioxidant potentials. Food and Chemical Toxicology, an international journal published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association. September,49(9), pp.2415-21.

7. Bachiega, TF, et al., 2012. The effects of propolis and its isolated compounds on cytokine production by murine macrophages. Phytotherapy Research. September, 26(9), pp. 1308-13.

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Natural Approaches to Hay Fever

While most of us look forward to the longer, brighter days of summer, this season can spell misery for Britain’s twelve million hay fever sufferers. This year is a particular worry, as pollen counts are predicted to be at an all time high. According to Professor Roy Kennedy of the National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit, as a result of a cold spring, the pollen burst will now happen in a condensed burst, producing the highest pollen levels for decades.

Hay fever symptoms, such as a runny nose and red, itchy eyes, are a result of an allergic reaction to pollen causing histamine release. This is why antihistamines are the most common medication for the condition. For those who would like to try a natural approach, dietary changes and nutritional supplements can also alter levels of histamine in the body, helping to reduce symptoms and reduce the need for over the counter drugs.

One example of a natural antihistamine is Vitamin C (1), which has been used both nasally and orally to treat nasal congestion. Studies showing the vitamin’s antihistamine properties have used doses up to 7g daily, although I recommend staying within the safe upper limit by taking up to 1500mg supplemental Vitamin C daily, together with Vitamin C rich foods such as oranges, kiwis, broccoli, tomato juice and peppers.

Bromelain is a protein-digesting enzyme derived from pineapple stem. It has anti-inflammatory benefits and also has mucolytic properties (2), meaning that it helps to thin mucous. Bromelain blocks the action of fibrin and kinins, which cause nasal swelling and irritation.

Another natural agent which has been shown to benefit to hay fever sufferers is quercetin (3-5). Quercetin is a flavonoid naturally present in foods such as onions, apples and kale. It works by reducing the release of histamine from immune system cells known as mast cells.

For hayfever sufferers, it may be particularly beneficial to use both quercetin and bromelain together. I normally prefer to supplement them in a combined formula, together with Vitamin C. Formulas such as Biocare’s Quercetin Plus can be helpful in this regard. As both quercetin and bromelain thin the blood, they not be used by those on anti-coagulants such as warfarin.

The link between food intolerance and hay fever is unproven. As a nutritional therapist I do however sometimes advise clients to avoid the most common dietary irritants, such as dairy, wheat and alcohol for a period, as many people find that their symptoms abate after eliminating these foods. Any food that irritates the digestive tract can result in increased mucous formation. It may also be that food intolerance causes local inflammatory reactions, making the tissues around the eyes and nose more sensitive to pollen.

Other nutritional strategies include boosting your body’s levels of calcium, magnesium, methionine and flavonoids in order to discourage the production of histamine. Foods such as nuts, sunflower seeds, onions, cabbage, blackberries and apples are recommended in this respect. Anti-inflammatory foods such as oily fish, flaxseed oil, milled flaxseed or a regular fish oil supplement, may also be of benefit.

For anyone wanting to avoid troublesome hay fever symptoms, the most important fact to remember is that anti-histamine measures need to be applied regularly and consistently in order to be effective. For this reason, following a well-planned anti-inflammatory diet alongside regular natural anti-histamines such as Vitamin C, quercetin and bromelain may prove the best strategy for beating hay fever naturally.

References

  1. Hagel AF (2013) Intravenous infusion of ascorbic acid decreases serum histamine concentrations in patients with allergic and non-allergic diseases. Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol May 11. [Epub ahead of print]
  2. Suzuki K, Niho T, Yamada H, et al. Experimental study of the effects of bromelain. Nippon Yakurigaku Zasshi 1983;81:211-216.
  3. Hirano T et al. (2009). “Preventative effect of a flavonoid, enzymatically modified isoquercitrin on ocular symptoms of Japanese cedar pollinosis”. Allergology international : official journal of the Japanese Society of Allergology 58 (3): 373–82.
  4. Kawai M et al. (2009). “Effect of enzymatically modified isoquercitrin, a flavonoid, on symptoms of Japanese cedar pollinosis: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial”. International archives of allergy and immunology 149 (4): 359–68.
  5. Mainardi, T et al (2009). “Complementary and alternative medicine: herbs, phytochemicals and vitamins and their immunologic effects”. The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology 123 (2): 283–94
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