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Summer fever

Don’t despair, summer may be on its way but there is something you can do to help yourself if you suffer from hay fever and allergies

We all look forward to spring after a long winter, and the promise of longer days and trees and flowers in bloom as summer approaches. But for one in 10 people in Ireland the warmer weather is accompanied by a stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, a tickly cough, difficulty sleeping, headaches and a loss of smell as the body’s immune system reacts to pollen and spores and releases a chemical called histamine.

In Ireland up to 90% of people with hay fever are allergic to grass pollen which peaks from early June to mid July, so if you suffer from this seasonal problem it’s best to have a plan for how you are going to alleviate it well before the season truly arrives.

Aine Keane from The Good Earth health store in Kilkenny says it’s important to “build up your immune system for three months before the season begins. Take 1000mg Vitamin C every day, and either a fish or plant oil to prevent and reduce symptoms.

“Have a few cups of nettle tea a day,” she advises. “It reduces inflamation and also this wonderful herb contains quercetin, a natural anti-histamine. Nettle juice is a more concentrated version available in health food stores.”

Erin McCann NT mBANT and nutritional advisor to Unbeelievable Health says, “ingredients that have been shown to be effective for boosting immunity and reducing hay fever symptoms include elderberry which is rich in quercetin, bee propolis which has significant anti-inflammatory properties and reishi mushroom for antihistamine actions.”

Recurrent hay fever sufferers can benefit from reducing their exposure to pollen before the season reaches its peak. “Be conscious of covering up when going out when pollen is at its highest,” says Aine. “When mowing grass I find it useful to use a natural barrier cream on my nose and to be conscious of keeping my mouth closed.“

Those who suffer from itchy eyes might invest in a pair of wraparound sunglasses to help keep pollen away.

Regular vacuuming will help keep pollen levels low, and keep windows and doors closed to help keep pollen out of your home.

For many, dietary changes such as avoiding mucus-forming foods like dairy products can make a difference. In the evening check out www.met.ie for the next day’s pollen forecast.

More natural helpers for hay fever

  • Eyebright is a useful herb for itchy eyes and general eye irritation. Available in capsules, homoeopathic remedy and in eye drops.
  • Quercertin is a natural anti-histamine and is found in many foods such as apples, onions and berries. Quercetin capsules also contain Vitamin C.

Tinctures available from health stores that can help hay fever include:

  • Chamomile – an anti-inflammatory and boost to the immune system.
  • Echinacea – an anti-inflammatory herb that enhances the immune system.
  • Elderflower – which helps to dry up mucus in your nose.

Unfiltered raw local honey contains pollen grains which can help mild hay fever symptoms. Pollen is the protein that bees feed on and follows the homeopathic principle of like curing like. Check with your local health store or local farmers market, see www.irishbeekeeping.ie or buy pollen capsules or pollen granules to sprinkle on food.

Tips for people who suffer from a dust mite, dust or pet allergy

  • Instead of dusting, wipe away dust with a damp cloth.
  • Wash your sheets, pillowcases etc every week in a hot wash.
  • Open the windows for at least an hour every day.
  • Use a dehumidifier to keep humidity between 30-50% in your home.
  • Make some rooms cat- or dog-free zones by closing doors.
  • Groom cats and dogs outdoors.
  • Put away any objects or ornaments that you don’t need because they just gather dust.
  • Go for wooden, tiled or linoleum floors and wipe-clean blinds instead of carpets and curtains.
  • Try using an air purifier to help keep dust levels down in your home.

Click here to read earlier Rude Health Magazine natural health articles.
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