MANY of us look forward to the spring and summer sunshine after a long cold winter. But just as many others dread these lovely balmy evenings as they bring a nasty range of pollen-related allergies.
If you are one of the estimated 15 million Britons whose lives are made a misery by hay fever – that’s 25% of the population – then you are likely to be one of the people who may benefit from a natural approach to hay fever.
There are a lot of effective over-the-counter remedies, but unfortunately these often come with side effects such as drowsiness or headaches. So, this year, why not try something natural?
A natural anti-inflammatory, quercetin has been shown to offer significant antioxidant protection for the cells lining the sinuses. Its ability to stabilise mast cells, the cells that release histamine, has made it a popular and widely-used remedy for sinus congestion, hay fever and other allergic reactions. Quercetin is a great natural approach to hay fever and is found in onions, garlic, apples, green tea and black tea. Smaller amounts are found in leafy green vegetables and beans.
This herb is a natural expectorant that can relieve phlegm production. Thyme has a long history of use in Europe for the treatment of dry, spasmodic coughs as well as bronchitis and a natural approach to hay fever. It also has antimicrobial properties that help fight infections caused by phlegm. Other herbs that may have antimicrobial properties include eucalyptus – inhale oils over a bowl of steamy water to clear sinus congestion – lemon balm, myrrh, olive leaf, sage and sandalwood. Steep fresh thyme leaves in hot water to make tea and drink twice a day.
Probably best known as a relaxant and bed-time drink, chamomile has been traditionally used to treat eye itchiness and inflammation. Try placing a cold tea bag on your eyelids for 5-10 minutes.
Elderberries have traditionally been used in many countries to treat respiratory illnesses such as colds or flu. Some evidence suggests that substances in elder flowers and berries may help reduce swelling in the sinuses and help relieve nasal congestion. Elder may also have anti-inflammatory, antiviral and anticancer properties. Elderberry may help with cold and flu symptoms by reducing congestion and possibly making you sweat more.
Refs: Reiter M et al, 2009, Quercetin and Q10 Protect Human Sinus Cells Anticancer Res, 29, 1, 33-9. Shaik YB et al, 2006, Quercetin Stabilizes Mast Cells, J Biol Regul Homeost Agents, 20, 3-4, 47-52. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 492–5.
- Summer congestion relief (readingeagle.com)