It’s that time of year again, hayfever season, the time of sniffs, sniffles, itchy eyes, a persistent tickly cough; sufferers also may notice an increase in wheezing, tiredness, headaches or sinus pain. Hayfever season affects more than 13 million people in the UK and for many sufferers this year’s season seems to have got going particularly quickly.
There are several things you can do to help your system to cope better with the multitude of allergens that can bring on hayfever symptoms.
Local honey is reputed to help decrease the inflammatory response by gradually desensitising the system to local allergens. Look out for local, unpasteurised honey on garden gates or in your local greengrocers.
Some people find that dairy products increase the amount of phlegm and mucous in their system – if you are affected by dairy in this way, reduce you intake during hayfever season.
Nettle tea can help to ease inflammation of the upper respiratory tract and ease nasal congestion, sneezing and itching; nettle tea can be brought in many supermarkets or health food shops, but can be easily made at home by pouring boiling water over a tongful of fresh nettle young leaves (notice I recommend picking the nettle leaves with your kitchen tongs, not with your fingers!)
Eat more onions! Onions are packed with the flavonoid quercetin, a powerful antioxidant and natural anti-histamine. Slice raw red onions thinly and add them to salads or sandwiches to get the most goodness from them.
Turmeric is another useful addition to your diet, containing curcumin which is another powerful natural anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory. You can easily add it to soups, stews and curries or take it as a supplement.
Find a local acupuncturist for a course of treatment to help the body to respond more appropriately to hayfever triggers. Often a few treatments can calm down hayfever for an entire season, and in many cases the effects can last for much longer.
I am frequently asked how acupuncture works. For hayfever the effect of acupuncture on the body has been quite well studied; acupuncture needles appear to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules. The resulting biochemical changes can influence the body's homeostatic mechanisms, promoting physical and emotional well-being.
Acupuncture treatment for hayfever is designed to take into account the main symptoms; some points are particularly good for clearing congested, itchy sinuses, some are great for settling a wheezy chest, others are good for calming itchy watery eyes. While acupuncture cannot guarantee to help all sufferers, there is evidence from systematic reviews to suggest it can be a safe and effective treatment for hayfever resulting in noticeable reduction or complete cessation of over-the-counter hayfever medication. Acupuncture is recognised as
a viable treatment option for hay fever by the American Academy of Otolaryngology, the world’s largest organisation of Ear, Nose and Throat specialists.
Alexandra O’Connor LicAc MBAcC
Holicity Acupuncture, Maldon & Burnham