Suffering from Hay Fever or Allergies?
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on October 16, 2011 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Allergies don’t happen just during the springtime! While ‘hay fever’ is usually caused by seasonal grass or pollens (so named because it was discovered during haying season), allergic rhinitis can occur throughout the entire year.
Allergic rhinitis is an umbrella term for allergic reactions to environmental irritants such as pollution, dust, pollens, and molds. Symptoms of allergic rhinitis and hay fever include sneezing, copious nasal discharge, sinus congestion, watery, irritated eyes, scratchy throat, and even asthma-like wheezing.
Allergies are truly a modern day affliction, with an estimated 30-50% of people in the U.S. suffering from them. Their incidence is on the rise, too, and onset is occurring at a younger and younger age. Allergies are not just an inconvenience; they’ve been shown to contribute to significantly reduced productivity by causing headaches, loss of sleep, fatigue, and difficulty learning and concentrating.
The cause of these symptoms that make you feel downright miserable? Histamine. This is a chemical that plays an important role in protecting us, by helping our body to eliminate unwanted and potentially harmful substances (allergens) before they have a chance to take hold. Upon exposure to an allergen, histamine gets released from specialized immune cells lining our respiratory tract, called mast cells. When it gets released upon exposure to common and harmless environmental substances, however, it can wreak havoc upon our system!
One of the most effective approaches to managing allergic rhinitis and hay fever is by decreasing histamine release (as over-the-counter antihistamines do).
Herbs that are ‘natural antihistamines’ include Eyebright, Stinging Nettles, and Ambrosia. These herbs make the mast cells less likely to respond to harmless substances as though they were ‘allergens,’ which then decreases the release of histamine.
Aller-Gold from Natural Wellbeing is a blend of several herbs that decrease histamine naturally and provide decongestant and anti-inflammatory support. For you, that means relief from itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose and sinus congestion!
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Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan