Herbal Health Information on Hay Fever

It’s the time of year when plants are flowering and pollen is flying everywhere. It has been affecting people slightly earlier this year, as we have had such a warm spring and many plants are flowering early.

I know if you are a sufferer you can probably describe the symptoms better than I can, but for those who don’t know, hay fever can result in those with sensitivity, suffering from itchy and swollen eyes sneezing, running or blocked nose, sore throat and catarrh.

It can be mild, or it can make the sufferer’s life miserable for the length of time the plant pollen they are allergic to, is flowering.

If I have a hay fever sufferer visit me in clinic for the first time about this time of year, I treat the symptoms, but ensure the following year they come and see me to start their course of herbal medicine about a month before their normal hay fever season.

The logic behind this is, so that the mucous membranes in all those areas I have already mentioned are toned up. In a hay fever sufferer, the pollen attacks the lining of the eyes, nose and throat, irritating these linings and causing inflammation. The body’s natural defence mechanism is first to sneeze to try and expel the irritant from the airways and then to increase the amount of mucous produced in these areas to try and “wash” the irritants away. The inflammation of the membranes results in itching and the production of the mucous, in runny eyes and nose and catarrh. So if the mucous membranes are already toned up before the start of the hay fever season then either the sufferer will not get hay fever or the symptoms will be greatly reduced.

I have had an excellent success rate treating people who suffer from hay fever in my clinic. Remember there is no such thing as magic cure or 100% successful treatment. People all respond differently to medicines, whether orthodox or Herbal.

There is some dietary advice, which is to dramatically reduce the amount of dairy products you are eating and to drink plenty of WATER.

We humans eat too much dairy products in a day as it is “easy” food, starting with milk in cereals at breakfast, maybe cheese and yogurt at lunch time and perhaps ice cream at dinner time as well as milk in tea and coffee. Dairy is a difficult food for human adults to digest it is only babies who have the enzyme for milk break down in the digestive system. A large amount of dairy products in the diet may result in the mucous membranes already being inflamed, together with increased mucous production. So as Mister Spock would say, “it is logical Jim” * (if your name is not Jim substitute your own name here *).

The Herbs I use to treat hay fever are herbs which tone up the mucous membranes and protect them from the outside world as well as herbs that help to calm down the immune system.

Top of my list are:
EYEBRIGHT, this is an excellent mucous membrane toning herb,

ELDERFLOWER, amongst other properties, it is anti inflammatory and anti catarrhal (check out my herb walk at the long man),

MARHMALLOW LEAF, this soothes and protects the mucous membranes as it is a mucilage containing herb.

To this I would normally add something to calm the body down as the immune system has now gone into overdrive and will over-react to everything.

So depending on the patient, either PULSATILLA or PASSIFLORA both of which are gentle relaxants and I find, work well to calm the immune system.

All of these I use in tincture form, as tinctures are nice and easy to use , but you will probably be able to find an over the counter preparation with most of these Herbs in it.

If you are buying an over the counter preparation, make sure it is licensed as it has then been through a rigorous testing process.

If you suffer from any other conditions or are already taking orthodox medicine for anything, or are pregnant, consult a qualified Medical Herbalist or your doctor.
The Herbs I have mentioned above are all safe Herbs taken in the right quantities but Pulsatilla cannot be used fresh and Passiflora cannot be used in pregnancy.

It sounds a bit of a mine field but is really just a matter of knowing what you are doing and if you don’t, there are professionals around who will help you and do not charge too much.

It is usually cheaper to go to a qualified Medical Herbalist who will charge a reasonable fee to tailor make a preparation for you, than to buy an expensive product over the counter which may not be right for you.

There is a full write up of the herbs mentioned in this article on the website.
If nothing else it is all very interesting!

Linda Bostock
Medical Herbalist

Herbal Health Information

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