Sunday, March 25, 2012

Guest Post at The Balanced Platter: Holistic Healing for Hay Fever

Feel like hiding indoors at those first signs of spring?  You’re not alone.  If you suffer from hay fever you may very well dread this time of year and if you’re a nature lover, this is a difficult realization. 

Hay fever, also known as seasonal allergies (or allergic rhinitis), is more than just a nuisance, it can lead to other concerning health conditions. For example, my son’s eczema is exacerbated by hay fever. Other conditions such as asthma can flare up in response to airborne allergens. And for some, hay fever can lead to an annoying sinus infection, affect immune function, cause fatigue, malaise, and headache.  All around, it can be a real bummer. 



What is hay fever?
Hay fever is an allergy to proteins in the pollen of trees, grasses, and some plants, or mold that affects the mucous membranes of the nose, eyes, and air passages.


Symptoms
Itchy red eyes; watery discharge from the nose and eyes; sneezing; fatigue; and nervous irritability.

For some, over the counter medication can provide temporary relief from hay fever.  In addition to medication, there are a few extra steps that may provide added relief which can be used in conjunction with medication. 



Practical Tips and suggestions
1.  Try to avoid working in the yard.  If you must do so, try to get out there before 10:00 am.  If you do work outside, try wearing a nose/mouth mask and goggles to keep the pollen from getting into you eyes.  And mow your lawn before the grass flowers.  
2.  Keep windows and doors shut during your local blossoming season.  Use air conditioning if possible.  
3.  Keep your windows closed while driving.  Use the car air conditioner instead
4.  Shower thoroughly (wash hair), and change clothes after spending time outside.  This is especially important before bed.  Think of all that pollen stuck to your skin and hairnow on your cozy pillow – yuk!
5.  Avoid placing laundry outside to dry.
6.  Keep pets either inside or outside.  Their fur is excellent for attracting pollen.7.  Invest in a good-quality air purifier and filter in your home.  You can even purchase a little air purifier for around your neck (dress it up with a little bling and scarf and you’re good to go girlfriend).  8.  A neti pot may be used (sparingly) to flush out nasal mucus and debris. Use clean, filtered water.  Overuse is contraindicated and may exacerbate already irritated and inflamed nasal membranes.

*please see below for health disclaimer 



If you’re not keen on over the counter medication for hay fever relief, there are definitely some holistic options out there for you.  One key element to think about during allergy season is keeping your immune system super strong.  This can be achieved in a variety of ways, including but not limited to: changing your diet, using essential oils, taking immune boosting herbs and supplements, acupuncture, teas, and vitamins.  
*If you’re like me, holistic remedies are always an option.  But always used with caution.  If you are interested in incorporating herbs as a part of your healing regimen, please consult with a holistic practitioner or medical doctor, as herbs can possibly interfere with medications, and over the counter hay fever remedies.  



Herbs

1.  Alfalfa supplied chlorphhyll and vitamin K.  Use a liquid form.  Take 1 tablespoon in juice or water twice daily.
2.  For red, itchy eyes, place slices of cool cucumber over the eyes.  Rotate this treatment with steeped, cooled black tea bags placed directly on the eye lids.
3.  Eucalpyus oil can relive congestion if used in a steam inhalation or added to bath water.  Also mix with an oil (such as coconut or olive) and apply to chest or back at night. 
4.  Alcohol-free eyebright and lady’s mantel (yarrow) liquid extracts are good for relieving hay fever symptoms.  Use as directed on label.
5.  Horehound, mullen leaf, stinging nettle, and/or wild cherry bark help to ward off severe allergic reactions.
6.  Use tumeric to reduce inflammation.
7.  Nettle leaf is very good for all types of allergies.
8.  Noni juice aids in relieving symptoms of hay fever.9.  Bee pollen might be an option. 


Additional Recommendations 
1.  Eat more fruits (especially bananas), vegetables, raw nuts and seeds (and grains if tolerated).  A high fiber diet is helpful.
2.  Include homemade dairy free yogurt. 
3.  Refrain from eating cane-sugar, processes foods, chocolate, coffee, dairy products, soft drinks, white flour products, and using tobacco.


Important nutrients
1.  Coenzyme Q10 (30 mg twice daily) – improves oxygenation and immunity.
2.  Bromelain (1,000 mg 3 times daily b/t meals) – reduces inflammation associated with hay fever symptoms
3.  Vitamin B complex (as directed on label) – used for proper immune function.
4.  Vitamin C with bioflavonoids (3,000 – 10,000 mg 3 times daily) – a potent immunostimulant and anti-inflammatory.  Use a buffered form.  I use this one.


Resources 
Know your pollen count.  
Enter in your zip code for your allergy forecast.I was pleasantly surprised to find that the weather channel (of all places) provides some great resources for hay fever (and some awesome alternative/holistic information) nice touch weather channel! 

Home page
Great natural relief suggestions 
Alternative therapies 
(A plant alternative to antihistamines) 
Effects of weather and sports on eczema 



Holistic remedies for children
Our local natural foods Co-op carries some great child-safe herbal tinctures that provide temporary relief from hay fever symptoms, as well as immune boosting formulas, and herbs in bulk.  My son really suffers from hay fever throughout the year, and my daughter develops have fever in the spring. I’ve used several holistic remedies for hay fever, bronchial congestion, and sinus congestion.  Here are some of my favorites. 
*Please consult with your children’s holistic practitioner or pediatrician before administering herbs, especially if they are taking other medications, other over the counter remedies, or if they have food allergies or an illness.  


Hay Fever Relief:
BioAllers Allergy Relief Pollen Hay Fever
Hyland’s Allergy Relief for Kids


Immune Boosting:
Children’s Winter Health 
Wellness Herbal Kids


Respiratory: 
Loquat Respiratory Syrup for Kids
Children’s Cough and Bronchial Syrup

  Child Friendly Herbs:
*Herb resources from here and here
  -Chamomile 
-Fenugreek seeds
-Nettles
-Elder Flowers
-Ribwort
-Red clover blossoms
(for congestion: mullein, hyssop, & thyme)

*

I would love to hear how you cope with seasonal allergies.

Do you use traditional or alternative remedies, or a combination of both?

How do you enjoy the outdoors during spring?

*
Content Reference

Phyllis A. Balch, CNC. (2010).  Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 5th Edition.  

Pengiun Group Inc: New York. 

(aforementioned content covering hay fever, recommendations, 
nutrients, practical suggestions, and herbs all gathered from above reference).  
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Labels: have fever, Holistic healing.

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