Managing Hayfever

What is hayfever?

Hayfever is an allergy. An allergy is a disorder of the immune system in which it decides that harmless substances such as pollen, animal hair, certain foods, mould spores and dust mites are dangerous. Mast cells and basophils (white blood cells) are activated by an antigen known as IgE resulting in an inflammatory response. Common allergic reactions include eczema, hayfever, hives, asthma, food allergies and reactions to bee and wasp venom.

This inflammatory response can lead to skin rashes, excess mucous, streaming and itching eyes and nose, even diarrhoea and vomiting as the body tries to flush the allergen out.

Hayfever is a specific type of allergic reaction to pollen. Different people can be allergic to different types of pollen. Common culprits include; rye, grass, rape, ragweed, birch and juniper.

*** It is best to start the following recommendations around three months before symptoms usually start to occur. It will however still be of benefit to begin straight away in preparation for next year.

Foods to increase

Beta-Carotene rich foods help to reduce inflammation and promote health of the mucus membranes throughout the respiratory system. The following foods are rich in beta-carotene:


sweet potatoes



Dark green leafy vegetables not only contain beta-carotene, but they also help to eliminate excess toxins from the body.

Garlic helps to reduce catarrh and is antimicrobial, killing bacteria which may reside in mucous. It is best eaten raw. Crush the cloves with either a garlic crusher or the edge of a knife to release the important oils.

Vitamin C acts as a natural anti-histamine. The following foods are rich in vitamin C:


Vitamin E is also a natural anti-histamine and is found in the following foods:


egg yolk

pumpkin seeds

Local honey, produced by bees from near where you live, can help if eaten regularly. (Our Talking with Bees honey is made from bees in the Redland Allotment area.) Try eating a spoonful every day, ideally 3 months prior to the appearance of symptoms. It is best eaten raw so avoid heating it by adding to hot food or drinks etc. You may be allergic to specific pollen from plants growing in a particular area. If the honey contains minute quantities of that pollen, eating the honey little and often may help to de-sensitise the body.

Foods to decrease

Dairy is mucous forming so is best avoided. Alternatives include rice, oat, soy and nut milks.

Wheat allergy and intolerance is common. The gluten in wheat can be mistaken for an allergen by a hyper-sensitive immune system. The symptoms of wheat allergy are similar to those of hayfever. People with hayfever often react to the gluten in wheat. Try replacing it with rye, oats, barley, quinoa, millet and buckwheat (which is actually from the rhubarb family, and not related to wheat!).

Refined and processed foods, colourings and additives place an added strain on the liver as it has to filter the extra toxins from the body.

Alcohol, black tea and coffee deplete the absorption of minerals and also strain the liver. If you drink alcohol, make sure you are drinking a good amount of water. Alternatives to tea include green tea, rooibos and herbal teas, such as nettle and chamomile. Dandelion coffee is a tasty alternative to coffee.


Vitamin C is a natural anti-histamine. Histamines are inflammatory compounds which cause allergic reactions such as a blocked or runny nose.

Quercetin supports healthy histamine levels, acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and strengthens the action of vitamin C.

Bromelain is an enzyme derived from pineapple. It is an anti-inflammatory and helps to support healthy nasal and respiratory airways.

We have several complexes at Wild Oats which contain Vitamin C, quercetin and bromelain. Ask in store for more information.

Bioflavonoids strengthen the antioxidant potential of vitamin C and support the strength and integrity of capillaries.

Luffa Complex by Bioforce is a combination of herbs which helps to reverse the effect of hayfever symptoms. The effect should be felt within 20 minutes. It also comes in a nasal spray for easy delivery.

Euphrasia (eyebright). Allergens can cause itchiness and redness of the eyes. Euphrasia can help by acting as an anti-inflammatory on the mucous membranes and can also benefit the nose and throat.

Weleda Mixed Pollen contains a mixture of grasses, cereals, and early and mid tree blossom. Homeopathic remedies work on the theory that by introducing a small amount of a particular substance which causes symptoms in large doses can be used in small amounts to treat those same symptoms. Small amounts can assist your body in learning to fight against it.

Weleda Rhinodron Spray can be used to clear blocked nasal passages.

Potters Allerclear nasal spray and tablets contain garlic which is anti-microbial and helps to loosen phlegm. It also contains echinacea which acts against infections and is anti-inflammatory. They can both be used for a runny nose, nasal congestion and catarrh.

Haymax nasal balms act as a pollen barrier when applied to the base of the nose.

Lifestyle advice

Avoidance of allergens is helpful but not always practical. Here are some other things you can try:

• Pollen levels are at their highest during the morning and the evening. Try keeping the doors and windows closed to keep airborne pollens out.

• Splash your face regularly with cool water and bathe the eyes to help wash away irritants. You can also try using a neti pot to cleanse your nasal passages.

• At the end of the day remove your clothes outside of the bedroom and do not keep them in your room at night as you sleep. They may have gathered pollen during the day.

• Consider showering at the end of the day to wash the pollen from your hair.


Download as a Word document here, Managing Hayfever

By Sarah Kellett, nutritional therapist (dip CNM, NCTT) and Wild Oats Adviser
Tel: 077 888 32 889