About Seasonal Allergies, Pollen Allergy, Hay Fever and Natural Home Remedies to Control Them
What Is Allergy
In simple terms, allergy is an increased reaction to an external harmless substance, also called an allergen, that causes the body's immune or defence system to react strongly to it.
This reaction is seen in some individuals who are then said to be allergic to that particular substance or allergen. The majority that does not exhibit any reaction to that very substance is said to be non-allergic to it.
Allergy is not a disease but a condition whose reactions can be from mild to life-threatening.
Some common factors have been noted between allergies and allergens. They are:
- The immune system is always involved and is a must factor.
- The allergens cause allergic reactions that might be instant or delayed.
- Prevention is at least as important as treatment.
Why Are Incidences Of Allergy Rising?
Worldwide, incidences of allergy are increasing. Initially, the rise was in the UK, USA and Europe but with increasing industrialization, it has spread to the developing countries as well.
Also, starting with respiratory allergies like hay fever and asthma, now we see a jump in food allergies as well. The factors responsible for this change and all allergies, in general, are believed to be :
- Our increased dependence and consumption of refined and processed foods rather than vegetables and fruits which was the norm decades ago.
- Increased use of certain nuts like peanuts in some communities.
- Decreasing levels of Vitamin D which is very necessary for proper immune system development - firstly because of the changed food habits and secondly, due to lower sunshine exposure by way of staying indoors more and increased use of sunscreens today.
- Increased use of skin creams with ingredients coming from certain nuts that are allergenic though the evidence for allergy through the use of cosmetics is limited.
- A very strong reason is our reduced exposure to environmental bacteria and microorganisms due to our use of sanitizers and cleaners which kill these bacteria and consequently reduce our immunity and increase our susceptibility.
- Hereditary factors where increasing incidences are seen in families and their offsprings in succeeding generations due to vertical transmission.
How Mast Cells Act Under Attack By An Allergen
What Happens During An Allergic Reaction?
Harmless substances do not cause any reaction in most people. However, some people are sensitive to these very substances which though harmless cause allergic reactions in those sensitive to them.
As the body perceives these allergens to be harmful and a threat, the immune system reacts by producing special antibodies to counter this allergen. These antibodies are Immunoglobin E (IgE) and are allergen-specific. The allergen attaches itself to the IgE and also to the mast cells and basophils which are the body's soldier cells.
The mast cells are present in tissues that come into contact with the external environment like the nose, mouth, eyes, skin, throat and the gut.
The first attack produces no symptoms only the production of the IgE. The next encounter is identified by the mast cells and they then start producing histamines, a chemical which is meant to fight the allergen. It is this histamine that produces the characteristic inflammatory, allergic symptoms like itching, watery eyes, runny nose, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, wheezing and tightness of chest etc.
Types Of Allergies
Allergies can be broadly classified into 2 categories :
- Food Allergy - Includes all that is consumed or eaten.
- Environmental Allergy - Includes various external triggers like dust, mites, weather changes, pollution, smoke, grasses, pollen etc.
In this hub, I will deal with ways to tackle and reduce the severity of allergy due to pollen.
About Pollen Allergy / Seasonal Allergies / Hay Fever
Pollen allergy symptoms occur from the months of March to September depending on the individual's sensitivity to the type of pollen. Pollen from different plants is in highest concentrations at different times during these months.
- Pine pollen is more during March & April.
- Grass pollen during May, June & July.
- Weed pollen from August to September.
The severest allergic symptoms are encountered with the grass and weed pollen generally.
Pollen contains the male reproductive cell of the plants. Since pollen has to be dispersed by air in a major way, they are very light and produced in huge numbers so that some reach the female flowers and attach to the stigma, which contains the female reproductive cell. This is necessary to propagate the plant species and is nature's way to keep the plant generation running.
However, this becomes a bane for those who are allergic to pollen.
Pollen allergy is also called allergic rhinitis and hay fever.
The symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, headache, sore throat, cough, sleep difficulties and difficulty in breathing.
Repeated attacks can lead to it getting chronic and manifest as asthma.
How Are Allergies Treated Medically?
The normal practice is to prescribe antihistamines which are medicines that counter the allergic symptoms caused by the release of the chemical histamine. Side effects of these medicines include drowsiness.
Some antihistamines like fexofenadine do not cause drowsiness, though.
Corticosteroids are also used to relieve allergy symptoms but their side effects are more severe and include weight gain, high BP, fluid retention in the body, weakening of the bones, cough etc.
Inhalers or bronchodilators are also used to control allergic asthma which eases breathing as they dilate the bronchi and bronchioles, the airway passages. But their side effects include high BP and heart problems.
As opposed to all this, there are lifestyle changes and natural remedies that can help one tackle allergy to a large extent and by being persistent in one's efforts, it can be controlled to an extent that it does not become a major problem.
Some Ways To Reduce Pollen Contamination
During the season of high pollen production, pollen is everywhere in the atmosphere. Some precautions that can help to prevent overexposure to pollen and thus reduce the severity of the symptoms are ;
- On windy or breezy days avoid going out in the mid-morning. Go out if necessary only in the afternoon or after it has rained.
- After you've come back from outdoors, have a bath, preferably take a head bath as well, and change clothes to reduce the pollen load and also to prevent it from spreading it all over the house.
- Keep windows and the outside door closed. Use an air conditioner during this season.
- If you work outdoors use a mask.
- Do not mow grass or rake leaves during this season.
- Do not dry clothes outdoors as they could collect free-flying pollen.
- When travelling keep car windows rolled up.
Some Lifestyle Changes To Adopt
In addition to the above, take the following precautions :
- Consume less of refined and processed foods, fats and oils. Increase intake of fresh vegetables and fruits.
- Drink lots of water.
- Stay away from humid places and dampness.
- Do pranayama or yogic breathing exercises.
- Change bed linen every few days during this season.
- Take extra supplementation of Vitamin C and E. Preferably, eat fruits rich in Vitamin C like the citrus fruits.
- Reduce or better still stop consuming white sugar. and aerated drinks.
- Try doing Jal Neti.
It is the practice of passing warm saline water through one nostril until it comes out of the other nostril. Then do it the other way around. Learn to do it correctly from a naturopathy canter.
It removes the pollen that has lodges in the nostrils and reduces the allergy symptoms.
Some Natural And Home Remedies To Control Allergies And Pollen Allergy In Particular
- HONEY - LOCALLY AVAILABLE, PREFERABLY
Consume 2 tbsp of local honey available every day. Honey made from flowers that are within a radius of about 10 miles helps in developing immunity to the local pollen.
Consume 5 cloves of raw garlic daily early in the morning.
Chop fresh raw ginger into thin slices and put in a bottle. Add lemon juice to cover these slices. In a couple of days, it will be ready to eat. Eat a few slices every day.
- APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
Mix 1-2 tbsp apple cider vinegar in 250 ml of water and drink.
- EUCALYPTUS OIL
Mix a few drops of this oil in hot water. Inhale the steam to open up blocked nasal cavities and relieve headache.
- PEPPERMINT TEA
Drink peppermint tea.
To make, steep about 15 grams dried peppermint leaves in about 650 ml hot water for 5 minutes. Strain, cool and add honey to sweeten, if needed.
Peppermint has a decongestant, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial effect.
Exercise caution when giving peppermint to children
- Consume more of citrus fruits like lemons, limes and oranges to boost the Vitamin C levels.
- Drink Chamomile tea, Stinging nettle tea.
- Drink 1- 2 cups of green tea every day. It controls histamine production.
- Drink Thyme tea. Steep 1 tsp dried thyme in boiling water for few minutes. Take 1 cup daily.
Adding honey to all the above teas makes it more effective.
- In the morning but before taking breakfast, add 3-4 drops of castor oil in 1/2 cup of fruit juice and drink.
- Take 1 tsp honey mixed with 1/2 tsp lemon or lime juice.
- Take Quercetin, one 400 mg capsule, 2 times a day between meals.
Lavender oil has been found to be an excellent remedy to control the symptoms of pollen allergy.
See that you use Therapeutic-grade lavender oil and NOT Food grade.
It can be used in the following ways :
- Diffuse the oil in the air around the bed area.
- Apply a little oil to the soles of the feet.
- Wash the face and dab a little afterwards.
- Lavender oil can be consumed internally.
For ingestion, fill 10 drops in a blank capsule. Fill the rest of the capsule with vegetable oil, preferably olive oil before taking it orally.
Another Article On Pollen Allergies
- Seasonal Pollen Allergies
What can you do to treat your seasonal allergies? Learn about seasonal allergies and some natural, prescription, and over the counter methods that you can use to end your allergic misery.
The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies or supplements.
Some of my other hubs on Health Conditions
- Foods To Consume Or Avoid In Dysfunctional Dyspepsia And Natural Home Remedies For Indigestion
Indigestion or dyspepsia is caused by stress, indiscriminate eating, an erratic lifestyle, etc. It can be treated by following some preventive measures coupled with natural foods readily available in every home. To know how, read on...
- About High Blood Cholesterol And How To Control It Naturally
High blood cholesterol causes high blood pressure, heart diseases and can be a risk factor for a heart attack. To know how cholesterol levels can be reduced naturally, read on...
- Natural Home Remedies To Control High Blood Pressure Or Hypertension
High blood pressure is more of a lifestyle disease than anything else. Even chronic cases respond to a sensible lifestyle change along with natural remedies which are available in every home. To find out which natural food benefits in high blood pres
What Is Allergy?
An Easy And Natural Treatment For Pollen Allergy
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2012 Rajan Singh Jolly