Hay fever is one of the most common allergies in the UK and depending on what pollens you are allergic to you could be experiencing hay fever symptoms from February/March with tree pollen, to as late as October if grasses and weeds are your trigger.
In this post I explore what seasonal allergies like hay fever are caused by, and what you can do if you want to try a more holistic approach.
WHY DO WE GET HAY FEVER?
The medical term for hay fever is seasonal allergic rhino conjunctivitis and it occurs when pollen enters your body (via your nose, mouth and eyes) and rather than viewing it as something harmless your body instead thinks it’s being attacked and reacts as if it were being attacked by a virus. Your immune system kicks in by ‘attacking’ the pollen with histamine (which is why you take antihistamines to treat hay fever), and it’s the histamine that causes the itching, sneezing, runny nose and irritated eyes.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO STOP HAY FEVER?
There is no cure for hay fever but there are a lot of effective over-the-counter medications available and for serious cases your doctor can prescribe a steroid nasal spray. But what can you do if you want to take a more holistic approach?
1 Try complementary therapies
Complementary therapies can be a great way to help alleviate your symptoms in the short-term and they may also bring about some long-term benefit.
I’ve been, touch wood, relatively symptom free for the past 4 years – and it’s all thanks to the Bowen Technique – also called Bowen Therapy. (In fact, the impact on my symptoms was such it’s one of the reasons why I became a Bowen Therapist.) Simple, pain free and deeply relaxing, a Bowen Therapy treatment once a year seems to be all I need to keep the worst of the symptoms at bay.
Reflexology can also help, and I’ve made a quick video showing you some hand reflexology techniques that can help you work on key problem areas such as eyes, nose and throat. The video also contains some suggestion on how you can work on the systems and organs in your body that have a role in hay fever and other seasonal allergies including your lungs, spleen, lymph, adrenals and kidneys – like the work we do in a Bowen Therapy treatment, working these areas are key to a longer-term approach to seasonal allergies – getting to the root cause.
Alternatively, if you fancy something ever so slightly indulgent then why not try a holistic facial? While there are the obvious aesthetic benefits of nourishing and promoting healthier looking skin, the real focus of a facial is your health and well-being. Using a mixture of massage, acupressure and lymphatic drainage on your face, neck, and scalp, a holistic facial can help to relieve the congestion and itching associated with hay fever, as well as lifting emotional stress and anxiety, physical stress, and tension, alleviating their impact on your mind and body.
In an ideal world it’s a good idea to seek support from complementary therapies about 4-8 weeks prior to the start of ‘your’ hay fever season as this increases the chances of reducing symptoms from the beginning and sustaining the reduction throughout. But it’s never too late to start and, like many other therapists, I always send my clients away with tools and techniques they can use to support themselves in between treatments.
2 Homeopathy and Medical Herbalism
If complementary therapies aren’t your thing but you want to explore how you can stop taking over the counter medication you can seek the support of homeopaths and medical herbalists for more traditional remedies. We’re lucky in Suffolk to have medical herbalists like Beverley Meredith Bailey who are registered with The National Institute of Medical Herbalists, or you can find a homeopath registered with the British Homeopathic Association.
3 Practical tips
There are also lots of practical tips you can use to help reduce some of the symptoms associated with hay fever. These include:
- Wearing wrap-around sunglasses
- Applying a little petroleum jelly around the nose / eyes to trap pollen
- Showering and changing cloths regularly
- Keeping windows closed during the day and night – pollen is starting to fall to the ground after slowly rising during the day
The NHS website, also contains some more ‘do’s and don’t’ that may help you – largely involving closing all the windows and not going outside!
Although hay fever season is truly upon us it’s not too late to start taking a more holistic approach by:
- Watching and using the hand Reflexology tips in my video
- Booking in for a complementary treatments like Bowen, Reflexology, or a holistic facial
- Seeking the advice of a medical herbalist or homeopath
- Trying out some of the practical tips suggested above