It’s official – spring is here. Trees, grasses and flowers are blooming everywhere. If you suffer from hay fever, you know exactly what that means…
Welcome to allergy season!
What’s the science behind hay fever?
Hay fever is an allergic reaction caused by an inflammatory response to plant pollen. Its medical name is allergic rhinitis. If you’re a hay fever sufferer, you’re not alone – 26% of adults in the UK have been properly diagnosed with hay fever1https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/cea.12953 and Allergy UK reports that nearly half of the UK’s population report experiencing debilitating symptoms.2https://www.allergyuk.org/about-allergy/statistics-and-figures/
Inside your body, hay fever happens when your immune system overreacts to a non-dangerous invader like pollen and releases an antibody called Immunoglobulin E (IgE.)3https://www.worldallergy.org/education-and-programs/education/allergic-disease-resource-center/professionals/ige-in-clinical-allergy-and-allergy-diagnosis Think of IgE as your immune system pulling out an elephant gun, when a simple taser would have worked just fine! IgE is then bound to mast cells, which in turn produce histamine. This “inflammation cascade” results in uncomfortable symptoms including a runny nose, watery eyes and difficulty breathing. These are all things your body does to try to rid itself of pollen because it thinks it’s trying to harm you.
Is hay fever linked to asthma?
Over 40% of adults with hay fever also have asthma, and 80% of people with asthma also suffer from rhinitis. It’s not just a daytime problem, either; 57% of adults with hay fever experience sleep problems. This leads to daytime fatigue and impaired cognitive function. 4https://waojournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1939-4551-7-12
What can you do about it?
Here are our top 3 recommendations for easing your allergy season:
1. Drink kefir. Kefir has been shown to help reduce your body’s production of immunoglobulin (Ig) E,5https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21535502/ dampening down the entire inflammation cascade that contributes to hay fever and asthma.6https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17869642/ 7https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19099229/ Kefir is a source of vitamin A, which contributes to the normal functioning of your immune system.8https://www.chucklinggoat.co.uk/health-wellbeing/what-are-the-benefits-of-kefir/ Kefir is also a source of probiotics known to help manage the symptoms of hay fever and asthma. Lactobacillus paracasei which appears to improve sneezing and swollen, itchy eyes in children,9https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24269033/ and improves ‘quality of life scores’ in adults with allergic rhinitis.10https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19772761/ Lactobacillus plantarum reduces itchy eye symptoms and appears to allow people with hay fever to reduce the amount of medication they take,11https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20834165/ due to its ability to break down histamine. These beneficial bacteria health-giving bugs are held together by kefiran, a complex, nutrient-rich molecule that can suppress the activation of mast cells by antigens like pollen.12https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22293347/
2. Practice good sinus hygiene with CG Oil. Nasal congestion in hay fever changes your body’s pro-inflammatory/anti-inflammatory balance.13https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24267356 To keep your sinuses clean and comfortable without chemicals. simply add 3 drops of CG Oil to a pan of freshly boiled water, pop a towel over your head and inhale the steam for 2 minutes. Do this morning and night throughout the season. Cinnamon, one of the key ingredients in CG oil, has been shown to help reduce all symptoms of allergic rhinitis, according to a recent clinical trial.14https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31780001
3. Use natural sleep aids to get a good night’s sleep. Research has found hay fever triggers changes in sleep onset and duration.15https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32053609 This creates a nasty vicious spiral during allergy season, as it’s been shown that sleep deprivation and/or poor sleep quality promote a heightened inflammatory environment.16https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27510422/ Broken sleep can also constrict your bronchi, making it more difficult to breathe without the aid of an inhaler.17https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3787554/
So improving your sleep naturally during allergy season is super important! Read our blog post here for more tips. Ashwagandha has also been shown to promote sleep quality and duration.18https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32818573/ Our Sing Me To Sleep Tea can also help. This aromatic herbal tea combines the bronchodilating (airway-opening) properties of valerian root,19https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22010976/ with soothing chamomile and hops, as well as lavender, known to dampen down inflammation in the lungs.20https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29276222/
Boosting your immune system, calming your inflammation cascade, clearing your sinuses, and improving your sleep pattern will tame allergy season and put the spring back in your step!