Most people love spring and summer – blossoms, freshly mowen lawns, and bumblebees. But those that suffer from hayfever think of this time as distressful with nose blowing, sniffling and watery, itchy eyes.
Hayfever is a form of allergy that affects the lining of the nose and often the eyes and throat. The condition is an allergic response to a wide range of pollens.
So what is it about pollen grains that make them allergenic?
Pollen grains carry on their exterior coat 30-40 different proteins that are required by the female parts of the flower to identify which pollen grains are a suitable match for pollination. When pollen grains are breathed into the nasal passages or contact the membranes of the eye, they release these proteins to the mucous membranes just as they would onto the surface of the receptive female stigma. This exposes the proteins to the immune system in the blood vessels of the mucous membranes.
The immune system is designed to rid the body of “foreign” proteins, and this usually occurs on a daily basis without any notice at all. However, for some people, for reasons that are still undiscovered, the immune system does not discard some of these pollen proteins through the usual route, but instead produces a special class of antibodies, IgE antibodies. The IgE antibodies bind to specialised cells called mast cells and upon contact with the pollen protein, signal the mast cell to release its contents.
One of the chemicals released in this process is histamine, which is responsible for producing the symptoms of allergy, e.g. swelling, redness, itchiness and secretion of mucous. All of these symptoms can occur when the immune system recognises one or more of these pollen proteins and produces IgE antibody to it. Some proteins are more likely to become allergenic than others, and some pollen types carry proteins that are more allergenic. For example, pine is a prolific pollen producer, but very few people are allergic to the pollen proteins, whereas ragweed, which produces less pollen, has proteins that are very allergenic.
We have some options in the shop at The Herbal Dispensary which may help reduce and clear some of these symptoms.
Some herbs that are helpful:
- Baical Skullcap and or Albizzia – antiallergic
- Eyebright – anticatarrhal, anti-inflammatory, mucous membrane tonic
- Horseradish – anticatarrhal – especially good for post nasal drip that goes down the back of the throat
- Elderflower – diaphoretic, anticatarrhal
- Garlic – antibacterial, antioxidant
- Golden rod – anti-inflammatory, anticatarrhal
- Golden seal – anti-inflammatory, anticatarrhal, mucous membrane tonic
Other options that can be taken alongside herbs:
- Schuessler Tissue Salts – Comb H for Hayfever, Sinusitis & Allergies
- Quercetin – anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, antioxidant
Research has shown that quercetin inhibits histamine which factors in the allergic response.
Weleda has homeopathic options that work well for some people and children.
- Hayfever & Sinusitis Drops
- Gencydo Eye Drops
- Euphrasia Soothing Eye Drops
Sue brings a wealth of knowledge to our store, having worked extensively in holistic and natural health care for over 8 years.
Graduating from the Canterbury College of Herbal Medicine in 2006, she has been sharing her wisdom and skills to our customers since 2007.