Dee’s Three Part Battle Plan
by Dee Atkinson, Medical Herbalist, MNIMH 3 April 2009
The first few weeks of April normally signal the beginning of the hay fever and allergy season. However, due to the very harsh winter, it is likely the plants will be flowering approximately 3 weeks late and the signs are that there will be an explosion of plants flowering all at the same time giving rise to high pollen levels.
Not good news for hayfever sufferers and I recommend preparing early to minimise the symptoms! Every year I see more and more people, who have never had any allergy problem, suddenly develop symptoms.
The usual symptoms are itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing, even sore throats and headaches. More recently I have been seeing a big increase in skin related allergies developing in the spring. I have a lot of theories on why this is happening; on why our immune systems are being more challenged. Everything from our diet to the chemicals in our home, all challenge our immune system. When an already challenged immune system is faced by further hurdles, such as a high pollen count, there can be a breakdown and allergy symptoms develop, even to people who have never suffered from any allergy symptoms in the past.
The best way to get on top of the problem is to start treatment before the problem actually develops. Once an allergy situation has developed it can be difficult to treat and you are often left trying to manage the situation, rather than cure it. Allergy has a domino affect on the body. You often find that you start off sensitive to one thing and, before you know, it you are sensitive to a whole range of things.
Over the last few years I have developed a three part allergy/hay fever battle plan that can reduce, if not stop your symptoms.
Start a few weeks before your symptoms usually develop.
Plan to cut dairy products out of your diet.
Dairy can make any allergy you suffer worse and will cause mucus production, making runny noses and blocked sinuses worse. Try and be very strict, cutting out all cows milk products and using goats and sheep’s cheese, soya milk and dairy free spreads instead. Remember that milk chocolate is a dairy product, and dark chocolate is dairy free!
Start taking a teaspoon of local honey each day.
Honey, which is made from pollen, almost acts homoeopathically by helping your body to build up a resistance to pollens and grasses. Local honey will be specific to the pollens and grasses in your area.
Simple herbal remedies can be used to ease allergy symptom. Nettle has anti-histamine like action and will cut down the body’s response to allergy, chamomile will soothe mucus membranes and a sinus rub can ease sinus pain and congestion. These herbs are available pre-blended or you can buy the dried herbs and make up your own herbal tea.
Napiers Summertime Herbal Tea Blend is rich in the herbs traditionally used for their soothing and anti-allergy properties and contains eyebright, chamomile, liquorice, elderflowers and nettle. Drunk regularly as a food supplement, these teas will help to prevent and control symptoms.
For those sufferers who don’t like liquids, I use Napiers Nettle and Chamomile Capsules as a dietary supplement.
Napiers Sage and Garlic Catarrh Remedy can help relieve the symptoms of nasal and bronchial catarrh and any infections associated with allergies. Red sage is an antiseptic and astringent and the liquorice encourages expulsion of mucous.
Echinacea and elderflower can also help relieve symptoms. This traditional mixture containing anti-catarrhal and expectorant herbs has a stimulant effect on the immune system.
If you are suffering hot, itchy eyes, you can also try using a cold chamomile tea bag as an eye compress.
Relief for summer skin allergies
If you suffer from skin allergies or heat rashes (also a form of allergy) try cutting dairy products out of your diet for a few months to see if it helps. A tea made out of dandelion leaf will ease heat rash and swollen ankles and reduce skin allergies.
Make sure you only use unperfumed products on your skin and try moisturising with soothing Starflower Cream and our acclaimed Baby Napiers Starflower Cream for facial use.
A word on Bugs!
Don’t let the bugs bite either this summer. Napiers Organic Bugbuster insect repellent contains an essential oil blend that has been tested against the renowned Scottish midge, as well as more exotic mosquitoes and gnats! It contains essential oils of Citronella, Lavender, Peppermint and Eucalyptus as these plants have natural insect repellent qualities - they don’t like insects any more than we do! We also find it is disliked by non-biting but annoying insects such as bluebottles, flies and wasps, helping to keep them away. As summer skins are often sunburned too, it also contains soothing Chickweed oil and cooling Aloe Vera. Great for holidays and all outdoor pursuits i.e. hiking, fishing, golf, to name but a few.