I have been meeting and talking to quite a few people recently of are suffering from hay fever, one of the most annoying and common allergies. Just as the weather is getting better and you want to go outside, you can’t!

It is particularly bad in Oxford as we live in a valley, meaning the pollen collects, doesn’t blow away and so triggers all of the familiar and unpleasant symptoms even more intensely.

Preventing hay fever

There are a variety of strategies to minimise exposure to pollen, including;

  • not going out on days when the pollen count is particularly high
  • closing house and car windows when it is high
  • wearing sunglasses and putting Vaseline around your nostrils
  • doing saline washes of your nose
  • washing clothes, hair and pillows after each exposure to pollen
  • avoiding animals whose fur can trap and hold pollen

This is all very well.  But if you are anything like most people, as soon as the sun comes out and the days draw out, the last thing you want is to stay cooped up inside whilst everyone else is outside enjoying it.  So here are a few more tips you can use to reduce your symptoms.

Foods to avoid
  • Sugar and local honey (completely cut out of the diet as these will have a pronounced negative effect). Most people think local honey is good for hay fever and it can be, but you have to use it to build up the immune system for at least 6 months before hay fever season. If you start using it during the system it will just aggravate the situation and make it worse. The same goes for bee pollen.
  • Other sweet items and sweet treats even if made from natural sugars as these will have a negative impact
  • Reduce fruit as well as this can affect, especially the more sweet fruits and strawberries. Hard fruits like apples and pears and other berries should be ok but I wouldn’t advise having in large quantities
  • Try not to have too much dairy
  • Try not to have too much processed foods like bread and pasta
Foods to have more of
  • Saladings; cucumber, greens, celery, peppers etc (might be worth seeing if tomatoes make him sneeze as these can effect people)
  • Vegetables
  • Simple meals; salads, soups, stews
  • Mint teas (have as much as you like)
Other tricks
  • Shower morning and evening
  • Deep breathing when back indoors can calm the system
  • Steam baths where you put some aromatic herbs in boiling water and put your head near it with a towel to cover you and the bowl can be a useful decongestant and quite soothing
  • Cucumber pieces on the eyes when that is really bad is also useful
On top of all of this you can do chrysanthemum and mint decoction. You
can get the chrysanthemum from Chinese stores around Oxford. Hopefully
you have one near you. Neal’s Yard or another herbalist would probably
also have it. Boil up 25-40g of chrysanthemum with 5 mint tea bags (20g
of dried mint, 50g of fresh) in 2L of water for 15mins. Drink this
throughout the day. You can up the dosage of both herbs if need be.
If this isn’t strong enough come and see me. I can do acupuncture and or herbal medicine that are both very soothing for the system and, in my experience very useful for hay fever. Indeed, seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) is one thing that acupuncture is widely recommended for by many health organisations.