Itchy eyes. Sneezing. Coughing. Ugh, hay fever sucks. If you’re fed up with battling pollen every spring and summer, you’re far from alone. Nearly half (49%) of the UK population suffers from hay fever.
Although the number of allergy sufferers keeps rising, there’s still no cure for hay fever, also known as seasonal rhinitis. But you can reduce the symptoms.
The standard treatment is antihistamines, which you can get over the counter or on prescription. But there are other options. You can do many things at home to help manage hay fever symptoms. We’re going to look at the best hay fever home remedies.
Finding a natural hay fever remedy
Natural and home remedies can help soothe the symptoms of hay fever, which include:
- itchy eyes
- snotty nose
- blocked nose
- scratchy throat
Using natural remedies at home can be a handy sidekick to your usual antihistamines. Or perhaps you’d prefer to just use natural remedies, as antihistamines can often cause you to feel drowsy. Natural remedies can also be cheaper and have other health benefits.
Bee pollen and honey
Bee pollen is a natural mix of nectar, flower pollen, bee secretions, wax and enzymes. It’s widely used for many conditions, including seasonal allergies like hay fever. The theory is, by ingesting bee pollen for hay fever, you can help build up your resistance to allergens and reduce your symptoms in the process.
Some people also believe that eating local honey for hay fever means you’ll also be ingesting that local pollen, which would have a similar effect to allergy shots.
NB: Bee pollen is normally well tolerated, but the presence of allergenic pollens and substances can‘t be excluded.
There’s evidence that vitamin C is beneficial for allergies. Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is a natural antihistamine and antioxidant. It’s suggested it can reduce the amount of histamine produced by your body.
Several small studies in the US show that when groups of around 100 people or less were given vitamin C intravenously or with a nasal spray, their histamine levels were reduced and symptoms associated with hay fever, such as a snotty nose and sneezing, were lowered.
Although more studies need to take place, the signs are promising that vitamin C could be a helpful hay fever remedy.
Chamomile and nettle tea
Both chamomile and nettle tea are recommended as anti-inflammatory agents, which could help fight against hay fever symptoms. Chamomile tea is an antioxidant that contains flavonoids, which can act as anti-inflammatories.
You can drink chamomile tea or even make compresses to relieve red, swollen eyes. But make sure you use a fresh compress on each eye to avoid infection.
To make a compress:
- Drop a chamomile teabag in water and leave it for at least three minutes.
- Get rid of the water and squeeze any excess water out of the teabag.
- Put the tea bag in your fridge for 15-30 minutes.
- Once it’s cool, hold the tea bag against your swollen eye for up to five minutes.
- Let your eye breathe for at least an hour before applying a new compress.
Nettle tea is also used by many to ease hay fever symptoms. Nettles contain vitamin C, and preliminary studies suggest they can reduce sneezing and itching.
If you make nettle tea for hay fever, make sure the leaves are washed and steeped in boiled water for a few minutes first.
Many of your hay fever symptoms are due to inflammatory issues, including irritation and swelling in your nose, eyes and throat. Ginger has been used to ease health problems for thousands of years, and is proven to contain antioxidative, anti-inflammatory phytochemical compounds.
Whether fresh or dried, you could try a ginger tea or add ginger to your Friday curry or stir-fry.
Increasing your garlic intake a month or two before hay fever season could keep your symptoms at bay. Garlic is an anti-inflammatory and a source of quercetin, a natural antihistamine. It’s also a decongestant and can boost your immune system.
Garlic is most effective if you eat it raw or crushed. But if you’re not a fan of the taste, or you have a household who may object, you could pick up garlic capsules from a chemist instead.
Although most of us hop in the shower first thing, if you’re a hay fever sufferer then you should enjoy an evening shower too. Pollen can cling to your hair and clothes and then end up on your skin, especially when the pollen count is high. Showering before you go to bed can stop pollen getting in your bed and on your sheets, which will only make your symptoms worse when you’re trying to sleep.
Remedies for hay fever
All the above could be used as potential home remedies for hay fever symptoms. But if your symptoms feel out of control, have a chat with your doctor.
Hay fever shouldn’t stop you enjoying spring and summer, so take control and show pollen who’s boss. You don’t have to only rely on antihistamines as they can make you feel drowsy. Combining some of these suggestions with natural remedies for hay fever could help you feel better.
Are home remedies for hay fever effective?
Only small studies have been made on humans for many of these remedies, but the results are promising. Some of the suggested remedies are said to have other health benefits too.
What’s the best remedy for hay fever?
It’s difficult to say which is best. Everybody responds to treatment differently, and some of us suffer hay fever more than others. The most widely used remedy for hay fever is antihistamines, but many can make you drowsy.
How do you treat hay fever?
We recommend you talk to your doctor, who will be able to suggest the best treatment for your hay fever. These are the most common medical treatments:
- Corticosteroid nasal sprays, tablets or drops
- Nasal decongestants
- Eye drops
The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment