Spring & Pollen - Are You Ready for Hay Fever Season?


It’s Spring and the pollen count is rising... If you have hay fever, medically known as allergic rhinitis, Spring brings pain with its brightly, blooming beauty: itchy eyes, ears, nose, and throat, sneezing, runny nose and nasal congestion.

Picnicking in the park on Father’s Day was magical: the poppies with their brilliant colours and stems so tall and proud, the pansies swaying like ballerinas with tutus dancing in the wind and the magnolias pouring their rich scent the air.

But for those with hay fever it is the season of pain, red noses, tissues & brain fog.  Here is my evidence based naturopathic approach to calming hay fever symptoms. 

Nutrients:  Natural antihistamines have been shown to give relief to hay fever symptoms:

•          Quercetin

•          Bromelain

•          N-Acetylcysteine (NAC)

•          Vitamin C and bioflavonoids.

Herbs:  Stinging nettle was found by 58% of participants to be effective in relieving their symptoms of hay fever and 48% of them found it equally or more effective than their previous medicine!

Show Me the Science!

Bromelain is a nutrient found in Pineapples that has been found to be an effective mucolytic agent in respiratory tract diseases making the mucous in your lungs, less thick, sticky and easier to cough up.

The therapeutic dose for allergic rhinitis ranges from 400-500 mg three times daily (of an 1800-2000 m.c.u. potency) taken on an empty stomach preferably if no concerns..

Side effects are very unlikely but if they occur include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, menorrhagia, and metrorrhagia.

Pineapple allergies beware - Bromelain must not to be taken by those allergic to pineapple!

Quercetin a nutrient in a wide variety of vegetables and herbs has been shown to inhibit inflammatory processes.

In a Japanese study of mast cells from nasal mucosa of individuals with perennial allergic rhinitis, quercetin significantly inhibited (antigen-stimulated) histamine release. Quercetin’s impact was almost twice that of the synthetic non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drug, inhaled to prevent asthmatic attacks and allergic reactions, sodium cromoglycate at the same concentration.

The recommended dosage for allergic rhinitis ranges from 250-600 mg, three times daily, five to ten minutes before meals. Taken with bromelain may enhanced actions.

N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) is a natural amino acid derivative that protects cells and cellular components against oxidative stress.

NAC has been documented as an effective mucolytic agent in individuals with chronic bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, asthma, sinusitis, and pneumonia.

A dosage of 200 mg twice daily was found to decrease symptoms of chronic bronchitis. NAC helps to reduce the viscosity of mucus so it may be more easily coughed up.

While specific research on the use of NAC for allergic rhinitis has not been conducted it is recommended because of its affinity for mucus membranes, both as an antioxidant and mucolytic.

Recommended therapeutic dosages range from 500 mg to 2 gm daily.

Vitamin C has been found to influence histamine levels in the body. It appears to prevent the secretion of histamine by white blood cells and increase its detoxification. Histamine levels were found to increase exponentially as Vitamin C / ascorbic acid levels decreased.

In a study on the effectiveness of intranasal vitamin C, 48 subjects received either ascorbic acid/Vitamin C solution or placebo sprayed into the nose three times daily. After two weeks 74% of subjects treated with Vitamin C were found to have decreased nasal secretions, blockage, and oedema. Improvement was seen in only 24 % of placebo treated patients.

ContraIndicated when there is a tendency to experience kidney stones.

Side effects: Vitamin C is nontoxic and virtually free of side effects however whenever taking Vitamin C it is common to experience diarrhoea and abdominal distention at the start and with any increase in dosage.  Always start dosage at the low end and increase gradually.  For allergic rhinitis, a dosage of at least 2 grams per day should be administered.

Stinging nettle / Urtica dioica :  

A randomised, double-blind study using 300 mg freeze-dried Stinging Nettle in the treatment of allergic rhinitis found 69 patients who completed the study rated it higher than placebo.

58 % rated it effective in relieving their symptoms and 48% found it to be equally or more effective than their previous medicine!

Side effects with Stinging Nettle are rare and when they occur are typically allergic and/or felt as gastrointestinal distress.

If you suffer from hay fever the naturopathic approach can provide a natural alternative for getting you out of pain and keeping you symptom free.  I always recommend a consultation rather than just taking the advice off a blog, even mine as every person should have their own individual prescription to get safe results quickly and effectively.

In health,

Sonia x


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Sheffner, A. (1963). The reduction in vitro in viscosity of mucoprotein solution by a new mucolytic agent, n-acetyl-l-cysteine. Annals of New York Academy of Science, 106, 298-310.

(1980). Long-term oral acetylcysteine in chronic bronchitis: A double-blind controlled study. European Journal of Respiratory Diseases, 111, 93-108

Sonia McNaughton