By Sue Rodgers
FOR millions of unhappy people, April is the start of the hay fever season.
Hay fever is an overreaction of our immune systems.
When the pollen of grasses, trees or flowers comes into contact with the mucous membranes of our eyes, noses or lungs, they can trigger an allergic response, hence the sneezing, wheezing and itchy eyes.
For those who don’t like the side effects of antihistamine pills, there are a number of herbal alternatives.
Elderflower is one of the most effective remedies.
Fresh flowers are difficult to come by in Andalucia – the closest to me are a three hour hike!
But fortunately there is an alternative; elderflower tea bags can be bought at most supermarkets. Make an infusion and drink three to four cups a day, to ease symptoms.
The sting contains histamine and formic acid, easing irritation
The tea bags can also be used once cooled – or better still chilled in the fridge – by placing them on the eyes to sooth the dry, itchy irritation that so often accompanies hay fever.
Nettles are another excellent remedy to relieve hay fever symptoms.
The sting contains histamine and formic acid which appears to ease those irritating symptoms.
An infusion made from a handful of fresh leaves, covered in boiling water and left to infuse for five to 10 minutes, drunk three times a day can offer relief.
Scutellaria baicalensis is a traditional Chinese herb, used in Chinese medicine to treat hot, feverish conditions that has also been used to treat hayfever with some success.
It can be bought online in pill form – but as always when buying online only use reputable companies.
Meanwhile, Eyebright – as you might guess – has been used by herbalists for centuries to treat a variety of eye conditions.
The leaf, stem and flowers are used to make a compress that can be placed on the eyes to relieve itchiness and soreness.
Make an infusion, once cool soak a piece of muslin and place over the eyes and leave for 10 minutes or so. Eyebright can now also be bought in pill form.