For millions of people April is the start of the hay fever season, especially if you are allergic to tree pollen.
Hay fever is an overreaction of the immune system. Pollen from trees, grasses and flowers trigger a response that causes the often debilitating sneezing, wheezing and itchy eyes, not to mention fatigue and lack of concentration.
For those who do not like the side effects of antihistamine pills, there are a number of herbal alternatives.
Elderflower (flor de sauco) is one of the most effective. Fresh flowers are difficult to come by in Spain; however, you can buy ready-made elderflower tea-bags from the supermarket.
Make an infusion and drink three to four cups a day to ease hay-fever symptoms. The tea bags can also be used, once they are cooled – or better still chilled in the fridge, by placing them on the eyes to sooth the dry, itchy eyes that often accompany hay-fever. Chamomile (manzanilla) tea bags or infusion also works well to relieve itching eyes.
Eyebright was used by the Roman herbalist Dioscorides to treat eye infections in Roman soldiers. A cooled infusion reduces irritability and calms inflammation around the eye. Eyebright can be taken in pill form or as a tincture from herbal shops.
Scutellaria baicalensis is a traditional Chinese herb used to treat hay-fever with some success. It can be bought online in pill form; as always when buying online only buy from reputable companies.
Quercetin, a plant-based chemical, helps prevent the release of histamine in the body therefore reducing the symptoms of hay fever.
The good news is that Quercetin is found in a number of common foods, including apples, citrus fruits, onions, broccoli, parsley, tea, tomatoes and perhaps best of all, red wine!
Increasing these foods in your diet may help relieve mild symptoms. For those with more severe symptoms then supplements can be bought, but those with liver conditions, pregnant or nursing must avoid taking the supplements.
Omega-3, which is found in oily fish, eggs and walnuts are also beneficial to allergy sufferer’s.