Jo Rhodes is a homeopath working at the Gateway to Health clinic in Settle and also at Sole to Soul in Bentham. She has a degree in Chemistry and worked in universities in chemistry and geology research for many years. In 2001 she started experiencing disturbing side effects from prescription medication for migraines and went to see a homeopath. The treatment very quickly reduced the frequency and severity of migraine attacks, as a result of this Jo decided to study homeopathy herself and graduated from the British School of Homeopathy in 2007. Jo is a member of the Society of Homeopaths, the largest governing body regulating homeopaths in the UK and is also a member of their Research Committee.
As well as being passionate about homeopathy, Jo is a keen organic gardener and food forager!
www.jorhodeshomeopathy.co.uk twitter @homeojo
Natural ways of dealing with Hayfever
Most people are affected when pollen or dust gets into the nasal passages and this triggers an allergic reaction which makes the body produce histamines. However, when there is too much histamine sloshing around your system it can produce symptoms such as runny eyes and nose, sneezing, puffy eyes and itching which people would recognise as being common problems associated with hayfever.
Histamines are there for a reason and help us to remain alert and awake which is why some anti-histamine treatments make people feel tired and mentally dull. There are non-drowsy anti-histamines available now but there are also many natural options.
Pic from HayMax website
Quercitin is an anti-oxidant which occurs naturally in many foods. Several studies have shown quercitin helps with a variety of health conditions and in particular quercetin is thought to prevent the release of the inflammatory chemical histamine from immune mast cells which in turn can reduce any over reaction to allergens. Quercetin is available in supplement form, a typical dose for hay fever is between 200 and 400 milligrams three times a day.
Foods with particularly high levels of quercitin include onions (especially red ones), red grapes, citrus fruit, tomatoes, apples, berries, broccoli and other leafy greens and eating more of these foods and naturally increasing your quercitin levels may well help. A recent study showed that organic tomatoes had 79% more quercitin than conventionally grown ones so is likely this is also true for other fruit and vegetables. Some honeys also contain quercetin but it seems the levels vary considerably depending on which flowers the bees have visited to make that particular honey.
Most natural ways of dealing with hayfever are based on pollen in one way or another and seem to work by reducing sensitivity to pollen which in turn can help reduce or eliminate symptoms.
Honey contains small amounts of pollen and many people say that eating one or two spoonfuls a day before and during the pollen season can help enormously. Local honey is likely to be most beneficial as it will contain pollen from your area, but bees can travel several miles in a day and will feed on a variety of different flowers so any local-ish honey will be fine. However, if you know it is dust, tree or grass pollens which cause you to react to this may not be so effective. Most trees and grasses are pollinated by wind and not by bees. However, for this very reason, some honey producers now add some tree and grass pollens to the honey so this may be more effective. Denholme Gate Apiary near Bradford do several varieties of honey including one enriched with pollen.
The way this honey method appears to work is by slowly reducing sensitivity to pollen so it takes time to have an effect. Ideally, you should start at least six months before the start of the pollen season, which means October or November in the UK. If you wait until symptoms start to appear you are unlikely to gain any benefit in the same year.
Some fantastic close up pictures of pollen from the Daily Telegraph website
Pollen capsules are a similar way of trying to reduce your sensitivity but contain a lot more pollen than you would find in honey. Many people find these can be helpful, just have a look at the testimonials on the MediBee website. Taken orally, the pollen passes through the stomach wall into the body to desensitize against pollen allergy.
Luffa complex is a herbal mixture of a variety of plant remedies and works in a similar way to the pollen. A medical trial in Germany showed it was as effective as Cromolyn sodium spray which is a conventional treatment available without prescription. Luffa complex is available in liquid, tablet and spray form.
A homeopathic preparation of mixed pollens is also available. Incidentally, it was a Scottish homeopathic physician, C.H. Blackley, who in 1871 first identified pollen as the cause of hayfever. Several medical trials have shown that homeopathically prepared mixed pollens can help alleviate hayfever symptoms. Weleda do a hayfever kit which contains homeopathic mixed pollens and a natural nasal spray to help clear blocked noses.
Another approach is to try and stop the pollen getting into your system in the first place. If you are driving past, for example, a field of rape or freshly cut grass then don’t have the car windows open. If you are out in the countryside on a day when there is a high pollen count, seriously think about changing your clothes as soon as you get into the house. Washing clothes immediately and having a shower will wash any pollen off you and your clothes and doing this also prevents the pollen spreading around the house.
Max Wiseberg suffered for many years with hayfever and didn’t really find anything that helped. As a result of his research, his consultations an experimentation, he produced a completely natural balm HayMax which works as an effective pollen barrier. Putting some of it around and just inside the nose traps the pollen and prevents it getting into the nose and triggering a reaction. These balms are made of natural ingredients and contain essential oils.
Homeopathy has a very good track record with hayfever. For more detailed information on this have a look at A Review of Homeopathic Research in the Treatment of Respiratory Allergies by Dana Ullman and Michael Frass
Nelsons Pollenna is a mix of three homeopathic remedies for common symptoms of hayfever. Allium Cepa is used for sneezing, itchy and runny nose and watery eyes, Euphrasia for itchy and burning eyes and aversion to light, Sabadilla has similar symptoms but also an intense tickling in the nose and throat with an increased sense of smell. This combination does cover the vast majority of hayfever symptoms and can be beneficial.
Homeopathy treats the individual and not the disease so hayfever is a great example of how it differs from conventional medicine. Three people with hayfever may well have markedly different symptoms so could be given different remedies by a homeopath. Every summer I work for the Travelling Homeopaths Collective who provide low cost homeopathy clinics at festivals throughout the summer. I usually do two or three festivals with them each year and around 60% of people we treat come to see us about hayfever. Many of them come back soon after to tell us how much better they feel which is always good to hear!
Some people have a very marked change in mood when they are unwell and often these changes can help identify a homeopathic remedy. The table on pages 55-56 in the Dana Ullman and Michael Frass paper gives some examples of physical and mental symptoms that can help differentiate between homeopathic remedies that may be helpful for relieving hayfever symptoms. Below are some examples of remedies that we commonly prescribe at festivals for hayfever.
Homeopaths will often give the remedy Pulsatilla to people who are very emotional and tearful. They feel much better for being outside in fresh air and need a lot of consolation and sympathy. Children can become especially weepy and clingy and are often very snotty!
Nux Vomica may be given to people who become extremely irritable with hayfever. They may also be keen on too much coffee or alcohol! Main symptoms are likely to be violent sneezing, watery runny nose during the day and nose completely blocked up at night.
Those who might benefit from Arsenicum Album often have lots of violent sneezing with burning watery discharge from eyes and nose. They will be anxious and their sleep will be often be disturbed by their fears and worries. They are very neat and well dressed and will not want to be alone. People who need this at festivals are very easy to spot – they are the only ones who will be immaculately dressed in a field of mud!
All of the products mentioned on this page should be easily found in your local pharmacy or health food shop. Wholesome Bee in Settle stock all the products mentioned
Nothing on this page should be seen as a substitute for regular contact with your GP or other healthcare provider. In the event of an extreme allergic reaction to pollen or anything else call 999 immediately.
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