Hay fever (allergic rhinitis) is one of the most common allergies, especially when Spring pollen is abundant in the air.
Seasonal allergies affect 1 in 5 people in Australia.
Hay fever can be exhausting, undermining your strength and ability to function.
The good news is that you can address the causal level of allergies and naturally calm the hypersensitivity of your immune system.
An allergy is an overreaction to something in the environment your immune system is mistakenly trying to protect you from.
People can have a hypersensitive reaction to a particular food • pollen • fur • dust • household cleaning products • synthetic fragrances • or even mould spores in the environment.
Allergy symptoms can range from itching • swollen eyes • lethargy • swellings • a scratchy throat • a stuffed or runny nose • sneezing • hives • and rashes • to vomiting • asthma (wheezing, coughing and difficulty breathing) • and anaphylaxis – which is a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction.
So why does the immune system overreact?
HAYFEVER & HISTAMINES
Mast cells are an essential part of your immune system.
These blood cells release ‘signalling’ molecules called histamines that warn your body a foreign invader has been detected that can cause harm (infection).
Your histamines act to protect you from threat, increasing blood flow to the area of attack and causing acute inflammation.
Inflammation then triggers other parts of your immune system to help you heal and overcome infection.
But histamines are also blamed for causing allergy symptoms when your body overreacts to ‘harmless’ substances.
Antihistamines have become a popular hay fever medication because they block the effect of histamines.
They help manage allergy symptoms almost immediately, but they are not an ideal or long-term solution because of numerous adverse side effects.
To naturally calm hay fever, you need to discover why your body is hypersensitive and prone to allergies.
And you’ll find the biggest reason is your gut.
Healing gut imbalances (dysbiosis) offers many health benefits, including calming allergies.
METHOD 1 – ALLERGIES & PROBIOTICS
Trillions of bacteria live in your gut (your gut microbiome).
Most of your immune system also resides in your gut.
Studies have found that people with allergies (including hay fever) often have less abundant and diverse gut microorganisms compared to those who don’t experience allergies.
Clinical evidence has shown that probiotics help regulate your immune system and the microbial balance of your gut, leading to a reduction in allergic disorders.
Probiotics have been shown to benefit hay fever (allergic rhinitis), asthma, and atopic dermatitis.
Probiotics are a mixture of live, health-promoting microorganisms found in certain foods and supplements.
Beneficial effects include a reduction in hyperreactivity and inflammation caused by allergens.
They help calm allergy reactions while you focus on healing the causal issues of your symptoms.
Researchers found that probiotic therapy depends on the type of microbial species you take, dosage, diet, medications, and other unique health factors.
If you suffer from hay fever, working with a practitioner who specialises in gut health is best to determine the proper probiotics for you.
Getting the right advice is even more critical if you suffer from a gastrointestinal or immune disorder.
What we eat every day influences our health outcomes.
Probiotic foods are fermented foods containing beneficial bacteria that promote a more robust and diverse gut microbiome.
Eating fermented foods is a practical strategy for maintaining microbial balance.
BUT – fermented foods are also high in histamines.
If you suffer from hay fever or food sensitivities, you may need to eliminate fermented foods from your diet until you heal your underlying allergy issues.
Then slowly reintroduce probiotics back into your diet.
Probiotic foods include:
• Live (real) Organic yoghurt – unsweetened, free of additives and flavouring.
• Cultured Greek yoghurt – unsweetened, free of additives and flavouring.
• Cultured Coconut yoghurt – unsweetened, free of additives and flavouring.
• Kefir – a cultured, fermented milk drink.
• Kombucha – a slightly fizzy drink made from fermented black tea.
• Kvass – a fermented drink made from rye, berries, herbs and honey.
• Tepache – made from the peel and the rind of pineapples and cinnamon.
• Kimchi – a spicy, traditional Korean sauerkraut made from fermented vegetables.
• Natto – a traditional Japanese dish made from fermented soybeans.
• Miso – fermented soybean paste used as seasoning and making soup.
• Tempeh – a traditional Indonesian food made from fermented soybeans.
• Sauerkraut –fermented, finely sliced cabbage with a salty and sour flavour.
• Fermented pickled vegetables.
• Organic or biodynamic (only) apples are abundant in beneficial bacteria.
• Organic apple cider vinegar with the mother.
• Organic, aged Gouda cheese.
• Organic Paneer – a raw Indian cheese rich in probiotics.
METHOD 2 – IMPORTANCE OF PREBIOTICS
Prebiotics are also essential for maintaining a healthy gut.
It’s recommended that we eat 5-7 serves of prebiotic foods every day.
Prebiotics feed your microbiome, boosting the growth and activity of beneficial gut microorganisms.
If you don’t feed your friendly bacteria, they will starve to death.
In our blog, Your Gut Microbiome & Why Prebiotics Are Essential – we list prebiotic power foods beneficial gut bacteria thrive on that you can easily add to your diet.
We also share live links in our references so that you can explore the role of prebiotic foods in human health.
METHOD 3 – YOUR DIET & ALLERGIES
When you suffer from hay fever and allergies, there are two issues that you need to calm.
The first – is the histamine ‘storm’ you’ve got going on inside your body.
The second – is chronic inflammation, the consequence of histamine action.
What you eat makes a huge difference.
Even certain healthy foods can directly exacerbate histamine release, thus increasing allergy symptoms.
And everyone has unique dietary triggers.
Allergy sufferers need to pinpoint which foods promote anti-inflammatory responses and which foods provoke a histamine response.
Then adjust your diet according to what calms and heals your body.
Some people choose to eat a low-histamine diet and use trial and error to find foods they can tolerate without triggering their allergies.
Others undergo skin prick allergy tests and blood tests to confirm what they are sensitive or allergic to – which can be time-consuming and often expensive.
Alternatively, muscle testing (kinesiology) is a non-invasive diagnostic tool used to help tailor a diet to your unique health status.
Kinesiology is used as part of a whole range of methods of diagnosis used by naturopaths.
Whatever method you choose, please don’t ignore food’s impact on your health.
Diet is an essential strategy for calming hay fever and allergies.
A low histamine diet is an excellent place to begin soothing allergies.
Low histamine foods generally do not trigger the release of your body’s natural histamine.
Adopting a low-histamine diet helps you alleviate allergy symptoms while you address the root cause(s) of your hypersensitivity and slowly rebuild your tolerance to allergens.
Then, as you strengthen your gut microbiome, you can slowly reintroduce a wider range of foods.
Generally, a low histamine diet includes:
• fresh organic or biodynamic vegetables.
• non-citrus fruit.
• organic chicken (fresh or frozen).
• very fresh or frozen fish protein sources.
• organic egg yolks.
• lactose-free, gluten-free, GMO-free, and sugar-free foods that are also free from synthetic chemicals.
Cold-pressed oils rich in an enzyme called diamine oxidase (DAO) are recommended in our allergy diet because they help break down histamine in your body to improve your histamine tolerance.
Herbal teas and fresh herbs with antihistamine and anti-allergenic effects are also included.
It’s best to eat organic or biodynamic food and avoid eating genetically modified food.
Conventional farming involves using synthetic chemicals and pesticides known to harm human health and fertility.
Crops are also being genetically modified to produce insecticide toxins to increase yields.
There are concerns that eating GM foods can contribute to cancer development by raising levels of potentially carcinogenic (cancer-causing) substances in the body.
Also, avoid buying processed foods that contain artificial preservatives and additives, sodium benzoate, sulphites, nitrites, glutamate, synthetic dyes and flavouring, and flavour enhancers such as monosodium glutamate (msg).
Check every food label before you buy it.
LOW HISTAMINE FOODS
The following lists of foods have either an antihistamine effect or are low in histamine to help you reduce the impact of hay fever and allergies.
Low histamine foods should form most of your diet.
The idea is to avoid foods that trigger histamine and inflammation until you heal the issues that result in allergy disorders.
Mung bean sprouts
Sweet corn (non-gmo)
Cherries (fresh or frozen)
Cranberries (fresh or frozen)
Black Cumin (nigella sativa)
Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum, tulsi)
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis L.)
Nettle tea (Urtica dioica)
Green Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis, unfermented)
Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
Plantain leaf (Plantago major. P.)
Avocado oil* is not recommended if you have severe histamine intolerance.
All-purpose gluten-free flour
Brown rice flour
Whole organic oats
Local, raw honey (introduce slowly)
Coconut palm sugar (small amounts)
Pure maple syrup (small amounts)
Monk Fruit* is a natural plant-based sweetener used in Chinese Herbal Medicine.
Even better – monk fruit is sugar-free and delicious.
Avoid synthetic sweeteners and sugar alcohols such as xylitol.
In our blog about the benefits of Monk Fruit, we also share information on sugar and artificial sweeteners and their impact on your health.
Organic Brown Rice milk (unsweetened)
Organic Hemp milk
Organic Oat milk
AVOID HISTAMINE LIBERATORS
Histamine liberators are foods that may contain low amounts of histamine but can trigger a histamine release in your body.
Until you heal your gut, avoid the following histamine liberators:
• Citrus fruits
• Dried fruit
• Egg whites
• Wheat germ
AVOID HIGH HISTAMINE FOODS
The aim of reducing high levels of histamine foods in your diet is to calm inflammation and reduce histamine reactions (allergies).
It’s not forever.
Work with your practitioner to heal the underlying cause(s) of your allergies.
Then slowly reintroduce foods and test your reactions.
HIGH HISTAMINE FOODS
Aged cheese (soft and hard)*
Dried fruit (sulphured)
Fermented drinks (alcohol)
Vinegar foods (sauces and pickles)
Cheese* If you are craving cheese, small amounts of organic paneer, ricotta, cottage cheese, mascarpone, and fresh mozzarella are lower in histamines.
Citrus* Small amounts of lemon and lime with olive oil are okay to use in salad or vegetable dressings, and generally tolerated.
Vinegar* Organic apple cider vinegar (with the mother) is considered low in histamines and easier to tolerate. Use apple cider vinegar with olive oil and garlic to dress salads and vegetables.
AVOID JUNK FOOD
The right foods have a beneficial effect on your immune function, gut microbiome, and overall health.
Avoid or severely limit foods that kill off essential microflora, especially synthetic chemicals used in preservatives, additives, colouring, flavour, and flavour enhancers (msg).
Synthetic preservatives are usually found in foods with a long shelf life.
They have a long shelf life because preservatives inhibit or kill off microbes – including the friendly bacteria in your gut if you eat them.
Ditch foods containing synthetic chemicals and eat fresh, whole foods!
Artificial sweeteners *
Foods high in added sugars
Foods high in trans/saturated fatty acids
Foods low in dietary fibre
Highly refined carbohydrates*
Highly processed foods
Highly refined grains
Processed meats (nitrates)
Refined sugar (white)
Soft drinks (cooldrink)
Sweet foods with added sugars
Artificial sweeteners* Artificially sweetened foods can increase histamine intolerance.
Highly refined carbohydrates* Eat ‘whole’ foods, wholemeal.
DOWNLOAD THE DIET
You can download a printable version of our ALLERGIES DIET Food List here.
You are also welcome to share the diet with your family and friends.
We want to help as many people as we can become allergy-free.
METHOD 4 – NATURAL MEDICINES
Along with probiotics and diet, naturopaths also use specific nutrients, enzymes, and herbal supplements to calm inflammation and improve allergen and histamine tolerance.
Supplementation has been clinically shown to relieve hay fever symptoms and allergies.
We’ve included live links to research studies in our references below so you can explore their benefits.
If you are considering taking natural remedies to help your allergies, seeking qualified advice is vital because even natural medicines are dose-dependent.
Practitioners also consider other factors unique to you, including your current health status and any pharmaceutical medications you may be taking.
Butterbur (Petasites hybridus)
Perilla (Perilla frutescens)
Milk Thistle (Silymarin)
Omega-3 fatty acids
SPM’s (orchestrate resolution at the site of inflammation)
Histamine intolerance (mostly associated with food sensitivity) can be due to a deficiency of the gastrointestinal enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO).
DAO deficiency results in food histamines not being broken down or absorbed properly within the gastrointestinal tract.
METHOD 5 – ACUPUNCTURE
Studies also demonstrate that acupuncture is another effective method to treat persistent allergic rhinitis (hay fever).
In one trial, 487 patients received acupuncture and were compared to 494 patients in a control group.
After 3 months, the acupuncture group recorded significant improvements in symptoms and quality of life benefits.
Reviews of other clinical studies indicate that acupuncture therapy has a comparable effect to medication treatments for both moderate and severe allergic rhinitis (hay fever).
Altogether, acupuncture offers a safe way to treat allergies without the risk of adverse effects.
It’s not surprising Australia is the allergy capital of the world.
When nature bursts with blooms and wildflowers in Spring, we get busy at the clinic helping people overcome their hypersensitivity to pollens.
We help our clients discover that you don’t need to suffer from allergies.
Instead, you can alter your diet.
You can restore imbalances and deficiencies.
You can rebuild your gut microbiome.
And you can realise that your body is designed to be healthy.
Our naturopaths offer a range of protocols for all types of allergies, including hay fever.
Tracey Blythe specialises in gut health and herbal medicine and evens offers gut health programs that include menu plans and recipes.
Rebecca James offers both kinesiology and naturopathic support to address allergies.
Mike Reid specialises in acupuncture and includes live blood analysis in his approach to naturopathy.
There is always help and hope here.
All the very best,
Lisa Rieniets ND.
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