Isn’t Spring just gorgeous? The promise of more sunshine, longer days and warmth just seem to lift the spirits! Not to mention it seems that every plant around you just seems to literally BURST into life. As wonderful as this all sounds I used to positively DREAD Spring before I discovered herbal supplements and a wholefoods diet – Why? The dreaded hay fever used to rule my life! I’ve noticed most hay fever sufferer’s have specific triggers and for me it was some grasses but mostly a few flowers – unfortunately for me these flowers are EVERYWHERE!!! Wattle flowers and Photinia hedges were just a nightmare. Just breathing in the heady scent was enough to trigger watery eyes, sneezing and wheezing. If I had to walk past one of these plants I would hold my breath!
The worst thing about my hay fever is that the older I got the worse my symptoms seemed to get. I could take some anti-histamine but whilst at Uni these made me very drowsy so they weren’t much help during the day. When I started working a whole range of non-drowsy, one-a-day anti-histamines came on the market and I thought I had found my magic bullet – the watery and itchy eyes dried up, runny noses were a thing of the past and sneezing was just about non-existent! My super-drug! Unfortunately this only lasted a few years before I had to find increasingly stronger anti-histamines to achieve the same results and my symptoms again started to worsen.
I had been living overseas and when I returned to Australia found that my symptoms were again so bad that I would be missing days at work due to hay fever and resulting sinus infections. At that point my GP suggested I try anti-histamine injections as the only way to again manage these symptoms. I went home and just thought ‘there has to be a better way than this – what is going to happen when the injections don’t work anymore?’
So I started doing some research about the causes of hay fever and how anti-histamines work. Like a lot of modern medicine today they are treating the symptoms of hay fever – not the underlying causes – so of course my hay fever was always going to come back and get worse as like many drugs they become less effective over time. The anti-histamines work by blocking the histamines your body makes in response to detecting the presence of things like pollen and dust.
Histamines are actually incredibly useful substances in our body – they are central to our immune response but they also regulate the function of the gut, as a neurotransmitter in the brain, spinal cord and uterus. So by taking anti-histamines, particularly over a long period of time we are actually working against our bodies own immune system! I like to think of it as ‘numbing’ the system – so what did I do to enable me to control my hay fever and gradually reduce my reliance on anti-histamines?
Healed my immune system!
This is no overnight fix let me tell you! It took me 2 years to reduce my anti-histamine use to nothing – so I worked on improving my diet (wholefoods, less junk and particularly reducing foods that are high in histamines) and also started to take herbal supplements that improved the immune system and helped with hay fever symptoms such as garlic and horseradish (the supplement I use has marshmallow and fenugreek also).
Another thing that has helped me immensely with improving my immune system is my daily Jamu. Turmeric and Ginger contain hundreds of compounds proven to improve health, and importantly reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation is an immune response to all sorts of toxins and compounds that aren’t useful for good health and over time lead to poor health and issues such as hay fever, eczema, poor gut functions, arthritis and so many other diseases related to inflammation. Since I’ve been taking Jamu my immune system is probably in the best shape ever – so the season I once dreaded has again become a time of joy to be outside, walk past hedges and wattle bushes and breathe it all in!
If you’re suffering with the dreaded hay fever why not think about how you can improve your immune system?
Disclaimer: This blog is not intended as specific health advice and you should always consult your GP or health professional before taking herbal supplements or drastically changing your diet.