What is hay fever and what natural remedies can I try?

With the arrival of springtime comes the the pollen season which is no fun if you suffer from hay fever.

Allergic rhinitis or seasonal hay fever affects about 13 million people in the UK and is the most common respiratory condition in the country.

Typically, hay ever is a reaction to pollen from trees, grasses and weeds.

For various reasons the body sees the pollen as a harmful invader and triggers the immune system to produce immunoglobulin

This stimulates release of histamine, causing inflammation and swelling of the nasal passages, along with excessive mucus production. It’s common to have symptoms such as sneezing, an itchy nose and throat, watery eyes and a clear, runny nose.

How can I manage my Hay fever?

  • Try to avoid the pollen; the worst times are in the morning and evening when the most pollen is released.
  • Try not to go into high pollen areas at these times.
  • Have frequent showers - splashing your face with cold water and bathing your eyes will help to wash away the irritants.
  • The most common over the counter medication is anti histamines which are effective but can make you feel drowsy. Before you automatically rush for these consider some ways you can reduce the need or potentially not need them at all. Treatments such as acupuncture (especially before the season starts) as well as herbs, nutrients and specific foods can all be beneficial in preventing the onset or relieving the symptoms of hay fever.

Pippettes recommends

Daily ritual:

Foods and herbs to help beat hay fever

Stock up on:

  • Kiwi fruit, orange fruit and veg – carrots, mango, apricots
  • Green leafy vegetables , spinach , kale, watercress etc. 
  • Onions, (red and spring) garlic, ginger, turmeric
  • Homegrown: nettles and mint
  • Probiotics and prebiotics
  • Local raw honey

Here’s why:

Foods high in Vitamin C

Kiwifruit (especially yellow ones) are extremely high in Vitamin C, bioflavonoids, antioxidants and fibre making them an effective natural anti-histamine, anti congestive and anti-inflammatory. Try taking a kiwifruit each day OR take a natural vitamin C supplement with bioflavanoids, at a divided dosage of around 2g of vitamin C and 1000mg of bioflavanoids a day.

Other good food sources of vitamin C and bioflavanoids include:

  • citrus fruits
  • strawberries
  • red capsicums
  • broccoli
  • papaya
  • guava
  • mango

Pineapple: Bromelain

Pineapple is a rich source of Bromelain, an enzyme with strong systemic anti-inflammatory effects, which helps decrease mucosal inflammation and nasal congestion. Alternatively a Bromelain supplement could be beneficial.


Contains curcumin, a phytochemical with powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions and has been found to have anti-allergy properties, which inhibit the release of histamine. Take as a supplement with black pepper or fat–derived or grated fresh into cooking or our hay fever smoothie recipe.

Onions: Quercetin

An onion a day can help keep your hay fever at bay. Onions are packed with the flavanoid Quercetin, a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and natural anti-histamine.The best way is to eat red or spring onions raw and tossed through salads, or on sandwiches. Quercetin is also found in apples, kale, red grapes, berries, cherries and parsley.

Beta carotene rich foods

Orange fruit and vegetables (carrots, pumpkin, mango, apricots etc) and dark green leafy vegetables, watercress, rocket, spinach, broccoli, kale, green beans. The vibrant colours indicate high levels of Beta Carotene which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Green leafy veg are also an excellent source (the orange colour is masked by their green chlorophyll content).

Healthy mucus membranes throughout the respiratory tract rely on a good source of Vitamin A and it helps promote healthy immune function, prevent secondary respiratory infections and reduce inflammation.


Acts as a decongestant, helping to clear nasal passages. Grated fresh horseradish root adds a lovely kick to roast meats and vegetables (avoid with high blood pressure).


Helps clear nasal congestion and its potent antibiotic properties help prevent secondary respiratory infections in chronic suffers. It is also a good source of quercetin, a natural anti-histamine.


Make yourself a fresh veggie juice with a good slice of fresh ginger. Ginger is a powerful natural anti-inflammatory that helps reduce nasal swelling and associated hay fever symptoms. Possibly with some local honey which can assist with desensitisation
A good juice combo is carrot, celery, beetroot, apple and ginger. You can also add in some green “leafies” such as parsley, mint, kale or spinach. Fresh ginger can be added to curries and stir-fries, and is delicious made as a hot or iced tea.


Probiotics contain beneficial bacteria, and taking them can help boost our intestinal tract, so a daily dose of probiotics can help hay fever sufferers restore a more balanced immune response to pollens.

Without a healthy balance of good bacteria in our gut, our immunity is likely to be compromised, leaving us more susceptible to developing allergies and illnesses.

Taking a probiotic and prebiotic supplement daily is recommended, along with consuming fermented foods such as sauerkraut, pickled sprouts and vegetables and miso.

 Omega 3

Oily fish and flax and chia seeds are high in these oils that have anti inflammatory properties and are essential to your diet.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Drinking a glass of water with a teaspoon of ACV and some fresh lemon juice is one of the best ways to wake up every morning.

For hay fever, we recommend you make a warm drink with 2 teaspoons of ACV in warm water with a spoonful of local honey and a slice of lemon. Inhaling the warm vinegar solution is beneficial as you drink it. (Some dilute ACV in a neti pot and find this helpful – I haven't tried this!)

Essential oils

Research has shown that eucalyptus oil relieves sinusitis by clearing nasal passages and reducing inflammation. Meanwhile Frankincense oil works on our immune system and by diffusing it in your room or rubbing onto pulse points 3 x day it can help reduce the allergic reaction.

Cut down on foods that form mucus

Many people notice a marked reduction in symptoms, simply by reducing their intake of these foods.

  • Dairy: all dairy produce is mucus forming. Goats, sheep, rice, oat and soya milk products are preferable to cow's milk products, which should be avoided totally. Eat dairy (ideally organic) in small quantities. 
  • Refined foods: cut out white bread, white rice, white pasta, white sugar and brown sugar (still a highly refined product).
  • Processed foods: avoid pre-packaged foods that contain additives you would not use in your own cooking, (E numbers for example). 
  • Alcohol: if you can't avoid it - dilute it with carbonated water or alternate each drink with a large glass of water.
  • Tea and coffee: regular consumption of caffeine drinks make it more difficult for the body to cope with stress. They also deplete the absorption of minerals. Substitute them with  herbal teas. There are many herbal alternatives to coffee - dandelion coffee is the nicest tasting and most beneficial to the health.
  • Wheat: some people find that avoiding wheat and wheat products during the hayfever season helps to alleviate symptoms. Check how you react when eating wheat products. Wheat allergy symptoms include asthma and itchiness (itchy throat, scalp and skin irritation).
  • Avoid exposure, close windows, change pillowcase daily.

Pippettes Hay Fever Tea

Our popular (and delicious) tea can be taken 3 times a day or as a soothing inhalation.

Take before the season starts and with a little local honey made from local pollen to maximise benefits

  • Peppermint – anti histamine and decongestant
  • Nettle leaf – anti histamine , anti inflammatory
  • Eyebright – anti inflammatory, decongestant
  • Plantain – anti inflammatory mucous membrane
  • Marshmallow – anti inflammatory - mucous membrane soothing
  • Chamomile – anti inflammatory
  • Elderflower – anti inflammatory

Pippettes Gum Tree Salts 

As an inhalation these clear the sinuses and relieve mucus membrane irritations.


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