If you have hay fever, medically known as allergic rhinitis, Spring brings pain with its brightly, blooming beauty: itchy eyes, ears, nose, and throat, sneezing, runny nose and nasal congestion.

Picnicking in the park on Father’s Day was magical: the poppies with their brilliant colours and stems so tall and proud, the pansies swaying like ballerinas with tutus dancing in the wind and the magnolias pouring their rich scent the air.

Spring Hay Fever Sonia McNaughton Naturopath
But for those with hay fever it is the season of pain, red noses, tissues & brain fog.  Here is my evidence based naturopathic approach to calming hay fever symptoms.

Nutrients:  Natural antihistamines have been shown to give relief to hay fever symptoms:

  • Quercetin
  • Bromelain
  • N-Acetylcysteine (NAC)
  • Vitamin C and bioflavonoids.

Spring Hay Fever Sonia McNaughton Naturopath newcastle nsw allergies itchy immune Herbs:  Stinging nettle was found by 58% of participants to be effective in relieving their symptoms of hay fever and 48% of them found it equally or more effective than their previous medicine!

The evidence and research supporting the claims: 

Bromelain is a nutrient found in Pineapples that has been found to be an effective mucolytic agent in respiratory tract diseases making the mucous in your lungs, less thick, sticky and easier to cough up.

The therapeutic dose for allergic rhinitis ranges from 400-500 mg three times daily of an 1800-2000 m.c.u. potency bromelain taken on an empty stomach.

Side effects are very unlikely but if they occur include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, menorrhagia, and metrorrhagia. Must not to be taken by those allergic to pineapple!

Quercetin is found in a wide variety of vegetables and herbs and inhibits inflammatory processes.

In a Japanese study of mast cells from nasal mucosa of individuals with perennial allergic rhinitis, quercetin significantly inhibited (antigen-stimulated) histamine release. Quercetin’s effect was almost twice that of the synthetic non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, inhaled to prevent asthmatic attacks and allergic reactions, sodium cromoglycate at the same concentration!

The recommended dosage for allergic rhinitis ranges from 250-600 mg, three times daily, five to ten minutes before meals. Its effect may be enhanced when bromelain is taken at the same time.

N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) is a natural amino acid derivative that detoxifies as well as protects cells and cellular components against oxidative stress. NAC has been documented as an effective mucolytic agent in individuals with chronic bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, asthma, sinusitis, and pneumonia.

A dosage of 200 mg twice daily was found to decrease symptoms of chronic bronchitis. NAC is a mucolytic helping to reduce the viscosity of mucus so it may be more easily coughed up.

While specific research on the use of NAC for allergic rhinitis has not been conducted, because of its affinity for mucus membranes, both as an antioxidant and mucolytic, it may have application as part of a treatment protocol for allergic rhinitis. Recommended therapeutic dosages range from 500 mg to 2 gm daily.

Vitamin C has been found to exert a number of effects on histamine. It appears to prevent the secretion of histamine by white blood cells and increase its detoxification. Histamine levels were found to increase exponentially as Vitamin C / ascorbic acid levels in the plasma decreased.

In a study of the effectiveness of intranasal vitamin C, 48 subjects received either ascorbic acid/Vitamin C solution or placebo sprayed into the nose three times daily. After two weeks 74% of subjects treated with Vitamin C were found to have decreased nasal secretions, blockage, and oedema. Improvement was seen in only 24 % of placebo treated patients.

Side effects: Vitamin C is nontoxic and virtually free of side effects however whenever taking Vitamin C it is common to experience diarrhea and abdominal distention at the start and with any increase in dosage.  Always start dosage at the low end and increase gradually.  For allergic rhinitis, a dosage of at least 2 grams per day should be administered.

Stinging nettle / Urtica dioica :  

A randomized, double-blind study using 300 mg freeze-dried Stinging Nettle in the treatment of allergic rhinitis found 69 patients who completed the study rated it higher than placebo.

58 % rated it effective in relieving their symptoms and 48% found it to be equally or more effective than their previous medicine!

Side effects with Stinging Nettle are rare and when they occur are typically allergic and gastric in nature.

If you suffer from hay fever the naturopathic approach can be extremely successful for getting you out of pain and keeping you symptom free.  I always recommend a consultation rather than just taking the advice off a blog, even mine (!), as every person should have their own individual prescription to get safe results quickly and effectively.

Recommendations for nutritional supplements or herbal remedies are best dispensed after a consultation and as part of a holistic treatment program tailored for your health.  For more information or for an individual consultation contact Sonia @ Mayfield Medical Connection  (02) 4968 2157 or sonia@soniamcnaughton.com

Spring Hay Fever Sonia McNaughton Naturopath newcastle nsw allergies itchy immune

Thank you to Thornhill, S. M., & Kelly, A. M. (2000). Natural treatment of perennial allergic rhinitis. Alternative Medicine Review, 5(5), 448-454.

Clemetson, C.A. (1980). Histamine and ascorbic acid in human blood. Journal of Nutrition, 110, 662-668.

Kelly, G.S. (1996). Bromelain: A literature review and discussion of its therapeutic applications. Alternative Medicine Review, 1, 243-257.

Mittman, P. (1990). Randomized, double blind study of freeze dried urtica dioica in the treatment of allergic rhinitis. Planta Med, 56, 44-47.

Murray, M.T. (1996).  A comprehensive review of vitamin C. American Journal of Natural Medicine, 3, 8-21.

Otsuka, H., Inaba, M., Fujikura, T., Kunitomo, M. (1995). Histochemical and functional characteristics of metachromic cells in the nasal epithelium in allergic rhinitis: Studies of nasal scrapings and their dispersed cells. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 96, 528-536.

Podoshin, L., Gertner, R., Fradis, M. (1991). Treatment of perennial allergic rhinitis with ascorbic acid solution. Ear Nose and Throat Journal, 170, 54-55.

Rimoldi, R., Ginesu, F., Giura R. (1978). The use of bromelain in pneumological therapy. Drugs Under Experimental & Clinical Research, 4:55-66.

Taussig, S. (1980). The mechanism of the physiological action of bromelain. Medical Hypotheses, 6, 99-104.

Thornhill, S. M., & Kelly, A. M. (2000). Natural treatment of perennial allergic rhinitis. Alternative Medicine Review, 5(5), 448-454.

Sheffner, A. (1963). The reduction in vitro in viscosity of mucoprotein solution by a new mucolytic agent, n-acetyl-l-cysteine. Annals of New York Academy of Science, 106, 298-310.

(1980). Long-term oral acetylcysteine in chronic bronchitis: A double-blind controlled study. European Journal of Respiratory Diseases, 111, 93-108

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