Has your Hay fever Gone Haywire?

Trees are blossoming, flowers are blooming, birds are singing… Spring is in the air…. Achoo! It’s Allergy season!

Hay fever is also known as allergic Rhinitis and affects many Melbournians. An allergic reaction to allergens in our environment can lead to a stuffy or runny nose, itchy watery eyes, scratchy or sore throat, sneezing and postnasal drip.

There are two main types of hay-fever:

  1. Seasonal hay-fever, which occurs at specific times of year
  2. Perennial hay-fever, which can happen all year round

Some people can even suffer from both, which means they have mild hay-fever symptoms all throughout the year which feel worse in the spring. The seasonal hay-fever is the more commonly seen of the two, affecting about 1 in 5 Australians.

The changeable weather in spring seems to really challenge our immune systems. Pollens, dry winds and hot/cold weather, one after the other; no matter what your trigger is, seems like this year everyone is copping it! Take a look at the video below as I explain what happens and tips on how you can relieve symptoms instantly.

In the wonderful world of Acupuncture and TCM we believe our bodies work as an intricate whole. Hay fever, or any other lingering, annoying condition, can be a sign that your body is out of balance in some way. Your current issues, niggles, struggles, aches, pains and irritations matter! Whether you are a recent sufferer or have been putting up with it forever, random acts of self-prescription or active acts of self-neglect are not advisable, especially if you’re trying to conceive or are pregnant.

At times I’ve been asked by patients not to bother treating their hay fever – just get on with their regular treatment and anti-histamines will keep the hay-fever under control. This goes against the holistic approach of TCM. Hay-fever can be a sign of an underlying predisposition for immune dysregulation and possible gut problems. This may potentially have negative impacts on fertility. The other flaw is that regular use of anti-histamines can affect thyroid function. Unless absolutely necessary, they are best not to be taken during pregnancy although more research on its safety is needed.

Sometimes professional assistance is needed to understand your circumstances fully. This is where we come in. Chat with us today to get more information on natural options such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, moxibustion, lymphatic draining or ear candling.

What causes hay fever?

Hay fever is caused the immune system overreacts when confronted with allergens such as grass, pollen, animal dander, dust and fungal spores. This over-reaction results in release of histamine which acts to dilate blood vessels, contract muscles and increase white blood cells, creating the symptoms of hay-fever in the respiratory tract.

The main causes of allergy include:

  • unhealthy diet;
  • weak immune system;
  • high level of stress.

Top 4 tips for getting your hay-fever sneezing and ‘snotty’ frustration under control:

1. Green Juices and Smoothies: anti-inflammatory, full of nutrients to support your immune system, and greens have a knock on effect in soothing the liver. Green smoothies that include fruits like apples, peaches, cherries, red grapes, citrus fruits, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and acai berries not only taste good but can be really beneficial for allergy sufferers. Add leafy greens such as kale and romaine lettuce, as well as broccoli. Make sure your smoothies are dairy free. Include Almond, Soy or Rice Milk instead of yoghurt. And avoid cow, sheep or goats milk.

2. Diet: In a study published in the journal Thorax, a Mediterranean diet was analyzed among children in a population with minimal allergy sufferers. They found that children who ate more fruits and vegetables – specifically grapes, oranges, apples and fresh tomatoes – were found to have a lesser incidence of wheezing and allergic rhinitis than children who did not eat more servings of these fruits and vegetables.

  • Quercetin is an antioxidant flavonol and is believed to have a mild antihistamine effect in humans. Food sources of quercetin include black and green tea, apples, peaches, cherries, red grapes, citrus, berries, broccoli, tomatoes, kale, romaine lettuce and broccoli. Organic tomatoes may have up to 79% more quercetin than conventionally grown ones
  • Include lots of natural anti-histamine foods in your diet. Foods rich in vitamin C and bioflavonoids such as parsley and green leafy veggies (another reason for your daily green smoothie), capsicum, sweet potato, tomatoes, citrus fruits and mangos. Some lemon juice in warm water is a perfect way to start your day.
  • Omega-3 fats have an anti-inflammatory action so give yourself regular meals of grilled salmon with broccoli and other vitamin C rich veggies. Plus a handful of walnuts a day to snack on.
  • A quality loose leaf organic Nettle tea infused overnight for a strong brew reduces allergic symptoms. Drink 2-3 cups a day. Our Spring Cleansing Detox Tea is also recommended, particularly if you’ve been burning the candle at both ends or overindulging of late.
  • Ginger is another green smoothie ingredient that many people claim help relieve allergy symptoms, although there isn’t any clinical research on ginger and its alleged therapeutic effects on seasonal allergies. Make a great Ginger, Lemon and Manuka Honey drink with hot water.
  • Increase intake of antioxidant-rich berries. Although there is limited research on how antioxidant levels affect allergy symptoms, there is sufficient anecdotal evidence to suggest a potential benefit

3. Acupressure points: Take a look at the video above for the points to use. These acupressure points bring quick relief if your nose or sinus’ feel congested or irritated. You’ll know when you are pressing the right spot because it feels really good.

  • LI20 – in the nasolabial groove, on the side of nostrils
  • St 2 – at the centre of the cheekbone, directly below the pupil of the eye
  • UB2 – at the tip of the brow
  • Du23 – on the mid-line of the scalp, about 1 cm above the hairline
  • If the forecast predict a high pollen count or windy day, try to stay indoors as much as possible, and wash your face with cold water often.
  • Rubbing paw-paw ointment inside each nostril may help in catching the pollen before it irritates the lining of the nose.
  • Alcohol can exacerbate symptoms so limit intake during the hay fever season.
  • Avoid inflammatory foods such as gluten, sugar and dairy to help regulate your immune function.
  • Don’t put up with it. Try natural therapies such as acupuncture and herbal medicine before you opt for the more conventional anti-histamine medication.

4. Pinpoint the problem (with needles)

Chinese medicine uses acupuncture needles, cupping, massage, herbal medicine, moxa and dietary advice treatment of hay-fever. Directly after an acupuncture session you may notice:

  • decongested sinus region
  • clearer eyes
  • reduced sneezing
  • easier breathing

Hay Fever Acupuncture Research

Research shows acupuncture to be effective in reducing allergen specific IgE and therefore reducing itchiness and sneezing. 151 individuals were randomised into real and sham acupuncture groups (who received twice-weekly treatments for 8 weeks). Real acupuncture had a significant reduction over sham acupuncture.


The researchers at RMIT and Monash University conducted an acupuncture study for treatment and management of Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis (SAR) on 175 hay-fever patients and concluded “acupuncture treatment is a safe and effective option for clinical management of SAR in the Melbourne area”. This Victorian trial study found that acupuncture could help relieve symptoms for up to four weeks after the treatments stoped.


This research also recommended sufferers to get pre-seasonally treatments to prevent unbearable symptoms in the coming peak hay fever season of the year.

Take a look at Zahra Nasr TCM profile here.

Why not give us a call 96621311 and find out how we can help you with The Allergy Away Program.