Alison Fixsen, RSHom, PGCE, Dip NN, MFNTP.

Alison Fixsen is a homeopath and nutritional therapist, and researcher. She is a senior lecturer in the Department of Herbal medicine and East Asian medicine at the University of Westminster.

What is Hay Fever?

Hay fever is a common condition affecting a large number of people in the UK. Basically, it is an allergic response to the pollen of various grasses and plants that affects the mucous membranes of the nose, eyes and ear. Common symptoms include sneezing, a watery discharge from the nose and itchy irritated eyes. Sufferers may also get itchy ears, or itching of the palate and throat. In some instances there can also be wheezing, coughing and difficulty breathing, which is referred to as pollen or hay asthma.

Hay fever occurs due to an over-reaction of the immune system, which recognizes pollen as a foreign body or an antigen. In response to airborne particles of pollens, grasses etc., antibodies are generated, causing mucus membranes in the nose and other areas to release histamine and other substances. The role of histamine is to dilate local blood vessels, making them more permeable, thus helping components of the immune system to clear up any irritation.

Conventional treatments include desensitisation injections, anti-histamine tablets and nasal sprays. These give some temporary relief but may cause side effects of drowsiness and poor co­ordination. In severe cases, steroid preparations are also prescribed.

Useful Tips for Hay Fever Sufferers:

Foods that help: Eat local honey for some months before and during the hay fever season, as this can act as a natural protection. Take extra vitamin C and zinc, as these can also strengthen the immune system.

Foods to avoid: Cut down on avoid dairy products and wheat during of the hay fever season. As these are common food allergens, they may aggravate symptoms.

Homeopathy Can Help:

Homeopathy can be used as an alternative to, or along side, conventional medicines for hay fever. The remedies are safe to take for all age groups and free from side effects. Over the counter remedies can be purchased from health stores and chemists, and can be taken during the season itself. However, despite symptoms being seasonal, hay fever is a chronic condition. As well as treating symptoms when they appear, in my practice nutritional advice and homeopathic remedies are often given several months before the hay fever season, aimed at strengthening the constitution and reducing the sensitivity to pollen.