The warmer weather and lighter evenings are a welcome change after winter,but the start of spring has its downside. When the pollen count is high, a fifth of the UK population will suffer from hay fever and although there are conventional remedies readily available at the pharmacy, many of these are linked with drowsiness and health concerns.
So - what else can be done to ease hay fever symptoms? The experts at Neal's Yard Remedies spoke to us about alternative remedies that are worth looking into.
"Whilst there is no magic bullet from natural health alternatives for hay fever, there is encouraging research in some areas," Neal's Yard said.
"In a clinical trial, taking nettle leaf did lead to a slight reduction in symptoms of hay fever-including sneezing and itchy eyes."
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Aromatherapists also recommend using inhalations as a way of helping the congestion and inflammation that comes with hay fever. Two of the best essential oils? Frankincense and eucalyptus.
"Try adding a couple of drops of each to a bowl of hot water and inhale the steam to relieve the symptoms of congestion and itchy eyes," Neal's Yard told us.
Want to try an alternative hay fever remedy? Here's five more natural solutions...
This herb is specific for treating allergic inflammation of the mucous membranes, especially itching or watery eyes. It is useful for clearing, drying nasal catarrh and for infectious or allergic conditions of the eyes, sinuses and nasal passages. It enhances the blood supply to the eyes and has soothing, cooling properties.
It is a carminative, antispasmodic, anti-emetic and hepatic herb that relaxes the digestive system and stimulates digestive juices. It has a refreshing taste, which makes it popular as an after-dinner pick-me-up.
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This anticatarrhal and anti-inflammatory herb is excellent for symptoms of colds and flu such as coughs, catarrh and fever. The diaphoretic action promotes gentle sweating and therefore helps reduce any fever. Elderflower is a drying herb so it helps reduce the build-up of mucus. It also reduces inflammation in the lungs, which leads to improved breathing.
Rich in minerals and vitamins, this is one of nature's finest spring tonics (the new green shoots especially). Excellent for anaemia, it will slough off the clogging foods of winter and revive the system. It is cleansing, detoxifying and strengthens the whole body, increasing natural resistance. It can be eaten as food either in soups, as a vegetable, or try making a nettle tea. Make an infusion of dried nettle by adding a heaped teaspoonful of leaves to a cupful of boiling water and stand for 10 minutes (drink a cupful three times a day if you're really suffering.)
A multi-purpose herb that addresses weaknesses in most major body systems. In the respiratory tract, it is anti-inflammatory and expectorant, so helps to reduce catarrh and coughing. This anti-inflammatory action also helps improve arthritic and rheumatic conditions.
Neal's Yard's top tip? The brand's Summer Tea is great for hay fever and includes all five of the ingredients listed above. Keep the used tea bags in the fridge and place over irritated eyes to help soothe and de-puff.
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