Hayfever Tips for Vegans

Sniff. Atchooooo. Snort.(and whatever disgusting sound excess mucus makes).  That’s pretty much the beginning (and entirety) of every day right now… As if we didn’t have enough health worries to be concerned with, many of us our waking up with hay-fever symptoms that are usual in their inconvenience, but now also managing to up our anxiety when it comes to COVID19. Is that dry cough the normal one I get on a day with a high pollen count? We’ll ponder nervously at regular intervals. Trying to stifle our coughs every time we do our food shop so people don’t give us a dirty damning look.

The other day I posted an Instagram about the fact hay-fever has become a prominent feature of my days at the moment, and I requested that people write any tips they may have to reduce the many aggravating symptoms. Unfortunately all that was offered up in the comments were ‘consume local honey’ and ‘put Vaseline up your nose’ (to catch the granules of pollen). It dawned on me that there isn’t much advice for those that follow a vegan lifestyle, so I thought I’d do some research and share what ideas I’ve found. 

This quote from The Vegan Doctor might be helpful for those looking to go down the traditional medicine route.

‘Let’s start with the antihistamines. Many well known brands offer liquid/syrup forms of their medications, as do some pharmacies. I’ve looked at several of these including Piriton, Piriteze, Clarityn, Benadryl and Boots. They all appear to be suitable for vegans, assuming the glycerol is vegetable derived, and most is these days. I am waiting to hear back from several drug companies about how they source their glycerol, however it seems like a fair risk to take compared with tablets which certainly have animal ingredients in them. As with the liquid pain killers, you will need to work out an adult dose, as most of these syrups are marketed for children. Your pharmacist will be able to help you calculate this depending on which antihistamine you choose.’

Things you can do 

There’s various YouTube videos out there that show you how to use use water-pot devices. They may not be a sexy purchase, and maybe don’t watch on a full stomach, but doctors and natural healing experts often recommend this product to clear out sinuses.  We know about the power of saline solutions already, so it’s logical that teamed with gravity it would thin out our mucus and give that nasal cavity a good ol’ clear out. Much like many of us also need to do in our lofts and wardrobes! 

I know many people who say Acupuncture has worked wonders for various ailments, and while I haven’t heard any personal case studies for it’s effectiveness when it comes to hay-fever symptoms, I’m inclined to believe claims that properly place needles could alleviate a stuffed nose and itching eyes. It has been recommended people that wish to try this method start treatments a month prior to peak allergy season. 

I need to do some further research on this one, as I now have a cat in the flat and herbal oils can be extremely toxic for them, however steam from herbal oils can help to relieve congestion. Oils are extremely easy for anyone to buy these days – from chemist and online stories – but they’re also extremely easy to make yourself. All you need to do is boil some water in a saucepan,  then turn off the heat and add eucalyptus, rosemary, myrtle, or tea tree oil. You then need to take deep breaths of the mixture for three to five minutes.

Things you could buy

I’m not suggesting you fork out on one of those hugely expensive units right now, I know we’re all being mindful of spending for the moment, but If your house is on the dry and arid side, a humidifier might be helpful in relieving allergies. Water droplets bind to allergens, such as pollen, and make them drop to the floor. As they are no longer wafting about in the air you’ll breathe in less of what causes that seasonal sneezing. Obviously this one is only beneficial when you’re at home ,but that’s all of us right now! Just a disclaimer: too much humidity can create additional allergen problems.

To prevent allergies from making your time in your house a complete misery, some doctors recommend installing an air purifier with a high efficiency particulate air filter. These purifiers pull air through the filter, removing pollen as well as dust, spores, and smoke from the air. They come in both portable and whole-house systems. 

Lots of hay-fever sufferers will complain of itchy eyes and this is definitely one of my symptoms and leaves me looking like a hungover mess. If this is your most problematic symptom, then perhaps an eye drop could be game-changing. The most readily available eye drops for itchy eyes due to allergy is called Sodium Cromoglicate. It appears to be suitable for vegans and is sold by several companies including Optrex, Boots, Tesco and Opticrom.

Things you can Eat

I’ve been told to consume probiotics for many of my health issues over the years. Many people believe your gut is your second brain, so it’s no surprise looking after it can have some very positive impacts on the rest of your body. It’s not only helpful for digestion but for keeping your immune system functioning as well as possible. 

Products with probiotics such as Lactobaccilus rhamnosus GG, Bifidobacterium lactis, and Lactobacillus acidophilus, will help keep allergies in check. I personally find taking probiotics pills the easiest format to get it into my body, some of you may prefer liquids. 

Unfortunately I’m intolerant to apples, and onion definitely aggravates my IBS (it’s personal for everyone), but flavonoid quecetin is found in the skin of onions and apples and is a natural antihistamine. It has been reported in various studies that this element is effecting in reducing a variety of allergy symptoms. Apparently taking it in conjunction with vitamin C makes it work even better. 

Following on from above, Mediterranean diets have been celebrated for their many health benefits (apparently helpful for a long life) but because the meals tend to be heavy in tomatoes, grapes (onions and apples) it’s good for protecting the body against hay fever.

I saw Dr Chris recommending this on This Morning the other day – well actually he was singing the praises of baked beans, which as their biggest fan and most loyal customer I was very pleased to hear. Your body needs zinc to help your body fight allergic reactions, so stocking up on foods that contain this mineral is very helpful. Luckily it is easy to find it in various foods in the vegan diet including nuts, legumes, fortified cereals, seeds, dark chocolate, whole grains. 

I’m not a big walnut fan as I find them a tad too bitter, but if you can combine them with something sweeter, or hide them in a salad or cereal, they help to fight the inflammation that causes some hay-fever symptoms. 

People who eat more omega-3 fatty acids, found in walnuts (and flaxseed also) have experienced less severe allergies than those who do not.

Eating antioxidant rich foods is evergreen advice, but will help in this respect as they help to make your immune system stronger and more robust. Foods such as kale, broccoli, sweet potatoes, oranges and lemons are good sources. 

Now you’re talking my language – recommendation to eat meals with spinach, lentils and chickpeas i.e vegan curry! If you follow my Instastories you’ll know I love Indian food and eating curry so this is one I definitely CAN do. A study found that the more folate people have in their blood, the less they are likely to experience allergies and all the above foods are very high in this.

Thinks you can Drink

I’m not a tea drinker whatsoever, let alone a herbal tea drinker – I just don’t get the joy. However I’m trying to get better as I know that even if the taste doesn’t do much for me, it has benefits that I would enjoy. Stinging nettle leaf is a very popular ingredient in allergy relief products of the natural variety. Drinking them in tea form you’ll get the anti-inflammatory benefits that will ease your allergies. The leaf is also used as a diuretic ( so be near to a toilet), and is rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene.

Again, not a useful one for me as Pineapple make my tongue swell and get very sore (I’m complicated health-wise) but these fruits contain an enzyme called Bromelain that helps to reduce inflammation in the nasal passages as well as reducing the mucus production. If you’re someone that likes to punctuate your day with a refreshing smoothie this would be a very wise ingredient choice for a hay fever sufferer. 

That’s just a handful of things I’ve found, but PLEASE if you have any more that can help the snotty, drippy, sneezy community, please do pop them in the comments. Thank you!

And before I go, just a quick extra reminder to use a washable hanky instead of tissues (even though I used blog roll for the imagery) and look after that sore nose with a cruelty-free moisturiser.

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