Allergic Rhinitis / Hay Fever

Allergic rhinitis (also called hay fever) is the most common form of allergy. Symptoms often vary with the seasons and include:-

  • Stuffy, runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy nose, eyes, and throat
  • “Sinus” symptoms – headache, feeling of pressure behind the eye, pain above the cheekbones and on the lower forehead, aching teeth
  • Skin rashes or hives
  • Diarrhea or frequent urination.

What Causes It?

Your body’s immune system is overreacting to irritants in the environment, such as the following:-

  • Pollens, grasses, or ragweed (in certain seasons and areas)
  • Dust and household mites
  • Changes in temperature or humidity
  • Spicy foods
  • Smoking or prolonged exposure to second-hand smoke.


Your health care provider will examine your nose and nasal secretions. You may be referred to an allergist, a physician who can pinpoint what you are allergic to by performing skin or blood tests. Depending on the cause of your allergies, you may need to do any or all of the following:-

  • Cover pillows and mattresses with plastic covers
  • Use synthetic materials (acrylic) instead of animal products (wool)
  • Minimize dust-collecting household items (e.g. carpets)
  • Use air purifiers or dust filters
  • Desensitization therapy – repeated injections of gradually increasing amounts of the identified allergen.

Allergic rhinitis may be successfully treated with alternative therapies, beginning with dietary changes. Use the tincture and homeopathic remedies for acute allergic reactions.

Physical Medicine

Use a nasal rinse made with water and salt to taste like tears. Rinse each nostril and, with your head over a sink, hold your head sideways and let the water run from your upper nostril to your lower nostril. Keep your nostrils lower than your throat to prevent the salt water from draining into the back of your throat. This rinse shrinks your sinus membranes and increases drainage.

May 2012. NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Amish children raised on rural farms in northern Indiana suffer from asthma and allergies less often even than Swiss farm kids, a group known to be relatively free from allergies, according to a new study.

“The rates are very, very low,” said Dr. Mark Holbreich, the study’s lead author. “So there’s something that we feel is even more protective in the Amish” than in European farming communities.

Researchers have long observed the so-called “farm effect” — the low allergy and asthma rates found among kids raised on farms — in central Europe, but less is known about the influence of growing up on North American farms. Holbreich, an allergist in Indianapolis, has been treating Amish communities in Indiana for two decades, but he noticed that very few Amish actually had any allergies.

Amish families, who can trace their roots back to Switzerland, typically farm using methods from the 1800s and they don’t own cars or televisions. The researchers surveyed 157 Amish families, about 3,000 Swiss farming families, and close to 11,000 Swiss families who did not live on a farm — all with children between the ages of six and 12.

They found that just five percent of Amish kids had been diagnosed with asthma, compared to 6.8 percent of Swiss farm kids and 11.2 percent of the other Swiss children. Similarly, among 138 Amish kids given a skin-prick test to determine whether they were predisposed to having allergies, only 10 kids — or seven percent — had a positive response.

In comparison, 25 percent of the farm-raised Swiss kids and 44 percent of the other Swiss children had a positive test, the researchers report in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The study did not determine why the kids who grew up on farms were less likely to develop asthma and allergies, but other research has pointed to exposure to microbes and contact with cows, in particular, to partially explain the farm effect (see Reuters Health story of May 2, 2012).

Drinking raw cow’s milk also seems to be involved, Holbreich said.

The going theory is this early exposure to the diverse potential allergens and pathogens on a farm trains the immune system to recognize them, but not overreact to the harmless ones. As for why the Amish kids have even lower allergy and asthma rates than the other farming kids, “that piece of the puzzle we really haven’t explained,” Holbreich told Reuters Health. He speculated that it could be at least partly a result of the Amish having larger families or spending even more time outside or in barns than people on more modern working farms.


Signs, symptoms & indicators of Allergic Rhinitis / Hay Fever

Symptoms - Allergy  

Moderate sneezing or frequent sneezing / attacks

Counter Indicators
Symptoms - Allergy  

Infrequent sneezing

Symptoms - Head - Eyes/Ocular  

(Occasional) itchy eyes

Itching is the hallmark of allergic conjunctivitis, as well as other forms of allergic eye disease. The itching may be mild to severe. In general, a red eye in the absence of itching is not caused by ocular allergy.

Counter Indicators
Symptoms - Head - Eyes/Ocular  

Not having itchy eyes

Itching is the hallmark of allergic conjunctivitis, as well as other forms of allergic eye disease. The itching may be mild to severe. In general, a red eye in the absence of itching is not caused by ocular allergy.

Symptoms - Head - Nose  

Allergic rhinitis

Conditions that suggest Allergic Rhinitis / Hay Fever


Parkinson's Disease / Risk

Researchers from Mayo Clinic have discovered that allergic rhinitis is associated with the development of Parkinson’s disease later in life. Findings will be published in the Aug. 8, 2006 issue of the journal Neurology.

“The association with Parkinson’s disease is increased to almost three times that of someone who does not have allergic rhinitis,” says James Bower, M.D., Mayo Clinic neurologist and lead study investigator. “That’s actually a pretty high elevation.”

Previous studies had shown that people who regularly take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, are less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease. These results prompted the Mayo Clinic investigators to look further into the links between diseases characterized by inflammation and Parkinson’s. They studied 196 people who developed Parkinson’s disease, matched with people of similar age and gender who did not develop Parkinson’s. The study was conducted in Olmsted County, Minn., home of Mayo Clinic, over a 20-year period.

The researchers examined these groups to determine if those who developed Parkinson’s disease had more inflammatory diseases. They found that those with allergic rhinitis were 2.9 times more likely to develop Parkinson’s. They did not find a similar association between inflammatory diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, pernicious anemia or vitiligo and Parkinson’s disease. The researchers hypothesize that they may not have found significant links between these diseases and Parkinson’s disease due to the relatively small number of those in the population who have these diseases, and thus the small number with these diseases in their population sample study. They also did not find the same association with Parkinson’s disease in patients with asthma that they discovered in those with allergic rhinitis.

Dr. Bower says that this study did not examine patients’ types of allergies or when they developed allergies. The investigators theorize that a tendency toward inflammation is the key link between the diseases.

Lab Values  


Bruxism (Clenching/Grinding Teeth)

Allergy may play a role in bruxism. It is reported that bruxism is more frequent in those experiencing periods of allergic rhinitis or asthma.

Tumors, Benign  

Nasal Polyps

Respiratory allergies are commonly thought to be the cause of nasal polyps, though some research suggests that a chronic viral or bacterial infection such as staphyloccus of the sinuses may be the cause. The research concluded that in those patients suffering from allergy they were six times more likely to suffer from polyps. A further study reported that 57% of children who were allergic were suffering from polyps. [Asian Pac J Allergy Immunol; 1999 17 : pp.13-5; South Med J, 1978; 71: pp.911-3]

Risk factors for Allergic Rhinitis / Hay Fever


Allergy / Intolerance to Foods (Hidden)

The ear, nose, and throat are common target organs for food allergens. Congestion or inflammation of the nose (rhinitis) may be due to airborne irritants and allergens, but food allergy may be an undiagnosed cause of this common problem.

Environment / Toxicity  

Family History  

Allergies in family members






Symptoms - Allergy  

History of hay fever

Symptoms - Environment  

Severe/significant/mild diesel exhaust exposure

Diesel exhaust fumes and ozone can enhance the effects of inhaled allergens or have an effect on immune function.

Allergic Rhinitis / Hay Fever suggests the following may be present



Recommendations for Allergic Rhinitis / Hay Fever

Amino Acid / Protein  

Cysteine / N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC)

N-acetylcysteine is recommended at 200mg three times per day.



Probiotics / Fermented Foods

Supplementation with one pound (1/2kg) of yogurt, but not partially skimmed milk at the same dose, improved symptom scores and immune markers of allergic reactivity in a study of 13 people with allergic rhinopathy. [Eur J Clin Nutr 2002;56(12): pp.1155-61]


Propolis / Bee Products

Some patients have reported a resolution of hay fever symptoms after contacting a local bee keeper and asking for some cappings. Cappings are the waxy sealant the bees use to seal the honeycomb cells. Normally this is cut away and discarded by the bee keeper when collecting the honey. Consuming some of this capping several times a day for 2 weeks may help reduce your allergic response to local pollens.





Nettle (Urtica urens)

Nettles are traditionally used for hay fever and may be drunk as an infusion, 2 cups a day.




Coneflower (Echinacea purpura)

A tincture of equal parts of coneflower (Echinacea), goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), cleavers (Gallium asparine), eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis), ginger root (Zingiber officinalis), and elderberry (Sambucus nigra) will strengthen your immune system, increase circulation, and help your respiratory system work better. Take 30 drops two or three times per day.


Rose Hip (Rosa canina)

Rose hips can be used as an infusion or solid extract.


Picrorhiza (Picrorhiza kurroa)

[Dorsch W, Stuppner H, Wagner H, et al. Antiasthmatic effects of Picrorhiza kurroa: Androsin prevents allergen- and PAF-induced bronchial obstruction in guinea pigs. Int Arch Allergy Appl Immunol 1991;95: pp.128–33]


Butterbur (Petasites Hybridas)

A study suggested that butterbur was as effective as Zyrtec in controlling hay fever symptoms. Examination of the study suggests that it was flawed in several ways. [BMJ 2002, 324: pp.144-146] Additional testing is needed.




Increased Water Consumption

Some people find that increasing water consumption alone can reduce or even control hay fever symptoms. Make sure to have lots of water every day for at least one week to see if this makes a difference for you. Cutting back on water intake for several days can result in a return of symptoms.


Increased Fruit/Vegetable Consumption

Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, plenty of water and fresh juices are all recommended.

If you want to lower your child’s risk of having hay fever you should seriously consider giving him/her a Mediterranean diet, say researchers. Scientists found that children who followed a Mediterranean diet had a 30% lower risk of developing hay fever. It seems, say the researchers, that the diet is not only good for adults, but also for kids.

The researchers found that children who eat a normal Mediterranean diet were 30% less likely to develop hay fever, while those who also consumed very large quantities of fruit while on the Mediterranean diet were over 60% less likely to develop hay fever.

Previous studies have indicated that the Mediterranean diet may reduce your chances of developing diabetes type 2, hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease and several cancers.

In this study the researchers looked at 690 schoolchildren in Crete, Greece – they were aged 1-18 years. Their parents filled in questionnaires about their kids eating habits and allergic conditions. All the children were tested for the ten most common allergy causes. About 30% of children have allergies, of which half should have symptoms. However, in Crete 30% did have allergies but virtually none of them exhibited symptoms, such as asthma, runny nose and itchy eyes. This anomaly is virtually unheard of, said Paul Cullinan, U.K. National Heart and Lung Institute, one of the authors of the study.

Nearly all the children in the study ate fresh tomatoes and several types of fruit at least weekly, while over half of them consumed them daily. Most of the children ate nuts regularly. [Protective effect of fruits, vegetables and the Mediterranean diet on asthma and allergies among children in Crete Published Online First: 5 April 2007. by BMJ Publishing Group Ltd & British Thoracic Society]


Animal/Saturated Fats Avoidance

Do not eat foods that trigger your allergies: eat fewer foods and additives that are likely to cause inflammation and allergic reactions, such as saturated fats (meats and dairy products), refined foods, eggs, citrus, bananas, chocolate, peanuts, shellfish, food coloring, preservatives, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and sugar.







Therapeutic Fasting

Fasting lowers the allergic reactions producing hay fever.


Vegetarian/Vegan Diet

Many of the diet and lifestyle changes recommended against allergies are a natural consequence of adhering to a more animal-free lifestyle: avoiding saturated fats (meats and dairy products), eggs, shellfish; consuming fresh fruits and vegetables (be careful of citrus in particular though), whole grains, nuts, seeds, and fresh juices; using synthetic materials such as acrylic instead of animal products such as wool.


Conventional Drugs / Information

Prescription Drugs
Nonsedating antihistamines may cause life-threatening irregular heartbeat and should not be taken with other drugs or if you have other liver or heart problems. Oral decongestants may have systemic side effects. Nasal corticosteroid sprays are effective if used properly; improvement takes 1 to 2 weeks. Systemic steroids are prescribed only for severe allergic rhinitis; generally prescribed for short amounts of time because of their many side effects. Leukotriene receptor antagonists are a newer class of medications for treating hay fever. In addition, they also treat asthma, which can occur alongside hay fever. They are considered a highly effective medication and are also long-lasting drugs. Two commonly prescribed leukotriene receptor antagonists include Montelukast and Zafirlukast.

Antihistamines may cause drowsiness. Alpha-adrenergic topical sprays reduce congestion but there is a rebound effect if used for more than a few days. Cromolyn sodium is the only preventative drug choice; works as well as antihistamines but does not cause drowsiness; take continuously or it will not work effectively; it is virtually without side-effects.

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration, USA) has approved an allergy drug, Zyrtec-D (cetirizine HCl 5 mg and pseudoephedrine HCl 120 mg), for non-prescription use in children aged 12 and more and adults (Nov 2007). In other words, Zyrtec-D is now an OTC (over-the-counter) drug.

Zyrtec-D has been on the market since 2001, but only as a prescription medication. The latest approval applies to OTC status for the relief of hay fever and other upper-respiratory allergies, such as sneezing, itchy/watery eyes, runny nose, itchy nose, itchy throat, and nasal congestion. Zyrtec-D is also indicated for nasal passage swelling, sinus congestion/pressure relief, and for restoring freer breathing through the nose.

NOTE: Extended use of antihistamines or nasal sprays can make your allergic rhinitis worse.



Plant Sterols / Sterolins (Phytosterols)

People with allergies have an overactive immune system. They are reacting to various “triggers” in their environment that produce an allergic response, e.g. pollen, grass, cat hair, perfume. The ideal way of dealing with allergies is at the cellular level before specialized immune cells (mast cells) start releasing histamine.

Plant sterols and sterolins have been shown in research to decrease the overactivity of the immune system. They decrease the specific immune factor (Interleukin 4) that ultimately causes the allergic response and the release of histamine. Therefore, it is beneficial for allergy sufferers to try to balance their immune system with sterols and sterolins.




Here’s a sample testimony of someone who benefited from glyconutrient products.

“I had allergies from birth until 45 years old. I am now 53 and have not had to use medication for over 7 years. This absence of allergy symptoms occurred after starting the XXXXX* and YYYYY* products. It took about 2 years before I was free of all allergy symptoms.”

Some benefit, and some don’t.

*The manufacturer of these products has requested that unauthorized health claims which go beyond stating that ZZZZZ (company name) nutritional products promote the maintenance of health and general well-being be removed.


Nutritional Yeast

EpiCor is a revolutionary dietary ingredient that is creating an entirely new category of immune health products. It is an all-natural, high-metabolite immunogen that nourishes the body’s immune system. EpiCor is an all natural yeast-based product derived from Baker’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) through a multi-stage fermentation and drying process.

The ingredient is manufactured by Embria Health Sciences, a unit of Iowa-based animal feed supplier Diamond V Mills. It can be ordered by anyone from Internet suppliers.

Researchers recruited 25 healthy participants (average age 27.6, average BMI 26.2 kg per sq. m, 13 women) and randomly assigned them to receive daily EpiCor supplements (500 mg) or placebo (brown rice flour mixed with 1 per cent molasses and 1 per cent tamari) for five weeks.

“Saliva IgA is the immunoglobulin which protects mucosal surfaces from microbial invaders,” wrote the researchers. “While the data did not reach statistical significance, it suggested that EpiCor consumption supports immune protection across mucosal surfaces.”

This result led to a subsequent 8-week open-label study with the 22 people, where statistical significance was reached, said the researchers.

Furthermore, an increase in levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10) was observed in people receiving the yeast fermentate supplement. This result indicated an anti-inflammatory role for the supplement.

An impact on seasonal allergies was also noted by the researchers. Participants in the placebo group experienced an increase in seasonal allergies, but this was not matched by people in the EpiCor group, said the researchers.

“The timing of the study was such that seasonal allergies started shortly after the study commenced, and we believe that this is an important factor for understanding these data,” said the researchers.

“This data should be seen in the context of the subjective comments, where several participants in the EpiCor group reported an absence of their usual seasonal allergies, and some reported that allergies appeared after consumption of EpiCor was stopped.

“It is therefore possible that EpiCor was protective against allergies, at least in some participants,” they added.

[The Open Nutrition Journal Volume 2, pp.68-75 (2008)]




Homeopathic Remedies / Vaccines

Dosage is usually 12X to 30C every one to four hours until your symptoms get better. Some of the most common remedies used for allergic rhinitis are:-

Lab Tests/Rule-Outs  

Test for Manganese Levels

Low blood manganese levels may accentuate allergies.


MSM (Methyl Sulfonyl Methane)

Symptoms of pollen allergy may be reduced with MSM supplements. Dr. Stanley Jacobs, author of The Miracle of MSM admits that he does not understand why MSM would help relieve allergies, but he suspects that MSM blocks cell receptor sites for histamine, which triggers allergic symptoms. It is best taken in the evening, a couple of grams per day, perhaps more when the pollen count is high.



Zinc is recommended at 20 to 30mg per day.



Reading List

In an open-labeled study, allergic rhinitis and sinusitis patients were followed over a period of 12 weeks and the degree of allergic responses showed significant changes accompanied by clinical improvement and symptomatic relief of patients. Markers of efficacy included decrease in serum IgE levels, decrease in the TH2 cell activity, less turbinate hypertrophy and rhinonorea, etc.. [Abstract in Proc. 26th Annu Cong Physiol. Soc. S. Afr. (1998) [Abstract 178]]

Oriental Medicine  


Treatment with acupuncture can help promote both immune system function and drainage of lymphatic fluid.

Oxygen / Oxidative Therapies  

Physical Medicine  


Therapeutic massage can assist drainage of lymphatic fluid.


Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)

Pantothenic acid supplementation may reduce allergic reactions, especially allergic rhinitis. Clinical observation: The majority of over 100 patients with allergic rhinitis who took 250mg of pantothenic acid twice daily had almost instant relief. [Martin W. On treating allergic disorders. Townsend Letter for Doctors Aug/Sept 1991: pp.670-1]

Clinical observation: A physician with allergies took 100mg at bedtime and found that his nasal stuffiness cleared in less than 15 minutes and that he stopped awakening at 4 or 5 AM with cough and mucous secretion. He subsequently found that many of his patients also noted significant relief of nasal congestion from supplementation. [Crook WG. Ann Allergy 49: pp.45-46, 1987]

Clinical observation: Observations made in our laboratory indicated that pantothenic acid at about 500mg daily could be used to combat allergy. Subsequently a pharmaceutical house found that, while it was somewhat effective, it was not superior to certain available antihistaminics. [Williams RJ. The expanding horizon in nutrition. Texas Rep Biol Med 19[2]: pp.245- 58, 1961]

Note: Pantothenic acid is quite effective in treating nasal congestion caused by allergy. However, if the dosage is too high, it can cause nasal dryness and pruritus. [Roger Williams, U. of Texas at Austin – personal communication to Wayne Martin, quoted in Martin W. Pantothenic acid for allergies. Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients June, 1997: p.108]

Szorady conducted allergy skin tests on 24 children injecting them with histamine. Pantothenic acid reduced the intensity of skin reaction by 20-50% in all children. [Marz, p.209, 1997]



Plants high in bioflavonoids such as quercetin and curcuma (rose hips, bilberry) are especially useful because they reduce your body’s production of histamines or leukotrienes (substances that cause allergy symptoms) and strengthen connective tissue.

Quercetin appears to stabilize the membranes of the mast cells that release histamine. Since quercetin’s action is preventive, it is best taken daily a week or two before pollen season and continued throughout.




Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

One older study reported that L-tyrosine (200mg), vitamin B6 (2.5mg) and niacinamide (10mg) when given in combination for the treatment of hay fever, hives, allergic headaches and poison oak dermatitis produced significant symptomatic relief when 1-3 tablets were taken four times/day in milder cases and up to 6 tablets 4-6 times/day in more severe cases. In some cases characterized by more chronic disorders, such as chronic sinusitis, a worsening of symptoms often occurred during the first few days of treatment. This study found that treatment with each the nutrients individually, or with any two in combination, was ineffective. (Widmann RR, Keye JD Epinephrine precursors an control of allergy. Northwest Med 1952:51:588-590.)



Vitamin A

The following vitamins can help your symptoms: vitamin A (10,000 to 15,000 IU per day); vitamin B6 (50 to 100mg per day); vitamin B5 (50 to 75mg per day); vitamin C (1,000mg three to four times per day); vitamin E (400 IU per day).


Weak or unproven link
Strong or generally accepted link
Proven definite or direct link
Strongly counter-indicative
Very strongly or absolutely counter-indicative
May do some good
Likely to help
Highly recommended


Allergic Rhinitis

Also known as hay fever, this is an inflammation of the nasal mucous membranes that is caused by specific allergen(s). It is an allergy characterized by sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, a runny or stuffy nose, coughing and a burning/scratchy sensation of the palate and throat.


Hypersensitivity caused by exposure to a particular antigen (allergen), resulting in an increased reactivity to that antigen on subsequent exposure, sometimes with harmful immunologic consequences.


Commonly known as hives, urticaria is one of the most common dermatological conditions seen by allergists. Urticaria is not just an allergic disease, however. It can be caused by metabolic diseases, medications, infectious diseases, autoimmune disease, or physical sensitivity. Traditional allergies to foods or medications as well as viral illness are frequent causes of acute urticaria which usually lasts only a few hours but may last up to 6 weeks. Chronic urticaria (lasting more than 6 weeks) is more complex, given the vast number of potential triggers. Symptoms include sudden onset; initial itching; then swelling of the surface of the skin into red or skin-colored welts (wheals) with clearly defined edges; welts turn white on touching; new welts develop when the skin is scratched; usually disappear within minutes or hours. Welts enlarge, change shape, spread or join together to form large flat raised areas.


Excessive discharge of contents of bowel.

Immune System

A complex that protects the body from disease organisms and other foreign bodies. The system includes the humoral immune response and the cell-mediated response. The immune system also protects the body from invasion by making local barriers and inflammation.


A substance that is capable of producing an allergic response in the body.


Inflammation of the nasal mucous membrane.


An alcohol or water-alcohol solution, usually referring to a preparation from herbal materials.


A system of medicine based on the belief that the cure of disease can be effected by minute doses of substances that, if given to a healthy person in large doses, would produce the same symptoms as are present in the disease being treated. Homeopathy employs natural substances in small doses to stimulate the body's reactive process to remove toxic waste and bring the body back into balance.


An illness or symptom of sudden onset, which generally has a short duration.


A lung disorder marked by attacks of breathing difficulty, wheezing, coughing, and thick mucus coming from the lungs. The episodes may be triggered by breathing foreign substances (allergens) or pollutants, infection, vigorous exercise, or emotional stress.

Parkinson's Disease

A chronic, slowly-progressing disease of the nervous system characterized clinically by the combination of tremor, rigidity, extreme slowness of movement, and stooped posture. It is characterized pathologically by loss of dopamine in the substantia nigra.


Reducing inflammation by acting on body mechanisms, without directly acting on the cause of inflammation, e.g., glucocorticoids, aspirin.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

A long-term, destructive connective tissue disease that results from the body rejecting its own tissue cells (autoimmune reaction).

Pernicious Anemia

Anemia caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency.


Prolonged, unintentional grinding and clenching of the teeth, usually occurring during sleep. 'Bruxers' are often unaware that they have developed this habit. Symptoms include abraded/chipped teeth (in extreme cases, waking up with tooth chips in the mouth); facial pain; oversensitive teeth; tense facial and jaw muscles; headaches; dislocation of the jaw; damage to the tooth enamel, exposing the inside of the tooth; a popping or clicking in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ); tongue indentations; damage to the inside of the cheek.


A usually nonmalignant growth or tumor protruding from the mucous lining of an organ such as the nose, bladder or intestine, often causing obstruction.


Usually Chronic illness: Illness extending over a long period of time.

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