One of the most effective treatments for hay fever is to first identify which plants you react to most and then either avoid going near them or obtain an "isopathic" remedy (a dilution of the plant itself) from a homoeopath, taking it before the next season. These homoeopathic preparations have been proven beneficial in three well controlled trials (Brit Hom J, 1985; 74: 65-75; Lancet, 1986; ii: 881-6; Lancet, 1994; 344: 1601-6).
Glutathione peroxidase, a selenium containing enzyme, is critically important for reducing the formation of leukotrienes, which are the compounds responsible for allergic reactions. To help ensure optimal activity of glutathione peroxidase, and hence reduce the production of leukotrienes, supplement with approximately 200 mcg per day of selenium (Med Hypo, 1984; 13: 45-50).
An excellent homoeopathic remedy for hay fever is Galphimia glauca, which underwent a German clinical study in 1964 (Allgemeine homoeo-pathische Zeitung, 1967; 212: 533-42) and has been shown to be effective as an anti allergic and an anti asthmatic remedy in controlled trials (Int Arch Allerg Appl Immunol, 1991; 94: 262-5; Planta Med, 1993; 59: 164-7).
In my own practice, I have found a 3DH potency of Galphimia to be very reliable for hay fever related sneezing bouts, swollen eyelids, runny nose and watery, itchy eyes, as well as for mild hay asthma, prickly heat and other minor eruptions of pores.
Other proven homoeopathic remedies for hay fever include: Aranea tela (nervous asthma and sleeplessness); Arundo mauritanica (sneezing, itching in nostrils, roof of mouth, Eustachian tubes and ears); Euphrasia officinalis (allergic conjunctivitis); Histaminum hydrochloricum (allergic muscle pain, skin/mucous membrane irritations); Phaseolus nana (angst, frontal headaches, dilated pupils without sensitivity to light, rapid pulse); Sabadilla (sneezing bouts with all the classic hay fever symptoms); Sambucus nigra (oppressed chest, hoarseness, suffocative coughing); Sanguinaria canadensis (burning eyes, nose and throat, watery discharge from nose); and Marum verum (red, puffy eyelids, ringing earache, mucous membrane growths or inflammations, runny nose, blocked nostrils, sneezing).
In Oriental Medicine, a preparation with proven success is made from fructus Xsanthii sibirici and sesame oil (called cang er zi in Chinese and sojishi in Japanese) which is applied into the nose. In one study testing the remedy on 207 patients with recurrent allergic rhinitis (runny nose), symptoms disappeared in all but 15 cases. Follow up for as long as three years revealed no recurrences (D Bensky and A Gamble, Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica, Seattle, Washington: Eastland Press, 1993: 163).
This herbal medicine may also be combined with fructus Liquidambaris taiwanianae (lu lu tong or feng guo in Chinese and rorotsu in Japanese), which has also been shown in controlled clinical studies to successfully resolve a number of allergic syndromes. Even when taken in combination, follow separate instructions for each of the remedies. Avoid taking either during pregnancy.
In European herbalism, certain species of Ephedra (E vulgaris and E helvetica, in particular) and other sub species have been found to be extremely effective in hay fever (British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, Part 2, 1979: 75-7). One double blind study proved not only that extract of Ephedra was effective against hay fever, but also that patients did not develop a tolerance for it meaning that they did not require progressively more to treat symptoms successfully (J Am Med Assoc, 1977; 237: 553-7).
If your hay fever produces sore throat, an infusion of Salvia officinalis (red sage) may be used as a gargle. It's wise to remember when suffering from seasonal hay fever that you're more likely to react to foods, pets and other allergens.
Harald Gaier is a registered naturopath, homoeopath and osteopath.