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Hayfever and its connection to gut health

Seasonal allergic rhinitis (also known as hay fever)

With the arrival of Spring we see an increase in people experiencing seasonal allergy symptoms. Symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion, and runny nose. Others experience itchy eyes, the roof of the mouth, and throat. For many people, spring is also the annual trigger of asthma. These symptoms can feel quite debilitating and vary in severity for each person.

A 2017-2018 National Health Survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics found 19% of Australians (nearly 1 in 5 and more than 4.6 million) had allergic rhinitis, with a higher rate in women than men.

What is happening?

Your immune system is having an inflammatory overreaction to the increase in triggers such as pollen in the air. Pollens that cause hay fever in spring usually come from trees such as birch, elm, maple, oak and grasses. Other triggers include air pollutants, dust, and animal fur.

When your immune system overreacts to these triggers, it releases histamine and inflammatory substances. Histamine is a potent mediator of many biological reactions in the body and a significant component of the immune response. Hence, why we often reach for the ‘anti-histamines’ when we start sneezing. ‘Anti’ meaning to stop the histamine response.

We need histamine for the proper physiological function such as helping regulate muscle contraction in the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts. It assists blood pressure alterations, mucous secretion and regulating gastric acid secretion.

Some people may have excess histamine, or a reduction/degradation of the enzymes required to breakdown histamine. This leads to a reduced breakdown of histamine and symptoms of histamine sensitivity or intolerance. They play an essential role in histamine detoxification.

How does the gut play a role?

What most people don’t know is that your gut health plays a significant role in the way our immune system reacts to triggers such as pollen. Nearly 80% of your immune system is located in your gut! So, if your gut health is compromised by inflammation, intestinal hyperpermeability (aka leaky gut), microbial imbalance (overgrowth of undesirable bacteria), or if you suffer from stress, then your immune system is more likely to overreact to pollens and ‘hello’, hay fever symptoms.

How can a naturopath help?

Therapeutically, from a naturopathic perspective our goal for managing hay fever is

to reduce the impact of the triggers on your immune system. By reducing your exposure to the pollen/allergen and identifying underlying factors that are compromising your gut health; and consequently, your immune system - We aim to reduce your immune response and recurrence!

Some of the underlying factors that may trigger the recurrence of hay fever include:

  • Unidentified dietary sensitivities

  • Gut inflammation

  • Poor digestive function

  • Leaky gut

  • Overgrowth of undesirable bacteria

  • Stress

  • Consuming a diet high in histamine food sources

Did you know that herbs, nutrients, food and lifestyle changes may help reduce the body’s response to the pollen and help control symptoms!

Book an appointment today and get your individualised hay fever plan. According to Melbourne Pollen, we are forecast to have a more significant grass pollen season this year, and more days with high/extreme pollen count.

3 Lifestyle Tips

  • Use daily saline nasal washes with a neti pot to help flush out the pollen.

  • Reduce the amount of time spent outside when the pollen count is high. You can check the pollen count with the weather report and at

  • Ensure you are getting adequate rest and managing stress levels.

Written by Amy Smith

Inquire Health

1/161 Moray Street,

South Melbourne VIC 3205

0430 301 546


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