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Cycling with Hay Fever: Natural Remedies

By Angie Ng

I can barely go outside without sneezing up a storm now that we have pollen season. Actually, I’m sitting indoors with an open window at the moment and I already have a runny nose and an itchy throat. Where I live, it’s been bad enough that people have posted pictures of pollen clouds and we also have a regular hay fever weather report. Just the other day, someone read the report online and said to me: “Don’t go biking tomorrow. There’s going be a lot of pollen in the air!”

Well, what if we need to (or want to) go biking outside? Luckily, besides the medication found at pharmacies, there are other ways to continue biking throughout the pollen season. Let’s look at some of them below.

1. Natural nasal balms/creams

If you apply these balms or creams to the base of your nose and your nostrils, they will trap the pollen particles before they get into your nose. These can be found in stores selling organic or/and natural products but it’s also possible to make them at home. There are several recipes online featuring natural ingredients such as beeswax and coconut oil.

2. Honey

By honey, I don’t mean the mass-produced honey found in large supermarkets – I mean honey produced locally. This honey contains pollen from plants and flowers in your area and if you consume this honey regularly before allergy season, it can help desensitize your body to the pollen found in your neighbourhood.

3. Onion

Onions contain high levels of quercetin, a natural antihistamine. When eating yellow or white onions, it’s best to keep in mind that the winter-harvested ones contain almost four times more quercetin than the summer-harvested ones. Also, while yellow or white onions should be cooked, red onions should be eaten raw for maximum effectiveness.

4. Camomile Tea

Pollen season is a good time to take a break from drinks containing caffeine, refined sugar, and dairy products – all of which are known to trigger the release of histamine. Try herbal teas instead. A good choice is chamomile tea, which acts as an antihistamine and has anti-inflammatory properties. German chamomile is the best variety for fighting hay fever because it contains the highest levels of azulene, a natural antihistamine. You could also use used and cooled chamomile tea bags as an eye compress for relieving itchy, swollen eyes.

5. Stinging Nettle Tea

This is another wonderful tea for relieving allergy symptoms. Stinging nettles are high in quercetin, the antihistamine also found in onions. If you’re in a DIY mood, instead of getting a store-bought tea, go outside and pick some new nettle leaves or grow some yourself. Just remember to wear gloves!

6. Rosemary

This herb is a concentrated source of rosmarinic acid, which suppresses our response to pollen-triggered allergies and reduces nasal congestion. To obtain the densest concentration of rosmarinic acid for each gram of the herb, go for the dried version. Other herbs that contain large quantities of this acid include sage, oregano, and thyme.

7. Peppermint

Peppermint also contains high levels of rosmarinic acid – dried peppermint contains almost double the amount of this acid than found in dried rosemary! So, one option would be to drink peppermint tea. Another option would be to use peppermint essential oil – it can be added to a glass of water or, for a quick relief while out on the road, place a few drops onto a tissue and inhale.

8. Acupuncture Points

Acupuncture can help those of us suffering from hay fever but it is also possible to stimulate acupuncture points without using needles. This can be done by using magnets designed for this purpose or simply using pressure, which is known as acupressure. One of the most useful pressure points for hay fever is called Ying Xiang or “Welcome Fragrance” – it is also known as the Large Intestine 20 point (LI-20 for short). The points are located just beside the nostrils, in the naso-labial grooves. For relief from hay fever, press these two points with your fingers – a minute of two should be enough.

How about you? Is there a natural remedy that you’d like to recommend?