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What Doctors Don't Tell You

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April 2020 (Vol. 5 Issue 2)

5 ways to beat hay fever
About the author: 
Joanna Evans

5 ways to beat hay fever image

Antihistamines aren't the only way to keep seasonal sneezes and sniffles at bay, says Joanna Evans. Here are five herbs and supplements scientifically shown to help.

1) Galphimia glauca

Homeopathic preparations of this Amazonian plant have been found to be effective for hay fever in several German trials. In a study that pooled the results of seven high-quality trials involving 750 patients, homeopathic Galphimia glauca had success rates comparable to those of antihistamines for beating hay fever symptoms, but without
the side-effects.1

Suggested dosage: Naturopath and WDDTY panel member Dr Harald Gaier, who's had great results treating hay fever patients with homeopathic Galphimia glauca, recommends taking 15 drops of a 4X potency (available from homeopathic pharmacies such as Washington Homeopathic Products: twice a day between meals, about two weeks before you expect symptoms to kick in. Continue taking that dosage for the entire time you are affected

2) Vitamin C

Vitamin C seems to suppress the release of histamine, which contributes to symptoms like a runny nose and watery eyes. In one study, 2 g/day of the vitamin lowered blood histamine levels by nearly 40 percent in just two weeks.2 Another study found that vitamin C sprayed up the nose three times a day reduced allergy symptoms (runny nose, stuffiness and swelling) in 74 percent of sufferers.3

Suggested dosage: 2 g/day oral vitamin C

3) Butterbur

Butterbur (Petasites hybridus), a shrub-like plant found in Europe and parts of Asia and North America, appears to be just as effective as antihistamine drugs for easing hay fever symptoms. A standardized extract of the herb called Zeller's extract (Ze339) worked just as well as cetirizine (trade name Zyrtec) in one trial,4 and it's even on par with the highest-strength formula of the prescription-only drug fexofenadine (marketed as Telfast and Allegra).5

Unlike some antihistamines, butterbur has no sedative side-effects like drowsiness and fatigue, but choose formulations free of alkaloids, as these can be toxic to the liver.

Suggested dosage: 50-75 mg twice daily of a standardized extract of the herb (usually containing at least 7.5 mg of petasin and isopetasin, the main active ingredients)

4) CLA

Although it's better known as a weight-loss and bodybuilding aid, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)—a fatty acid found naturally in dairy products and beef—might be a useful supplement for hay fever sufferers to have on hand. In a placebo-controlled study of 40 people allergic to birch pollen, those taking 2 g of CLA per day reported less sneezing and a greater overall feeling of wellbeing during the pollen season.6

Suggested dosage: 2 g/day

5) Probiotics

These 'friendly' bacteria, found naturally in foods like yogurt and kefir, are showing a lot of promise for treating allergies, especially Lactobacillus paracasei 33 strains (LP-33) for hay fever.7 In a study of hay fever sufferers who took either LP-33 supplements or a placebo in addition to the antihistamine loratadine, those in the probiotics group saw a significant reduction in eye-related symptoms (such as itchy, watery eyes) as well as a boost in quality of life.8 Bifidobacterium longum strain BB536 has also been found to improve hay fever symptoms, including sneezing, runny nose and nasal congestion.9

Suggested dosage: Try a high-strength formula containing Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium strains, such as OptiBac's Extra Strength supplement (, and follow the label instructions




Wien Med Wochenschr, 1997; 147: 323-7


J Am Coll Nutr, 1992; 11: 172-6


Ear Nose Throat J, 1991; 70: 54-5; Altern Med Rev, 2000; 5: 448-54


BMJ, 2002; 324: 144


Phytother Res, 2005; 19: 530-7


Br J Nutr, 2008; 100: 112-9


Am J Rhinol Allergy, 2016; 30: 157-75


Eur J Clin Nutr, 2014; 68: 602-7


Clin Exp Allergy, 2006; 36: 1425-35

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