Its that time of year again. If I were a master criminal, this would be the one time of year I would not commit a crime, all Mr. Sherlock Holmes would have to do would be to release grass pollen in my vicinity and he’d track me down by the uncontrollable fits of sneezing.

Family concerns & work have caused me to be taken unawares by the rising pollen count: a feat unheard of as I’ve been living with this since I was 4 and always ensured I had a good supply of 3 types of medication (eyes, nose and whole body dampen-things-down pills) . I’ve even in the past done a 1 month detox plan in preparation for June. I’ve been on herbal teas for months now, and generally following a wholefood diet, so it’s a bit of a shock to find I need those pills again. I now find myself resorting to drastic measures whilst I organise the pills (showers and polo mints, but I refuse to do my Dad’s Vaseline up the nose trick!).

So what better time to consider whether diet can help hayfever sufferers like moi.  (And  I don’t mean feverfew or butterbur sandwiches). First up: I see that unpasteurised farm milk reduces allergy levels in  European children whether you live on a farm or not (1)(but I think I’d rather have the allergy than TB or brucellosis). Besides, as a child that wouldn’t have helped me as I loathed the stuff and these days I’m on herbal teas sans milk. [Of related interest: there is an increased incidence of allergies in New-Zealand farm-children, although early life exposure to cats seems protective for hayfever(2)].

Next up : Mediterranean diet can help. Jolly good, another reason not to fall off my low GI diet. All that fruit and veg may have a  protective effect on allergic rhinitis in adults (3) due to the high β-carotene content,  but then I found earlier work claimed the exact opposite (4).  That 2003 study looked at adult onset hayfever & suggested high intake of oleic acid and β-carotene was positively associated with hayfever symptoms, whereas eicosapentanoic acid was inversely related (thanks Mum for all the malt & cod-liver oil extract).  A more recent paper by Nagel (5) shows high intake of oleic acid  also linked to adult asthma.

For those of you who love milk & still not sure if its a good idea for your hayfever, then you could try camel milk soon to be on your local EU supermarket shelf. 3x more vit. C, rich in iron, unsaturated fatty acids and B vitamins. A new date flavoured drink made from camel milk is being marketed as naturally probiotic. It seems such a ridiculous idea here in the UK but then I’m the idiot buying rice “milk”.

So what about those cows sneezing? Well that’s me muttering to myself “I bet they don’t suffer from **** hayfever" as I pass said cows in fields full of grass going to seed.  No doubt the CAB Abstracts vets will prove me wrong!

NB AS hayfever is not  a CAB thesaurus term, the best searchstring terms are (allergies OR allergic rhinitis) AND pollen


1. Nutrition & Food Sciences: In Brief/In Depth 11/05/07
2. Wickens K. et al, Allergy 2002, 57, 2, 1171-1179
3. Kompauer I. et al, Public Health Nutrition 2006, 9, 4, 472-479
4. Nagel G. et al,  Allergy 2003, 58, 2, 1277-1284
5. Nagel G. & Linleisen J., European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2005, 59, 1, 8-15

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