The Best Remedies for Hayfever and Adrenal Fatigue

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Justin Lam, ABAAHP, FMNM; Carrie Lam, MD

Watery eyes, a runny nose, and irritation are just some of the symptoms associated with hayfever. It’s important to know the best remedies for hayfever so that you can feel comfortable year-round. Before diving into the best ways to remedy your hayfever symptoms, let’s look at how the immune system responds to hayfever, and how the body’s stress response copes

What Causes Hayfever?

Reduce inflammation using remedies for hayfeverOne fifth of the population is sensitive to grass and tree pollen, which causes hayfever. As pollen go airborne, to ensure they pollinate the flowers of their own species, they release a recognition factor. These factors, made of protein, cause allergic reactions.

People sensitized to pollen feel hayfever symptoms because their bodies react to the pollen recognition proteins as though they are invaders. Instead of flushing away pollen that lands on the mucus membrane inside the nose, the body releases histamine. Histamine signals the immune system that there is a problem. Blood vessels dilate to allow white blood cells easy access to the invasion site, leading to irritation and inflammation. This how the symptoms of hayfever start.

The pesky symptoms that hayfever brings about, like watery eyes, sneezing, and pulsating sinuses, are the body’s way of signaling that something is wrong. So how can we prevent hayfever altogether, and what other factors may be playing a role in the body’s stress response?

Hayfever and Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome

For anyone with Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS), the word “histamine” is probably significant because of its ability to worsen AFS symptoms in the body. Avoiding elevated histamine levels is essential in recovering from AFS. In addition to causing hayfever symptoms, histamine can also cause fatigue, anxiety, and brain fog, all symptoms associated with AFS.

AFS is a condition whereby the adrenal glands become fatigued from stress and unable to produce the proper hormones for the body. Stress can come from many sources, inflammation being one of them. Cortisol is an anti-inflammatory hormone, meaning it decrease inflammation in your body. Histamine, is the opposite, increasing inflammation. These two chemicals balance each other out.

However, most people suffering from AFS are already in a state of imbalance between their histamine and cortisol levels. Without enough cortisol to counter the effects of histamine, uncomfortable inflammation symptoms arise from the high levels of histamine. Unfortunately, people with AFS may also have a higher probability of experiencing hayfever because of the high levels of histamine already present in the body. The threshold for allergen sensitivity is higher for people with adrenal fatigue.

When looking at the body’s NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response system, we see that many organs and hormones are involved in the way that we deal with different stressors, not just what is directly related to the stress in question. So when inflammation occurs because of excess histamine, the adrenal glands have to start working by releasing the anti-inflammatory hormone cortisol. If not enough cortisol can be produced, as is often the case with people with AFS, then the body is in a constant inflammatory state. This is not an ideal state to be in, and causes fatigue, achiness, and discomfort in the muscles and joints. Thus, reducing inflammation in the body will help heal the adrenal glands as well as relieve hay fever.

Natural Remedies for Hayfever

Natural remedies for hayfever vs pharmaceutical medicineWhen first trying remedies for hayfever, opt for natural medicine techniques or simply avoid pollen as much as possible. Pharmaceutical medicine should be used if other remedies for hayfever don’t work.

Avoid Pollen

In general, airborne pollen levels peak around 7 – 9 a.m. and 3 – 7 p.m., so try to stay inside during these hours. You can also check a pollen forecast like the U.S. National Allergy Forecast. Pollen rises, so try to work on the lower levels of an office building if possible. Clothing and pets can attract pollen, so be careful when drying laundry, and let your pets out when pollen levels are low. Finally, use an air filter or shut your window at night when you sleep, to avoid trapping pollen inside.

Physical Barriers

Using physical barriers like masks, glasses, and nasal filters are great remedies for hayfever that are cost-efficient. Wearing masks when doing intense physical activities will help tremendously to alleviate symptoms. Especially because more air is inhaled when doing strenuous activities, more pollen can potentially be trapped in your nose. When finding glasses, be sure to get wraparound glasses that are UV protected. If you want something more discreet, opt for small nasal filters, like WoodyKnows Ultra Breathable Nasal Filters. These remedies for hayfever are practically unnoticeable in the nostrils, can be used for three days, and is adjustable to fit your nostrils.

Nasal Sprays, Balms, and Powders

These physical nasal barriers focus on protecting the very lining of the nostril, ensuring that pollen can’t touch the nasal wall, and thus can’t prompt a histamine release. Most of these options form a gel-like coating inside your nose to prevent pollen from triggering a histamine response in the body. Nasal douches are also a great option to cleanse the nasal lining after high pollen exposure.

Light Therapy

Other safe remedies for hayfever include light therapy which can actually help calm certain immune responses to allergens. Called rhinophototherapy, specific wavelengths of light are exposed to the nasal cavity, and can prevent the release of histamine from the nasal wall cells. Studies have shown that using rhinophototherapy with other forms of remedies helps decrease overall symptoms, and in some cases, rhinophototherapy alone alleviated symptoms better than nasal sprays and antihistamines. Some AFS sufferers may be sensitive to light. In these cases, it is best to stay away from rhinophototherapy and seek alternative methods to help relieve hayfever and inflammation.

Laser Acupuncture

Laser therapy of the nasal lining has become a popular remedy of hayfever in Japan, and studies have shown that 60 percent of people who use this type of therapy eliminate the need to use other methods such as nasal sprays and pharmaceutical medicines. Laser acupuncture vaporizes parts of the nasal lining that would otherwise swell and cause hayfever symptoms. There are inexpensive at-home methods now that operate at safe, low frequencies. While acupuncture is generally considered safe and beneficial, in advanced adrenal fatigue or adrenal exhaustion, acupuncture can lead to adverse effects if the body is very fragile and sensitive. Acupuncture can detox the body, which may add stress onto the adrenal glands and the liver. Consult an experienced clinician before attempting laser acupuncture.

Salt Therapy

natural remedies for hayfever that include sea saltTraditionally done in European salt mines, speleotherapy (the inhalation of dust- and pollen-free air saturated with negative ions from Himalayan salt), is a great natural remedy for hayfever as well as a great way to improve lung function. You can even try speleotherapy at home using a porcelain salt pipe or salt therapy air purifiers.

Vitamins and Herbal Supplements

Vitamin C supplementation directly affects histamine in the body, acting as an antihistamine by decreasing inflammation in the body. While at first this seems like a miracle supplement for those with AFS, it’s important to note that sometimes taking too much vitamin C can exacerbate adrenal fatigue symptoms. Talk to your doctor before starting on high doses of vitamin C.

As for herbal supplements, hayfever sufferers have found herbal extractions from plants such as Sponge Cucumber (Luffa) and French Maritime Pine Bark (Pycnogenol) to be successful in remedying hayfever symptoms. Natural antihistamines such as quercetin and bromelain may be beneficial as well. Their effectiveness is highly dose dependent, however. Failures are often reported due to too-low dosage, so it is important to ensure proper dosage before beginning an herbal supplement regimen. There are a number of other herbal supplements that may aid with decreasing symptoms, and most are taken orally as a pill or in a tincture.

Pharmaceutical Medicine

If you’ve found none of the natural remedies for hayfever to be effective, it may be necessary to resort to pharmaceuticals. While prescription and over the counter medicine are not ideal ways to deal with hayfever, especially for people suffering from AFS, they may be the best way to alleviate symptoms quickly. Here is an overview of options for quick relief.


These inhibit the effects of histamine in the body, so they are great for relieving a runny nose and sneezing, although they may not be as beneficial for relieving a stuffy nose. Avoid taking antihistamines on an ongoing basis because they can cause the body to overproduce histamine. Antihistamines work by blocking histamine receptors, but they don’t stop the production of histamine. Because of this, continued exposure to allergens can cause overproduction of histamine, which may worsen AFS symptoms. Taking antihistamines every once in awhile is perfectly fine, but taking them regularly as a remedy for hayfever can cause unpleasant side effects. Antihistamines, such as Claritin, are offered in both sedative and non-sedative sedative form.

Corticosteroid Nasal Sprays

Corticosteroids work locally to reduce histamine-caused symptoms, rather than blocking histamine receptors throughout the body. They are similar to antihistamines, however some find them to be a more effective remedy for hayfever. These sprays include Flonase and Nasacort Allergy. People with AFS may find that corticosteroids work wonders for hayfever and even give more energy. Corticosteroids provide what fatigued adrenal glands cannot, cortisol. However, it should be noted that this is only temporary relief, as the root cause is still not being addressed. Furthermore, chronic use of corticosteroids can create dependency, and withdrawal side effects can occur if use is stopped. In advanced AFS, corticosteroids may be too stimulating on the body and lead to more fatigue and a crash. Consult an experienced clinician before taking corticosteroids.

remedies for hayfever and eye relief

Eye Drops for Watery or Itchy Eyes

Eye drops may be beneficial for those suffering from itchy or watery eyes. Most drops contain either an anti-inflammatory agent or an antihistamine to relieve symptoms. For a natural medicine approach, try soaking a cotton pad in chamomile tea and laying it over your eyes for 20 minutes to reduce symptoms and redness.

The Bottom Line

Regardless of whether you choose to seek relief through natural or pharmaceutical medicine, there is no doubt that hayfever can get in the way of day to day activities. Remember that most health related issues like this are intrinsically connected to the NEM system and how the body is responding to stress. Sometimes the best way to reduce discomfort is by looking beyond the symptoms to the deeper causes. When dealing with hayfever, it’s important to look at other reasons why your histamine levels may be unbalanced. And from the other side, if dealing with AFS, it may be beneficial to make sure that you aren’t releasing more histamine because of airborne pollen. Use these remedies for hayfever to reduce inflammatory histamine, and feel more comfortable this spring, summer, and year round!

© Copyright 2017 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Remedies for hayfever allergies