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Independent health store advice on hay fever

Looking for advice on natural health and wellbeing? Your local independent health food store can offer a wealth of knowledge and expertise. This month we speak to Angela Stephenson, store manager at the Natural Food Store in Norwich.

Warm, sunny days are just around the corner; however, for those who suffer from hay fever, it can be the beginning of a miserable few weeks. Otherwise known as Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis, hay fever is an inflammatory response by the body’s immune system to the pollen created by plants and flowers. Symptoms are typically worse from March, when the trees bloom, until the summer months. Many sufferers also find the glorious golden fields full of rapeseed oil are a notable trigger.

If we think of our immune system as our own personal defence army, hay fever occurs when our ‘soldiers’ think the pollen is harmful and so they attack, in turn creating symptoms which can include sneezing, itchy, red or watery eyes, an itchy throat or roof of the mouth, a dry tickly cough, earache, congestion, headache and fatigue. For some people, these symptoms are nothing more than a minor inconvenience; however, for many others, they can be extremely debilitating. Luckily, there are numerous products you can try in order to reduce the severity of symptoms. Usually it’s about finding the right combination of self-help, exposure management and supplements or remedies to create a bespoke plan.

Lifestyle changes

One of my top tips is to hang your washing indoors to dry as cotton, in particular, traps pollen. Drying bedding this way is especially important. I’d also suggest wearing wraparound sunglasses, which protect your eyes, as well as applying a balm such as Haymax to your nostrils. This will cause the pollen to stick to the balm rather than be inhaled to irritate the nasal membranes. Finally, shower and change your clothes when you go inside, and try to minimise your outdoor exposure on days with a high pollen count.

Natural remedies

One of our favourite in-store solutions for hay fever is Pollinosan from A.Vogel. This blend of seven tropical herbs can be used to help treat allergies to tree or grass pollen, dust, animals and pets. It is non-drowsy and can be taken in tablet form or as a nasal spray to provide fast-acting relief. It’s also worth considering taking Quercetin, a nutrient found in onions, citrus fruits, leafy greens, red grapes and berries. It may act as a natural antihistamine by stimulating the immune system and restricting the production of histamine in the body.


New research appears almost daily regarding the role these microorganisms play in keeping us healthy. We know that 70 per cent of our immune cells are located in our intestinal tract, so it’s logical to assume that keeping the gut healthy will help to reduce allergy symptoms.


This extract of pine bark was the subject of several studies 10 years ago, which indicated that it was particularly beneficial if taken at least four weeks prior to the onset of hay fever symptoms. In one randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled study, the requirement for regular antihistamine medication was reduced from 50 per cent in the control group to just 12.5 per cent in the group given Pycnogenol.


Many homeopathic remedies can provide relief from niggling symptoms. It’s always best to chat to a registered homeopath to make sure you get the right remedy, but some common self-help remedies include Allium Cepa for sneezing with burning, sensitive and watering eyes, Euphrasia for itchy, sore eyes, Sabadilla for sneezing with a runny, watery discharge from the nose and Wyethia for an itchy throat and roof of the mouth.

When the sun shines and the outdoors beckons, it’s hard to be a hay fever sufferer. However, by making some simple lifestyle tweaks and taking the right natural remedies, symptoms can be dramatically reduced, ensuring you get to make the most of the good weather.

The Natural Food Store

The Natural Food Store is a family-run business that is now in its 43rd year. It has an extensive range of superfoods, natural remedies, supplements, herbal teas and organic skincare.

Angela joined the team in 1999 and quickly discovered a passion for helping others through natural remedies.

Her two children – Sam and Ellie – are now regular visitors to the shop and love getting involved.

To contact the store, call 01603 613228 or visit You can also follow the store on social media
naturalfoodstore on Facebook,
@naturalnorwich on Instagram and
@naturalnorwich on Twitter.

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