50% of the world’s population will suffer from one or more allergies by 2050, according to the World Health Organization. Mites, tree and grass pollens: here are the 3 most common respiratory allergies in France. When the body builds up its defenses against seemingly harmless elements, it is allergy. And those who are allergic to pollen know it: spring is a critical season. “Between February and May is the pollination season for trees – birch, cypress and other hazelnut trees, develops Dr. Sophie Silcret-Grieu, allergist. Tree pollens are found in suspension in the air, which causes ENT, skin and eye manifestations in people with allergies, including the famous hay fever“. Is this inevitable? Not necessarily: here is a natural“ first aid kit ”in which to draw to get through spring more serenely …
Against weeping eyes: the soothing hydrosol
Hydrosols have been used since the Middle Ages to soothe irritated eyes: cornflower was then reserved for blue eyes and chamomile for brown eyes. Today, we know the anti-inflammatory properties of blueberry and chamomile water to be identical – it’s up to everyone to make their choice, without contraindications …
In practice : In a Dutch oven, put a liter of water, 2 handfuls of flowers (cornflower or chamomile), and a container high enough to collect the water vapor which will give the floral water. Close the pot with the lid turned upside down or a deep plate. Then place a block of ice cream on it. Heat over low heat for 20 minutes. Floral water can be kept cool for 3 months.
How to use it ? At the first symptoms, soak a sterile compress with cornflower water and place it on the eyes for 5-10 minutes. Tip: the effect is even faster if the compress has been left in the freezer for a few minutes.
Itchy eyes: a calming balm
Do not be fooled by its color (greenish) and its scent (earthy): inophyle calophyllum vegetable oil is a champion of softness, perfectly suited to the sensitive skin around the eyes and eyelids … at the same time circulatory, healing and anti-inflammatory, it soothes allergic itching of the eyes while preserving the flexibility and hydration of the area. The takamaka, the tree from which it is extracted, is also considered sacred in the Seychelles …
In practice : Melt over low heat 1 teaspoon of organic shea butter in a small saucepan and add 1 teaspoon of calophyllum vegetable oil (Calophyllum inophyllum L.). Pour into a carefully cleaned jar and let set in the refrigerator. Store for 3 months in a cool and dark place.
How to use it ? From the first itching on the eyes, heat a dab of balm between your fingers and apply generously to the eye area and eyelids. For pregnant and breastfeeding women, medical advice is required.
The itchy nose: homemade Quinton water
Used in nasal washing, it decongests, heals and de-inflames the mucous membranes.
In practice : boil then cool 1 L of water then add 3 tbsp. to c. of organic sea salt. Fill an ENT bulb and wash your nose up to 3 times a day, putting your head back. You can keep it for a maximum of 6 days in the refrigerator.
The runny nose: the antiseptic spray
In a carefully cleaned bottle, mix the juice of an untreated organic lemon in equal parts with filtered water. As soon as the nose starts to run, cover one nostril with one finger and spray a squirt of lemon juice into the other nostril while inhaling – then switch sides.
Why does it work? Lemon juice causes local vasoconstriction (which makes it easier to breathe through the nose) and cleanses the nasal mucous membranes (which immediately stops the flow): to be done several times a day from the age of 10 years.
Itching: the soothing herbal tea
Wild pansy (easy to grow in a garden or in a pot, on a balcony) is both anti-inflammatory and soothing. Wild pansy herbal tea, prescribed since the Middle Ages, almost instantly calms the skin manifestations of allergy – itching, hives, redness …
In practice : For prevention or as soon as the first skin symptoms of allergy appear, take a wild thought cure (Viola Tricolor) by pouring 200 mL of hot (but not boiling) water over 1 Tbsp. to c. of dried flowers: let infuse 10 min, filter and drink 3 cups a day.
Good to know. In France, wild pansy is harvested between March and September: the flowers must be left to dry in a dry and dark place for 5 days to retain all their benefits.
Rashes: the soothing lotion
Easily recognizable with its dark blue color, the essential oil of matricaria chamomile (Matricaria recutita (L.) Rauschert – not to be confused with the essential oil of Roman chamomile!) Is highly concentrated in alpha-bisabolol and chamazulene, both molecules that slow down allergic reactions – especially small pimples and red patches. Very gentle, the essential oil of chamomile matricaria is suitable from the age of 1 year by the cutaneous route; in pregnant women, prior medical advice is essential.
In practice : Mix 10 ml of essential oil of chamomile matricaria in 100 ml of neutral body milk – to buy in pharmacy or drugstore.
How to use it ? From the first skin signs of allergy, gently massage the area with the chamomile mixture and cover with sterile gauze, ideally very cool. Repeat as often as needed.
Naturopathy: the anti-allergy recipe
Naturopathy recommends a cocktail of “dam” vitamins and minerals: zinc decreases the production of histamine (the molecule responsible for allergic reactions), omega-3s reduce inflammation, vitamin C calms the runaway immune system and magnesium alleviates stress – the trigger for allergic attacks.
Mix half an avocado (omega-3 and zinc), 1 banana (magnesium), 1 handful of spinach leaves (vitamin C), 2 teaspoon of chia seeds (omega-3 and magnesium) and 250 ml of almond milk: for breakfast, this green smoothie – in which you can add a handful of mint leaves for taste – replaces orange juice and provides all the necessary nutrients for a hassle-free day …
Allergic rhinitis: the SOS potion with essential oils
In an empty bottle, mix:
- 30 g of essential oil of annual tansy (Tanacetum annuum L.), anti-allergic. The chamazulene it contains blocks the action of histamine, the substance which is responsible for rhinitis, conjunctivitis and allergic itching.
- 10 g of calming essential oil of fine lavender (Lavandula officinalis L.).
- 15 g of Lemon Eucalyptus essential oil (Eucalyptus citriodora Hook) anti-inflammatory.
- 8 ml vegetable oil
From the first allergic manifestations, apply 5 drops of this synergy on each forearm: repeat 3 times a day if necessary. Forbidden to pregnant and breastfeeding women and children before the age of 6.
Allergies: the option of targeted spa treatments
“Sulfur waters have a recognized anti-inflammatory effect on the mucous membranes of the nose, throat and bronchi”Explains Dr. Hubert Bigot, ENT doctor at the Thermes de Saint-Gervais (74).
Nasal or pharyngeal shower, gargles, inhalations of steam … The thermal water heals and gradually reduces the inflammation of the upper airways which considerably reduces the respiratory symptoms of allergy: “on average, wellness lasts a year, with excellent results in asthma”. Good news: on medical prescription, the 18-day spa treatment can be covered by the Health Insurance.
The allergist’s opinion: “Let your children play outside! ”
Dr. Sophie Silcret-Grieu, allergist doctor in Paris. She answered our questions.
Are allergies really more common today? For 40 years, we have witnessed an explosion of cases, both in the field of respiratory allergies (pollens …) as in that of food allergies (gluten …) or contact (animal hair …) . It is observed that allergies more and more affect seniors with symptoms that are becoming more severe, and in particular a significant increase in cases of allergic asthma.
What is the cause of this progression of allergies? Among the (many) culprits, we can notably cite global warming which leads to an earlier and more extended pollen season, and the progression of extreme hygiene: children are less exposed to microbes, which disrupts their immune system and promotes allergic reactions. Conclusion: let your children play in the mud, in the dust and in nature!
What’s new on the side of anti-allergy treatments? The new antihistamine drugs (Inorial®, Bilaska®) no longer cause drowsiness: they now exist in the form of nasal drops. For allergies to mites and grass pollens, desensitization (once tedious) is now available in the form of tablets to melt under the tongue: we take only 1 tablet per day with a success rate of over 80% after 3 years.
To go further, read: The guide to star food supplements, Dr. Marc Perez and Alix Lefief-Delcourt (ed. Eyrolles); Daily emergency care, Anne Portier (ed. Solar) and 55 medicinal plants in my garden, Virginie Peytavi (ed. Terre Vivante).
thanks to Damien Pauquet, Capucine Trevisani and Dr. Sophie Silcret-Grieu.
Grass pollen allergy: what are the different treatments?
Allergies: how to reduce symptoms with essential oils?
Allergic rhinitis: 7 tips against hay fever