Chamomile Tea as a Natural Hay Fever Remedy
A large body of anecdotal evidence suggests that drinking German chamomile tea regularly can help soothe symptoms associated with certain types of hay fever. German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) is also recommended as a natural hay fever remedy by The Green Pharmacy Guide to Healing Foods, an over 400-page tome on food remedies written by former USDA researcher and best-selling author James A. Duke. But how does chamomile work is purported anti-allergenic magic? Keep reading to find out.
Understanding Hay Fever
Before we explore the potential hay fever relieving effects of German chamomile tea, let's take a look at what hay fever is and what causes the typical symptoms associated with this allergic condition: Hay fever, also known as seasonal allergic rhinitis, is an allergic inflammation of the nasal airways caused by grass or tree pollens. When the cause of the allergic inflammation is dust or animal dander rather than pollen, the condition is called perennial allergic rhinitis. Hay fever and perennial allergic rhinitis occur when the airborne allergen – whether it is pollen, dust or something else – is inhaled by an individual with a sensitized immune system. In such individuals, the allergen causes the immune system to produce Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. These antibodies travel to mast cells which release histamine, a chemical that causes the typical symptoms associated with hay fever (i.e. runny or blocked nose, itchy eyes, frequent sneezing, etc).
How Chamomile Might Help Relieve Hay Fever and AllergiesDespite the large body of anecdotal (or testimonial) evidence that suggests chamomile tea is good for hay fever sufferers, only a few scientific studies have touched upon the topic. One such study can be found in the September 2011 issue of the Journal of Ethnopharmacology. Carried out by a group of Indian scientists, this study found that German chamomile extract had potent anti-allergenic effects and that these effects were linked to the ability of the extract to inhibit the release of histamine from mast cells (as explained above, histamine release is what causes the typical hay fever symptoms). The anti-allergenic effect was dose-dependent, meaning that the higher the amount of chamomile extract used, the stronger the effect.
Word of Warning for Those Allergic to Ragweed Pollen
While anecdotal evidence and the Indian study described above suggest that chamomile may be good for hay fever sufferers in general, those who develop symptoms when exposed to ragweed pollen might have to be careful with chamomile tea. Chamomile has proteins that are similar to proteins found in ragweed, and therefore, chamomile tea may cause oral allergy syndrome (OAS) in some individuals allergic to ragweed pollen (a phenomenon known as ragweed-food cross-reactivity). The oral allergy symptoms associated with ragweed-chamomile cross-reactivity may include itching or swelling of the tongue, lips or roof of the mouth.
Where to Buy German Chamomile Tea
Ready to find out if chamomile tea can help relieve your hay fever symptoms? German chamomile tea is available in many grocery and health food stores, but you can also buy it online and have it shipped directly to your home. If you like the online retailer Amazon, you can order organic German chamomile tea here ( if you live in the US) or here ( if you live in the UK). By buying chamomile tea through the above links you can also help keep this website up and running as Amazon will give HealWithFood.org a small commission for any purchases made through these links.