Ginger Tea May Relieve Hay Fever During Pollen Season
Ginger, also known by its Latin name Zingiber officinale, has a long history of use as medicinal herb. It is perhaps best known for its use as a treatment for stomach problems, but it may also help alleviate a whole host of other health problems. An intriguing study published in April 2015 suggests that ginger might be good for hay fever sufferers during the pollen season as well as for people who suffer from perennial allergic rhinitis. To learn more about the potential of ginger to relieve hay fever symptoms such as sinusitis, sneezing and nasal itching, keep reading.
How Pollen and Other Allergens Cause Allergic Rhinitis
Before we delve into the study that found that ginger might help relieve hay fever symptoms, it is important to understand what hay fever, pollinosis (pollen allergy) and allergic rhinitis are and what triggers them, so here's a quick primer: Hay fever is an allergic inflammation of the nasal airways caused by grass or tree pollens. When caused by other pollens, it can also be called pollinosis, and when caused by other airborne allergens such as dust or animal dander, it is typically referred to as perennial allergic rhinitis. Hay fever, pollinosis and perennial allergic rhinitis occur when an allergen, whether it is pollen, dust or animal dander, is inhaled by an individual with a sensitized immune system. In such individuals, the allergen triggers the production of Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. These antibodies travel to cells that release histamine, a chemical that causes the typical symptoms associated with hay fever (i.e. sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, etc).
Ginger is Good for Hay Fever Patients, Study Suggests
Due to the role IgE plays in allergic reactions, including hay fever, tests that measure the blood levels of IgE are commonly used to diagnose the presence and severity of hay fever and related conditions. In an intriguing study published in Allergic Diseases – New Insights (InTechOpen, April 2015), a group of researchers from Tikrit University College of Medicine, Iraq, studied the effects of ginger capsules on the IgE levels in hay fever and perennial allergic rhinitis patients, with promising results: those who received the ginger capsules had a significant reduction in their IgE levels after just one month of treatment, compared with the control group who received a placebo. After two months, the difference in IgE levels between the two groups was even more drastic.
But the reduced IgE levels are not the only reason why this study implies ginger might be good for hay fever patients and people with other types of allergic rhinitis: after two months of treatment with ginger, the researchers also observed significant improvements in nasal symptoms such as sinusitis, sneezing and nasal itching. Sneezing, for example, decreased in 62% of the patients treated with ginger, but only in 24% of the patients who received the placebo. Sinusitis, which refers to inflammation of the cavities around the nasal passages, improved in 83% of the patients in the ginger group, compared with 22% in the control group. Also nasal itching improved significantly in the ginger group, with 79% of the patients experiencing an improvement (compared with 32% in the control group).
How to Use Ginger as a Hay Fever Remedy
Clearly, more research is still needed before we can make definite conclusions about the potential of ginger to treat hay fever and perennial allergic rhinitis. However, if you suffer from hay fever and there is no specific reason why you should avoid ginger (e.g. pregnancy, allergy), why not give ginger a try? There are tons of ginger recipes to help you incorporate this spicy root into your diet, but the easiest way to add it to your diet is probably to consume it in the form of ginger tea. Pre-packaged dry ginger tea is widely available in stores across North America and the UK, but you can also buy it online (you can buy certified organic ginger tea here). Of course, you can also use fresh ginger and make a cup of ginger tea by simply pouring some hot water over sliced or grated ginger root.