What is Hay Fever?

Also known as ‘seasonal allergic rhinitis’.

Hay Fever is typically caused by an allergic reaction to contaminants in the air, such as grass, tree and weed pollen. Sufferers are often affected during the spring and summer months. It is due to an inflammation in the nasal passage, often when the aforementioned allergens are inhaled.

The small hairs and mucous in the nose act as a filter when we breathe, trapping dust, pollen and other microscopic particles. Hay fever arises when the immune system marks these ordinary substances as dangerous, and launches an immune response. The antibody IgE is produced, and binds itself to mast cells and basophils containing histamine.

Conventional treatments are aimed at reducing the effects of inflammation. Medications often prescribed include corticosteroids, antihistamines and nasal decongestants.

Signs and Symptoms.

  • Sneezing
  • Itchy eyes, nose, ear and throat
  • Blocked and/or runny nose
  • Headache
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Tiredness

Chinese Medicine.

In Chinese Medicine theory, the individuals Wei Qi is responsible for protecting and defending the body from external pathogens. It is comparable to the immune system. When the Wei Qi is weak, the body is susceptible to attack. A common external pathogen often found during spring and early summer is Wind. When Wind invades a person who has weakened Wei Qi, then the signs and symptoms of hay fever may arise.

Acupuncture and herbal medicine can be used to reduce the severity of the symptoms associated with hay fever. It is useful in treating the cause, by improving the immune system to prevent re-occurrence. Additionally, lifestyle and diet changes can be beneficial and will enhance the therapeutic effects of acupuncture and herbal medicine. 

Acupuncture and moxibustion treatment is recommended in the weeks leading up to hay fever season, to boost the immune function and ensure the Wei Qi is strong and up to the task or defending the body. Herbal medicine is safe to use with over the counter hay fever tablets and pills, or can also be used as a natural alternative.


If you are susceptible to hay fever, it is recommended to stay indoors on days where the pollen count is high, especially in the early morning, late afternoon and after a thunderstorm, when the pollen count is at it’s highest.

Avoid drying clothes and bed linen outdoors on high pollen count days, as allergens may become trapped.

If you need to go outside, avoid areas where fresh grass has been mowed, wear wrap around sunglasses, and avoid grassy parks and gardens. Wear a face mask covering the nose and mouth if necessary.

In your garden, try to have plants that are pollinated by birds and other insects, as opposed to ones that release their seeds into the air.