Hayfever? Simple, effective and natural help

If you have hayfever you probably know all about the symptoms:- runny nose, itchy eyes and sneezing. You probably also know that it is caused by an allergic reaction to pollen. Up to 1 in 5 of us will suffer from hayfever at some time. Other microscopic particles like house dust or dander from animals can cause a similar allergic reaction to hayfever.

The histamine connection

When you get a whiff of pollen up your nose or into the eyes your body reacts if you have an allergy to that particle and produces anti-bodies which in turn produce histamine which cause the typical inflammation, redness, swelling and irritation. It is the histamine that causes the sypmtoms of hayfever. If you can reduce histamine you can reduce hayfever.

Treatment for hayfever

Although the medical treatment for hayfever is anti-histamines there are things you can do without taking drugs which may have side effects like drowsiness. For instance HayMax is an effective organic, natural and simple to use pollen barrier balm that is applied to the base of the nose to reduce pollen entering the body.

Omega 3 oils found in oily fish and supplements such as Pure Bio’s EPA/DHA reduce inflammation and may help. Vitamin E (800 iu a day) has been shown to help reduce hayfever symptoms.

You can lower the overall levels of histamine in your body by reducing the histamine containing foods in your diet.

What is Histamine?

Histamine is made by the human body and by bacterial degradation from the amino acid histadine.  Therefore many ripened foods like cheese, wine, beer, sauerkraut and smoked meats may have very high amounts of histamine and the amount of histamine can be an indicator of the quality of the production process.

Very large amounts of histamine may be a sign of decay.  For example, fresh or immediately frozen fish hardly contains any histamine.  On the other hand, older or stale fish, which has been bacterially contaminated or just stored too long may contain extremely high amounts of histamine.  Fresh cheese or cottage cheese, which has only ripened for a few days also has remarkably less histamine than older types of cheese.

Also, slightly contaminated yeast cultures (like those being used in the production of beer and wine) favour the production of histamine. All this explains the huge variances in the histamine content of various foods.

In our body, any excess of histamine – from the body’s own production or by an increased content of histamine in foods – is normally rapidly metabolized by the enzyme diaminoxidase (DAO).  When this enzyme is deficient, a great variety of intolerance reactions may occur, depending upon the amount of histamine present.

If you are very sensitive you may experience symptoms from extremely small amounts of histamine.  In addition, alcohol and certain drugs may block DAO and thereby worsen the symptoms. Histamine is resistant to cold and heat and therefore cannot be destroyed by cooking (including microwave), baking, grilling or deep freezing. If you think you are sensitive to histamine you should consider reducing high histamine foods eg:-

  • Sausages and ham: all smoked animal products are high in histamine and should be avoided.
  • Fish: Deep frozen fish is usually well tolerated; tinned fish or fish which has only been cooled (not frozen) may be a problem.  Seafood may contain extremely high amounts of histamine depending upon how fresh they are.
  • Cheese: Fresh cheeses like cottage cheese, quark etc should be well tolerated.  Also small amounts of soft cheese should not cause problems.
  • Alcohol: May cause problems for most histamine sensitive people as most types not only contain large amounts of histamine but because alcohol also blocks the DAO.
  • Chocolate: Contains substances similar to histamine which may also trigger headaches and migraines and should therefore be avoided or greatly reduced.
  • Sparkling wine has the highest contents of histamine, beer the lowest and is therefore usually tolerated in small amounts by most histamine sensitive patients.

Industrially produced wines like those from Australia, USA and South Africa are often showing lower histamine levels than traditionally produced or home-made types of wine. The histamine content of various wines and sparkling wines differs so greatly however, that we recommend to avoid these types of alcohol as much as possible or stick to those types which have been well tolerated before.  The histamine content is also dependent upon vintage and vineyard.

Back pain and dog walking. Tips for prevention

Could this cute dog cause back pain?
Can cute puppies cause back ache? Having recently purchased a puppy for the first time I know the answer  is yes. I  have suddenly become aware of the aches and pains which can come from owning a boisturous (or lazy and stubborn in the case of my puppy) bundle of fluff, and not just with regards to chewed table legs and slippers.
In fact on asking other owners at my puppy training class this weekend the incidence of lower back and neck pain from such dedication was remarkable.
And it is not just the small dogs and puppies which cause problems by being so small they almost require one to be a contortionist. Large dogs cause their own issues such as pulling like a train on the lead or darting off to chase a neighbourhood cat. So here are a few hints and tips to allow you and your four legged friends to keep training, exercising and playing together.

Walking your dog and avoiding back ache

Walking is not only great natural exercise it is also safer for your body. Walking does not entail the jarring forces that jogging does and in addition also strengthens the supportive muscles of the lower back and pelvis. Plus it can often burn as many calories if you put in enough of a pace to feel slightly out of breath. And the more effort that you put into the walk the more energy that you will drain from your dog, which will help to reduce naughty behaviour when you get home.

Bend your knees

Muki and I

When you have to bend down to greet your puppy or smaller dog always bend your knees. It may seem obvious but so many of us just bend our backs and as a result take all the strain through those muscles and joints. Add to that the awkward positions that we can get in trying to coax our puppy in training classes to follow our lead and you can imagine how tired those muscles get. And to then get into our car and drive home again can often spell an aching evening and set up for a bigger problem later on.

Regular breaks

Small dogs and puppies get tired quickly so it is a great excuse to take regular breaks during the walks or play sessions and catch your own breath. And for the bigger dogs you can incorporate ten minutes of doing command training to keep their mind focused on you.

Avoid lifting them up

This is not only to save your own back but also benefits the dog psychologically. As Martha Scott quotes; “Don’t make the mistake of treating your dogs like humans, or they’ll treat you like dogs.” Dogs like to explore places themselves and carrying them too frequently can jeopardise their sense of identity. No matter how small, a squirming puppy or small dog can easily cause back or even shoulder strain.

Sensible footwear

I am not recommending that you go out and buy a pair of ‘Hunter’ wellies or even a pair of the latest ‘Fit Flops’ but it is important to understand that your choice of footwear can not only provide comfort and cushioning they may also protect against injuries such as twisted ankles and blisters, an all too common feature of a nice outing in the local countryside. A good walking shoe with Superfeet footbeds is a great starting point.

Warm up

It may sound theatrical but if you are taking your dog to a training or agility class you would be advised to warm up first, especially if it is outdoors. There is often a lot of standing around and your muscles can get cold and tight. It is therefore important to do some simple standing stretches when you get down there and try not to keep too still when you are waiting for your turn each time.

Vary routines

Although you should try and always keep your dog on the same side for walking and obedience, there is nothing to stop you changing directions, walking backwards and generally doing things to keep the dog focused and your muscles evenly worked. If out on your usual route try to vary it at least in terms of the direction. Pounding the same road in the same direction can be boring for both of you but that road camber can risk ankle and knee muscle imbalances.

Go off road

Like many runners are advised, vary the terrain that you go on. Although not all public places are dog-friendly you are usually safe with them on a lead and showing good behaviour. So take them on the beach and walk on that shingle, explore the forests and Downs and all the differing terrain underfoot there, and of course get on that grass as much as possible. All of this variation will help to strengthen your ankles and be a welcome break for your lower body from the unforgiving tarmac.

Start horsing around

If you have a big or unruly dog then you may need to treat them like a horse. The first thing is to try a new collar and perhaps opt for a halter type around the body or in particular a headcollar type which uses the head as a whole to turn them rather than the bulk of the shoulders and neck.
As with a horse, use your body to turn them. Avoid letting them get ahead of you so that when you turn them at their shoulders they have less to resist you with.
I hope these tips to prevent back aches with dog care help you as they have helped me. If the niggles just won’t go away however, feel free to pop in for a free check to resolve any underlying problems.

Amanda Goring