Why has gin been in the news?
Gin seems to be ever-growing in popularity, with independent, craft gin appearing in supermarkets, and gin bars popping up on what seems like every corner.
The latest gin craze claims that drinking gin can soothe your hayfever symptoms, with some even touting it as a ‘cure’ for hayfever. We’ve seen headlines such as ‘Drinking gin and tonic could sooth hayfever symptoms, study finds’, ‘Drinking gin can help cure hayfever’ and ‘Gin and tonic could be a saviour for hay fever sufferers’.
But are these all really true?
Sorry, gin won’t cure your hayfever or soothe your symptoms!
Sorry everyone, this claim just isn’t true!
We know that alcohol generally contains histamine and sulphites, which can both irritate your hayfever symptoms as well as other allergies and asthma. The Asthma UK article that these articles are feeding off reveals that gin and other clear spirits like vodka contain no sulphites and less histamine than other alcoholic drinks such as wine and beer.
In other words, all these articles are really saying is that if you’re going to drink alcohol during hayfever season, gin is your best bet as it will cause the least irritation to your hayfever symptoms – but there is no evidence at all to suggest it can soothe or cure your hayfever!
In fact, the leading culprit, this article from the Independent, even admits that “while sipping on a G&T won't cure your symptoms altogether, it is your best option.” Another article with the headline ‘Drinking gin can help cure hayfever’, later admits ‘there aren't any curing effects with gin’.
So it seems like these article know that they are twisting the truth just a little bit!
The foods that can ease hayfever symptoms
If you’re looking for foods and drinks that can actually help to soothe hayfever symptoms, then you’re in luck, as there are several – just not gin unfortunately!
Rather than simply being low in histamine, some foods are actually rich in antihistamines, which help to block or disrupt histamine receptors – this is why many people take antihistamine tablets for hayfever. Foods that are rich in flavonoids such as quercetin, vitamin C or beta-carotene can help to block histamine and reduce inflammation.
Our top anti-histamine foods include:
Garlic – this is a rich source of quercitin and helps to support the immune system
Ginger – this is a popular choice for reducing hayfever symptoms, whether as a tea or added to foods and smoothies
Onions – these are another good source of quercetin and vitamin C
Blueberries – this superfood is packed full of vitamin C and quercetin
Nettle – you can buy this as a powder to add to smoothies or you could try nettle tea
A smoothie is a great way to get more of these natural anti-histamine foods into your diet. Try our delicious hayfever-blasting smoothie, containing blueberries, strawberries, honey and ginger.
The benefit of honey
While honey isn’t an antihistamine, it can be a useful inclusion to your diet, especially in the months leading up to hayfever season. Local honey is best, as is will contain trace amounts of the most common pollen types in your area, meaning that if you eat a little a day it will slowly get your body used to this pollen, so when hayfever season comes around your reaction is less severe.
Foods that make hayfever worse
On the flip side of this, there are also lots of food that are rich in histamines and other chemicals that can irritate hayfever symptoms.
We’d definitely recommend avoiding alcohol – except for gin it seems!
Fermented foods or aged foods, such as sauerkraut, cured meat, yogurt or mature cheese are often rich in histamine. Chocolate is rich in histamine too, so this may be best avoided as well!
Dairy products are also a big no-no as they can stimulate the production of mucus, making congestion worse.
Try to avoid refined sugar where you can, as this will trigger an adrenaline rush which can cause your body to produce more histamine. Refined sugar is also not good for the immune system generally, and a weaker immune system is more likely to be sensitive to allergens. In fact, there is some argument that sugar is at the root of the increasing incidences of hayfever, according to this passage from Nutritional Medicine, by Stephen Davies and Alan Stewart:
“Descriptions of hay fever in the medical literature were very rare until some 150 years ago, and later nineteenth-century descriptions refer to hay fever being more common among the educated classes...The consumption of sucrose in the United Kingdom rose dramatically in the middle of the nineteenth century. Prior to this, consumption was only a few pounds a year and this was mainly by the more affluent classes. The association between increasing sugar consumption and the corresponding increase in hay fever is an interesting one.”1
For more on the foods to eat and avoid for hayfever, read our article on hayfever and diet.
Natural hayfever remedies that work
If you're looking for a natural solution for hayfever then why not explore our range of hayfever products?
Firstly, I would recommend our fantastic Pollinosan Hayfever Tablets. These non-drowsy tablets contain a complex of herbs including Luffa to fight hayfever.
Alternatively, our gentle nasal spray also contains Luffa, so it can help to loosen congestion and clear pollen from the nasal passages without harming the delicate tissues of the nose.
Finally, if itchy or irritated eyes are your biggest problem, then our eye drops would be perfect for you. They help to wash pollen out of the eyes, while also soothing and hydrating them. The dropper is specially designed so that the drops stay sterile, meaning there is no need for artificial preservatives. The drops can even be used while wearing contact lenses!
1) Dr Stephen Davies and Dr Alan Stewart, Nutritional Medicine, (London:Pan Books Ltd, 1987), p.190