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3 ingredients to try for hay fever symptoms

Tuesday March 14, 2023
3 ingredients to try for hay fever symptoms

Photo caption: Polyphenols in traditional wild apples have been shown in research to reduce sneezing attacks and nasal discharge in people with persistent allergic rhinitis.

Coming up to the spring and summer months, hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis , is often at the forefront of the minds of those who suffer with this seasonal allergy. Those with severe hay fever symptoms often find it can impact their day-to-day life, productivity, studies and even outdoor activities. However, help is at hand as we explore three natural ingredients: apple polyphenols, black seed and quercetin to keep hay fever symptoms at bay.



Hay fever is an allergy to pollen, but it can also be triggered by other allergens such as dust mites, or the saliva and skin particles shed by animals. Allergic rhinitis triggers a systemic increase of inflammation upon exposure to pollen particles. Within minutes of allergen exposure, immune cells release histamine into the nasal mucosa.


Oxidative stress occurs because of inflammation, and this can trigger reactive oxygen species (highly reactive chemical molecules formed due to the electron acceptability of oxygen) such as nitric acid, that have been shown in previous research to appear in higher levels in allergic rhinitis sufferers. For this reason, effective treatment of allergic rhinitis should be directed at underlying inflammation and reducing oxidative stress.


Here, we have a look at three specific natural ingredients to try and help curb those hay fever symptoms!

Apple Polyphenols – for hay fever and associated skin inflammation 

Composed of Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins (OPCs) and a small fraction of higher molecular weight catechins, apple polyphenols exert potent antioxidant effects. Apple polyphenols contain a high percentage of polyphenols (Polyphenols are bioactive compounds found in fruits and vegetables contributing to their colour, flavour, and pharmacological activities), which is thought to be why apple polyphenols could be useful for hay fever, since polyphenols have shown in research to inhibit histamine release1.

What has the research has shown?


Apple polyphenols have shown beneficial effects in those with allergic rhinitis. Apple Polyphenols have shown in previous research to reduce sneezing attacks and nasal discharge in people with persistent allergic rhinitis, in those administered a high dose (200mg) apple polyphenol showing better improvements in these symptoms compared to placebo2. Further research supports the use of apple polyphenol for allergic rhinitis. One study concluded that 500mg of apple polyphenols for a period of 12 weeks also reduced sneezing score compared to placebo in those specifically allergic to Cedar tree3


Does hay fever cause you to have dry, itchy red skin? Well, look no further because research has shown that supplementation with apple polyphenols can reduce symptoms such as skin inflammation, cracking itching associated with hay fever4


To summarise, apple polyphenols could be a great alternative to antihistamine medication, with an array of supporting clinical research, if you are looking for a natural way to keep those hay fever symptoms at bay!

Black Seed – an ancient remedy with anti-inflammatory properties

Black seed, also known as Nigella Sativa, has long been used since ancient times as a natural remedy for several diseases. The seed was originally cultivated in the Middle East, and this natural oil is loaded with bio-active ingredients. Black seed is well known for its potent anti-inflammatory properties, providing a broad spectrum of health benefits in humans. The anti-inflammatory properties of black seed are thought to be the reason for its potential use in allergic rhinitis.

What has the research shown?

Research has shown black seed to be beneficial for allergic rhinitis. One study concluded black seed significantly reduced symptoms such as sneezing, itching, and nasal congestion in 66 allergic rhinitis sufferers5. Further research showed the administration of black seed reduced severity of the symptoms in 152 allergy sufferers6. Continuing from this, a prospective double-blind study looked at the specific anti-inflammatory effects of black seed oil concluded that 30 days of taking 0.5ml there was a reduction in nasal congestion, runny and itchy nose, and sneezing in allergic rhinitis patients7. 


It is suggested that the anti-inflammatory properties of black seed are contributed to its active compound, Thymoquinone. In summary, black seed has been used for thousands of years as a natural remedy and its anti-inflammatory effect could help with associated symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Both the oil and seed from black seed have shown benefits in allergic rhinitis. Further, black seed is safe to consume without any side effects so a supplement of black seed could be just what you need as a natural therapeutic approach to allergic rhinitis.


Quercetin –  an ‘A’ star nutrient with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antihistamine properties

Quercetin is one of several bioflavonoids (special nutrients found with vitamin C in fruit and vegetables) with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antihistamine properties. Quercetin works by inhibiting the manufacture and release of histamine and other allergic inflammatory mediators by increasing uptake and re-uptake of histamine into its storage granules, making it a potent natural antihistamine8


What has the research shown?


In research, supplementation with quercetin showed a reduction in associated allergic rhinitis symptoms as well as a 46% allergic rhinitis exacerbation reduction in children receiving a daily supplement of 150mg quercetin9. Further to this, quercetin supplementation also increased the number of symptom-free days, which was significantly higher compared to placebo and reduced the need for the use of rescue medication (aka over the counter antihistamines). 


Nitric oxide is known to play a pivotal role as one of the final effector molecules in the development of allergic diseases, including allergic rhinitis. Quercetin has shown in research to inhibit nitric oxide production, given it clinical efficacy for its role in controlling allergic rhinitis symptoms10


Quercetin has a body of research behind it for its use in allergic rhinitis. It is also found in abundance in fruits that contain high levels of vitamin C. It can be recommended to begin supplements such as quercetin four to five weeks prior to high pollen exposure to build the body’s natural defences before high pollen season. 



To conclude, apple polyphenols, black seed, and quercetin all have an array of extensive research supporting their use in allergic rhinitis. When deciding on natural therapeutic approaches to aid in hay fever relief, these ingredients offer three different options for hay fever relief. Many of these natural alternatives are available in food supplements. For more information or to find your nearest one, visit

Author: The Nutrition Support Team at Viridian Nutrition

1.       Yahfoufi, N., Alsadi, N., Jambi, M., & Matar, C. (2018). The Immunomodulatory and Anti-Inflammatory Role of Polyphenols. Nutrients, 10(11), 1618.
2.       Enomoto T, Nagasako-Akazome Y, Kanda T, Ikeda M, Dake Y. Clinical effects of apple polyphenols on persistent allergic rhinitis: A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled parallel arm study. J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol. 2006;16(5):283-9. PMID: 17039666 .
3.       Kishi K, Saito M, Saito T, Kumemura M, Okamatsu H, Okita M, Takazawa K. Clinical efficacy of apple polyphenol for treating cedar pollinosis. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2005 Apr;69(4):829-32. doi: 10.1271/bbb.69.829. PMID: 15849424.  
4.       Kojima, T., Akiyama, H., Sasai, M., Taniuchi, S., Goda, Y., Toyoda, M. and Kobayashi, Y., 2000. Anti-allergic effect of apple polyphenol on patients with atopic dermatitis: a pilot study. Allergology International, 49(1), pp.69-73.  
5.       Nikakhlagh S, Rahim F, Aryani FH (2011) Herbal treatment of allergic rhinitis: the use of Nigella sativa. Am J Otolaryngol;32(5):402-7.
6.       Kalus U, Pruss A, Bystron J (2003) Effect of Nigella sativa (black seed) on subjective feeling in patients with allergic diseases. Phytother Res;17(10):1209-14.
7.       Nikakhlagh, Soheila Fakher Rahim, Faezeh Hossein Nejad Aryani Amir Syahpoush, Mehri Ghafouryan Brougerdnya, Nader Saki. 2011. Herbal treatment of allergic rhinitis: the use of Nigella sativa. American Journal of Otolaryngology , Volume 32 , Issue 5 , 402 – 407.
8.       Mlcek, J., Jurikova, T., Skrovankova, S., & Sochor, J. (2016). Quercetin and Its Anti-Allergic Immune Response. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 21(5), 623.
9.       Marseglia, G., Licari, A., Leonardi, S., Papale, M., Zicari, A. M., Schiavi, L., Ciprandi, G., & Italian Study Group on Pediatric Allergic Rhinoconjunctivitis (2019). A polycentric, randomized, parallel-group, study on Lertal®, a multicomponent nutraceutical, as preventive treatment in children with allergic rhinoconjunctivitis: phase II. Italian journal of pediatrics, 45(1), 84.
10.   Ebihara, N., Takahashi, K., Takemura, H., Akanuma, Y., Asano, K., & Sunagawa, M. (2018). Suppressive Effect of Quercetin on Nitric Oxide Production from Nasal Epithelial Cells In Vitro. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2018, 6097625.


The information contained in this article is not intended to treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a health practitioner. Please consult a qualified health practitioner if you have a pre-existing health condition or are currently taking medication. Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet.


TAGS: NewsAllergies, Hay fever, Allergy, Quercetin, Black Seed, Polyphenols


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