Managing hay fever symptoms the natural way

Managing hay fever symptoms the natural way

Can you feel it? There’s no doubt that spring is fast approaching; days are getting longer, temperatures are milder and the sun is beginning to regularly poke its way out through the clouds. It is a long-awaited shift in seasons for many of us, but if you’re one of the almost 50%[1] of people in the UK who struggle with hay fever symptoms, you might be feeling a little less enthusiastic.

Antihistamines are the standard medical intervention for hay fever management and while they are generally effective and widely available, they aren’t risk-free; common side effects include drowsiness, dry mouth, urinary issues, nausea and headaches[2] – you may not be struggling with hay fever symptoms any more but you may still be struggling! To prevent this, many are looking for more natural solutions to support their immune system through the warmer months. In this article, we’ll explore the use of quercetin and vitamin C, two natural compounds, as options to manage hay fever symptoms.

What causes hay fever symptoms?

When exposed to a trigger allergen (in the case of hay fever, usually pollen, dust mites or mould), the immune system responds by prompting the release of immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to help defend the body from the perceived attack. In turn, a chemical called histamine is released from the mast cells of the immune system. Histamine’s role is to clear the allergen from the body, and it does so by producing an inflammatory response – and it is this resulting inflammation that causes the symptoms associated with hay fever[3]. While limiting exposure to hay fever triggers during spring and summer may prove tricky, some alternative natural options may ease symptoms. To learn how climate change may be affecting hay fever sufferers, click here.  

Managing hay fever with quercetin

Quercetin is a phytonutrient; phytonutrients are natural compounds present in plants which give them their specific colours and tastes and exhibit positive effects on human health. Quercetin is found in a range of fruits, vegetables and grains but are found in particularly high levels in onions, green tea, apples, and berries. As well as reducing the risk of some cancers, heart disease and degenerative brain disorders[4], quercetin may also prove beneficial for managing hay fever symptoms.

Firstly, quercetin acts as a potent antioxidant in the body. As hay fever symptoms are primarily caused by inflammation, antioxidants may be a useful solution. In-vitro and animal studies have found that quercetin may block enzymes involved in inflammation and suppress inflammation-promoting chemicals, including histamine[5]. It has also been demonstrated that quercetin actually helps to stabilise the cell walls of the immune components that contain histamine, namely mast cells[6]. This stabilisation helps prevent the release of histamine, which in turn, prevents symptom development on exposure to allergens. 

While quercetin can be sourced through eating a healthy, balanced diet, the typical dosage used in studies ranges from 500-1000mg per day. Achieving even the lower end of the scale may be challenging through diet alone, and therefore supplementation may be a good option for those looking to benefit from its therapeutic effects in hay fever.

Vitamin C

Another proposed natural treatment for hay fever comes in the form of vitamin C. Present in almost all fruits and vegetables, vitamin C has been well-researched for its positive effects in supporting the immune system[7] (to learn more about vitamin C’s health benefits, from mood regulation to treatment of viral infections, click here, and it is exactly this functionality which makes it a great candidate for promoting relief of hay fever symptoms.

Like quercetin, vitamin C has been shown to stabilise mast cells which may reduce histamine production. Furthermore, vitamin C is an enzyme cofactor for diamine oxidase (DAO) which is responsible for the breakdown of histamine[8], therefore, having a two-fold positive effect on the overall levels of histamine in the body. In a recent review, it was concluded that vitamin C exhibits antioxidant, immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory mechanisms in several different respiratory diseases, specifically acting as a tracheal relaxant[9] – a part of the body commonly impacted by hay fever. Finally, high-dose intravenous vitamin C has been shown to significantly reduce allergy-related symptoms[10]. While good quality studies looking specifically at hay fever treatment with vitamin C oral supplementation are currently lacking, including sources of vitamin C in the diet would be recommended for its potent immunomodulatory effects, which may also translate to a reduction in hay fever symptoms.

The best of both worlds

As a standalone supplement, quercetin’s bioavailability is low, so it is recommended that it is consumed with a source of vitamin C, or bromelain, to aid absorption[11]. Our quercetin capsules provide 300mg of high-potency quercetin and 75mg of vitamin C to aid absorption and prevent early oxidation. But there’s another reason to combine quercetin and vitamin C – recent research demonstrates a synergistic effect when used together, due to overlapping antiviral and immunomodulatory properties[12]. Finally, vitamin C also has the ability to recycle quercetin, further increasing its efficacy.


[1] Allergy UK (2023) Statistics and figures: Allergy UK: National Charity, Allergy UK | National Charity. Available at: (Accessed: 21 February 2024).

[2] NHS (2023) Antihistamines, NHS choices. Available at: (Accessed: 21 February 2024).

[3] Bjermer, L. et al. (2019) “The complex pathophysiology of allergic rhinitis: Scientific rationale for the development of an alternative treatment option,” Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology, 15(1). Available at:

[4] Lakhanpal, P. and Rai, D.K. (2007) “Quercetin: A versatile flavonoid,” Internet Journal of Medical Update – EJOURNAL, 2(2). Available at:

[5] Chirumbolo, S. (2010) “The role of quercetin, flavonols and flavones in modulating inflammatory cell function,” Inflammation & Allergy – Drug Targets, 9(4), pp. 263–285. Available at:

[6] Parasuraman, S., Anand David, A. and Arulmoli, R. (2016) ‘Overviews of biological importance of quercetin: A bioactive flavonoid’, Pharmacognosy Reviews, 10(20), p. 84. doi:10.4103/0973-7847.194044.

[7] Moore, A. and Khanna, D. (2023) ‘The role of Vitamin C in human immunity and its treatment potential against COVID-19: A review article’, Cureus [Preprint]. doi:10.7759/cureus.33740.

[8] Jarisch, R. et al. (2011) ‘Influence of orally taken vitamin C on histamine levels and motion sickness’, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 127(2). doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2010.12.1040.

[9] Ghalibaf, M.H. et al. (2023) ‘The effects of vitamin C on respiratory, allergic and immunological diseases: An experimental and clinical-based review’, Inflammopharmacology, 31(2), pp. 653–672. doi:10.1007/s10787-023-01169-1.

[10] Vollbracht, C. et al. (2018) ‘Intravenous vitamin C in the treatment of allergies: An interim subgroup analysis of a long-term observational study’, Journal of International Medical Research, 46(9), pp. 3640–3655. doi:10.1177/0300060518777044.

[11] Terao, J. (2017) “Factors modulating bioavailability of quercetin-related flavonoids and the consequences of their vascular function,” Biochemical Pharmacology, 139, pp. 15–23. Available at:

[12] Colunga Biancatelli, R.M. et al. (2020) ‘Quercetin and vitamin C: An experimental, synergistic therapy for the prevention and treatment of SARS-COV-2 related disease (covid-19)’, Frontiers in Immunology, 11. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2020.01451.

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Elisabeth Philipps

Karen Devine

Karen Devine

Shelley Harvey

Related Blogs:

anti-inflammatoryHay FeverhistamineImmune ResponseNatural remediesPhytonutrientsQuercetinseasonsspringVitamin C

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