Spring is in the air, the sun is shining and the pollen from grass and flowers of trees are being wafted on the breeze.

But while the warmer weather and sunshine cheers everyone up, it also brings tears to the eyes of those who suffer from hay fever.

There are several medical terms for hay fever: Allergic rhinitis when you have a runny congested nose, allergic conjunctivitis when you have sore, itchy eyes and allergic sinusitis when you suffer from congested sinuses. You can suffer from a combination of all three, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Some people suffer from headaches, muzzy head, drowsiness, rashes, weakness, body-aches, wheeziness or associated asthma symptoms.

Common antihistamines, which you can buy over the counter, may relieve hay fever symptoms but can cause drowsiness. So how can you relieve your hay fever naturally? There are many powerful herbs and essential oils which can help. Natural medicines tend to work more slowly than strong pharmaceuticals but have no side-effects.

Drinking tea made from ginger, lemon and honey in hot water four or five times a day will relieve hay fever symptoms, headaches, sinus congestion and a runny nose. Make the tea a bit stronger than usual using half a teaspoon of ginger powder. Alternatively, use our blend of ginger, cardamom, nutmeg and black pepper, which has been speciallly formulated for this problem.

Ayurvedic medicine has several herbal formulations for the treatment of allergic disorders. The most powerful, single anti-allergic herb is curcumin or the root of curcuma longa. You need the concentrated extract (available from Pavilion Healthcare at Planet Janet, 86 Church Road, Hove or our clinic). Half to one teaspoonful boiled in a glass of hot milk or hot water and taken twice a day is very effective in both the prevention of and antidote to allergic disorders. Add a teaspoon of honey for taste.

Another Ayurvedic formula my patients have found quite effective is sitopaladi. This is made from bamboo gum resin, proven to soothe the throat and sinuses, and long pepper, a natural anti-inflammatory and anti allergic herb. Cardamom and sugar balance the herbs. Take half a teaspoon mixed in honey and lick a little at a time. Taken over three to four weeks, it can prevent and relieve symptoms.

Research has shown that chyavanprash, made from Indian gooseberry pulp and other therapeutic herbs in honey, ghee and sugar, can help prevent hay fever and sinusitis.

Another helpful herbal pill is khadiradi. Made from acacia catechu and other herbs, it works as an anti-allergic.

I also recommend shadbindu tail nose drops and daily steam inhalation with frankincense and lavender oil, a natural anti-inflammatory and soothing essential oil combination.

Washing out the nasal passages with saline water using a special pot with a nozzle is a useful yogic technique for treating hay fever - but one that needs to be learnt properly.

Dr Milind Jani works as a conventional and holistic GP and Dr Asmita Jani as Ayurvedic Consultant from 3 Eaton Gardens, Hove.

Call them on: 01273 777448 or email: milind.jani@ntlworld.com