You give me fever

Kate Miller
takes a look at what’s behind the rise in allergies in the UK and how this could provide opportunities for smart natural health retailers

The recent research linking some mainstream hay fever drugs with Alzheimer’s was, on the whole, ill-reported and misinformed. Which was a shame, because the side-effects of many conventional medicines for allergies don’t have to be exaggerated to be true, and they are what is driving many consumers into health food shops in a bid to find a more gentle cure.

According to Don Harrison, principle of The British Institute for Allergy and Environmental Therapy, the NHS just isn’t equipped to treat allergies:  “A lot of the time with allergies, the problem is that people are having their illnesses maintained in different ways. They are prescribed one thing, then they develop something else which is a side-effect of the first medicine.”

The one-size-fits-all ethos of mainstream medicine is driven by cost, according to Harrison: “What suits Peter doesn’t suit Paul,” he says: “Treating allergies is a very individual process and it’s time-consuming – the NHS just doesn’t have the money.”

Which is good news for the natural products industry, says Sarah Brown, founder of Pai skincare, being perfectly placed to serve the allergy market by offering more holistic solutions to allergies. “In terms of skincare, natural products tend to contain no, or at least fewer, synthetics, which can often be the cause of skin irritation or flare-ups.”

Brown points to the ubiquitous use of certain ingredients as accelerating allergies: “Cosmetic ingredients like propylene glycol and sodium lauryl sulfate are known problem ingredients for skin conditions such as dermatitis, especially perioral and seborrheic forms, as is methylisothiazolinone which dermatologists have recently cited as causing an eczema epidemic.”

Cleaning up
The interest in products with ‘cleaner’ ingredients has clearly grown, according to Max Wiseberg, founder of HayMax hay fever products: “When we launched into Boots in 2008 there was one other product on their natural shelf. These days there is a whole shelf of products.” Wiseberg says that this could be due to many factors, not least that hay fever seems to be on an upwards turn in line with pollen counts.

According to the Royal College of General Practitioners, there has been a massive spike in the number of patients seeing GPs for hay fever symptoms, doubling between 2013 and 2014. According to the report, in June 2013, 5,560 people visited their GP in England and Wales with hay fever symptoms or allergic rhinitis. At the same time in 2014
this had increased to 11,873, representing a 114% jump year-on-year. Most of those affected are children aged five to 14, followed by people between 15 to 24.

Admission rates up
Hay fever isn’t the only allergy on the rise. The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) has found that there were 20,320 hospital admissions for allergies between 2013 and 2014, up almost 8% on the previous year. The rate of admissions is highest in children aged from birth to four, with the number higher in males in this age group. The rate of admissions decreases overall with age, with a higher number of admissions in females than in males in the older age bands. Of all admissions, over half (61%) were emergency allergic reactions, up 6% on the previous year. Worryingly, the most dangerous form of reaction, anaphylactic shock, was up nearly 10%.

Of particular note in these figures is the rise in allergies affecting children. According to Child’s Farm founder Joanna Jensen, young skin has a greater risk of sensitivity because it is still growing and developing. “Babies don’t develop an acid mantle – outer layer of skin – until they are a month old, and this helps maintain moisture levels in the skin.  Sebaceous glands don’t develop until we are teenagers, so oil regulation has to be helped too.”

She believes that parents especially are looking to the natural products market  for both their children and themselves: “I believe people turn to natural products because the skin – the largest organ in our bodies – needs to be maintained and protected, and research has shown us the risks of using products which are synthetically created, on the young in particular.”

Huge potential
For natural products retailers, there is huge potential in this market. As Jensen points out, one in five children in the UK under five are suffering for atopic eczema, meaning one million kids need bathing products which can help with this issue.

“A retailer who is aware of these sorts of statistics will be able to respond to customers’ needs really quickly.  The larger national chains are all over these trends, so monitoring how they change their offerings can offer a lot of insight to smaller retailers who don’t necessarily have the budget to spend on external consumer data,” she points out.

But it’s not only retailers who need to get smart, says Brown, staff need to be well-informed too: “Many customers are turning to natural supplements or products as a concerted choice but don’t have the security of a doctor’s prescription! They look to shop staff for reassurance that it’s the right product for them, and guidance on how to use it. This brings serious responsibility. Having qualified nutritionists and naturopaths on hand to offer this specialist advice is hugely important.”

As previously mentioned, customers with allergies often turn to natural products because they assume that the ingredients they contain are cleaner and less irritating, and Brown says it’s up to health food retailers to make sure they don’t fall victim to greenwashing:  “I’d encourage retailers to do their homework and not be afraid to question brands on areas of concern. Stores are seen as gatekeepers. Customers expect this due diligence to have been done for them, but it’s not always the case.”

Finally, Wiseberg says retailers need to be proactive in their approach to allergy products: “For hay fever, you could post pollen counts every day – there are plenty of sites where you can get them. We do a lot of POS materials which can also help.

“If you haven’t got the products out in May, June and July then you’re going to be missing out on sales, as 95% of people with hay fever are allergic to grass pollen and these are the months for it.”


BEE Prepared for colds, hay fever, travel, exams & more!

Bee-Prepared-Daily-3D--2015Unbeelievable Health
Tel: 02079 932471
E-mail:  [email protected]

Multi award winning BEE Prepared immune support is  championed by Olympic athletes & notable health experts and enjoys excellent consumer reviews. Bee Prepared combines plant based nutrients, all of which have a proven history of benefits, including bee propolis, black elderberry, olive leaf , beta glucans and more and is suitable for most ages. Capsules may be opened into smoothies & juices. An all-in-one wellness must have!  Contact us to hear about special offers or to receive POS: [email protected]


Luke’s Organics

Organico-(2)Tel: 01189238769
E-mail:  [email protected]

Great tasting, gluten free snacks, Finally, here’s one that doesn’t taste like tree bark. You’ll be so happy, you’ll eat them all. I’m also passionate about weather and part of the proceeds from our sales will go to the red cross (for severe weather disaster relief). 6 Flavours/types Bang-on-the button with nutrition trends and key sales features eg superfood, protein, chia, pink Himalayan salt, kale. Based on Luke’s special grain & seed blend. USDA organic/GM-free verified



organico---ecomilTel: 01189238769
E-mail:  [email protected]

Did you know that some non-dairy milks have almost as much sugar in them as coca cola – more in one case!   Ecomil is not just pioneer of the almond milk category – using only pure Spanish almonds – but is also ahead in terms of NO SUGAR options.   NO SUGAR means just that – no sugar added, not natural, no artificial sweetener.   All natural and organic: in almond, almond-calcium and coconut.  Available through all healthfood wholesalers.



Dr-organicOptima Consumer Health Ltd
Tel: +44 (0)1274 526360
E-mail: [email protected] 

Allergenics is a range of cosmetic emollient products suitable for those prone to dry, itchy skin conditions to help moisturise, soothe and protect sensitive skin. Our main ingredient is naturally sourced Aloe Vera with its soothing, moisturising and hydrating properties, alongside other natural ingredients such as Shea Butter, Beeswax, Borage Oil & Vitamin E. The Allergenics product range is fragrance, lanolin, SLS and paraben free making it suitable for all skin types.


HayMaxTM Organic Allergen Barrier Balms

HayMax-Counter-Display-Unit-New-boxes-copy-nobgHayMaxTM Ltd
Tel: 01525 406600
E-mail:  [email protected]

Hay Fever? Dust or Pet Allergy? HayMaxTM are celebrating their tenth successful year on the market in 2015. The certified organic, drug-free balms have been proven to trap dust and pet allergens and over a third of pollen before it enters the body. In a 2014 study by Allergy UK, 78% of respondents said that HayMaxTM worked. Less allergen, less reaction. Suitable for kids and pregnant women (and cynics). 32% margins available, free POS and extensive marketing campaign with plenty of national press. The popular balms have also won 36 awards!



HealthAid Ltd
Tel: 020 8426 340Health-aid
E-mail: [email protected]

Boost your body’s immune system – Allergies are versatile. They can show up just about anywhere in your body and create an incredible variety of symptoms. This often leads to physical and emotional distress. Allergforte contains natural antioxidants antihistamines and anti-inflammatories that can help with the symptoms of allergies, its unique formulation containing natural essential ingredients such as Vitamin C, Quercetin and Bromelain, helps to combat the misery of common allergies and make the condition more bearable.  Allergforte is suitable for vegans and vegetarians.Allergforte, retails at £9.99 for 60 tablets. Contact HealthAid Ltd on 020 8426 3400 for purchase and stockist information or visit


Helios Hay Fever Combination

HeliosHelios Homeopathy ltd.
Tel: 01892 537254
E-mail: [email protected]

Helios Hay Fever forms part of an exciting new homeopathic range from Helios. Authorised under the National Rules scheme, Hay Fever combines three remedies traditionally used to relieve typical hay fever symptoms of sneezing and irritation of the eyes, nose and throat. The new range, available in April, makes it easy for customers to choose what they need.


Terranova Quercetin Nettle Complex

Kinetic--QUERCETIN-NETTLE-COMPLEX-50Kinetic Natural Products Distributors,
Tel: 08450 725 825
E-mail: [email protected]

Since its launch in the 1990s, quercetin has been one of the most popular and effective drug-free treatments for hayfever and allergies – particularly due to its targeted inhibition of histamine release in the respiratory tract. Combining quercetin with the clinically-proven hayfever remedy freeze dried nettle leaf provides the ultimate natural approach to seasonal allergies, and the associated symptoms of sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, etc. Terranova QUERCETIN NETTLE COMPLEX, an intensely synergistic combination of quercetin, freeze dried nettle leaf, freeze dried turmeric, freeze dried elderflower, bromelain and vitamin C (as magnesium ascorbate).


Quercetin B5 Plus Complex Veg Caps

ViridianViridian Nutrition Ltd,
Tel: 01327 878050
E-mail: [email protected]

Quercetin B5 Plus Complex Veg Caps from Viridian Nutrition is a functional combination of the bioflavanoid Quercetin with the addition of Vitamin B5, Nettle leaf extract, Pine bark extract, Chamomile flower, buffered Vitamin C, Bromelain and Acerola fruit – ingredients which have application year-round, but are especially popular in the Spring when nature is blooming. Seasonal special offer now available to stockists, together with attractive POS. Viridian Nutrition is an award-winning company with more than 180 nutritional products. With experienced sales, marketing and technical expertise, Viridian is dedicated to the security and future development of the specialist health food store.


Eczema in Infants: Bio-Kult Infantis

Tel: 01460 243230
E-mail:  [email protected]

Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is a common skin condition, especially in infants1, where the skin becomes inflamed, dry and itchy. The skin provides a physical barrier against the environment and consists of a small number of microflora compared to the gut2. This barrier is impaired in eczema, resulting in an abnormal inflammatory response to harmless environmental allergens or irritants such as chemicals and detergents. Dysbiosis, leaky gut and food allergies have been associated with the condition3,4. In some studies probiotic supplementation has been seen to rebalance the gut flora, improve immune function1, reduce severity of symptoms5 and reduce the need for medication6. In 2011, Farid et al1 found that the symbiotic mix found in Bio-Kult Infantis significantly reduced eczema symptoms in infants and young children within just 8 weeks.  Bio-Kult Infantis is an advanced probiotic multi-strain formula for infants with Omega 3 and Vitamin D3.

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Jane Wolfe has worked in journalism since leaving University with a BA (Hons) in English in 1991, covering industries as diverse as energy, broadcasting, wellbeing and animal welfare. She first became part of the Natural Products News team in 1998 as a sub editor and freelance journalist before relocating to Greece in 2004. In 2013 she returned to the magazine as assistant editor, then deputy editor.