“Allergy” is always a popular word in my household. We all suffer from allergies and as soon as the change of season comes around; I am the first to have a runny nose and sneeze throughout the day. Unfortunately, the watery eyes and allergy symptoms are not a comfort for someone nearby in a public space. As I sneeze and blow my nose, I constantly reassure everyone around me that it is my allergies flaring up and not the dreaded Coronavirus.
Many people suffer from allergies, some are more sensitive than others and just the pollen from the blossoming trees and fresh green grass may trigger an allergic reaction in some people (like me). Some people need to avoid certain foods and ingredients if they do not want to experience an allergic reaction. So, what causes these allergies, and what is a natural antihistamine when it comes down to treating them?
Put the tissues away and let’s take a closer look!
What causes these seasonal allergies, what are histamines, and what is a natural antihistamine? Allergies occur when the body’s histamine overreacts to allergens such as pollen or pet fur. The symptoms of the allergy are what we experience when we sneeze, cough, suffer from headaches, and have itching skin or eyes. Antihistamines are the medications that we use to treat the symptoms of these unwanted allergies.
Your body is amazing, and it has many defense mechanisms to ensure that you are kept safe and healthy. Your ribs are there to protect your lungs, your eyelashes protect your eyes from dust and dander, your skull protects your delicate brain, and your immune system protects your “internal body” from germs, bacteria, and viruses.
Your immune system is activated when something foreign enters into your body, this could be a virus, or it could be pollen from the garden. An allergy occurs when your body reacts to the foreign object, known as an allergen, and releases histamines to fight the allergen. The symptoms of these allergens are what we see and feel as allergies.
Histamines & Antihistamines
The histamine that your immune system releases is a natural chemical substance produced in the body. Histamine is important as it doesn’t only get produced to fight off allergens, but it has other roles in protecting your body. Histamine stimulates gastric acid secretion, dilates blood vessels, plays a role in inflammation, and transmits messages between your nerve cells (to name a few). Histamine is also responsible for your allergy symptoms because it causes your vessels to swell and dilate when exposed to an allergen. A build-up of histamine is behind the cause of your symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, itching, wheezing, nausea, fatigue, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rashes.
An antihistamine is exactly that, it is a medication that is ANTI histamine production. Antihistamines are commonly over the counter and prescribed medications that help block what the histamine does, hence it alleviates some of your symptoms. While most people reach for over the counter antihistamine drugs, they only work temporarily and can be easily replaced by natural remedies that do the same job without any harmful side effects. Drowsiness is an extremely common side effect of most antihistamines on the market, alongside many other side effects that can be more severe such as nausea and vomiting.
A Natural Approach to Treating Allergies
Let’s take a look at what you can do naturally to treat your allergies without medication.
Some certain foods and herbs can help assist and treat your allergy symptoms, making them more tolerable and may even help them clear up altogether.
Raw honey has been used for centuries to boost the immune system and to treat allergies. In fact, it is actually a popular notion that raw honey is a natural remedy for asthma and allergies. This could be because honey contains propolis which helps to boost your immune system, as well as allergens and the components of honeybees.
Manuka honey is specific honey that comes from New Zealand. This particular honey has been researched for its potent antibacterial activity and is known as one of the richest types of honey in the world. A study showed that the use of Manuka honey dramatically improved seasonal allergy symptoms when taken regularly. This honey should be added to the list of superfoods because of its amazing medicinal and health qualities.
Dosage: Three to four tablespoons per day of raw honey should offer some relief for those troublesome symptoms.
Quercetin is an antioxidant flavonoid that is found in foods and plants. This antioxidant has strong antihistamine and anti-allergy properties because it attacks damaging free radicals in the body and stimulates the immune system.
Quercetin is naturally found in a variety of foods and herbs, including the following:
- Black Tea
- Buckwheat Tea
- Green Tea
- Red Wine
- Red Onions
- Ginkgo Biloba
A 2007 study found that quercetin significantly lessened the respiratory side effects of allergies in rats by reducing their inflammatory response in their airways. Additional research has proven that the antioxidants contained in quercetin reduce respiratory inflammation brought on by allergies and is one of the most effective natural antihistamines available.
1000mg per day. Taking natural supplements of quercetin tends to work better when treating allergies. This is because the foods containing this antioxidant contain low levels of the flavonoid.
This is an enzyme compound that is naturally found in the core and juice of pineapples, but it can also be taken in supplement form.
Similar to quercetin, bromelain assists with respiratory inflammation and distress associated with allergies. It is a popular natural treatment for inflammation and swelling of the sinuses and following surgery or serious injury.
Research conducted on mice showed that bromelain can effectively reduce allergic sensitization and allergic airway disease because of its anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties.
Dosage: Include pineapple in your daily diet to help combat allergies or take a supplement daily that does not exceed the recommended dose of 1000mg per day.
This is a marsh plant that is found mostly in Europe, Asia, and some parts of North America. Butterbur is closely related to the daisy.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, butterbur has excellent antihistamine effects and is especially popular for naturally treating migraines and allergic rhinitis.
A 2007 review of 16 randomized controlled trials showed that after testing 10 herbal products that butterbur was the most effective natural treatment for hay fever.
Dosage: Raw butterbur contains compounds called alkaloids that can cause liver damage in the body, and possibly cancer too. The recommendation is to avoid raw butterbur and to rather take pill-form supplements that contain butterbur extract without these harmful alkaloids or to use it as an oil extract. The recommended dosage is 500mg per day.
A common herb used in natural medicine; stinging nettle is known as a natural antihistamine and can be found in a variety of health food stores. Stinging nettle leaf helps reduce the symptoms of hay fever since it acts as an anti-inflammatory and eases sneezing, itchy eyes, and a runny nose.
A study conducted in 2000 revealed that 58% of the participants that used freeze-dried nettles experienced relief of their allergic symptoms.
Dosage: Stinging nettle can be found in a supplement form or as freeze-dried nettle that you can use to make tea. The recommended dose is 300-500mg, three times a day.
Our gut is the building block of our immune system. Probiotics are the healthy microorganisms that help our body maintain a balance of good bacteria. Probiotics help boost the body’s immune system which in turn can help fight off allergy symptoms faster than a person who has a low immune function.
Some bacteria in the gut work to produce a lot of histamine while other probiotic species can restrain the syntheses of histamine. The foods to avoid that provoke the highest histaminic reaction are aged or fermented foods, such as kimchi, yoghurt, kefir, vinegar, cured meats, matured cheese, and sauerkraut.
There are good probiotic bacteria that are extremely helpful in reducing histamine and these include:
- Bifidobacterium infantis
- Bifidobacterium longum
- Lactobacillus gasseri
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus
Dosage: 2-6 capsules per day which is approximately 1 billion to 10 billion colony-forming units or CFU.
Spirulina has been known as a superfood in the health world for some time now. It is a greenish-blue alga and has wonderful benefits for your body.
This alga helps stop the release of histamine that causes the allergy symptoms we experience, making it an effective natural antihistamine. You can find this in supplement or powder form, and it can be added to smoothies.
To learn about more Heath benefits Spirulina has to offer, have a look at this page
Dosage: 1 teaspoon per day.
This wonderful spice can prevent the release of histamine from mast cells and it has been shown to inhibit anaphylactic reactions.
I use this spice in cooking, but it can also be made into a tea. For more information on Turmeric, have a look at this article detailing its array of natural benefits.
For the best allergy-fighting recipe rub roasted organic chicken with turmeric, thyme, and garlic, and serve with sweet potatoes and broccoli. Thyme has a very high level of Vitamin C and offers anti-inflammatory compounds. Garlic steps in with an array of anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial compounds too!
Including certain vitamins into your daily routine can also be beneficial when fighting off allergy symptoms.
2000mg of Vitamin A per day can boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. Vitamin A also has antihistamine properties.
Foods rich in Vitamin A include dairy products, liver, fish, carrots, broccoli, and squash.
Taking 2000mg of Vitamin C per day not only boosts the immune system and helps get rid of viruses, but it also acts as a powerful antioxidant and antihistamine. This is a must-have if you are suffering from allergies.
Vitamin C rich foods include bell peppers, citrus foods, broccoli, cauliflower, and kiwifruit.
30mg of zinc per day helps to heal your adrenals which may be damaged by chronic stress. Stress worsens your immune function which is not helpful when allergies strike.
Foods that contain zinc include oysters, beans, nuts, cereals, and whole grains.
In a Non-Allergenic Nutshell
Allergies are unavoidable and come and go through seasonal changes and as we become less tolerant of certain external factors and foods. The best line of defense is to eat a well-balanced diet filled with mineral and vitamin-rich foods. If you are not getting enough vitamins and minerals in your diet, then definitely supplement with a daily NON-GMO multivitamin and mineral.
There are so many wonderful gifts from nature that can help fight off allergies and relieve some of those frustrating symptoms, why not incorporate some natural antihistamines into your daily diet to enjoy some well-deserved relief!
Will you give Natural Antihistamines a try ? Let me know in a comment below
Until Next Time