It is that time of the year again. Time for sneezing, watery eyes, congested sinuses, itching, and headaches. Allergy season is here, and millions of people are going to turn to Claritin, Zyrtec, Benadryl and other dangerous medicines to get relief from their symptoms. Allergies are one the most common chronic conditions worldwide. In Fact,
- Nasal allergies affect approximately 50 million people in the United States.
- Allergies are increasing. They affect around 30% of adults and 40% of children.
- Allergy disorder and asthma is the fifth leading chronic disease in the U.S.. And it is the third most frequent chronic condition in children under 18 years old.
An allergic response occurs in the immune system. If you experience an allergy, your immune system mistakes an otherwise harmless substance (allergens such as pollen, dust, pet dander and mold) as an intruder. The immune system exaggerates to the allergen by creating IgE antibodies. These antibodies progress to your cells that release histamine and other substances, resulting in an allergic reaction. A common condition for seasonal allergies is Allergic Rhinitis also called Hay Fever. Pollen is the most common allergen. It causes symptoms such as a stuffy and itchy nose, sneezing, runny nose, watery and itchy eyes. In severe cases, allergies may also trigger symptoms of asthma. Allergic rhinitis can be both seasonal and perennial.
Most doctors would prescribe you antihistamines to help reduce symptoms. Antihistamines work by blocking histamine. By blocking histamine and keeping it from binding to receptors, antihistamines inhibit these symptoms. While antihistamines can be quite efficient at managing your symptoms, there have a plenty of possible side effects and issues. Some of the most common are drowsiness, fatigue, dizziness, dry mouth, sore throat, nausea and more. Moreover, and most importantly, they do not stop the problem from occurring in the first place; they just mask the symptoms.
Luckily, there are natural alternatives like eating your antihistamines in the form of healthy herbs, spices and vitamins. Moreover, some of the natural alternatives can even address the root cause and not only mask your symptoms. If you like this article, please follow my work on my FB page (contacts below article).
And now let’s take a look at top 8 herbal remedies for seasonal allergies:
Vitamin C has strong anti-histamine action and detoxifies unknown substances invading your body. As a natural antihistamine, Vitamin C works by suppressing the molecular structure of histamine, thereby limiting the amount of histamine in your blood.
Preliminary research implies it might help reduce allergy symptoms. For example, a study published in the European Respiratory Journal discovered that eating fruits high in Vitamin C helped to lessen asthma symptoms in 8-year-olds subjects. Another study found evidence to confirm the role of Vitamin C supplementation in adults who experienced allergic rhinitis.
It is also recommended to take bioflavonoids (for example in rose hips) together with Vitamin C, which strengthens the effect.
How to take:
Tips: I am not a big fan of synthetic Vitamin C as ascorbic acid. Therefore I recommend natural forms such as Rose Hips or Camu Camu; another good choice is Liposomal Vitamin C made from sodium ascorbate. Liposomal vitamin C passes through the digestive barrier and delivers the nutrient directly to the bloodstream. This method has a much higher absorption rate with over 90% of the cells being soaked in vitamin C (oral vitamin C intake has a 20% absorption rate). Some experts even suggest that liposomal vitamin C may be even superior to IV vitamin C.
Dosing: Typical dosages can be up to 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C with Bioflavonoids (such as Quercetin) three times a day. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, so any surplus that the body does not need will be flushed out through the urine. However, higher doses may cause GI distress.
Butterbur is used with success for seasonal allergies, migraines, and asthma and several scientific papers back this up. Studies show that an extract of butterbur is just as effective at alleviating nasal symptoms as popular prescription antihistamines. Butterbur contains a number of substances such as petasin and isopetasin, which have analgesic and antispasmodic properties. It reduces inflammation by reducing secretion of histamine and leukotrienes by immune cells.
Several scientific studies indicate it can indeed help with allergic rhinitis. One extensive study of over a hundred people with hay fever found that an extract of butterbur was as effective as Zyrtec. Another medical study compared butterbur to Allegra with similar findings.
Conclusions of some other studies:
- Butterbur is efficient and safe therapy for the treatment of asthma.
- It is useful for the treatment for occasional allergic rhinitis symptoms and is very well tolerated.
- Butterbur is as effective as fexofenadine in relieving nasal symptoms in patients with perennial allergic rhinitis (a study involving 330 people!)
- It presents protection against chemically-induced nasal responsiveness in seasonal allergic rhinitis.
”In a study administered in four Swiss and German general medicine and allergy clinics, 125 hay fever patients were divided into two groups. One received butterbur root extract; the other, Zyrtec. After two weeks of the test treatment, the butterbur and Zyrtec were equally efficient at relieving the usual distress and lack of energy often accompanied with spring and seasonal allergies, says study author Andreas Schapowal, MD, a Swiss ear, nose, and throat surgeon. In the following study, Schapowal found that treatment with butterbur root extract also decreased nasal allergy symptoms, such as itching, sneezing, congestion and runny nose, but also watery eyes.”
How to take:
Tips: Low-quality butterbur may contain potentially harmful liver-toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Look for quality PA-free butterbur such as butterbur root extract Petadolex or any other extract from a quality well-known manufacturer.
Dosing: Trials in a migraine, allergic rhinitis, and asthma have used butterbur extracts in dosages ranging from 50 to 100 mg twice daily. Doses up to 500 mg per day seems safe.
Another compound is Quercetin, which is one of the most powerful flavonoids on the planet. Quercetin can help allergy symptoms because it stops immune cells from creating histamines, which can trigger those often terrible allergic reactions. In fact, it is so powerful that you may find Quercetin in some ancient Chinese herbal formulas designed to block allergies to certain foods such as peanuts.
Quercetin is a plant pigment that occurs in various plants and foods; such as red wine, capers, red onions, red grapes, quinoa, green tea, apples, berries, tomatoes, peppers, green leafy veggies, cruciferous vegetables, asparagus, legumes, and beans. Fruits with a dark red or blue color usually have the highest quercetin content. Quercetin is a very potent antioxidant; it lowers inflammation, supports your cardiovascular system, helps fight pain, and also shows some promise as an anti-cancer compound and more. You can obtain quercetin from the foods above, or you can ingest it in a supplement form, a popular combination is quercetin-bromelain, which I use as well, and it is very effective for allergies and sinus problems amongst other benefits.
Research show that quercetin is comparable at fighting allergies as some prescription medications, and again with little to no side effects. It hinders the release of histamine that is responsible for the inflammation. In test tubes, it effectively stops the production and release of histamine, which creates allergy symptoms such as watery eyes and runny nose.
“Quercetin is the herbal equal to cromolyn sodium [in the over-the-counter spray NasalCrom],” “The evidence is encouraging.”
How to take:
Tips: You should use it as a long term remedy, about 4-6 weeks before allergy season to help prevent the symptoms. I recommend taking it together with bromelain.
Dosing: Though you can find Quercetin in certain foods, it is quite challenging to get the amount needed to help with allergies from food alone. Recommended dosage is usually 500mg three times a day for the most benefits.
Another allergy helper is a substance people usually do not normally know as an allergy aid. Nevertheless, it helps! Bromelain is a protein extract from the stems of pineapples, though the juice from the pineapple’s flesh contains bromelain as well. It is an enzyme composite and is often used in digestive enzyme supplement formulas. Bromelain’s other health benefits include sinus problems, asthma, allergies and joint pain. Bromelain is commonly marketed as a natural anti-inflammatory for ailments such as arthritis. It is one of the most popular natural supplements in Germany, where it is approved by the Commission E for the treatment of inflammation and swelling of the sinuses and nose due to injury or surgery. Some studies have found that bromelain is effective in reducing nasal swelling and thinning mucus, making it easier for people to breathe. It reduces phlegm in respiratory conditions such as sinusitis, bronchitis, and asthma.
Bromelain reduces the production of cytokines (inflammatory chemicals) and decreases the migration of inflammatory immune cells to sites of inflammation. Some studies suggest that bromelain helps modulate the entire immune system and that it can prevent allergies by targeting the root cause – an over-sensitive immune system.
”A trial involving 116 children found that bromelain was helpful in lessening symptoms of sinusitis, with those taking bromelain recovering significantly more quickly than those on placebo.”
How to take:
Tips: Bromelain enhances the absorption of Quercetin. I recommend taking them together.
Dosing: Allergy sufferers can take between 500 mg and 2,000 mg a day divided into two or three doses. Take on an empty stomach to maximize absorption (if taking for protein digestion, take with meals of course).
Yes, turmeric, ‘the cure it all‘ superstar : ) Turmeric is one the most well-researched plants in the world with hundreds of possible health benefits. There are thousands of scientific papers available on turmeric medicinal properties. Extensive research over the past few decades has shown that it plays a significant role in the prevention and treatment of numerous diseases. Curcumin, the main substance, is non-toxic and has a variety of therapeutic properties including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-cancer, also possess antimicrobial activities and numerous others. It helps in cardiovascular, neurodegenerative, metabolic, autoimmune diseases, but also diabetes and arthritis.
Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory. It eliminates excess mucus in the sinuses and aids in healing the respiratory tissue. Curcumin is helpful in bronchial asthma and other lung problems. It is beneficial for allergy sufferers as well. Many people report success with treating their allergies with turmeric tea.
Research has revealed that turmeric reduces inflammation by decreasing the histamine levels. ”(Curcumin inhibits Syk kinase-dependent signaling events in mast cells and might thus contribute to its antiallergic activity).” Another study says that Curcumin may help to increase antioxidant enzymes and decrease oxidative stress in allergic rhinitis. Researchers recommend curcumin to decrease oxidative stress in allergic rhinitis.
How to take:
Tips: Take turmeric with some healthy fat and black pepper to significantly increase absorption and bioavailability, which is otherwise very low. Quercetin and bromelain seem to enhance absorption too. Check more in my other article here http://www.naturalnewsblogs.com/increase-bioavailability-turmeric-2000-amazing-benefits/ ; Always buy from a well-known organic brand, because many turmeric powders may contain relatively high amounts of heavy metals and/or other contaminants. Caution: curcumin is a powerful yellow pigment, and it may permanently discolor surfaces.
Dosing: One or two teaspoons two times a day (1.5-3g) or 400-1500mg extract (95% curcuminoids) per day total. Dosages of curcumin up to 8g per day have been used – Higher doses may cause adverse GI effects.
Many people swear by this old traditional medicine for allergies. Another superstar – Often used as an allergy treatment; this botanical is considered to be a useful histamine blocker as well as an inflammation fighter. There’s some evidence that using stinging nettle after the first sign of allergic signs can in fact help. However, despite its common use, there are not many studies backing up stinging nettle’s effectiveness as an allergy treatment. It is more a traditional folk medicine like ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar), but there are some studies. One small study implied that stinging nettle might help lessen symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
In a randomized, double-blind study, subjects with allergies reported fewer symptoms after one week use of freeze-dried nettle. Moreover, research from 2009 provides promising results for the first time:
”A mechanistic understanding of the role of nettle extracts in reducing allergic and other inflammatory responses. Nettle extract (Urtica dioica) affects key receptors and enzymes associated with allergic rhinitis. A nettle extract shows in vitro inhibition of several key inflammatory events that cause the symptoms of seasonal allergies.”
To sum up, Stinging nettle’s anti-inflammatory characteristics affect a variety of enzymes and key receptors in allergic reactions, inhibiting hay fever signs if taken when they first emerge.
How to take:
Tips: Be sure to choose extracts of stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) leaf, not the root, which is used to treat prostate ailments. Go with a Freeze Dried extract or tincture; in fact, Herbalists often recommends Tincture for instant relief.
Dosing: Dosing depends on the potency of the extract; therefore use as directed. Freeze-dried nettle leaf 600 mg has been used in a clinical trial for allergic rhinitis.
This one is my favorite for allergies. For some reason, it is often forgotten. Sulfur is one of the most prominent composites in our bodies, just behind sodium and water. In fact, it is the fourth most abundant mineral in your body. Sulfur is involved in the production of energy in body cells, and the formation of antibodies. Scientist Dr. Jacob concluded that the sulfur in MSM, called sulfonyl, is as safe and as important as vitamin C in our diet, unlike the bad sulfurs: sulfas, sulfites, sulfates, and sulfides. MSM is a composite found naturally in foods such as cow’s milk, seafood, meat, veggies, and fruits. It has positive wide-spectrum effects, especially in maintaining healthy cell formation. MSM softens the cell walls, allowing foreign particles such as allergens, and any free-radicals to be flushed out of your system. It is used to help with number of conditions, including allergies.
MSM does not act as an anti-histamine compound that hinders histamine production. Its effectiveness is probably due to the capability to block the receptivity of histamine in the delicate tissue of the mucus membranes of nasal passages. This process prevents the histamine from forming the inflammation and swelling that usually accompanies allergies. Allergy sufferers that have taken MSM have reported back to their doctors that their pain levels were fifty percent less, or better, after using this supplement. Most patients report improvement and a reduction in pain and allergy symptoms within a week. Researchers believe that MSM works in a similar way to aspirin; to reduce pain and swelling due to inflammation.
”In addition, Dr. Mercola notes, MSM is 34% sulfur, which your body needs. Sulfur helps the body detoxify itself, and also helps build glutathione, an important antioxidant. MSM is very safe and you can take it at high doses, even if one’s diet is full of MSM-rich foods. Those of our staff who found a full relief took more than 2600 mg: up to 10,000 mg a day in divided doses. At these doses, it is often more beneficial to take MSM as a powder rather than a capsule, most of which contain 1,000 mg.’‘
”In one study, patients who received 2600 mg of MSM found their upper and total respiratory symptoms significantly reduced within 7 days, and improvement continued for the whole 30 days of that study (from the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine).”
How to take:
Tips: Get the pure powder form, without any fillers and additives. Personally, I use organic sulphur Derived from pine lignans sourced from marine pine trees.
Dosing: Dr. Earl L. Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D., suggests allergy sufferers start using at least 6,000mg of MSM daily for three weeks in divided doses and reduce to 3,000mg per day after that. Also, he advises people drink more water and boost their intake of Vitamin C to lower histamine levels. The ideal dosage would depend on your body size. Sometimes, it takes up to 3 weeks to notice effects.
Neti Pot / Saline Rinse:
This one is not any herb or supplement, but it is so helpful that it should be on the list too.
The simple theory is that you use a Neti Pot filled with a saline solution to clean out the sinuses of allergens and irritations. Either use a pre-made sterile saline rinse or make your own by dissolving one teaspoon of Himalayan salt (or sea salt) in a cup of boiled distilled water. Let it cool and put in your Neti Pot. Pour through one nostril and let it flow out the other, then switch sides.
VIDEO and INSTRUCTIONS: https://www.himalayaninstitute.org/about/press/neti-pot/
CAUTION: You need to use distilled water, never use an unboiled tap water !!
TIP: I also add a drop or two of oregano oil, a teaspoon of coconut oil, and some MSM, but just salt rinse will do.
More Quick Tips:
Probiotics – it all starts in your gut, your allergies may simply be the result of an imbalance in your gut where your immune system exists. Therefore, proper diet and plenty od probiotics are essential for your allergies and health in general. Additionally, one small study suggests that L. acidophilus, a type of “friendly” bacteria, might help reduce allergic reaction to pollen. Moreover, new research links the presence of beneficial bacteria in the gut with reduced incidence of allergies.
Nasal Sprays and Eye,Ear Drops – Natural nasal sprays offers relief as well, I recommend nasal spray with GSE or silver, for eye drops: get natural or homeopathic. If you have itchy ears try mullein-garlic oil ear drops.
Diet and Vitamins – processed foods, junk foods, hydrogenated oils, white flour, sugar, high salt intake, preservatives, msg, artificial sweeteners, diet drinks and many other poor food choices are harmful to your health, and all of these can worsen your allergies or even creating them. Get adequate levels of vitamin D, B and eat plenty of veggies. Switching to a healthy anti-inflammatory diet, removing all toxic foods and toxins from your home, drinking raw vegetable juices and leading a healthy lifestyle (no alcohol, no smoking, reducing stress) in general are crucial steps.
Superfoods – some superfoods like Spirulina stops the release of histamine, which contributes to symptoms of allergic rhinitis, thus may help protect against harmful allergic reactions. Another beneficiary superfood for allergy sufferers is medicinal mushroom Reishi.
Other Helpful Herbs for Sinuses, Allergies and Lungs – Astragalus Root, Andrographis, GSE, Horseradish, Horehound, GoldenRod, Rosmarinic acid, Timothy Grass extract, Tinospora cordifolia, Perilla, Pycnogenol, Garlic, Ginger and NAC (N-Acetyl L-Cysteine: reduces the viscosity of mucus and clears your lungs).
Essential Oils / Steaming – especially steaming with oils like peppermint and eucalyptus can clear up your sinuses and relieve your allergy symptoms.
Air purifier – quality air purifier such as IQ AIR can remove significant percent of allergen particles in your home. For heavy allergy sufferers it is a big help to get a quality purifier with real HEPA filter and which does not create ozone.
Homeopathics and other Home Remedies – such as Apple Cider Vinegar, raw honey, and certain herbal teas may help too; you may want to try some homeopathic formulas as well, I found some to be quite effective.
Safety, Side Effects:
Any of these herbs can cause an allergic reaction in some individuals.
Butterbur may interact with some medications that are processed by the liver. Also, it can cause stomach upset, headache, and minor drowsiness. Pregnant and breastfeeding women and young children should not take butterbur.
Do not take Stinging Nettle without talking to your doctor first if you have diabetes or if you take blood pressure medication, blood thinners, or diuretics. Not suitable for pregnant women.
Turmeric 1, 2
Bromelain has a blood-thining action, and some people are allergic to pineapple products.
Quercetin in higher doses may interfere with some medications.
When you add any of these herbs to your diet in any way, start small and monitor your body’s response. As always, consult a medical professional or qualified herbalist before adding a powerful new components like this to your herbal regimen. In fact, It would be best to work with a natural medicine practitioner who is well-educated on using herbal medicine. It is especially important if you have any medical condition, taking any medications or if you are a pregnant or breastfeeding woman; and if you plan to start giving herbs to your kids.
These natural treatments often work best if started early in the season before pollen counts become too high. As you can see, we do not need big pharma’s antihistamines. Some of these herbs not only helps with the symptoms but actually address the root cause. Don’t forget that healthy lifestyle and your diet contributes a lot. Personally, before my spring allergies occur, I start to user nettle leaf, butterbur, quercetin with bromelain, Andrographis and I up my dosages of vitamin C, MSM and turmeric and my symptoms are close to zero. I wish you a symptom-free allergic season. Finally, Don’t forget to check my other articles on my FB page (contacts below).
- Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Fifth Edition: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements, by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC.
- The Essential Guide to Vitamins, Minerals and Herbal Supplements, by Dr Sarah Brewer.