Imagine you’re walking along on a beautiful spring day. Flowers are blooming, trees are showing off their fresh, bright green leaves in the breeze, and you don’t have any allergy symptoms. No sneezes, no runny, nose, no hay fever. Sounds nice, right? Well, prescriptions aren’t the only solution and science agrees. Read on.
Your evening glass of cabernet might not only work to soothe your nerves. Quercetin—best known as the powerful antioxidant and flavonoid found in red wine, green tea, and foods like onions, broccoli, apples, and berries—has also been proven to be a powerful histamine inhibitor. How it works is the same way as those OTC anti-histamines. In fact, you’ll see quercetin listed as a primary ingredient on many natural allergy supplements labels. You can get quercetin solely from your food, but as a compound, it has a bitter flavor, so it’s most prevalent in the more bitter parts of your food, like the skins of apples and onions. If you don’t mind bitter, tart cherry juice might be your best source. And if you decide to buy a quercetin supplement, we suggest a brand like Solaray.
Note of caution: Quercetin can interact with certain medications like blood thinners, so talk to your doctor before trying quercetin.
2. Vitamin C
Are you surprised to see Vitamin C listed? As often as its cited, you might ask if it is a wonder nutrient. Well, for allergies, vitamin C, or ascorbate, works in a similar way to quercetin as a powerful antioxidant that help stabilize and regulate mast cells, which are the white blood cells most responsible for releasing histamines. A 2018 study actually found evidence of “ascorbate deficiency in allergy-related diseases.”
3. Acupressure or Acupuncture
A recent study in Australia have revealed promising results with the efficacy of this ancient medicine on hay fever. Researchers conducted a controlled study in which over four weeks, one group was given 12 real acupuncture treatments while the other had a “sham” treatment. Not only did the recipients of the real acupuncture experience nasal relief during the sessions, but the relief lasted up to four weeks after treatment ended. Researchers believe the treatment works in part because of the overall reduction in inflammation in the body and recommend that if using acupuncture treatment for allergies, start it 2-4 weeks before allergy season kicks off.
Turmeric is considered one of the super food spices, but it works because the primary compound in turmeric is curcumin, a widely studied and scientifically-proven anti-inflammatory and antioxidant that has been included in the treatment of chronic pain, cancer studies, and more. What researchers found in relation to allergies is that it works in a similar way to vitamin C in stabilizing the mast cells and greatly reducing the histamine effect.
We are huge fans of curcumin, particularly from the Terry Naturally brand, which backs every one of their products with substantiated and thorough research.
5. Regular exercise
Sometimes it seems like exercise is cited even more than Vitamin C as a cure-all for every ailment. In general, exercise is noted as an integral part of maintaining a robust immune system: it increases circulation in the body, helps move things along in your lymphatic system. So how does it help with allergies? A healthy immune system is better equipped to assess threats as they come in, which means that those allergens might not set off as many alarms and reactions (like runny noses and sneezes). Just be sure to pump that iron indoors or wait until the evening for your runs, since pollens are most prevalent in the morning and midday. In addition, aquatic exercise can help soothe your nasal passages, and a proper warm-up and a cap on your exertion level can all contribute to less severe symptoms.
6. Leaving it Outside
You’ve just finished dinner after a long day: you went to work, ran errands at lunch, took the kids to soccer practice, and, yet, after hours home, you are still a sneezing mess. Did you take those outside clothes off when you got home? You see, unnoticed by our eyes, the pollens that were swirling around out there attached themselves to your clothes and follow you right inside. To counter that, as soon as you get home, do what you can to rid yourself of the pollens: taking a shower is best, but at the least, experts recommend changing out of those outside clothes. Additionally, a warm cloth on your face can help rid your sinuses of the offenders, and a neti pot may be a useful addition to your home-arrival routine. Lastly, make sure to throw those clothes into the washer after one wear so those allergens don’t end up in your closet.
This plant, also known as petasites, has been the subject of numerous studies because of its long history in both Europe and Asia. When taken as a supplement, it’s been proven to be just as effective as OTC drugs like Zyrtec and one Swiss study showed Butterbur tablets to be four times as effectiveas those popular antihistamine drugs.
Note: Be sure to read your label, because not all manufacturers of this herb are equal. When browsing Butterbur supplements, be sure that it is labeled “PA-free,” or “alkaloid-free” which ensures that all PAs , or pyrrolizidine alkaloids, have been eliminated, which can cause liver damage. We recommend Solaray and as trusted sources of Butterbur.
Bonus: Even more studies have proven butterbur’s efficacy in treating migraines. Stay tuned for another blog post on that topic!
This plant is a bit of a histamine paradox: touch the leaves and possibly get a rash; make a tea and find relief from hay fever. Nettles have been used for centuries in traditional medicine and today, studies have shown improvement in rhinitis primarily because it inhibits the histamine reaction. For supplements, we recommend Nature’s Way for their non-GMO commitment and quality sourcing. As a tea, it has a rich, savory flavor, and an organic source like Traditional Medicinals will serve you best. In addition to allergy-relief, nettle leaf offers many antioxidants and vitamins that have been linked to improvement in other conditions, like a decrease in inflammation and joint support.
Note of caution: This plant can act as a blood thinner and should be avoided by pregnant women.
9. Local Honey
The scientific evidence is still out on how much local honey helps allergies, but anecdotal testimonials are a-plenty. The idea is that local honey—specifically local and unfiltered—works the same way that a vaccine and allergy immune-therapy does. It introduces micro-amounts of the local pollens into your system so your body can learn not to react to them. Most people start taking a small amount every day in advance of pollen season; some people start at 1/8 tsp and build up to 1-2 TB a day. This natural remedy only works if the honey is taken as is; that boiled water in your tea will kill destroy your “vaccine.” Sometimes a spoonful of sugar is the medicine!
Allergy season can be rough, and a prescription may be a necessary solution for you, but now you know going natural is a viable and researched option! Just be sure to discuss any decisions with your doctor if you have any concerns.
-Quercetin and Its Anti-Allergic Immune Response”
-Exercise Control of Your Allergies
–Intravenous vitamin C in the treatment of allergies: an interim subgroup analysis of a long-term observational study
-The Role of Mast Cells in the Defence against Pathogens
–Clinical study and literature review of nasal irrigation
“Acupuncture for seasonal allergic rhinitis: a randomized controlled trial”
-Immunomodulatory effects of curcumin in allergy
-Natural Allergy Relief
–Clinical study and literature review of nasal irrigation
-6 Evidence-Based Benefits of Stinging Nettle
-Nettle extract (Urtica dioica) affects key receptors and enzymes associated with allergic rhinitis