The changing seasons mean something different for everyone, but for many millions of Americans, they mean constant irritation from seasonal allergies. The symptoms range from mildly runny noses and watery eyes to sore throats and coughing. If you’re sick of your allergies but don’t want to pop a pharmaceutical antihistamine, check out these natural options for preventing and treating allergies.
Basic allergy relief starts with changes in our diets. Allergy symptoms can also be tied to food allergies, so this is a good place to start. To make your symptoms better, avoid mucus-producing foods such as dairy products, eggs, chocolate, fried and processed foods and refined flour. Instead, eat non-mucus forming foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, cold-pressed oils, and raw nuts and seeds.
Apples, berries and fruits high in Vitamin C can help reduce the onset of allergies. Photo By Elvis Ripley/Courtesy Flickr.
Food such as apples, berries, grapefruit, onions, tea and wine contain quercetin, a type of flavonoid, which prohibits the release of histamines. A Japanese study found that people who took quercetin had a 96 percent decrease in histamine release. Vitamin C also has a natural antihistamine effect, so be sure to eat plenty of foods with this vitamin.
Diets high in essential fatty acids are also helpful in deterring allergies, especially hay fever. Studies suggest that Omega-3 fatty acids decreases the risk of hay fever by reducing the production of inflammatory chemicals. If you’re not eating a lot of fish, take a fish oil or flaxseed oil supplement.
Probiotics can also reduce the risk of allergies. These good bacteria (Lactobacillus acidophilus) keep immune systems healthy and can prevent allergic responses. Probiotics can be found in foods such as cultured yogurt, acidophilus milk, some soft cheeses, sauerkraut, pickles and miso soup.
Herbal Allergy Relief
Several herbs act as natural antihistamines, while others are useful at treating allergy-related symptoms.
Stinging nettle can help prevent allergic responses. Photo By Seth M/Courtesy Flickr.
Butterbur (Petasites hybridus): A Swiss study found that this herb was as effective as popular over-the-counter histamines at controlling allergy symptoms when taken four times daily. It relieves sneezing, nasal congestion, itchy eyes and other symptoms, and it won’t leave you feeling drowsy like some allergy medications will. Because this herb contains substances potentially toxic to the liver and kidneys, butterbur should not be taken in a raw form.
Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica): Brush up against this plant’s living leaves, and your skin will complain. Sip its dried leaves in a tea, and your throat and nose will thank you. Stinging nettle contains anti-inflammatory substances and flavonoids, which helps prevent allergic responses from happening. Take 300 to 500 mg daily.
Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis): This herb has anti-inflammatory and astringent properties. It can help decrease secretion from the nose and eyes. Take 1 capsule three times a day. For a relieving eye wash, add 5 drops of Eyebright tincture to a half ounce of saline.
Eyebright can be used to decrease mucus in the nose and throat, or it can be added to an eye wash for relief for itchy eyes. Photo By Tony Marsh/Courtesy Flickr.
Bayberry (Myrica pennsylvanica): This herb will help dry out excessive mucus in your nose and throat. If you have a dry or scratchy throat, however, use a different herbal treatment.
How do you prevent allergies? How do you treat your allergy symptoms?