Did you know that more than 50 million Americans experience some form of allergy every year? Whether it be food, pollen, dust, dander, mold (or any other allergy you can think of), allergies can take us down in an instant without notice. While you may be tempted to turn to your convenient over-the-counter antihistamines, there are some other approaches that may help ease your allergy struggles naturally.
An antihistamine, meaning “against histamine,” is a substance that blocks the effects of histamine. Histamines are released by your immune system when you are exposed to something it feels is a danger to you. The histamine response is responsible for the classic symptoms of allergies including seasonal, environmental, and food allergies. Antihistamines come in the form of synthetic drugs as well as natural substances.
How do antihistamines help with allergies?
Antihistamines block the receptors for histamine, lessening the symptoms histamine creates. They provide relief from such symptoms as runny nose, watery eyes, itchy skin, congestion, and scratchy throat. Antihistamines can also provide benefit for the symptoms associated with food allergies, which can include hives, rashes, and digestive upset.
Here are my top five natural allergy-reducing antihistamines:
Antihistamine #1: Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a known antioxidant and antihistamine and is a great natural way to get these benefits. Taking two grams (2,000 milligrams) of vitamin C per day has potent antihistamine effects. Citrus fruits, berries, grapes, kiwi, red and green bell peppers, onions, and green tea all contain high amounts of vitamin C.
Antihistamine #2: Butterbur
Butterbur, long used for medicinal purposes, is a marsh plant and part of the daisy family. It has been found to be effective in treating hay fever symptoms. It is best taken in supplement form.
Antihistamine #3: Bromelain
Bromelain, commonly found in pineapples, has been found to be effective at treating allergy-related respiratory distress and inflammation. Bromelain is also found in kiwi, ginger, and asparagus, and you can easily find it in supplement form.
Antihistamine #4: Probiotics
A healthy immune system is important to prevent allergies. Probiotics balance the good bacteria in your gut, enhancing your immune system. Probiotics and a healthy diet that feeds your good bacteria is a good long-range approach to avoiding allergies. You can find probiotics in cultured yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha tea, and many other healthy foods.
Antihistamine #5: Quercetin
Quercetin is an antioxidant with known antihistamine effects. Research has shown it to reduce inflammatory effects even in the lungs and sinuses. Quercetin can be found in foods such as capers, red onion, shallots, apples, grapes, berries, and cherries.