Allergies: Finding alternatives to antihistamines

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Pollen
Pollen – The bane of every allergy sufferer’s life.

You’ve probably seen commercials before for antihistamine allergy medicines like Sudafed and Benadryl. For some people, these products offer relief during allergy season. But for many more, they have even more debilitating side effects, like headaches, drowsiness, and even prostate damage.

Instead of resorting to antihistamines, try a natural remedy for your seasonal allergies. The most common and inexpensive is a simple nasal spray, usually using saline or salt water. Nasal sprays will cleanse the pollen from your nose, which should stop it from running, at least temporarily.

Use the spray every time you start to feel the effects of allergies.

Quercetin
Another natural solution is quercetin, a plant-derived flavonoid available in supplement form at many natural stores. It’s been well-established that quercetin is very effective at reducing allergic inflammation. Just make sure you don’t take it with other medication, as these can nullify the healing effects of quercetin.

Histamine triggers an inflammatory response, which causes allergy symptoms like redness, swelling, itching, and mucous production. By reducing histamine levels, “the quercetin will reduce your symptoms — especially nasal congestion,” says Schmitt. Not a drinker? Other foods that are high in this antioxidant are onions, apples, and berries.

And here’s a cool tip: Load up on pineapple before you down that glass of Two Buck Chuck. Pineapple contains a protein called bromelain, which actually helps the body absorb quercetin.

Naturally occurring quertcetin can be found in

capers, canned
lovage
dock like sorrel
radish leaves
carob fiber
dill
cilantro
Hungarian wax pepper
fennel leaves
onion, red
radicchio
watercress
buckwheat
kale
chokeberry
cranberry
lingonberry
plums, black
cow peas
sweet potato
blueberry, cultivated
sea buckthorn berry
rowanberry
crowberry
prickly pear cactus fruits
apples, Red Delicious
broccoli
bilberry
tea, black or green Camellia sinensis

Avoid Echinacea which, while usually very healthful, can actually make your seasonal allergies worse.

Red, red Wine
For your diet, try having a glass of red wine every night while your allergies persist. (It also contains quercetin.) Wine will boost your body with antioxidants, which are known to help battle allergy symptoms. If you have the misfortune to be allergic to wine itself, look for bottles that are sulfite-free. It’s usually the sulfites that trigger the reaction.

Apples, bananas, onions, and grapes have all been shown to help reduce seasonal allergy problems. But be forewarned: not all fruit is good here. Kiwis, pears, cherries, and peaches have all been shown to cross-react with pollen and can actually make your allergies worse. Omega-3 fatty acids are also known to help fight allergies, so you may want to eat more fish for dinner as well.

srctiny_360The Squirrel says: The simplest and easiest allergy remedy? Clean out the yellow stuff! Get the pollen off your window sills, your car, and your doorways.

  • james

    I’ve been using the same inexpensive supplement for over thirty years. It worked for me while claritan was a joke. Its called grapeseed extract. One in the morning and one before bed. Gone were the itchy eyes and the bloody nose from sneezing. And, a heck of a lot cheaper. Between $5-$6.50 at WalMart vitamin section

  • Kelly

    Thanks for the heads-up James! Grapeseed extracts are industrial derivatives from whole grapeseeds that have a great concentration of vitamin E, flavonoids, linoleic acid and phenolic procyanidins. Although medical studies have failed to identify benefits for allergy sufferers from using grapeseed extract, there is a huge group of people who swear by it. Grapeseed extract also contains aromatase, the enzyme that synthesizes estrogen. As breast and ovarian cancers require estrogen to grow, Aromatase Inhibitors are taken to either block the production of estrogen or block the action of estrogen on receptors.