When certain times of the year come around, many people start preparing for their regular bout of hayfever and allergy symptoms. So we’re going to talk about some great all natural allergy relief home remedies that will not only help you rely less on pharmaceutical drugs, but nourish and cleanse your system at the same time.
But before we start – and so that we can better appreciate the solutions – let’s talk about . . .
What Causes Allergic Reactions
The problem with allergic reactions is not so much the pollen in the air, or your friend’s cat, or the peanuts you just ate. It’s your own immune system. It mistakenly perceives harmless things around you as a threat and then attacks them. You’re more susceptible to this first case of the mistaken foe when you’re physically weak, such as after a viral infection. Once the war starts, you feel the symptoms.
Your body then studies the allergen (allergy causing substance) and makes antibodies to fight it, in case the “threat” occurs again. So next time you come in contact with that particular allergen, your body is even more prepared than the first time. The antibodies release mast cells, which burst open and eject chemicals known as histamines. This is where the trouble begins. The histamines cause swelling, which you experience as a blocked or runny nose, itchy eyes, or even asthma.
Since the primary culprit behind your symptoms are the histamine chemicals released by the mast cells, the focus of drug companies has been to develop anti-histamines (you’re probably familiar with the term) which neutralize their effect. Unfortunately, many come with side-effects such as drowsiness or feeling wired.
But here’s the thing. The problem really begins with a dysfunctional immune system which mistakenly perceives harmless things as a threat. If we can find natural substances that stabilize the mast cells, then we have an all natural allergy relief strategy which can block the release of those histamines which cause inflammation.
All Natural Allergy Relief Remedies to Help Stabilize Mast Cells
Khellin is a plant-derived mast cell stabilizer from the Egyptian Amni visnaga (Khella) plant. Research into Khellin “inspired” the creation of sodium cromolyn, a common ingredient in many antihistamine drugs. You can get Khella in liquid form from Herb Pharm. They grow their own Khella and produce a tincture from it. You can also buy it as a tablet, or tea for ingestion, as well as an essential oil.
This little-known herb, khella (or khellin – the ‘supplement’ name) has an impressive ability to ease a range of serious and distressing allergic symptoms, including asthma. There are some potential problems that can occur from taking this herb, but the risks are minimal compared to steroids and calcium channel blockers.
If used according to directions, khella very rarely produces unwanted effects. However, it is important not to take excessive amounts, as it contains blood thinning agents. It also relaxes and dilates the blood vessels. So if you’re a “bleeder” then you should consult your physician first. Long term use at high doses can lead to liver problems, so never take more than the recommended dose.
You should consider khella as the first thing to be tried for all natural allergy relief. It could well be the only thing that you need.
Quercetin is a bioflavinoid found in many brightly fruits and vegetables and is more effective than sodium cromolyn in blocking mast cell cytokine release (histamine is a cytokine). Quercetin also works prophylactically, so unlike sodium cromolyn, it doesn’t need to be taken before meals.
Also in the bioflavinoid family are luteolin and apigenin, the latter of which can be found in parsley, celery, rosemary, oregano, thyme, basil, coriander and artichokes. These foods and those high in quercetin and luteolin come highly recommended for allergy sufferers. Dr Theoharides at Tufts has led most of the bioflavinoid for mast cells research and ended up creating a supplement specifically for this. This supplement is called Neuroprotek. The recommended dosage is about 1,000 milligrams a day, taken between meals.
It’s best to start treatment six weeks before allergy season. Those with liver disease shouldn’t use quercetin so if this is you, please consult your doctor before using this or any other supplement — especially if you are pregnant or nursing.
Quercetin also is a natural antioxidant that helps mop up molecules called free radicals that cause cell damage, which can lead to cancer. Citrus fruits, onions, apples, parsley, tea, tomatoes, broccoli, lettuce and wine are naturally high in quercetin, but allergy sufferers will most likely need to use supplements to build up enough of this compound to prevent attacks.
Stinging nettle behaves in much the same way as many of the drugs sold to treat allergies, but without the unwanted side effects. It actually inhibits your body’s ability to produce histamine. It’s a common weed in many parts of the world, but the most practical medicinal form is a freeze-dried extract of the leaves sold in capsules. Studies have shown that taking about 300 milligrams daily will offer relief for most people, although the effects may last only a few hours. You also can make your own tinctures or teas with stinging nettle, if you have access to it growing somewhere.
A German study, published in the journal Allergy, found that participants who ate foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids were less likely to suffer allergy symptoms than those who didn’t regularly eat these foods. Omega-3s help fight inflammation and can be found in cold-water fish, walnuts and flaxseed oil, as well as grass-fed meat and eggs.
Butterbur is derived from a common weed in Europe. Before refrigeration technology came along, they used to wrap butter in its broad, floppy leaves during warm weather – hence the name. A Swiss study, published in British Journal of Medicine, found that Butterbur was as effective as the drug cetirizine, the active ingredient in Zyrtec. Even though cetirizine is supposed to be a “non-sedative antihistamine”, researchers reported that it did cause drowsiness, while butterbur did not.
Participants in the study took 32 milligrams of butterbur each day, divided into four doses. A word of caution though — butterbur is in the same family as ragweed, so it could worsen allergy symptoms in some cases. Effects of taking butterbur over a long period of time also are unknown.
Epigallocatechin Gallate in Green Tea
This is a green tea compound which certain studies have found can inhibit the release of histamine from mast cells. Green tea is abundant in EGCG, a type of catechin and a powerful antioxidant that also serves as a natural antihistamine.
For an immunity boost, add echinacea to your tea and for more allergy relief, add nettle leaf. You can brew your own loose-leaf teas or buy green tea bags. I recommend the tea since it is more bio-available and has many other benefits, but you can buy green tea or EGCG supplements if that works better for you.
Reservatrol found in grapes, pistachios, blueberries and other higher histamine foods, was found to suppress inflammatory cytokines linked to mast cell disorders, specifically tumour necrosis factor and interleukins.
Curcumin from turmeric is another all natural allergy relief substance. This spice assists with mast cell stabilisation, thereby preventing histamine release. Being a natural anti-inflammatory, it may also act as a decongestant. It works best when activated with a pinch of black pepper.
Other All Natural Allergy Relief Options
Neti Pots for a Sinus Rinse
Clearing the nasal passages of allergens and irritants, sinus irrigation originated in the Ayurvedic medical tradition and people in India have been receiving astounding results for centuries. You might need to be brave for this one, as it involves squirting liquids up your nose. The treatment, which involves rinsing your nasal cavity with a saline solution, flushes out allergens (like pollen) and loosens mucus.
Using a Neti pot is simple. First, fill the pot with a mixture of salt and warm water (you can buy premeasured kits or make your own). Then tilt your head to the side and pour the solution in one nostril until it flows out the other, repeating the process on the opposite side. Use boiled or distilled water only, as tap water can introduce potentially dangerous organisms into your system.
If you don’t want to use a Neti pot you can do a salt water sinus rinse by mixing sea salt with warm water and sucking it up one nostril.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Drinking a glass of water with a teaspoon of ACV in your water with some fresh lemon juice is the best way to wake up every morning. At the first sign of an allergy attack, put 1 teaspoon of ACV in your Neti Pot solution for a fantastic sinus flush.
The almost unbelievable cancer-killing capacity of Indian frankincense has been well established in scientific literature for a number of years, but its life-giving power doesn’t end there.
In a study published by Phytotherapy Research, mice were given 1-10 mg of frankincense orally and it was observed that multiple levels of their immune systems were stimulated, including IgG, IgM, and interferon.
Put simply, frankincense can boost the immune system like no other and if you suffer from seasonal allergies, make sure you include it as part of your all natural allergy relief regimen.