Warmer than usual temperatures means that trees and flowers in many parts of the country have already started to bloom. And while these may be welcome signs of spring for many, for folks who suffer with allergies they also signal the start of a miserable couple of months of sneezing, coughing and itching.
If you’re starting to feel the effects of spring allergies you’re not alone. More than 50 million Americans suffer with allergies, and over 19 million people were diagnosed with hay fever in 2014 alone.1,2
Allergy drugs, such as antihistamines, can help calm some symptoms. But that help can come at a cost. Besides giving you that drowsy “medicine head” feeling, allergy drugs can trigger dry mouth, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, trouble urinating and confusion. Talk about adding insult to injury!
With side effects like those it’s really no wonder so many folks choose to skip the drugs and try to tough it out through allergy season. But if you’re facing a few months of misery ahead and dreading it I have some good news. There are effective, natural remedies that can help you tackle some of the toughest allergy symptoms without resorting to drugs.
Quercetin is an antioxidant flavonoid found naturally in a number of plants including red onions, spring onions, peppers, capers, cocoa, leafy greens and fresh dill. This common compound fights free radical damage and, most importantly for allergy sufferers, eases inflammation making it a surprisingly effective allergy fighter.3
As a natural antihistamine quercetin can help ease allergy symptoms such as sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose, coughing and hives. In fact, experts say in some cases quercetin may be as effective as allergy medications, but without the disturbing drug side effects.4
You can gain some allergy protection by increasing the amount of quercetin-rich foods in your diet or by taking a supplement. Typically, folks fighting allergy symptoms take 500 milligrams twice a day.
The big leafy herb known as butterbur is a European native that’s been used for centuries to ease wheezing, coughs, headaches, allergies and asthma. And now, according to researchers, there’s some solid science to back up the plant’s reputation for being an allergy fighting superstar.
When butterbur was tested in a head-to-head battle against popular allergy drug Zyrtex it performed just as well as the drug, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal.5 Given over two weeks butterbur effectively eased volunteer’s seasonal allergy symptoms, but without the typical drug side effects. In another study, it only took five days for butterbur to significantly slash user’s allergy symptoms including sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes and itching.6 The researchers reported lower levels of inflammatory histamine and leukotrienes in volunteer’s blood work.
A typical dosage for erasing allergy symptoms is eight milligrams of butterbur extract, four times a day. Butterbur teas are also available.
A powerful natural antihistamine can be found hiding inside, of all places, a common weed that grows wild in many places in the U.S. Just like antihistamine drugs, stinging-nettle extracts interrupt your body’s production of allergy symptom triggering histamines. But unlike the allergy drugs, stinging nettle won’t make you feel like a zombie with a mouth full of cotton.
Experts say stinging nettle targets a number inflammation-triggering enzymes to naturally reduce your allergy symptoms.7 In a randomized, double blind study 98 percent of allergy sufferers found better relief with stinging nettle than with a placebo.8
Experts say 300 milligrams a day is effective for reducing allergy symptoms for most folks. Stinging nettle is also available as a tea.
Local raw honey:
Most folks are surprised when I recommend they seek out a local bee keeper to help them with their allergy symptoms. But the truth is locally sourced raw honey is one of the easiest (not to mention delicious!) methods for overcoming hay fever.
This ancient remedy works by exposing you in small doses to the local pollens that make you miserable every spring.
In a study published in the journal International Archives of Allergy and Immunology, allergy symptoms were slashed by an incredible 60 percent in allergy sufferers who took daily doses of honey for the five months leading up to allergy season.9 In fact the volunteers ended up cutting back on their antihistamine use, using 50 percent less of the drugs than the control group.
Try taking one tablespoon a day of local raw honey.
You don’t need to simply tough it out this allergy season. Give one of these natural and effective allergy fighters a try instead.
1. “Allergies,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Accessed 3/9/2017
2. “Allergies and Hay Fever,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Accessed 3/9/2017
3. “Quercetin: Compound Summary for CID 5280343 – 9. Pharmacology and Biochemistry,”
4. “Quercetin as a potential anti-allergic drug: which perspectives?,” Iran J Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2011 Jun;10(2):139-40
5. “Randomised controlled trial of butterbur and cetirizine for treating seasonal allergic rhinitis,” BMJ. 2002 Jan 19;324(7330):144-6
6. “Anti-inflammatory activity of an extract of Petasites hybridus in allergic rhinitis,” Int Immunopharmacol. 2002 Jun;2(7):997-1006
7. “Nettle extract (Urtica dioica) affects key receptors and enzymes associated with allergic rhinitis,” Phytother Res. 2009 Jul;23(7):920-6
8. “Randomized, double-blind study of freeze-dried Urtica dioica in the treatment of allergic rhinitis,” Planta Medica, 1990, 56(1):44-47
9. “Birch Pollen Honey for Birch Pollen Allergy – A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study,” Int Arch Allergy Immunol 2011;155:160–166
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