Last updated on March 3rd, 2022 at 11:23 am
More than 50 million Americans experience seasonal allergy symptoms every year and want natural allergy relief fast. Allergy season brings symptoms such as nasal congestion, drainage, sneezing, and itchy watery eyes. These symptoms occur when our immune system identifies a substance it reacts to. Many allergy sufferers react to mold, pollen, pet dander, or food-related allergens. When one of these substances enters our body, our immune system is stimulated to release chemicals to fight the irritant.
One chemical you may recognize is histamine. The release of histamine is what causes symptoms to erupt during allergy seasons. These symptoms may include inflamed nasal passages that cause stuffiness and sneezing, red, itchy eyes, and skin reactions such as hives.
In this article, we’ll cover all you need to know about natural remedies for allergies. How do antihistamines work, what are the best natural alternatives to antihistamines? Also what supplements are best for allergies, and what helps with annoying symptoms like perennial allergic rhinitis?
How Do Antihistamines Work?
Whatever causes severe allergies, we can all agree that the symptoms aren’t pleasant. Many of us reach for allergy medications or antihistamines to ease symptoms. But have you ever stopped to wonder how do antihistamines work?
As we previously stated, histamine is released when our body comes into contact with a substance that it perceives as a threat. Antihistamines (1) work to block histamine activity. You have likely bought various over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamine pills at the drugstore in an attempt to relieve your symptoms.
Some people even go so far as to alternate between different kinds, depending on the potency of their allergic reaction at that particular moment. But if these drugstore antihistamines aren’t doing the trick to treat allergic rhinitis or other symptoms, perhaps natural allergy medicine is the way to go.
What Is the Best Natural Alternative to Antihistamines For Natural Allergy Relief?
Considering that most allergies are from natural substances, dander, pollen, dust, to name a few, it stands to reason that there would be natural allergy remedies for these allergy triggers. These natural alternatives are plant-derived and are believed to be just as effective to improve symptoms. Allergic skin reactions can also occur during allergy season.
What is often preferred about using natural supplements for allergies is that they don’t come with the side effects(1) that OTC medications often do. The following are side effects that some people experience when they take OTC or prescription allergy medicine:
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Dry oral passage, including mouth, nose, and throat
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle weakness
- Chest congestion
- Hyperactivity (particularly in children)
- Feeling nervous or anxious
Now, let’s address some of the more popular natural supplements for allergies, what they do, and why they are effective.
Have you heard of antioxidants? They are compounds that inhibit oxidation, where free radicals can damage our cells and organisms. Quercetin is an antioxidant bioflavonoid derived from foods and plants. Some food you will find it naturally in are apples, green and black tea, berries, red wine, and broccoli.
Now, while consuming the above foods are beneficial to overall health, natural allergy relief supplements can offer a higher concentration of flavonoids compared to the foods. It is thanks to these higher levels that using quercetin as a natural supplement for seasonal allergies may provide health benefits (2).
Quercetin, such as Pure Encapsulations Quercetin, which comes in capsule form, may provide you with the natural allergy relief you seek. It works as a powerful antioxidant that is known to inhibit mast cells. Research suggests mast cells are responsible for the release of pro-inflammatory compounds (3) during a reaction.
While studies have shown that Quercetin can be an effective natural cure for allergies, thanks to its high anti-inflammatory properties (4), some may lean towards taking Quercetin-Bromelain Complex. This supplement includes quercetin, but with buffered vitamin C and the proteolytic enzyme bromelain.
Bromelain is next on our list of natural alternatives, but in this case, it acts as a supportive nutrient to help prevent the allergens from crossing the gastrointestinal tract. To learn more about quercetin, including its many benefits, read our Definitive Guide to the 7 Benefits of Quercetin.
Bromelain is a compound that is believed to be effective at treating respiratory distress. It is also said to prevent allergy symptoms by reducing inflammation caused by allergies (5). Specifically, it is a group of enzymes found within the stem and the fruit of the pineapple plant, making it a great natural allergy relief option.
When we consume it, often in supplement form, it works by stopping the allergic reactions that happen in the body. It reduces swelling in our body’s tissues, but particularly within the sinuses (6). Those who are looking to promote normal sinus and tissue health may want to consider this alternative.
Taking Bromelain can be done in a combination of other natural supplements, such as the Quercetin-Bromelain Complex as mentioned above. Bromelain is also found in Metagenics Sinuplex. Sinuplex is a blend of bromelain and other helpful compounds that work together to support healthy respiratory function.
Next, we move to Vitamin C, something everyone is familiar with. Primarily since it is found in many fruits and vegetables, from oranges, the most commonly known source, to bell peppers and broccoli. Vitamin C gives our immune system a healthy boost.
Beyond that, it acts as a natural antihistamine that provides natural allergy relief (8). But what many people don’t know is that it is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning that it needs to be taken daily to reap its benefits. Vitamin C is also different, in that rather than blocking histamine, it works to reduce the amount your body produces (9).
Even 2 grams every day can reduce histamine levels by about 38% (10). While Vitamin C can be taken individually, some people prefer to take it as a combination supplement, such as the Quercetin-Bromelain Complex.
Another option is to take it alongside Biociden TS Throat Spray. Using the two together are great natural remedies for seasonal allergies. Vitamin C may aid in lowering histamine production, while the spray is soothing to the throat in winter dryness and helps to promote optimal overall wellness using the power of natural botanicals. To learn more about Biocidin and botanicals our article The Definitive Guide to Biocidin: The Biofilm, Pathogen Buster is a great guide.
Found in pine bark, peanut skin, grape seed, and witch hazel bark, Pycnogenol is the French brand name for the natural chemical compounds within this maritime bark extract (11). It is a natural bioflavonoid; it can improve microcirculation, vascular function, and capillary flow.
Many choose to take it to promote healthy blood vessels, reduce the signs of aging, or even for weight loss. However, it was also found to help alleviate allergic rhinitis symptoms (12), otherwise known as hay fever.
Hay fever comes with many symptoms, from itching and swelling of the nasal passages to increased mucus production, rashes, and hives. In one particular study (13), Pycnogenol was shown to provide natural allergy relief for eye and nasal symptoms associated with hay fever sufferers. We think it’s worth checking out.
NAC (14) stands for N-acetyl cysteine, and its properties are used to aid in dissolving mucus. This natural cure for allergies is taken by way of inhalation or through capsules such as with the Natural D-Hist by OrthoMolecular. We love suggesting this supplement as it combines multiple natural alternative ingredients.
Natural D-Hist includes quercetin, bromelain, stinging nettle (which we will discuss later on), and NAC. Quercetin helps balance histamine levels while the bromelain promotes mucosal tissue health and helps your body absorb the quercetin.
The N-acetyl cysteine works to eliminate stubborn mucus and the stinging nettle leaf is there to balance the hyper-immune response. This means that your body doesn’t overreact to a harmless substance, such as dust, by way of sneezing, wheezing, or other allergic symptoms.
We believe that in using this optimized blend of natural remedies for allergies, you are better prepared to handle seasonal challenges with healthy nasal and sinus passages. If you want to know more about N-acetyl-cysteine, be sure to check out our Definitive Guide to N-acetyl cysteine.
Omega 3 Fish Oil
Many know Omega 3 fish oil as an essential fatty acid that may aid in reducing the risk of heart disease as well as promoting healthy, glowing skin. But Omega 3 Fish Oil may also work at reducing inflammation that comes with seasonal allergies(15).
When choosing a supplement, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), a polyunsaturated fatty acid found especially in fish oil, is essential as it offers anti-inflammatory protection. When it comes to taking natural supplements for allergies and enhancing cardiovascular health, we suggest the following.
The first is Nordic Naturals ProOmega, for its double-strength of EPA and DHA (Docosapentaenoic Acid), another fatty acid. If you want to support healthy organs, including the heart, brain, and eyes as well as optimize your inflammatory levels and bronchial health, then you may like this option.
Next is Ortho Molecular Orthomega, providing its users with 820 mg of EPA and DHA. We like it for its sustainable sourcing from the waters off the Chilean Coast. We also think that many prefer a soft gel for its superior absorption.
Probiotics are live microorganisms found in fermented foods. You may recognize them in yogurt. They promote a healthy balance of bacteria in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. As allergic reactions are the result of an overactive immune response, probiotics are believed to help.
One study (16) showed that they may play an important role in both the treatment and prevention of allergic rhinitis (hay fever). The way it works is it increases the good gut bacteria and promotes microbial diversity. This helps reduce inflammation in the gut and any negative effects that can come with it such all allergies.
We like Microbiome Labs MegaSporeBiotic as it has been clinically shown to not only maintain healthy gut barrier function but also support a healthy gut mucosa. This is necessary to ensure that your body is properly absorbing nutrients. If your body isn’t absorbing nutrients properly health problems will start to occur. It also increases the health of the gut mucosal lining which helps prevent pathogens from being absorbed into your bloodstream through the intestinal wall.
Bio-Botanical Research ProFlora4R is also a natural allergy supplement that works to replace beneficial flora. These are the good bacteria found in our gut. Some of its benefits include supporting mucosal integrity, aiding in the digestion of food for better nutrient absorption, and greater mobilization of the immune system. To learn more about Probiotics we recently wrote a helpful article, The How When & Why of Probiotics.
Butterbur is another natural supplement that may help with seasonal allergies. In particular, it is known to help ease hay fever symptoms. Butterbur is a plant extract that comes from a shrub found in Europe, Asia, and North America(17). Although more studies may be needed to confirm its effectiveness, some have said that taking supplements may help treat hay fever symptoms(18).
This guy is brave and for the record, we don’t recommend eating any plant with the word “stinging” in it. Named for the stinging sensation felt when one touches the plants’ leaves and stem, it grows in Europe, Africa, and North America. It has been used as herbal medicine in ancient civilizations past and is currently used to treat many ailments today (19).
Concerning allergies, it may help reduce symptoms often associated with hay fever, such as a runny nose, itchy eyes, and excessive sneezing. This is because the leaf acts as an anti-inflammatory (20). Otherwise, its benefits go beyond natural allergy relief and include supporting optimal overall health.
It can be taken in the form of capsules, such as the following found in Douglas Labs Nettles Max V. Recall that antioxidants help to inhibit mast cells, those which are high in histamine. Stinging nettle may provide the antioxidant benefits needed as well as reduce inflammation.
Spirulina is an organism, part of the blue-green algae family, and is found in both salt and fresh water. It was consumed by ancient Aztecs – often in the form of cake – as a fuel and nutrient staple. It is high in many nutrients (21), such as copper, iron, and protein.
Because it is high in antioxidants, it helps to protect free radicals from damaging oxidation to the cells in our body. It contains an active component known as phycocyanin which not only gives it its one-of-a-kind color but also helps to inhibit the production of inflammation in the body.
Beyond this, those who suffer from allergic rhinitis (hay fever) describe the inflammation that occurs within their nasal passageways as disruptive to normal breathing. One study (22), in particular, noted that those who took 2 grams per day noticeably saw a reduction in these disruptive allergic reactions.
Often hyped as a superfood, could it also be the next big natural cure for allergies? It can’t hurt to check it out. Fortunately, there are many different spirulina supplement options from which to choose, and you won’t have to make a cake as the Aztecs did.
This is technically number eleven in our top ten but we’re going for it anyway. Astragalus has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine(23) for many years to protect the body mentally and physically against disease. It is also known as an adaptogen. It is recognized for its high antioxidants levels and ability to support and protect the immune system.
There are studies(24) that show promise in it helping to reduce hay fever symptoms and act as a natural allergy medicine beyond its other capabilities. Douglas Labs Astragalus Max-V supplements may aid in helping with allergic symptoms on top of providing support for your overall immune system.
The Takeaway For Natural Remedies
In some cases, it’s a simple choice of taking one particular supplement or alternative medicine that may provide natural allergy relief such as Omega 3 Fish Oil to promote a healthy immune system. But some people prefer to combine natural treatments to get ideal results.
For example, taking a natural remedy like quercetin may help inhibit mast cells and that may be all you need. For others who need more support Natural D-Hist or Metagenics Sinuplex, provide a combination of allergy-fighting ingredients. Things like quercetin, stinging nettles leaf, bromelain, and N-Acetyl-Cysteine. Supplements like these have been specifically formulated to provide a perfect blend of natural allergy-fighting power.
We recommend that you read reviews and talk with your healthcare practitioner about any new dietary supplements before you take them as an allergy treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Supplements Are Best for Allergies?
Overall, this may depend on what allergic symptoms you suffer from the most. If hay fever is your nemesis, you may prefer a natural treatment for seasonal allergies such as Natural D-Hist.
However, if respiratory distress is what bothers you the most, bromelain in the form of Metagenics Sinuplex supplements may be the best way to relieve symptoms. What may interest you the most is having a supplement that works in combination with other components, such as vitamins or minerals.
Natural Allergy Relief for Kids
Many kids suffer from seasonal allergies. D-Hist Jr. is the children’s version of D-Hist and may provide natural allergy relief for kids. It may also help to relieve allergic rhinitis.
Are There Any Vitamins or Minerals That Help with Allergy Symptoms?
Yes, Vitamins and minerals work to maintain overall health. Vitamins like Vitamin C that we discussed above can be helpful for allergies. When taken in combination with natural allergy supplements our bodies become more efficient at fighting off allergies. Let’s take a look at some of the most commonly beneficial ones.
Is Zinc Good for Allergies?
Zinc is a mineral that has the primary role of optimizing your immune function, healing wounds, and protein synthesis(25) within the body. One study(26) was conducted stating that zinc supplements may prove useful in improving quality of life for those who suffer from Allergic Rhinitis (AR).
Does B12 Help with Allergies?
One of the reasons Vitamin B12 is associated with helping fight off those pesky allergy symptoms is because when we are suffering from allergies our bodies become stressed. When we are stressed, our stored levels of B12 become quickly drained(27).
Stress causes us to become more susceptible to contracting colds and having allergic reactions. It is therefore suggested that adequate levels of B12, whether through food such as eggs and fortified cereals or supplements may aid in fighting off allergies through a strong immune system.
Is Magnesium Good for Allergies?
Magnesium works in the body to calm our muscles, but more specifically, the bronchial tubes. Found in many nuts, such as almonds and cashews, and other foods such as kelp or wheat bran, it helps with allergies acting as a natural antihistamine(28).
What Helps Treat Allergies Fast?
Helping to eliminate allergies fast may be more of a question of taking a preventative stance as sometimes OTC antihistamines take time before they work. These preventative measures may include the following:
- Removal of dust and pollens through regular cleaning of clothes and washing of the skin
- Remove indoor allergens such as pet hair and dander through regular cleaning and air purification
- Including a wide variety of fruits and vegetables for optimal nutrients and as a way to promote a healthy immune system
- Drinking of warm liquids to aid in regular hydration and to help alleviate congestion
- Avoiding the use of harsh chemicals
- Wearing a mask to protect from harsh chemicals or known allergens
- Avoiding cigarette smoke as this may worsen symptoms
- Inhaling steam to clean up nose and back of the throat
Are There Any Foods That Help with Allergies?
While some foods may worsen your allergic reaction, including alcohol, sugar, melons, and even bananas(29), some foods may help with allergies. For example, foods rich in Vitamin C, such as watermelon, strawberries, and oranges, offset the inflammatory response from allergens(30).
And anyone will likely tell you after eating a bite of some pork vindaloo, that spicy foods, such as horseradish, hot peppers, and hot mustard can act as a natural decongestant. Some spices, including anise and fennel seed, may also offer some allergy relief. They stimulate the mucosal cilia breaking up congestion.
How Do You Get Rid of Allergies Permanently?
Unfortunately, allergies are here to stay and cannot be permanently eliminated. While some have found promising results through immunotherapy, the allergy itself doesn’t disappear but simply results in less severe reactions(31). Allergy shots may ease allergy symptoms and may provide longer relief but have to be done every few months to remain effective.
This is typically suggested for those who are not getting relief from medications, are unable to avoid the allergens, or need an alternative as allergy medicine is interfering with more essential medications. It is typically offered in the approach of shots, as liquid drops or in tablet form.
While allergies are a nuisance to all those who suffer, perhaps some comfort can be taken knowing that natural help for allergies does exist. Finding the right combination of what works for you may take some time, but hopefully, in reading this post, we have helped you narrow down your options.
Natural Allergy Relief References
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About the author
Chris Bowman is the COO of SimplyNutrients.com which is part of Dr. Jamy Antoine's Select Health Practice in Edina, Minnesota. Chris is passionate about helping people live healthier lives through using the best practices of nature, nutrition and medicine.