It’s almost that time of year again when spring breaks forth in all her glory. That’s great news for those of us suffering from too much time indoors during the winter months, but it may leave allergy sufferers panicking…or running for their antihistamine drugs, decongestants and allergy shots.
Before you pop those pills, spray your nose, or get that injection, you might want to consider some of the natural options that help with allergies. Here are some of my preferred foods and remedies:
Papaya Enzymes—papaya contains a natural enzyme known as papain that has natural anti-inflammatory properties. As such, it helps alleviate inflammation linked to sinus and nasal swelling, as well as addressing many of the symptoms of allergies, hay fever and excessive catarrh buildup. It works on the root causes of allergies, so be patient: it may take some time with papain to see the results. While the fruit is helpful, for best results supplement with papain enzymes on an empty stomach. When there is no food for the enzyme to break down it goes to work to reduce inflammation. Choose a product that contains 250mg of papain. Take two capsules three times daily for a month prior to and during allergy season.
Quercetin—A natural antioxidant found in foods like apples, berries, cabbage, cauliflower, nuts, onions and tea, this nutrient has been found to have potent anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties, making it a great choice to reduce the effects of pollens and other allergens. In a study published in the medical journal In Vivo, researchers explored the mechanism by which quercetin supplements worked on people suffering from allergy-related nasal congestion. They found that the nutrient reduced the body’s production of a protein linked to airway inflammation. Take 400mg of quercetin twice daily.
Green Tea—Green tea is known as one of the best superfoods for many conditions and is also beneficial for allergies. That’s because it contains a potent antioxidant known as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that can impact allergies on a cellular level by reducing inflammation. You don’t have to remember EGCG to benefit however; simply drink more green tea. Even if you’re not a huge fan, try drinking it iced with a little stevia to sweeten and a squeeze of lemon for a delicious and refreshing iced green tea.
Perilla Frutescens—This little-known herb is part of the mint family and has been explored as an all-natural, herbal remedy for allergies. In a study in Experimental Biology and Medicine, researchers found that perilla and one of its active ingredients known as rosmarinic acid significantly reduced inflammatory reactions such as nasal and sinus congestion, and eye irritation. Other research in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine found that the herb was also effective at alleviating allergy-related skin conditions. The effective dose of perilla differs from product to product and depends on whether the seeds or leaves are used, or whether the remedy is an extract of a specific compound or crushed, dried leaves. Follow package directions since the products can have a wide range of potency. A typical tincture (alcohol extract) dose is thirty drops three times daily. Ideally, start a month prior to your primary allergy season and continue throughout the season.
Butterbur—Known as Petasites hybridus, this shrub grows in wet, marshy parts of North America, Asia and Europe. Multiple studies show its effectiveness in the treatment of allergies. Because the raw plant contains chemicals known as pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA) that can be harmful, be sure to choose a product that is PA-free. It should indicate this status on the label. Follow package instructions for dose.
Of course, if you have life-threatening allergies, you should seek emergency medical help. And, don’t discontinue any prescription drugs without first consulting your physician.