Springtime can be a polarizing season. You either love it or you hate it.
You love it because the world seems to come alive after months of hibernation. Shades of green color the lawns and trees, and wildlife of all kinds are introducing their young families to the rest of the world.
But all that activity can bring about the negative side of spring: allergies.
What are Allergies?
A sneeze here, a sniffle there. Pollen makes your eyes itch, and spring cleaning sends small clouds of dust into the air.
Ugh. Hello allergies.
Everything around you is made of different molecules. When otherwise harmless molecules enter your body through touch, eating, drinking, or breathing, your immune system can see these as a threat. In response to this threat, they send out white blood cells to attack them (2).
Additional signals are then sent out to the surrounding tissues. Swelling, mucous production, and even more severe actions like vomiting or diarrhea can begin. This design is part of the multi-step approach your body takes to get rid of this invader.
These seasonal irritants can make it hard to enjoy the newness of spring. Reaching for the pink pill might sound like a good idea, but over-the-counter antihistamines can cause unpleasant side effects, such as (1):
But you need relief, right?
Thankfully, nature offers some solutions. Certain herbs and nutrients have been found to provide antihistamine effects.
Below are 5 of the best natural antihistamines you can find.
Found all over the United States, the stinging nettle, or Urtica dioica, has a wide range of uses. It gets its name from the tiny, sharp hairs that can inject an irritating chemical into the skin when touched.
In times past, nettle fibers were used to make paper. It was also cooked down and consumed in stews, beer, and teas. It’s a source of iron, vitamin c, and fatty acids (4).
Nettle also has, research finds taking nettle extracts can help with enlarged prostates, arthritis, diabetes, and allergies, due to its antihistamine and anti-inflammatory (2).
Also called Coltsfoot, the butterbur is a flowering plant that belongs to the sunflower family. Native to parts of Asia and Southern Europe, this shrub was used in the Middle Ages to help treat coughs, asthma, and skin wounds (6).
More recently, butterbur extract has been found helpful in treating migraines. It’s also been clinically tested as an effective anti-histamine (3).
Note: Butterbur is not recommended for those allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigold, or daises.
Not an actual plant, quercetin is actually a flavonoid found in foods like apples, berries, broccoli, and black tea. Dried flowers and buds from the Japanese pagoda tree are used in supplements.
Like other flavonoids, quercetin contains many antioxidants that help fight free radicals and reduce oxidative stress (7).
In addition to fighting viruses and boosting the immune system, quercetin has powerful antihistamine properties that can lower allergy symptoms (4).
An enzyme found in the cores of pineapple, bromelain has lots of health benefits to offer. Research shows it can help enhance digestion, alleviate osteoarthrosis, and has anti-cancer effects (8,9)
Bromelain also has antihistamine effects and has been shown to naturally reduce allergic sensitization in mice (5).
In addition to natural herbs, nutrients like vitamin c and probiotics have been shown to reduce allergic responses, as well as boost your immune system (10, 11).
Allergies are incredibly common, and today’s world makes it hard to live in your best health.
If you experience seasonal coughs, watery eyes, runny noses, or cold-like symptoms, you’re not alone. And while over-the-counter diphenhydramine can provide short-term relief, the side effects may not be worth it to you.
Natural antihistamines such as quercetin, vitamin c, stinging nettle, and butterbur might be the perfect solution for reducing your allergy symptoms. Check with your doctor if you’re pregnant, nursing, or taking medication. And make sure to do ample research, only buying supplements that are backed by quality third-party testing.
You don’t have to be miserable this allergy season. Have you considered opting for natural antihistamines this spring? If not, give some of these suggestions a try!