Members of the sniffling, sneezing and itching allergy demographic typically rely on numerous drugs and sprays for relief — often with mixed results. Many pharmaceutical treatments relieve sneezing and itching, but do little to treat congestion, and vice versa. In fact, at a recent meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Dr. William E. Berger reported that nearly a third of allergy patients think their medications don’t work. Plus, pharmaceutical remedies are often expensive and frequently come with unwanted side effects, such as drowsiness and nasal irritation. The sedative effects of these drugs can impair driving ability and cause a mental disconnect that many users find irritating.
Often sited as an allergy reliever, a German study found that the sesquiterpenes (forms of hydrocarbon found in essential oils) in butterbur, a herbaceous perennial plant, are thought to possess anti-inflammatory properties. Another study done in 2002 found that the herb was just as effective as the anti-histamine cetirizine (sold as Reactine in Canada), without the common sedative side effects. Take one tablet four times daily for best results.
Allergens can cause certain cells in the body to produce histamine, which is responsible for common seasonal complaints like tearing, excess mucus and a runny nose,” says Natasha Turner, Toronto naturopathic doctor and bestselling author of The Carb Sensitivity Program. Adding Vitamin C prevents the formation of histamine when compared to the typical OTC options, which work by interfering with the histamine after it’s produced. For best results, take it with bioflavonoids throughout the day, and aim for 2,000 mg daily for immune support.
Allergy-Fighting Foods. 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.
To help keep airways clear when pollen counts are high, add a dash of horseradish, chili peppers or hot mustard to your food — all act as natural, temporary decongestants. It’s also a good idea to avoid foods that you’re slightly allergic to until the air clears. Fighting off allergies can render the body hypersensitive to those foods, causing more severe reactions than usual.