7 Fantastic Natural Remedies For Allergies

natural remedies for allergies

It’s that time of year again.  Spring is under full steam, buds are bursting and flowers are coming into bloom.  Here in the UK, oilseed rape fields are ripe, yellow and pollinating everywhere.

As hay fever and allergic rhinitis begins to strike, many of us turn to over-the-counter anti-histamines for relief.  Drugs like chlorphenamine, cetirizine and loratidine are easy and convenient, but come with their own set of side effects and don’t offer any long term solution to the allergy problem.

In this post I look at some of the best natural remedies for allergies, which give you a safer, non-pharmaceutical option.  And also the possibility, particularly with treatments like probiotics, of correcting your allergy altogether.

So What Causes Allergies?

An allergy is your body’s over-the-top response to contact with foreign particles (called allergens), such as pollen grains or dust particles.  When your body is exposed to allergens, it mounts an immune response to what it perceives as a threat.

Your immune system produces immunoglobulins (antibodies specific to the allergen) which trigger off a whole inflammatory cascade of cytokines, prostaglandins and leukotrienes.  Special immune cells called mast cells are also activated and they produce histamine.

Together all these immune chemicals create the allergic symptoms we’re so familiar with – itchy eyes and nose, red and watery eyes, puffiness, brain fog, congestion and sneezing.

The actual allergen itself is harmless, but you’re body’s hypersensitised immune system goes into overdrive fending it off and that leaves you feeling pretty pants.

And What Makes A Good Remedy?

Answering this question is crucial to finding really effective natural remedies for allergies. That’s because all the best remedies have some form of direct influence on the immune response, calming it down and massively reducing the inflammatory reaction that occurs.

The first two natural remedies are particularly good immune modulators and that makes them fantastic for allergies and all sorts of autoimmune conditions too.

7 Fantastic Natural Remedies For Allergies

1  Quercetin

Possibly the king of all natural remedies for allergies is quercetin. – a flavonol, found naturally in many plant-based foods, such as onion, broccoli, berries and tea.

There’s now a growing body of science uncovering quercetin’s powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine powers, which is very exciting!  Trials are showing that quercetin works in the following ways:

  • Inhibits histamine release [1].
  • Decreases production of antigen-specific antibodies, inflammatory enzymes, immune mediators, cytokines and leukotrines [1a].
  • Suppresses immunoglobulin levels in allergic response [1b].
  • Suppresses release of neuropeptides which cause itching, nasal congestion and sneezing [1c].
  • Suppresses eosinophil activation [1d].

If you’re keen to try a quercetin supplement for its anti-allergy benefits, then go for a product that combines quercetin with curcumin (turmeric) and piperine (black pepper) if possible.  This is because each of these compounds enhances the action of the other, so you get a much more powerful treatment [1e][1f].

I have used Swanson’s Ultra COX-2 Combo with great results, but there are many other good supplements out there.

2  Probiotics

And that brings me to probiotics, because no list of natural remedies for allergies would be complete without them!

There is now a huge amount of science showing that taking probiotics brings your immune system back into balance, by boosting populations of friendly bacteria.  Your gut bacteria are responsible for a multitude of immune tasks and produce many important compounds that are essential for healthy immune function.

In terms of allergies, introducing daily probiotics into the body helps to calm the hypersensitised immune system and get it back on track again.

In trials, probiotics have been administered to groups of participants with conditions such as asthma and allergic rhinitis, who then saw marked improvement in their symptoms [2a][2f].

A 2008 review of 12 separate randomised, controlled trials, found that patients in 9 of them showed an improvement due to the use of probiotics [2].  And a similar review in 2015, found that patients in 17 out of 23 trials showed significant clinical benefit from probiotic use [2b].

Other studies have identified that certain strains of bacteria are particularly good at easing rhinitis, for example Lactobacillus salivarius, L. paracasei and L. casei Shirota [2c][2d][2e].

Indeed, I’ve been eating healthy and taking high-strength probiotics for years and it’s been a long time since I suffered with any hay fever or rhinitis symptoms.  So I wholeheartedly recommend them.

You can read more about how I choose good probiotic products in my post – The Best UK Probiotics Supplement.

3  Tinospora Cordifolia

Tinospora cordifolia is a plant from the tropics of India, which also goes by the lovely name of Heart-Leaved Moonseed!  And it’s another one of the best natural remedies for allergies that I’ve come across in my research.

This tropical plant has been found to contain at least seven immunomodulatory active compounds which possess anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory effects.  These compounds include cordifolioside A, tinocordiside and syringin [3][3a].

In 2005, tinospora was used in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, for the treatment of 75 patients with allergic rhinitis.  The plant was found to significantly decrease all symptoms of the condition.  It reduced sneezing in 83% of patients, nasal itching in 71% of patients and nasal discharge in 69% of patients.
Even better, it did all this whilst being well tolerated by all the participants [3b].

A simple search on Pubmed will generate a number of other relevant studies, if you’re inclined to do further research into this intriguing plant.

If you’re interested in trying tinospora in supplement form, it’s available in Life Extension’s ‘Immune Modulator With Tinofend’, which contains a stem extract of the plant.
There are also several organic powdered forms of tinospora available online as well.

4  Spirulina

A surprise find at number 4 in our list of natural remedies for allergies, is spirulina.  I have to confess I had no idea spirulina had immune-modulating powers, but then it’s such a nutritious superfood, I guess it kind of makes sense.

A 2008 double-blind, placebo-controlled study looking at spirulina’s effect on allergic rhinitis, found that it significantly improved the symptoms of nasal discharge, congestion, sneezing and itching far better than placebo [4].  This is because spirulina is apparently able to modulate the immune system and suppress the allergic response [4a][4b].

Nowadays there are some awesome-quality spirulina products available, such as Sevenhills and Naturya’s.  Just always go for an organic powder to ensure purity.

5  Perilla frutescens

Perilla frutescens, or just perilla as it’s commonly called, is a member of the mint family native to parts of Asia.  The plant contains important active compounds like rosmarinic acid, caffeic acid and luteolin, which all have anti-inflammatory action [5a].

In a similar way to quercetin, perilla’s compounds work by dampening the body’s overall allergic response.  It’s able to lower histamine levels, expression of inflammatory mediators, and release of immune cells such as mast cells and eosinophils.  Thus reducing all associated symptoms, including irritated nose, and itchy, watery eyes  [5][5b][5c].

6  Nasal Phototherapy

Nasal phototherapy or rhinophototherapy, is a more recent treatment on the allergy scene.  It utilises red light therapy, an effective technology with anti-inflammatory benefits, applying it directly to the nasal cavity itself.

In this case, a few minutes of red light treatment up the nose, suppresses the cells that release histamine.  Which in turn alleviates cellular inflammation and its associated symptoms.

Various studies have found that rhinophototherapy can be an effective treatment for allergic rhinitis.  And in fact two studies in 2013, showed that it did this better than the histamine-blocker azelastine and other topical rhinitis medications [6][6c][6b].

I found a couple of quite well-reviewed nasal phototherapy devices on Amazon, made by Kinetik and Bionette, for anyone who’d like to try this sort of non-pharmaceutical treatment.  (The pics below will take you to more info on each product.)
Or alternatively I’m sure there are more devices available, via online research into this treatment.

7  Neti Pot

Oh the humble neti pot!  Such a strange looking thing, but so delightfully effortless and soothing to use.  I couldn’t leave the neti pot off this list of natural treatments for allergies, because it’s such an essential piece of kit for easing nasal stuffiness, discomfort and congestion!

A neti pot is an ingenious means of flushing your nose and sinus with warm saline.  It simply works by rinsing away any problem-causing particles (such as cold viruses, dust or pollen grains), before they have time to trigger an immune response.

A neti pot won’t treat the immune dysfunction itself, but it’s an absolute corker for making you feel refreshed and lessening symptoms!  I know I wouldn’t be without mine in the natural medicine cupboard.
(Click on the pics below for more info on the neti pot.)

    

So what are your thoughts on this article?  Do you have your own natural remedies for allergies that you wouldn’t be without?
If so, feel free to share below and spread the knowledge x

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