Hello spring, hello allergies!
If you’re like many people, the arrival of Spring brings both excitement for warmer weather and more sunshine, but also dread for allergies that often come up around this time of year. Allergy symptoms occur when the body overreacts to harmless substances and produces a compound called histamines against it as a defense mechanism. This is why most allergy medications involve antihistamines. Having allergies also causes inflammation in the body, which contributes to allergy symptoms.
Allergies are more common in Spring due to more exposure to outdoor allergens like freshly cut grass, blooming flowers, and plants releasing pollen. Common symptoms include runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, and others. Managing allergy symptoms involves treating the root cause of the problem, which involves the immune system and the inflammation that occurs as a result.
Here are some of the best all natural remedies to help fight spring allergies, that I love!
- Quercetin–Quercetin is considered one of nature’s strongest antihistamines, and is also powerful at reducing inflammation, making it a perfect option for treating seasonal allergies. Research has shown that quercetin can be an effective method for reducing allergy symptoms by treating the root cause of the issue. Quercetin is naturally occurring in many foods, yet we recommend supplementing to achieve full therapeutic benefits. Dosing can vary from about 250mg per day to up to 1000mg/day, and it is usually best to start small and monitor symptoms before increasing the dose. Taking about 500mg of supplemental vitamin C as well as other allergy medications can help boost the impact of quercetin and further support allergy relief.
- Stinging nettle– This is a plant which research shows can help block inflammation and have anti-allergenic properties, leading to fewer allergy symptoms. It can be used for a variety of symptoms including migraines, headaches, allergic arthritis, and even anaphylaxis. Stinging nettle also may help block histamine from reaching receptors on tissue, leading to less symptoms. A study of 69 allergic arthritis patients showed significant benefit in symptoms when using stinging nettle compared to a placebo. Stinging nettle comes in a variety of forms. We recommend reaching out to us or another trusted healthcare provider for guidance on dosing.
- Astralagus-This is a Chinese flowering plant that may also help boost your immune system and reduce allergy symptoms. It is also shown to help reduce inflammation and may lead to improvements in asthma symptoms. Other research shows that astralagus can help improve endurance when tested on mice, which may be translatable for humans. Since allergies can often lead to fatigue and a feeling of being run-down, this benefit may be especially helpful. You can take astralagus to support relief of multiple allergy symptoms. This supplement can be taken as a capsule, tincture, or powder form. Dosing depends on what it is being used for, but a common dosage for use during seasonal allergies is 2, 80 mg capsules daily for 6 weeks.
- Probiotics– These beneficial bacteria are crucial for both gut & immune health (because about 80% of the immune cells are located in the gut!). Research has shown that probiotics may help both treat and prevent seasonal allergies, and other studies show that probiotics show therapeutic potential for immune-related diseases including viral infections and improving the body’s response to vaccines. Keep in mind, though, that the effects of probiotics are strain-specific, so not all will work for allergies. Scientists have found that the probiotic combination of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria have been specifically helpful in treating hay fever symptoms. Probiotics can be taken in many forms and doses as well, and which form and dose to take can be based on potency, ease of consumption, and other factors that should be discussed with a trusted healthcare practitioner (we are happy to help!). Strains like saccaromyces boullardi, and various strains of bifidobacteria can be helpful.
- Butterbur-This is another plant extract that has promising evidence that it may be an effective treatment for seasonal allergies and is also a common natural treatment for migraines and headaches. It works by helping to block the release of inflammatory chemicals which cause allergic reactions in the body. One randomized, double blind study of 131 patients showed that butterbur was as effective as taking over the counter Zyrtec, and comes with the benefit of not having sedative effects, which is a side effect of Zyrtec. Keep in mind that unprocessed butterbur supplements can contain chemicals called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA’s), which can cause liver damage and other illness, so only butterbur products that have been processed to remove PAs and are labeled or certified as PA-free should be used and are safe to consume in recommended doses for up to 16 weeks.
The take home:
You don’t have to be stuck indoors this Spring season, or suffer when you do go outdoors. Try giving any or a combination of these natural remedies a try and plan to feel your best this season!