Allergy season is upon us once again. Every year allergy sufferers load their shopping cart with OTC medications or make appointments with allergists who will happily give them injections at a price. This price isn’t always monetary, however. Sometimes the price is side effects such as dry mouth or excessive drowsiness that makes many sufferers wonder if they would have been more productive dealing with sneezing and watery eyes.
Is there no way to deal with allergies without having to suffer the side effects that drag you down? Natural remedies for allergies may be just what you need if you are one of these allergy sufferers who can’t seem to win.
So, what are allergies? There are really many types of allergic reactions, but for the sake of this article the discussion will focus on seasonal allergies. Whatever kind of allergy you deal with, your reaction is due to an over-active immune response. Something harmless, such as pollen or pet dander, enters your body and your body’s immune system goes into overdrive thinking this “intruder” is a danger to be neutralized at all costs, as it does with viruses or harmful bacteria.
Its weapon of choice? Histamines. Histamines make you sneeze, cough, scratch or any number of other things that are intended to dispel the intruder so your body can be at peace again. Never mind the fact that the so-called intruder is harmless. Your immune system just doesn’t seem to realize this. In the case of seasonal allergies, when the allergen is prolific and your immune response is over excited, you are just plain miserable. Sadly, many over-the-counter medications make you miserable as well. You feel like you just can’t win and consider locking yourself in a sterile room until allergy season is over.
Some Natural Remedies for Allergies
Thankfully, you don’t need to go to such extremes. As with so many things, nature can give us the solution if we just pay attention. The bonus of using natural remedies for allergies? No side effects! Keep in mind, though, that just because something is natural it doesn’t make it harmless. Natural remedies need to be used correctly to be safe and if you are taking any medications you should always discuss natural remedies with your doctor just to be safe.
So what are some natural allergy remedies that you can try? You likely already know about keeping your environment as allergen-free as possible. How many ads have you seen for “Free cat to good home. Must go due to allergies.” Air purifiers are popular as are special air filters that are designed to filter out even the tiniest microns. There are even window screens designed to catch allergens while allowing you to keep your windows open during allergy season.
These things are tools and, while useful, can only do so much. You need to take charge and help your body to be balanced so it can function normally in your environment. One thing that can help is herbs.
Herbs for Natural Allergy Relief
Herbs for allergies take time to work. In many cases it is best to start treating yourself with herbs several weeks before allergy season is expected to begin and continue through to the end of the season. Allergy sufferers may feel that the remedy is not working if they expect it to act almost instantly like a pill from the doctor. Here is the difference: pills from the doctor mask what is going on in your body and cover up symptoms instead of treating the cause of the problem; herbs help your body balance and function normally, eliminating the cause of the ailment. If one herb does not seem to help after a reasonable amount of time, try another until you find the one that targets the cause of your particular problem.
Here are three top herbs to try:
Butterbur (Petasites hybribus) – Butterbur is a natural antihistamine that works much like the drug cetirizine (Zyrtec®). The difference? The drug causes drowsiness and butterbur does not. The ingredient in butterbur that makes it work so well is called petasin, which fights histamines. Butterbur is also a common and effective migraine remedy.
A common dose is 8 mg, three times a day. Keep in mind that, since butterbur is related to ragweed, there is a possibility of your symptoms getting worse. If this happens, discontinue use. Butterbur may also contains a chemical that can lead to liver toxicity so be sure you get yours from a reputable source and be sure it is PA-free (meaning the toxins have been removed). One to try: Butterbur Extract with Standardized Rosmarinic Acid from Life Extension. Take as directed on the label.
Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica) – Nettles is another natural allergy remedy because it seems to reduce the amount of histamine the body produces. Many people find they feel better with just 300 mg a day but relief may last longer if you drink nettles tea several times a day. One to try: Organic Nettle Leaf from Traditional Medicinals.
If you take blood thinners or blood pressure medications you may want to consult your doctor before taking nettles. Nettles can affect how certain medications work making them more or less effective. If you are pregnant, you should not take nettles.
If you’re like me, you have nettles growing like crazy. You can carefully harvest them with gloves. Hang them up to dry and then make a nourishing infusion that can help with allergies as well as other issues.
Quercetin – Quercetin, rather than being an actual herb, is a pigment found in many herbs and foods. It works because it slows the enzymes that cause allergic reactions. It helps the body deal with allergens better, without an allergic reaction.
Quercetin can be safely taken three times a day. Start taking it at least six weeks before the expected start of allergy season. One to try: Optimized Quercetin from Life Extension.
Remember to be patient when you are taking herbs or other supplements for natural relief from allergies. You may see results fairly quickly or it may take several weeks before you see improvement. The wait is worth it when you can live your life without allergies and without annoying side effects.