If you suffer from seasonal allergies, this time of year isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. In fact, late spring and early summer can be downright miserable for those sensitive to pollen, grass, mold, and ragweed. These common allergens invade nasal passages and the respiratory tract, triggering inflammation, watery eyes, runny noses, headaches, and many other uncomfortable symptoms. Many seasonal allergy sufferers often experience a loss of sleep and a decline in daily productivity as well. Over-the-counter meds may offer a bit of relief, although many come with a long list of unwanted side effects like drowsiness and dry mouth. Some researchers believe that the long-term use of allergy meds containing decongestants may even be to blame for an uptick in dementia. Thankfully, there are safe and effective herbal remedies that can help take the misery out of allergy season so you can once again enjoy the fresh air, budding blossoms, and abundant sunshine of the season!
Perhaps the most important supplement you can take when it comes to relieving hay fever is a probiotic that contains gut-friendly bacteria like Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and Bifidobacterium bifidum. A large percentage of your overall immune function takes place in your digestive tract, so balancing your intestinal microflora is the best way to get to the actual source of chronic allergy issues. According to research, probiotics appear to have the ability to promote a regulatory response to allergens in the body, rather than an inflammatory response. When choosing a probiotic, look for a product that contains the bacteria listed previously. And remember that having a big number of healthy bacteria is less important than making sure you get the right strain of healthy bacteria. Probiotics work best when taken daily, so don’t wait until your allergies have already been triggered.
Many experts have proclaimed this amazing herb to be one of the world’s most effective natural medicines based on its unparalleled ability to fight specific inflammation in the body—including the inflammation that triggers hay fever symptoms. For those dealing with allergy-related respiratory issues, boswellia offers relief by opening airways and reducing swelling in the bronchial and nasal passages. This was proven in a clinical trial involving 40 patients with bronchial asthma. Patients took either 300 mg of boswellia or a placebo three times a day for six weeks. At the end of the study, 70 percent of the participants who had taken boswellia showed significant improvement of symptoms, compared to just 27 percent in the placebo group. Look for a boswellia product that is standardized to contain 10 percent AKBA for best results.
Another natural solution for hay fever symptoms is butterbur, a plant extract used traditionally to treat bronchitis, excess mucus, migraines, and even asthma. This is due to its ability to decrease inflammation throughout the body—especially in the sinus and respiratory cavities—and relieve spasms. The one thing to keep in mind when turning to butterbur for seasonal allergy relief is that some preparations of the herb contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), which can actually damage the liver. Only take a butterbur product that is clearly labeled PA-free to ensure your safety. Research suggests that butterbur may be as effective as taking 10 mg per day of cetirizine (Zyrtec) or 180 mg per day of Fexofenadine hcl (Allegra). If you’re interested in trying a natural alternative to relieve your allergies, look for a butterbur standardized to 8 mg of total petasin, its active ingredient.
Quercetin is a powerful antioxidant that shows tremendous promise in fighting seasonal allergies naturally. It has the unique ability to slow down the release of histamines in the body, which means it can decrease symptoms like coughs, watery eyes, hives, and runny noses. (Histamines are the chemicals released by your immune system in response to allergens.) Quercetin is also a powerful anti-inflammatory. You can actually get plenty of quercetin from eating a healthy diet, as it is present in a variety of plant foods including broccoli, citrus fruits, leafy greens, apples, berries, and peppers. However, you can also incorporate a supplement into your daily regimen for added support. In addition to relieving hay fever symptoms, quercetin has also been shown to support a healthy heart and lower the risk of certain types of cancer.
Nettle, often referred to as “stinging nettle,” is a highly effective treatment for seasonal allergies. This is because it contains active compounds that naturally fight inflammation and possibly reduce the amount of histamine that is produced by the body in response to an allergen. One study of 98 participants tested a freeze-dried preparation of nettle on allergic rhinitis (inflammation caused by allergens). When participants recorded their daily allergy symptoms, relief rated much higher among those taking the nettle than those taking a placebo. Experts say that the best way to reap the benefits of nettle during this time of year is to start consuming it a couple of months before allergy season. However, studies also show that a dose of 300 mg twice per day can help relieve symptoms in as little as 15 minutes.