7 ways to fight allergies naturally
Over-the-counter products aren’t your only option for treating allergies. We asked two experts to weigh in with natural ways to prevent and treat reactions. Here are seven options
1. Supplement with ‘friendly bacteria’
According to naturopathic doctor Tracey Beaulne of Naturopathic Family Medicine in Toronto, if you suffer from seasonal allergies, reaching for probiotics, such as acidophilus, should one of your first preventative steps. Beyond the fact that all stomachs can benefit from the boost probiotics lend to digestion and immunity, they can also influence the immune system and potentially correct the root cause of allergic reactions, she says. Aim to take a daily dose of the BB536 strain year-round from food, and follow any course of antibiotics with acidophilus for double the length of time you were taking medication.
2. Load up on butterbur
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.
3. Take more vitamin C
“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 to your day 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.
4. Eat your onions
Ramping up your intake of quercetin, a bioflavonoid derived from onions, can not only benefit your diet, it can help minimize the occurrence of watery or itchy eyes, asthma and hay fever. “Quercetin has been proven effective for allergies, asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, cold and flu, and has some promising research as an effective mast cell inhibitor for allergic conditions,” says Beaulne. Take it in conjunction with vitamin C in doses of about 2 grams per day for optimal results.
5. Supplement with fish oils
According to Turner, healthy types of oils are necessary in the formation of every cell in the body, making EPA and DHA – the components of essential fatty acids – a must. “Because they’re anti-inflammatory, they’re useful in treating and preventing heart disease, but they also have beneficial effects on cholesterol, skin moisturization, bowel function and, based on a recent German study, even hay fever,” she says. Take 2,000 – 6,000 mg daily with meals for best results.
6. Look for adrenal support
Supplements that support the adrenal glands (stress glands) can be helpful in maintaining energy and reducing the effect of stress and allergies on the body, says Turner. “I like supplements like TAD+ or Cortrex as both contain adrenal glandular, which are nutrients that support these glands, as well as licorice, an herb that I love for stress adaptation and immune function,” she says.
7. Pay attention to your diet
Diet plays a role in our overall health, and allergies are no exception. A recent study done in Crete, Greece found that simply following the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fruits and vegetables, had a protective effect for children with asthma and allergies in that region of the country. To give your body the nutrients it needs, aim to follow a hypoallergenic, anti-inflammatory diet during allergy season, and keep a food diary to help pinpoint any flare-ups, which can worsen with environmental allergies, says Beaulne.