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   Sep 03

Top 5 Natural Antihistamines

Are you among the many seasonal allergy sufferers each year? Are you tired of the negative side effects many over-the-counter antihistamines provide? Fortunately, there are natural alternatives that can provide relief without inducing drowsiness, dizziness, or headaches – symptoms usually accompanied by most conventional approaches.

Most natural antihistamines help to deter symptoms associated with an overactive immune system. They may also help quiet allergy symptoms such as itchy eyes, sinus congestion, and difficulty breathing. Or, they may simply respond to a histamine reaction resulting from exposure to a specific allergen.

There are many natural herbs that display inhibitory properties to histamine. Here are the top 5 herbs which address some of the most common allergy symptoms:

1. Elderberry

Elderberry is a European folk remedy typically used for supporting health during bouts of the cold and flu. However, there is evidence that the active ingredients in elderberry also support the sinuses by discouraging swelling of the mucous membranes.[1] This benefit makes elderberry an excellent tool for supporting health while combating seasonal allergy symptoms. It naturally protects defenses by keeping bacteria in check, and it has also been used to deter sinusitis and nasal congestion.[2] It is usually found over the counter in health food stores as a liquid syrup.

2. Eyebright

Eyebright is a flowering herb that has been used to support eye health since the Middle Ages. There is very little scientific evidence to date to support the herb’s use as a natural antihistamine; yet, the existing data does provide promising insight into the herb’s powerful benefits. Eyebright contains high levels of antioxidants[3] which may be used to support eye health, and the plant itself has been said to combat dry eyes, allergies, sinusitis, conjunctivitis, and other eye infections.[4] It can be taken as an herbal tea or combined with water and used as an eyewash.

3. Ginkgo

Ginkgo biloba is a Chinese herb that is often associated with mental alertness and memory support.[5] However, it is actually a versatile herb that can be used for a variety of conditions, including glaucoma, bronchitis, asthma, [6] seasonal allergies,[7] tinnitus, and poor blood circulation. Some references also describe ginkgo as a natural antihistamine. It is considered a tonic herb in Ayurveda, meaning it helps restore balance in the body.

4. Jewelweed

Jewelweed has been used for centuries by Native Americans as a natural approach to poison ivy. The allergic response generated by poison ivy is what is known as a histamine reaction. [8] The natural chemical constituents of jewelweed appear to act much like corticosteroids, compounds that inhibit or “block” this histamine reaction. This may also apply to other histamine reactions, such as those that occur with contact dermatitis and bee stings.

5. Stinging Nettle

Stinging nettle may sound painful, but it’s actually considered a wonderful health-supporting herb. Nettle has natural histamine-blocking properties which are especially beneficial for seasonal allergies.[9] Historically, stinging nettle has been used for sore joints and gout as well as eczema and hay fever. Current research, however, has yet to support this ancient use.

Used these Remedies?

Have you had success using any of these remedies? Are there other natural approaches you employ when allergy season comes? Share with us in the comments!

– Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

Article References:

• Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD. Elderberry. UMM. Fact Sheet. January 11, 2012.

• Uncini Manganelli RE, Zaccaro L, Tomei PE. Antiviral activity in vitro of Urtica dioica L., Parietaria diffusa M. et K. and Sambucus nigra L. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2005 April 26;98(3):323-7.

• Blazicus B, Alberti A, Kery A. Antioxidant activity of different phenolic fractions separated from Euphrasia rostkoviana Hayne. Acta Pharmaceutica Hungarica. 2009;79(1):11-6.

• Stoss M, Michels C, Peter E, Beutke R, Gorter RW. Prospective cohort trial of Euphrasia single-dose eye drops in conjunctivitis. Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine. 2000 December;6(6):499-508.

• S. Mahadevan and Y. Park. Multifaceted Therapeutic Benefits of Ginkgo biloba L.: Chemistry, Efficacy, Safety, and Uses. Journal of Food Science. Volume 73, Issue 1, pages R14-R19, January/February 2008. DOI: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2007.00597.x.

• Tang Y, Xu Y, Xiong S, Ni W, Chen S, Gao B, Ye T, Cao Y, Du C. The effect of Ginkgo Biloba extract on the expression on the expression of PKCalpha in the inflammatory cells and the level of IL-5 in induced sputum of asthmatic patients.Journal of Huazhong University of Science and Technology – Medical Sciences. 2007 August;27(4):375-80.

• Russo V, Stella A, Appezzati L, Barone A, Stagni E, Roszkowska A, Delle Noci N.Clinical efficacy of a Ginkgo biloba extract in the topical treatment of allergic conjunctivitis. European Journal of Ophthalmology. 2009 May-June;19(3):331-6.

• Iwaoka E, Oku H, Iinuma M, Ishiguro K. Allergy-preventive effects of the flowers of Impatiens textori. Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 2010;33(4):714-6.

• Roschek B Jr, Fink RC, McMichael M, Alberte RS. Nettle extract (Urtica dioica) affects key receptors and enzymes associated with allergic rhinitis. Phytotherapy Research. 2009 July;23(7):920-6. doi: 10.1002/ptr.2763.

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