(NaturalNews) Allergic reactions occur when your immune system decides that a particular substance that enters your body, be it pollen, mold spores, cat dander or just dust, is an "enemy" and tries to "attack" it. Such substances are commonly referred to as allergens and, in the process of neutralizing them, your cells release histamine and other chemicals which then cause the typical symptoms of allergies - runny nose, sneezing, itchy and red eyes, ticklish throat, sinus headache, etc. Hay fever, for example, is triggered by pollens and is very common in the United States, affecting some 30 million Americans every year. Many people turn to over-the-counter antihistamine drugs for allergy relief, but alternative practitioners tell us that this could be doing your body more harm than good.
Antihistamine medications only hide and cover up a person's sensitivity to allergens - they never tackle the root causes. And such drugs, as is often the case, come with their fair share of side effects - drowsiness, heart arrhythmias, etc.
Do natural remedies for allergies work? As far as dealing with allergies is concerned, Mark Stengler, ND, assures us that "natural remedies are strong enough that you won't have to take drugs - you'll get all the relief you need." Here are three such natural remedies.
An excellent herbal remedy for allergies is nettle. Dr. Stengler said that "70 percent of my allergy patients who take the herb stinging nettle don't need to take any other supplement or medication for symptomatic relief."
In fact, different cultures around the world have for hundreds of years used this herbal remedy for treating nasal and respiratory issues, including runny nose, chest congestion, asthma, cough, whooping cough and tuberculosis. Andrew Weil, MD, once mentioned that he did not know of anything as dramatic as the allergy (hay fever) relief brought about by the use of freeze-dried nettle leaves.
Taking this herb a few weeks before the start of allergy season would boost its effectiveness. A possible dosage is two 300 mg capsules of freeze-dried nettle thrice daily.
According to Skye Weintraub, ND, quercetin, a bioflavonoid, could be a "potent inhibitor of histamine release." She recommended taking 250 mg two times per day, giving it 3 to 4 weeks to take effect.
Further, she suggested that taking bromelain, an enzyme with anti-inflammatory properties that is found in pineapples, would boost the body's absorption of quercetin. Dr. Weintraub's recommendation is 250 mg of bromelain twice daily together with the quercetin.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Essential fatty acids, in particular omega-3 fatty acids, have been shown in many clinical studies to help alleviate many chronic inflammatory and allergic conditions. You could try taking 3 g of fish oil supplements or one to two tablespoons of flaxseed oil each day.
What would greatly help if you do suffer from chronic allergies would be to seek out an allergist or natural health practitioner who provides a wide variety of tests that attempt to ascertain the root causes of your allergic reactions. While the above natural remedies can provide relief from your discomfort, long-term recovery can only take place when the root causes are tackled.
A few such tests include fasting and food testing, since food allergies could worsen inhalant allergies; cytotoxic testing, a blood test which detects food and chemical allergies; radioallergosorbent test (RAST), a blood test to find allergies to foods, pollen, dust, dust mite, mold, and dander; and bronchial inhalation challenge testing, which finds out if you are sensitive to certain chemicals and environmental factors.
A registered herbalist discusses some herbal remedies for allergies here.
Sources for this article include:
Gottlieb, Bill. Alternative Cures: The Most Effective Natural Home Remedies for 160 Health Problems. Rodale, 2000. Print.
Duke, James A., PhD. The Green Pharmacy. New York, NY: Rodale, 1997. Print.
Murray, Michael T., ND. Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements: The Essential Guide for Improving Your Health Naturally. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press, 1996. Print.
Balch, James F., MD, and Stengler, Mark, ND. Prescription for Natural Cures: A Self-Care Guide for Treating Health Problems with Natural Remedies Including Diet and Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements, Bodywork, and More. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2004. Print.
About the author: Reuben Chow has a keen interest in natural health and healing as well as personal growth.