13 Natural Antihistamine Remedies

13 Natural Antihistamine Remedies

 

Seasonal allergies are miserable and disrupt daily life. Don’t worry: you have options.  Many plants and natural antihistamine remedies can go a long way to helping you manage your allergic symptoms.

In this post, you will learn what histamine is so that you can be informed about how various products work. Read on to see if they are right for you and if you can trade in your conventional antihistamines soon.

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What is Histamine?

Did you know that histamine is a neurotransmitter? This essential compound in your body is released from your mast cells.  Histamine also helps the body remove allergens and other triggers out of your body.  It even helps you remove pollen from your body. This is important to know because when you take medications for allergies, they can disrupt these normal processes.

Brain histamine function is important for keeping us motivated and helps us be goal-directed. Histamine helps to control appetite. and helps our body’s responses to foods.

Histamine also plays a role in the sleep-wake cycle in the body and also is a major regulator of the part of the brain called the hypothalamus.

This compound is also responsible for the allergic response in our body, and can make you feel quite uncomfortable!

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What Are High Histamine Causes?

Histamine is a natural substance and we need it for normal function. Sometimes the body overreacts to a substance and makes too much histamine. This creates the discomfort of allergies; sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, fatigue, altered breathing, and more.

High histamine levels result in symptoms of discomfort in the body, even though we need histamine to be healthy.  Histamine can rise to high levels if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Poor digestive function
  • Stress
  • Imbalanced diet
  • Food sensitivities
  • Environmental triggers
  • Toxins
  • Altered digestive bacteria
  • Altered immune response
  • Imbalanced immune system

High histamine can create all sorts of miserable symptoms, including:

  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Hay fever
  • Sinusitis
  • Inflammation
  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Anaphylaxis

What Are Allergy Causes?

Allergies can be mild or severe, depending on your body’s immune system and tolerance.

According to the National Institute for Allergic and Infectious Diseases, allergies are a loss of immune tolerance.

Through restoring natural processes in the body using a functional medicine approach, allergies can be managed more effectively than just taking medication.

How Do Conventional Antihistamines Work?

It is important to understand how allergy medications work to help decide if you should use them.  We have histamine receptors in our body.  We have 4 types, including H1, H2, H3, and H4.

Drugs classified in the first generation of antihistamines, sometimes called “classical” antihistamines, act non-selectively to block histamine by blocking all of these receptors.

Newer antihistamines only block H1, which has LESS crossing of the blood-brain barrier while still blocking histamine from uptake into cells.

By blocking histamine, they do reduce the body’s allergic response and allergic reaction. They can also make you very tired.

Dangers of Antihistamines

First-generation antihistamines also block other receptors.  They are called muscarinic, adrenergic (adrenoreceptors), and dopaminergic receptors.  Blocking these receptors can cause heart, urinary,  and gastrointestinal adverse reactions.

Antihistamines also cross the blood-brain barrier, causing sometimes dangerous side effects like drowsiness, decreased focus, reduced ability to learn and more.

Second generations drugs, by blocking only H1, have generally less side effects.

However, some OTC and prescription antihistamines could cause other serious adverse reactions, including weight gain and memory processing speed.

According to Healthline.com, other side effects of conventional antihistamines are drowsiness, excessive tiredness, dry mouth, stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Do Natural Antihistamine Remedies Work?

It is important to know that you have options for helping treat allergy symptoms naturally. Early research shows that you have many natural options that can help give you symptom relief.

Here are 13 options for you to try.  Natural antihistamines can be combined for additive and even synergistic benefits. Keep in mind, natural alternatives may actually work better for your symptoms than conventional antihistamines.

If you are having severe allergic reactions, make sure to seek the advice of your doctor.

Keep in mind, as part of healing from allergies, you need to have a high quality diet. Make sure that you get enough nutrition and heal the gut using a functional nutrition approach.

1. Stinging Nettle

Stinging nettle may sound scary, but it’s actually a very nutritious and healthy herbal antihistamine. When it is dries or steeped, the stinging is completely deactivated.  In some cultures, nettles is even eaten as a vegetable.

Nettles work in 3 ways to help reduce the allergic response in the body.  They:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Block H1
  • Stabilize mast cells which release histamine.

Supplements of 600 mg nettles daily reduced allergy symptoms better than standard antihistamines in a randomized, double-blinded clinical trial of 90 patients.

No known side effects of taking supplements of nettles have been seen in research. In fact, nettles supplements may also reduce symptoms of:

  • BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia)
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis

By reducing release of histamine, you may love how you feel taking stinging nettles. As with anything, check with your doctor before drinking nettles tea or taking nettles supplements. Nettles have a high safety profile for use as a natural antihistamine remedy.

Bonus: no drowsiness or weird side effects!

Buy Stinging Nettles

You can get Real Herbs Stinging Nettle Root capsules for $20.70 here. You can also get Now Brand Stinging Nettles 3 pack for $27.00 here.

I’ve tried both and find them equally effective.

2. Quercetin

Quercetin is a great natural antioxidant, or polyphenol.  It is found in foods like onions, apples, grapes, and broccoli. Quercetin is one of my favorite natural allergy remedies.

How Does Quercetin Reduce Allergy Symptoms?

By improving immune balance (TH1/TH2 ratio) and reducing antigen-specific antibody IgE formation, quercetin helps prevent our body from over-reacting to allergens in the air.

Quercetin also stabilizes mast cells by reducing their release of inflammatory compounds.

This results in less:

  • Rashes
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Sun sensitivity
  • Allergy symptoms

Quercetin has more anti-inflammatory properties.  It  reduces inflammation compounds in the body, including lipoxygenase, IL-8, IL-6, eosinophils, and peroxidase.

Quercetin helps late-phase bronchial asthma responses as well as nasal symptoms of allergies.

It also reduces the body’s gene expression of H1 type of histamine in cell study.

Many natural allergy supplements include quercetin. It does not cause drowsiness like typical antihistamines.

Studies have used doses of 500 mg twice daily.  Supplements of quercetin are safe, but make sure you check with your doctor before taking quercetin because it could interact with other medications.

Buy Quercetin

I prefer to buy quercetin in powder form because it is easier to get the desired amount.  For acute allergies, I take 1-2 tbsp a day.   I mix it in my morning smoothie, and during allergy season, I will sip on my quercetin drink all day.  Taking the powder form also is one less pill and I feel like it acts quicker.

I like Bulk Supplements quercetin for $28.96 on Amazon. You can find it here. It is also MUCH cheaper per gram of quercetin than any product I have found.

Another great option is Source Naturals Activated Quercetin – Plant-Derived Bioflavonoid Complex – Seasonal & Immune Defense -200 capsules.  This quercetin brand has bromelain too.  You can find it here for $39.99.

3. Lavender

Stress  is known to ramp up the body’s production of histamine.

Lavender may help the body fight symptoms of histamine by working to reduce the stress response in the body.  In fact, clinical study finds that lavender reduces anxiety as well as prescription medication for mild anxiety.

In asthma, allergy symptoms make lung function worsen.  Lavender was able to reduce allergic inflammation and mucous cell stimulation in mice.

Lavender reduced allergy symptoms by reducing histamine release from mast cells in a mouse model.

Work with lavender for allergies is still early, but it is very safe. Supplements of lavender or inhaling lavender essential oil may be helpful as a natural antihistamine.  Caution if you are allergic to the lavender plant.

Buy Lavender

You can find lavender here.  I like the essential oil because it is very concentrated.

As a supplement, it is part of the TriEase gelcaps for allergies. You can find it here. It is retail:$30.67
Wholesale: $23.00.

4. Lemon

Part of the citrus family, lemon contains a high amount of a healing compound called limonene.  Limonene is found in highest amounts in the lemon rind, not the juice.

Lemon essential oil made from lemon rind has anti-inflammatory effects.  It may reduce the body’s production of inflammatory compounds and immune cell migration, which are problematic for allergies.

Forty-three patients with grass pollen allergy found benefit from a nasal spray including lemon. Lemon helped the nasal symptom score and nasal air flow compared more than placebo.

Lemon may also reduce release of histamine from mast cells.

By increasing our protective barrier, lemon may help reduce the entry of histamine into the body.  It does this by increasing the production of mucin in the lining of the digestive tract.  By strengthening the gut barrier wall, our body is able to reduce the allergic response.

Buy Lemon

You can buy lemon essential oil here. It is $11 wholesale and  $14.67 retail. Only use Certified Pure Therapeutic grade.

You can also get citrus bioflavonoids on Amazon here for $18.

 

5. Probiotics

Probiotic use in pregnant women may reduce chances of eczema in infants based on a review of current research. Eczema is an allergic type of skin response. Learn more about eczema here.

The use of probiotics improve digestive tolerance of antibiotics, so may prove to be beneficial for allergies in the future.

Research is preliminary for treatment of allergies with probiotics at this time. In my experience, fermented foods can help a lot because they are rich in probiotics.

Buy Probiotics

There are thousands of probiotic brands and types out there.  A couple I like that are well-known to help support allergy symptoms are:

Nature’s Instincts Seasonal Relief Probiotic + Indoor & Outdoor Seasonal Support  120 Vegetarian Capsules for $20.19. You can find it on Amazon here.

Another good brand is Physicians Choice Probiotics 60 Billion CFU-30 Capsules for $21.75. You can find it on Amazon here.

6. Peppermint

Peppermint extract reduces the release of histamine from mast cells. Peppermint essential oil worked better than placebo to reduce itching symptoms in pregnant women in a double-blinded study.

The effects of peppermint aren’t fully understood, but it is thought that by cooling the skin, menthol reduces the itching caused by histamine.

Peppermint reduces smooth muscle contractile response to histamine in the digestive tract as well. The muscle contraction is part of why people feel discomfort with allergies.

Because peppermint has many components, it has many actions at play.  Here are a few.

Menthol activates TRPM8: a voltage-gated ion-channel protein : this allows entry of calcium ions on sensing the change in temperature.

Whenever there is a drop in temperature, the voltage on TRPM8 changes so that it allows calcium ions to flow into the nerve cell. This triggers the current to flow from the membrane of the nerve cell and you then sense coolness.

By bringing down the perceived temperature, peppermint helps to bring down inflammation.

Peppermint oil can provide immediate symptom relief for allergy symptoms when used topically and when using Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade orally.  Dosing information can be found on my peppermint blog.

7. Butterbur

Butterbur, also known as petasites hybridus, is a shrub that grows in  wet marshland, and damp soils of forest and riverbanks.

Butterbur has been used traditionally for many conditions, including migraines, wounds, cough, allergies, stomach ailments, headaches, infections, and was even used to fight the plague.

I found 4 double-blinded clinical trials that compared the use of butterbur to over-the-counter antihistamine drugs.  Here is what they discovered:

  • Butterbur supplements in a large study were as effective as fexofenadine (Allegra) in reducing allergy symptoms
  • As effective as cetirizine (aka Zyrtec)
  • As effective for allergies as cetirizine and had much less side effects in 121 people
  • Reduced hay fever as much as cetirizine without the side effects in 125 people
  • Butterbur helps to reduce spasms and inflammation, even in conditions like asthma. The benefits of butterbur are additive to medication effects in this case.

Buy Butterbur

Butterbur is great because it doesn’t have the anticholinergic side effects of OTC antihistamines.

You can find Now butterbur with feverfew 60 capsules for $15.28 on Amazon here.

Another great butterbur supplement is from Vitanica, and it is 120 capsules for $41. You can find it on Amazon here.

8. Bromelain

Bromelain is an enzyme that is primarily found in pineapple.  It is an appealing option because it is very safe and may reduce excessive clotting, improve sinusitis, and help bronchitis symptoms as well as improve absorption of food and medications.

The actions of bromelain are numerous and include reducing inflammation in the body.

Bromelain reduced allergic airway disease in an animal model.  Bromelain research as a natural antihistamine is considered preliminary, but since it is beneficial for health in other ways, it could benefit you.

Buy Bromelain

You can get Now Bromelain 120 capsules for $16.18 on Amazon here.

Another great quality bromelain is called Nature’s Plus Ultra Bromelain for 60 tablets for $30.99. You can find it here.

Bonus: bromelan will help your digestion too.

Natural antihistamine infographic by The Healthy RD

9. Vitamin C

Vitamin C reduces histamine levels as well as chemostasis; this means the cultivation of cells in cell culture.

A clinical trial giving high dose of intravenous vitamin C resulted in allergy symptom relief. The authors noted that vitamin C was able to reduce excessive inflammation  without reducing immune function.

Vitamin C helps bust stress, which may also indirectly reduce the feelings of allergies in the body.

Buy Vitamin C

I really like vitamin C powders because it is easy to mix in beverages.  You can find Bronson Vitamin C powder for $30.00 on Amazon here. This is 2.2 pounds so it will last you a very long time.

10. Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a role in regulating the development and function of mast cells where histamine is produced. Vitamin D deficiency results in mast cell activation, which can increase histamine release in the body.

Vitamin D may reduce allergy symptoms because it has anti-inflammatory effects and can also reduce IgE activation of mast cells, which release histamine.

Itching is often a symptom of allergic diseases and patients with long-term itching, or chronic spontaneous urticaria, have very high rates of vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D supplementation reduced itching symptoms when given high dose vitamin D2 daily for 6 weeks. Vitamin D also improved quality of life in these patients with chronic itching symptoms.

The vitamin D was given as add-on to usual itching therapies and had additive benefits.

Buy Vitamin D

Vitamin D3 is generally more effective than vitamin D2.

Amazon carries 7000 types of vitamin D3, so it can be confusing as to which kind is best.  It is hard to go wrong with Now vitamin D3 5000 IU 240 gelcaps for just under $10.  You can find it here.

The vitamin D3 I have been taking for a long time is called Now Mega D3 and MK7.  It also contains vitamin K2 for heart and bone health.  You can find it for $13.50  here. Check with your doctor if you are on warfarin.

11. Honey

Using honey for allergies could be a benefit as a natural antihistamine, especially if it is from your own region.  A study of honey users of birch pollen honey had less allergy symptoms and used less allergy medicines than those who did not in a clinical study.

Regular honey also was beneficial for allergies in this study.

While results are considered preliminary for allergies, honey is very safe to incorporate into your allergy routine.  Do not give honey to infants younger than 1 year of age.

Buy Honey

I recommend trying to find local honey.  If you are in Missoula, Montana, you can find them at the local farmers market and every grocery store.

I also like Nature Nates raw unfiltered honey. You can find it on Amazon here.

12. Astragalus

Astragalus is also known as bei qi, huang qi, and milk vetch.  It is a type of legume that has over 2000 species in nature.

Astragalus may help allergies by reducing inflammation in the body. Topical astragalus for allergic rash reduced skin irritation and improved skin healing in mice.

It even reduced IgE immune blood levels.

Use of astragalus reduced nasal dripping in a small group of people with allergies and people generally felt better than those on placebo.

Astragalus decreased histamine release from mast cells in another rat study.

As a legume, astragalus is very safe.  It may be used to help support your allergic response.

Buy Astragalus

Astragalus supplements are really inexpensive.  Now Astragalus 90 capsules are available for under $5 on Amazon. You can find it here.

You can get Nusa Pure Astragalus 3000mg Per Caps 200 Veggie Capsules on Amazon for $22.94 here.

13. Homeopathic Natural Antihistamines

Homeopathic remedies are a safe option to try for seasonal allergies. Pharmacy times has a nice review of the effectiveness of these options.

I personally have found Bioallers Allergy Spray helpful in the past. You can find it on Amazon here for $8.88.

Personal Note

I have had allergies all of my adult life.  I took antihistamine drugs and felt many of the side effects.  I never felt great symptom relief and had dry mouth, altered sleep as well as drowsy, hangover feelings every day.

By managing my diet, my stress, and by using natural histamine stabilizers from plants, I feel great and have a lot more energy.  And the silver lining: no side effects for me.

I recommend starting the natural antihistamines at least a week before reducing your antihistamine drug dosage.

Vitamin C helps my allergies when I sip on it all day along with my quercetin powder.   A combination therapy of peppermint, lavender, and lemon helps me tremendously as well. That supplement is called TriEase and you can find it on my website.

I’ve also used nettles with very good success.  Butterbur and astragalus hold a lot of benefit for allergies as well. I won’t go a day without eating fermented foods like sauerkraut and kombucha. I feel they are critical to reduce allergic symptoms.  Probiotics are useful if you can’t handle the thought of these foods.

 

Precautions

Plants can help with allergy symptoms as noted above.  However, if you are allergic to any of the listed plants, please do not use.  As with any new supplement, please discuss with your healthcare provider before using.

Only use Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade essential oils. They are tested for quality, purity, and safety.

Summary

Natural remedies for allergies can work as well as antihistamine drugs and have less risk of side effects.  Studies are generally small but demonstrate a high safety profile.

Studies have only determined safety in relatively shorter term duration, so do not take natural antihistamines for more than 4-6 weeks in a row.

As with any change in your regimen, make sure to check in with your healthcare provider first. The risk of side effects of any of the plants as medicine listed above are low, but could be possible if you are sensitive to any of them.

Want a great kit for optimizing health?  You can feel great by choosing certified pure products at The Healthy RD.

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