Are there any Natural Antihistamines?

Scratch, itch, sneeze, cough: the seasons are changing, and for some people that means allergies. Allergy sufferers have often tried all manner of methods to reduce their allergic reactions to whatever happens to be blooming at the moment, but often the allergy medication they use has unpleasant side-effects. From the notoriously sleepy result of Benadryl to the amped-up, jittery feeling that other allergy medications bring, many people with allergies wrestle with the question, “What is the lesser of the two evils?”

Is it better to suffer through the allergies and avoid the strong medications and their unpleasant side-effects, or is it better to take allergy medication so at least you can breathe? What if you could have your cake and eat it to? Luckily, nature has provided us with plenty of natural antihistamines that don’t come from a laboratory. Take a look at these five alternatives to allergy medication.

Vitamin C

Is there anything vitamin C can’t do? From helping you overcome your cold to boosting your immune system, vitamin C is one of nature’s wonder drugs. It also turns out that this scrappy vitamin can also reduce your histamine levels. Arizona State University researchers showed that 2000 mg of vitamin C per day can reduce the level of histamine by as much as 40%.

A Few Natural Sources of Vitamin C

Kakadu Plum

With a whopping 2300 to 3150 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams, the Kakadu plum has more vitamin C than any other fruit. Native to Australia, the best place to buy this plum is online.

Camu Camu

Found in the Amazon rainforest, the camu camu has the second-highest concentration of vitamin C amongst fruits. Sold in its powdered form in most health food stores, you can also purchase it as a powder or pill online.

Acerola cherry

High in antioxidants with tons of vitamin C (1,677 per 100 grams), acerola cherry grows in North America, Central America, and South America, particularly in drier regions. You can find it in powdered form at most health food stores, or you can look for it in a freeze-dried form. Unless you live in California or Texas with easy access to a farmer’s market, it is unlikely you’ll find it fresh.

Rosehips

With as much as 2,500 mg per 100 grams, rosehip is another excellent source of C. You can find it in herbal tea, jam, jelly, and certain other foods. Check your local health food store for rosehip tea as an easy way to increase your vitamin C intake.

Citrus fruits

Perhaps the easiest way to increase your vitamin C intake is through citrus fruits, which are very easy to find in the average grocery store. Grapefruit has about 34 mg of C per 100 grams; oranges weigh in at 53 mg per 100 grams.

Quercitin

Quercitin is a type of flavonoid that has been shown to work as a natural antihistamine. Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants, meaning that anything rich in quercitin may also help to prevent cancer, heart disease, and stroke. As an antihistamine, it is particularly effective in reducing swollen nasal passages, sneezing, itchy eyes/nose, as well as certain skin conditions such as eczema.

Natural sources of quercitin include apples, citrus, raspberries, red grapes, leafy vegetables, and chili peppers. You can also find quercitin in certain beverages, particularly black tea, green tea, and red wine. For more concentrated forms of quercitin, check your local health food store for the capsule version.

Pycnogenol

Another flavonoid that works both as a natural antihistamine and as an antioxidant is pycnogenol, a variety of the catechin, proanthocyanidin (PA / PAC). Pycnogenol is extracted from a French pine tree bark and has been proven to be a powerful anti-inflammatory. In particular, pycnogenol reduces swollen eyes. Because pycnogenol is found only in the South of France amongst particular pine trees, it is best acquired as a supplement in capsule form.

Grape Seed Extract

Grape seed extract is another one of the proanthocyanidins mentioned above. The compound is found in the grape seeds and the grape peels, and as such it can be found in red wine. Besides its beneficial properties against allergies, grape seed extract is yet another natural way to fight cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Beware: although grape seed oil manufacturers claim that their products also contain the beneficial proanthocyanidins, independent studies have shown that they do not contain significant levels of the compound.

Bee Pollen

Straight-laced Senator Tom Harkin, the longtime democratic senator from Iowa, started taking bee pollen on the advice of a friend to fight against his allergies. At first, he didn’t notice much difference, and he was ready to give it up. His friend insisted he just wasn’t taking enough, and so Mr. Harkin started taking more and more. He ended up taking a substantial amount of bee pollen, but eventually his allergies stopped and never started again. The amazed Senator Harkin became a champion of alternative medicine in the US government, and even helped establish the NIH Office of Alternative Medicine in 1992.

Harkin certainly has his critics, and the man he got his bee pollen capsules from, Royden Brown, turned out to be somewhat… odd. Brown was advertising his bee pollen as a way to reverse aging, promote weight loss, stop PMS, and even improve one’s sex life. Furthermore, he claimed both Ronald Reagan and “the risen Jesus Christ” took bee pollen regularly. The Federal Trade Commission fined him $200,000 (Source: USNews.com).

Nevertheless, the fact remains that, according to Harkin, the bee pollen stopped his allergies cold, and they have never returned since then. Whatever you wish to conclude about Royden Brown, Harkin’s story seems to indicate that there’s something to bee pollen as a natural way to fight allergies.

The bottom line is that you don’t have to choose between pharmaceuticals with negative and cumulative side-effects or suffering through allergy season. With your own experimentation, you can find natural antihistamines that work for your body.

Photo by mcfarlandmo

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the great info. I don’t have any allergies myself, but know quite a few people that suffer from them. I’ll be sure to pass along this link to them.
    Just curious, does the Kakadu plum taste like a regular plum, and what is the Camu Camu like?

  2. I have not tried most of the sources for natural vitamin C, but I will recommend this. A person I know suffers from rashes around the body, we actually don’t know yet what it is but we may try this things one at a time to see what works.

  3. I was disappointed, by this article. I need help for my allergy (all-year). With regard to quercitin, red wine is known to worsen histamine reactions, so it’s irresponsible to list it as a source of antihistamine-type properties. Alot of people with allergies to tree pollen are allergic to apples. The article needs to be more balanced to give people a realistic picture. I still haven’t found an alternative to low-dosed antihistamine tablets. Unfortunately.

  4. I just wanted to quickly post to tell people that I personally have had a LOT of success with natural solutions like these. I suffer from overactive leukocytes and under certain conditions and stressed my body seems to become allergic to anything and everything. The reactions vary from hayfever like symptoms to breathing problems and swelling that put me in the hospital. A few years ago I was having these problems VERY frequently. I was having to take well beyond the prescribed dose of benodryl to make it through the day. And if you have ever taken benodryl, it really truely is just making it through the day, you are literally a stumbling drunken zombie.

    After going to the doctor and determining that there really was no particular food or allergen to point at I decided I needed to change my lifestyle to help. I got allergy protective bedding, a new mattress, etc. With this I was still having problems although significantly less frequent.

    I started looking into natural solutions and through trial and error and logging what I do in a diary this is what I have done to control histamine production.
    - Tea: Chamomille and Rose Hips seem to work well. Rose Hips probably because contain vitamin C. I drink tea every morning and night.
    - Vitamin B: Vitamin B (specifically B5, but other good as well) is supposed to be good for adrenal function and relieving stress. Not super healthy but I get mine from energy drinks. My allergist says that stress is a trigger in many allergies. People react worse when they are stressed.
    - Milk Thistle: Milk Thistle is good for the liver. If you take a lot of antihistamine you may be damaging your liver.
    - Quercitin: Natural Antihistamine. I drink red wine. I know someone above posted saying it was bad. I strongly disagree, at least for me. The histamine, the stress relief, it seems to work well for me. I also eat a lot of apples and raspberries.
    - Note that I do not take a daily antihistamine and that I started living like this to avoid taking one.
    - I have my mattress, pillows and comforters encased in allergy safe covers.
    - I avoid dust, dusting and vacuuming at all costs (I tell my live in bf I have a drs note :))
    - I pay attention to how I feel. If I feel icky or like I might be headed towards an attack I avoid things I’ve found as triggers, and I get a good nights rest.

    I’ve started and stopped many combination of things and taken nothing. When I do the above my attacks are significantly less frequent. I have not had an allergy attack in 6 months, and before that was about 9 more months. I still have attacks but less frequent and less dramatic. When those happen I’m not shy to take an antihistamine, or use my inhaler and I still keep the epipen just in case.

    The thing you have to realize about the “natural” way, is that you can’t be having an attack drink some tea and be all better. It is a way of living. Keep your body in check and a healthy body helps keep the allergies in check. To see the natural way work at limitint your allergies you really need to make it part of your every day lifestyle.

  5. Daniel Frasciello says:

    Glad I found this site. I’m going to implement the suggestions into my diet and life-style.

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