For those of us with fall allergies, September can be miserable – sneezing, itchy eyes, constant congestion, and runny nose – and we secretly (or openly) pray for the first frost to come quickly. Over-the-counter allergy medications can offer some relief, but often with unpleasant or unwanted side effects such as grogginess and dry eyes or nasal passages.
There are a number of herbs and supplements that have been shown to ease the symptoms of seasonal allergies and can easily be added to your diet. Many of these supplements are found naturally in foods like dark-colored fruits and vegetables and fatty fish. While natural supplements and food remedies should not be used to replace doctor-prescribed medications, they can provide complementary treatment and offer some much-needed relief.
Below is a list of some of the best herbs and supplements for alleviating the symptoms of seasonal allergies:
- Butterbur (Petasites hybridus)– an herb that was found in one study to be as effective as a prescription antihistamine at controlling symptoms of hay fever by reducing inflammation, without the drowsiness. Look for supplements labeled “PA-free” to avoid chemicals called pyrrolizidine alkaloids that may cause liver damage. Only give this supplement to children under the supervision of a physician or certified herbalist or naturopathic practitioner.Credit: Giant-Butterbur_Petasites-hybridus__IMG_5748 by Emilian Robert Vicol, on Flickr
- Omega 3 fatty acids from fish – Found in greatest quantities in salmon and other oily fish, as well as in fish oil supplements, omega 3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve sinus inflammation. Skip this supplement if you are allergic to fish, however.
- Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) – Another herb believed to work by blocking the inflammatory immune compounds that cause many allergy symptoms. Can be taken as a tablet or tea at a recommended dose of 250mg twice a day. Credit: Urtica dioica Stinging Nettle - Schmitz Park by J Brew, on Flickr
- Bromelain – This anti-inflammatory enzyme, which is found naturally in pineapple, can be taken at 250mg twice a day to relieve common allergy symptoms.
- Quercetin – A bioflavinoid found in many fruits and vegetables (what gives apples, berries and broccoli their rich colors), research shows this supplement relieves nasal allergy symptoms, but requires 7-14 days of use before taking effect. Recommended dose is 500mg 2-4 times per day beginning a week or two before symptoms begin.
If you’d like to try more than one of these supplements, but would rather not pop multiple pills every day, there are several reputable companies that combine many of these herbs in a single formula.
Treating seasonal allergies with natural remedies from herbs and food supplements may be as effective as drugstore antihistamines that often come with unpleasant side effects. As an added perk, most of these herbs and supplements have effects that extend beyond allergy relief to include cardiovascular and mental health benefits, and can be taken long-term as part of your general wellness routine.
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