It’s that time of the year. The spring flowers are blooming and for many of us it is a pleasure to observe spring arriving. For allergy sufferers however, it is often a dreadful time. If you suffer from allergies this time of the year can be really challenging. Those terrible symptoms of sneezing, nasal congestion, scratchy throat, and itchy eyes can be extremely difficult to live with.
When we suffer from allergies, it is in fact our immune system reacting to what would normally be a harmless material such as pollens or dust. Often an allergy sufferer will find when certain substances interact with cells in the mucous membranes of their nose, lungs, throat, mouth and sometimes intestines or stomach, it will cause the release of a chemical known as histamine. It is this histamine which causes all these uncomfortable and irritating allergic symptoms which is why we often look for something to block this histamine action, such as an antihistamine.
For many taking a pharmaceutical antihistamine can cause side effects such as nausea and drowsiness. The good news is there are certain foods and plant extracts as well as natural supplements which may also impede the effects of histamines.
A supplement known as Quercetin is often referred to a nature’s antihistamine because it has been found to reduce allergic response, preventing the release of histamine. Quercetin is an antioxidant flavonoid which is found in numerous foods such as berries, broccoli, grapes, red onions, and apples to name a few. It is believed Quercetin may have anti-allergenic and antihistamine benefits and as well may lessen the respiratory consequences of allergies by reducing inflammation of the airways.
Vitamin C is another natural supplement also thought to work well as a natural antihistamine. As we know, Vitamin C is a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. In 2018 there was a study of the treatment of allergies with Vitamin C. It concluded high doses of intravenous Vitamin C actually lessened allergy symptoms and as well, a deficiency in Vitamin C may well lead to allergy-related diseases. (1)
It is also believed, taking 2000mg of Vitamin C daily may also act as an antihistamine.
Since Zinc is a mineral which also supports our immune system, it may also be helpful in treating and preventing allergies. There is a belief zinc may even inhibit the release of histamine from our immune system and may play an important role in storing histamine in our body. Zinc deficiency is common. The WHO estimates up to one third of the world’s population is deficient in zinc.
There is also research indicating Vitamin D may decrease the severity of asthma and allergies. Interestingly there is evidence indicating there may be higher rates of food allergies and anaphylaxis in areas in the higher latitudes where there is less sun exposure and as a consequence, Vitamin D levels are lower. (2) There has also been some interesting research indicating Vitamin D can activate specific immune system cells which block the release of chemicals which trigger allergic diseases. (3) It is believed deficiency in Vitamin D could reduce this mechanism which may exacerbate allergic diseases.
Quercetin, Vitamin C, Zinc and Vitamin D may all be taken as individual supplements or as a combination in one tablet. This is a great combination not only for allergies but also for general wellbeing especially when it comes to immune health and prevention of respiratory tract infections.
- Intravenous Vitamin C in the treatment of allergies:an interim subgroup analysis of a long-term observational study Claudia Volbracht, Martin Raithel, Bianka Krick; Karin Kraft;Alexander F Hagel 29950123
- Latitude, sunlight, vitamin D and childhood food allergy/anaphylaxis study. Mullins RJ, Camargo CA. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep 2012(1):64-71 doi:10.1007/s11882-011-0230-7
- Vitamin D and the immune system. Aranow C. Investig Med 2011;59(6):881-886. Doi:10.2310/JIM.obo13e31821b8755