Are you sick of using OTC anti-histamines?

Author: Dr. Michelle Durkin on 15 May 2018

Are you sick of using over-the-counter antihistamines?

Maybe it's time to try a different approach. Not only are there some excellent effective alternatives to help you manage your symptoms during allergy season, there are ways to get rid of your allergies all together!

Many of you start reacting to external allergens like pollens, and grasses because your immune system is already primed to react.

Then you suppress your immune system with OTC anti-histamines. But you are just treating the symptoms - not the underlying cause.

The immune system gets primed because you are usually eating something your immune system doesn't like or is intolerant to. The top 3 intolerances I see in my office are dairy, gluten, and sugar. Eggs will often be positive but that is because they are frequently mixed with the top 3. Currently the most accurate way to determine whether you have a food intolerance is to have an IgG blood test. The one I currently use is from the lab Rocky Mountain Analytical. You can find more information here: IgG Food Sensitivity Test

While you are working on the underlying cause you can also use effective symptom management solutions that are going to work with your immune system, instead of working against it. Here are my 3 favourite choices:

  1. Quercitin - Quercetin is a bioflavonoid found in apples, grapefruit, onions, and red wine. It is known as a mast cell stabilizer. This is important in the treatment of allergies because your mast cells are the cells in your immune system that contain histamine. When they degranulate in response to exposure to allergens you end up with symptoms like sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose, and coughing. So quercitin helps keep the mast cell membrane stable acting like a natural anti-histamine. In the paper, Role of quercitin (a natural herbal compound) in allergy and inflammation, published by Shaik, et al in J Biol Regul Homeost Agents 2006 Jul-Dec;20(3-4):47-52 they concluded, "Quercetin is a safe, natural therapy that may be used as primary therapy or in conjunction with conventional methods."
  2. Vitamin C - Vitamin C is another natural mast cell stabilizer that can be used alone or in combination with quercitin. During allergy season a higher dose is definitely needed. It is not unheard of for patients to take upwards of 5000 mg in divided doses in one day. You will know you are taking too much vitamin C if you experience loose stools or diarrhea.
  3. Stinging nettle - Stinging nettles are hard to miss, especially if you’ve ever been stung inadvertently. I know I have! The stem grows 2 to 4 feet tall, and the green, heart-shaped leaves taper to a point and are covered with downy stinging hairs. The leaves and stems contain active ingredients including formic acid and histamines. If fresh nettle juice is taken, or freeze-dried capsules are used, it has an anti-inflammatory effect that can help  allergies. You an also try stinging nettle tea with local honey. There are many anecdotal reports of patients eating honey local to the area they live in to help with allergies.

Want to learn more about natural solutions for allergies? Join Dr. Durkin on the Quinte Naturopathic Centre Facebook page Tuesday May 22nd at 7pm for a live webinar.

Now I would love to hear from you! Has addressing underlying food sensitivities improved your seasonal allergies? What natural treatments worked for you to help your allergies? Leave your comments below and I will be back next week with another Doctor as Teacher Tuesday.

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Quinte Naturopathic Centre

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Belleville, ON K8N 3C1


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