Treating Allergies with Herbal Supplements
Treating allergies with herbal supplements is a viable alternative to conventional drugs used in allergic conditions. Unlike these drugs, herbal supplements are free from some drugs related side-effects like:
- Dry mouth.
- Sore muscles
- Foggy vision among many other symptoms
Another advantage of using herbal supplements is that they can be used for prevention of allergic episodes. If started before the hay fever season, for example, they will help the body build and balance the immunity so that when allergy triggers appear; the symptoms will be minimal or absent altogether.
Mechanism of an allergic reaction.
Most allergies will present with respiratory symptoms. This happens when common allergic triggers like pollen, house dust mite, animal dander and others get trapped in the mucus membrane lining the respiratory tract. The body reacts by arresting the allergen using mast cells. Histamines are released so that secretions and coughing are initiated in an effort to expel the invader. In people predisposed to allergy, this reaction goes out of hand with selling of the mucus membrane and airway blockage. Herbal supplements help to balance these natural reactions by:
- Controlling or inhibiting histamine release.
- Reducing inflammation.
- Preventing or controlling supra-imposed infections.
Herbal supplements with anti-allergy properties.
There are many herbs with anti-histamine properties but the following are commonly available. It is noteworthy that these herbs not only help in reducing allergy but have many more benefits beyond the scope of this discussion.
Butterbur root extract (petasites hybridus)
This is an herb that has been used in folk medicine for centuries. It reduces nasal swelling and cough among other respiratory symptoms related to allergy. It compares well with pharmaceutical anti-histamines without the side effects.
Use only the processed form where potential hepato-toxic and carcinogenic substances, pyrrolizidine alkaloids have been removed.
Quercetin is a plant antioxidant in the bioflavonoid class. It stabilizes the mast cells which reduces or inhibits histamine release. It is found naturally in citrus fruits, tomatoes, onions and grapes. Supplements offer better antihistamine effects at 1000mg per day.
Bromelain is derived mostly from the pineapple stem although the whole fruit contains substantial amounts. It acts like an anti-congestant reducing nasal swelling.
Stinging nettles (urtica dioica)
It has potent anti-histamine effects but, again, doesn’t cause the undesirable effects seen in conventional antihistamines. 300mg per day work well in preventing allergies.
Garlic (allium sativam) supplements.
Garlic helps to regulate the immune system therefore supports normal reaction of the body to allergens. It can also aide in eradication of viral or bacterial infections that may be complicating the reaction.
Turmeric (curcuma longus)
This rhizome contains curcumin which is a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-histamines agent. If used regularly the body will be stable when exposed to allergens. Chronic allergic conditions definitely trigger complicated inflammatory conditions and turmeric can be helpful in this.
Ginger (zingiber officinale)
This is yet another rhizome with anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory effects.
Other herbal supplements for allergy are sourced from holy basil and guduci (tinospora cordifolia).
So the next time allergy strikes and you have red, itchy and watery eyes accompanied by sneezing, sore congested throat, cough and others, before reaching for that OTC anti-histamine, an herbal supplement may be a better option.