Seasonal allergies affect a reported 35 million Americans each year with sneezing, wheezing, runny nose and itchy, watery, red eyes.
Respiratory congestion is often caused by allergens. These may be food allergens, allergens in the air, such as pollen, mold, dust mites, animal dander, or household cleaning products that release chemical allergens. When your body is exposed to allergens, it releases proteins called histamines, which bind to special sites called receptors on the cells in your nose and throat causing them to become swollen and leaky. High histamine levels are associated with respiratory congestion, especially in the nasal passages and the sinuses.
Antihistamines reduce or block histamines by coating the receptors, therefore preventing the binding. This, in turn, prevents nasal allergy symptoms. Histamine works quickly once released. By the time your symptoms appear, the histamine has already attached to cell receptors, and the allergic reaction is well under way. That’s why it’s helpful to take antihistamines prior to exposure to allergens.
Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine and studies have found that taking daily supplements of vitamin C helps to reduce histamine levels and congestion. In one study, subjects were given 1,000 mg of vitamin C supplements three times a day. The study results showed that histamine levels were reduced in people who had high histamine levels. Good food sources of vitamin C are guavas, blackcurrants, red bell peppers, kale, parsley, green sweet peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, mustard greens, mango, watercress, cauliflower, red cabbage, strawberries, papayas, green and white cabbage, spinach, citrus fruits, and elderberries.
Flavonoids, such as quercetin, are a group of plant pigments that are largely responsible for the colors of many fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Quercetin is a natural antihistamine that helps stabilize mast cells to prevent both the manufacture and release of histamine, as well as other allergic and inflammatory compounds. Good sources of quercetin are citrus fruits, onions, garlic, apples, parsley, tea, tomatoes, broccoli, lettuce, legumes, berries.
Turmeric is a common spice commonly used in Indian, Thai and other ethnic cuisines. And according to ongoing science, there is a seemingly endless list of turmeric health benefits that make this tasty spice just as effective as many pharmaceuticals – if not more so. Turmeric’s most powerful active compound is curcumin, which animal studies haveshown can significantly reduce and inhibit allergic responses. Another study published by the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology of 214 people with allergic rhinitis found that those who took curcumin for two months alleviated their sneezing and congestion, and improved nasal airflow compared to those who took a placebo.