Allergy relief naturally with supplements, herbs, vitamins - Alternative solutions for treatment, home remedies by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
April 22 2014


Information on alternative therapy and natural cure, a review of research studies

An allergy is a reaction of the immune system in which normal body tissue is injured. The mechanisms by which the immune system defends the body and by which a hypersensitivity reaction can injure it are similar. Thus, antibodies, lymphocytes, and other cells, which are normal protective components of the immune system are involved in allergic reactions as well as in autoimmune disease and organ transplant rejection. When most people use the term allergy or allergic reaction, they are referring to reactions that involve antibodies of the immunoglobulin E class. IgE antibodies bind to special cells, including basophils in the circulation and mast cells in tissues. When IgE antibodies that are bound to those cells encounter antigens, in this case called allergens, the cells are prompted to release chemicals that injure surrounding tissues. An allergen can be almost anything -- a dust particle, plant pollen, a drug, or food -- that acts as an antigen to stimulate an immune response.

Natural allergy treatment and remedy
If you have a mild or moderate allergy condition and you are looking for natural relief, consider some of the alternatives to medications listed below. Please realize that research regarding treatment of allergies with natural herbs and supplements is still in its infancy. What I have tried to do is gather some of the published research and try to make sense of it. Discuss with your health care professional regarding the appropriateness of these herbs and nutrients for your condition, before you start taking them. If your doctor is not familiar with these natural allergy relief options, refer him or her to this site. I will update this page as more information is available regarding natural alternatives.

Eat more cold water fish with high content of fish oils. Fish oils have anti-inflammatory activity and most people don't get enough fish oils in their diet. You may consider taking fish oils supplements. The last two decades have seen an increase in the prevalence of asthma, eczema, and allergic rhinitis in developed countries. This increase has been paralleled by a reduction in the consumption of animal fat and an increase in the use of margarine and vegetable oils containing omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as linoleic acid. There is also evidence for a decrease in the consumption of oily fish which contain omega-3 fish oils, such as EPA. Linoleic acid, a type of omega-6 oil found in oils such as as corn, safflower, and sunflower, is a precursor of arachidonic acid, which can be converted to prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), a form inflammatory type prostaglandin that causes the immune system to release a protein that triggers allergic reactions,
whereas fish oils inhibit the formation of PGE2.

Reduce hydrogenated and trans fats such as those found in certain baked goods and margarine.

Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, especially organically grown, if possible and affordable. Have a wide variety of produce, not just the same ones over and over.

Vegetables and fruits contain many flavonoids that have anti-inflammatory properties. Eating more vegetables could reduce the severity of hay fever.

Flavonoids such as luteolin, fisetin and apigenin are inhibitors of interleukin-4 and interleukin-13 production by activated human basophils.
Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2004.
We have previously shown that fisetin, a flavonol, inhibits IL-4 and IL-13 synthesis by allergen- or anti-IgE-antibody-stimulated basophils. This time, we investigated the inhibition of IL-4 and IL-13 production by basophils by other flavonoids and attempted to determine the fundamental structure of flavonoids related to inhibition.  Due to the inhibitory activity of flavonoids on IL-4 and IL-13 synthesis, it can be expected that the intake of flavonoids, depending on the quantity and quality, may ameliorate allergic symptoms or prevent the onset of allergic diseases.

Use of dietary supplements, herbs, and vitamins to relieve allergy naturally

Flavonoids supplements may be helpful, including quercetin. If you don't eat enough vegetables, you could consider taking flavonoid supplements. Flavonoids are known to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Vitamin C in small amounts such as 50 to 300 mg seems reasonable.
Acetylcysteine is a powerful antioxidant and helps support healthy lung tissue.

Mangosteen has xanthones which have some antihistamine activity.
Inhibitions of histamine release and prostaglandin E2 synthesis by mangosteen, a Thai medicinal plant.
Biol Pharm Bull. 2002.
The fruit hull of mangosteen, Garcinia mangostana L. has been used as a Thai indigenous medicine for many years. However, the mechanism of action of mangosteen as a medicine has not been elucidated. The present study was undertaken to examine the effects of mangosteen extractson histamine release and prostaglandin E2 synthesis. We found that the ethanol extract of mangosteen inhibited IgE-mediated histamine release and prostaglandin E2 synthesis.

Butterbur has been studied with mostly good results.
Butterbur Ze339 for the treatment of intermittent allergic rhinitis: dose-dependent efficacy in a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.
Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2004.

Stinging nettle is an herb that could be of help.

Vitamin D levels are lower in children who have allergies. It is not clear yet whether children taking a vitamin D supplement would benefit, or whether playing outdoors and getting some sun would reduce symptoms.

Avoid excess alcohol consumption, since alcohol may increase IgE levels and aggravate allergy symptoms.

See natural antihistamine for more information.

Grape seed extract has not been found helpful in the treatment of fall seasonal allergic rhinitis.

Is it common to have a reaction to graviola herb which has been tested in vitro as a cancer treatment, tryptophan that converts into 5-htp serotonin precursor?
   Not that we know of.

Shellfish in dietary supplements
The following may contain shellfish or remnants: Joint Power Rx, glucosamine, chondroitin, krill oil and chitosan.

Mother's diet and allergy prevention
Children of women who eat a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits and vegetables while pregnant are far less likely to develop asthma or an allergy problem later in life. A mother's diet can help prevent such problems in a child. Eating lots of vegetables and fruits during pregnancy may lower the chance of having a baby with certain allergies.

Avoidance diets during pregnancy and lactation are not recommended at this time, but more research is necessary for peanut. Exclusive breast-feeding for at least 4 and up to 6 months is endorsed. For high-risk infants who cannot be exclusively breast-fed, hydrolyzed formula appears to offer advantages to prevent allergic disease and cow's milk allergy. Complementary foods can be introduced between 4 and 6 months of age. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2013. Primary prevention of allergic disease through nutritional interventions.

Fish Oil supplementation in Pregnancy Modifies Neonatal Progenitors at Birth in Infants at Risk of Atopy or allergy.
Pediatric Research. 2004.
In a double-blind study, atopic, pregnant women were randomized to receive fish oil capsules or placebo from 20 wk gestation until delivery. Dietary omega-3 supplementation during pregnancy in atopic mothers alters infant cord blood hemopoietic progenitor phenotype. This may have an impact on development of allergy and atopic disease.


Common types of allergic triggers
Avoid or reduce exposure to allergens listed below:

Animal dander -  Pet allergy - some people have a dog or a cat allergy which is quite frustrating if you are attached to your pet. Children exposed to higher levels of cat allergen in their first 2 years of life may be at greater risk of developing allergy to cats.
Dust mites allergy -- More than 80 percent of homes in America have detectable levels of house dust mite, the microscopic critter that triggers dust allergies. People who are allergic to dust mites may be at risk of developing asthma. Older homes, homes in the Northeast and homes with high bedroom humidity are most likely to have high concentrations of dust mite allergen, as are homes with musty or mildew odors. To lower the levels of dust mite allergen, people should use impermeable mattress covers, wash bedding every week in hot water and remove all non-washable items from the bed, including stuffed animals.
A bacterial protein known as flagellin found in house dust could make allergic reactions to common indoor allergens worse. Flagellin can prime an allergic response and trigger asthma.  Cleaning can reduce the amount of house dust to prevent a flare-up.
Food is often a culprit --  A food allergy is an allergic reaction to a particular food. A much more common condition, food intolerance, isn't an allergic reaction but is any other undesirable effect of eating a particular food. Many people can't tolerate certain foods for various reasons; for example, they may lack an enzyme necessary for digesting it. If a person's digestive system can't tolerate certain foods, the result can be gastrointestinal distress, gas, nausea, diarrhea, or other problems. In general, allergic reactions aren't responsible for these symptoms. Wheat, milk or dairy products, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, or eggs have allergens that account for an estimated 90 percent of all food allergies. Peanut allergy and milk allergy are common, so is wheat gluten allergy. Individuals taking medications that reduce acid secretion or neutralize the acidity within the stomach, may be setting up a situation where harmless food proteins may become potential allergens.
Insects (primarily cockroaches) can be an issue.
Mold allergy can occur to spores
Pollen allergy--grasses, trees, weeds (particularly ragweed) occur usually during certain seasons.
Pollution-- A road bypass built to ease traffic congestion in one neighborhood appears to have relieved some residents' nasal congestion as well, a UK study has found. A year after the bypass opened in an industrial town in North Wales, "heavy goods" traffic was down by nearly half in neighborhood streets that had previously been highly congested. And the people who lived there were reporting fewer episodes of runny nose, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes, according to researchers.
Perfumes can sometimes cause an allergy.
Hair dyes are a common cause of itching and skin rash. Although you can develop an allergy to many ingredients in hair coloring, the most likely culprit is a chemical called para-phenylenediamine (PPD). It has been a major component of most hair-coloring products used in the western world since the 1880s and has caused problems almost since it was first developed, according to the American Contact Dermatitis Society--which named para-phenylenediamine its "allergen of the year" in 2006. Because of its potential to cause an allergic reaction, PPD was banned in Sweden, France and Germany for most of the last century (it re-entered the market after the formation of the European Union). para-phenylenediamine remains popular as a permanent dye because it produces a natural color that doesn’t fade with shampooing.

Women with pollen allergies could be at increased risk for blood cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma. This suggests there is something unique in women that causes chronic allergy-related stimulation of the immune system to increase vulnerability to the development of blood cancers. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, news release, Nov. 22, 2013.

A study of nearly 4,300 German adults found that those whose partners had hay fever were at greater risk of developing such allergies themselves. And the longer couples lived together, the higher the hay fever risk climbed.

Strategies for reducing allergy by reducing exposure to allergens
Remove carpet from bedroom.
Remove upholstered furniture from the bedroom.
Wash bedding and nightclothes in hot water.
Decrease household humidity to less than 50 percent.
Remove humidifiers and check air conditioning units regularly for mold contamination.
Encase mattress, box spring and pillow in mite-proof covers.
Minimize dust- and pollen-collecting surfaces (e.g., shelving, stuffed animals, books).
Minimize use of indoor ceiling fans.
Use blinds or washable curtains with shades and clean them often.
Avoid vacuuming when dust-sensitive patients are home.
Keep pets outside or at least out of bedrooms and off of upholstered furniture.
Give pets their own washable beds and wash the beds often. For cat allergy you could try the following: Air purifier could be of benefit; keep cats away from furniture or your bed; vacuum frequently with a HEPA filter; sweep the floors and clean the furniture. Drapes and carpets can trap dander. A friend claims that using a wet washcloth with water and vinegar and rubbing the cat fur while petting it can reduce dander. Regularly brushing the cat and bathing it could help. If you have petted your cat, wash your hands afterwards. Keep the cat outdoors when possible.
Use the air conditioner, rather than opening windows, in the automobile and home.
Bathe or shower before bedtime to remove pollen from hair and body, this may provide some allergy relief.
Remove visible mold from walls and floors using a solution of water and chlorine bleach, or a product that contains chlorine bleach or other fungicides.
To control insects, particularly cockroaches, wash dishes promptly, keep garbage in tightly closed containers outside of the home, remove or repair sources of water (e.g., leaking faucets, standing water in basements), wipe up food spills and keep food in tightly sealed containers.
Keep in mind that hair dyes are a cause of allergies, and they can even cause anaphylaxis.

Medical Treatment and medication
Antihistamines are the allergy medicine drugs most commonly used for treating allergies and providing acute or chronic allergy relief.
Intranasal corticosteroids are effective but long term safety is still not fully understood.
Allergen immunotherapy (allergy injections) may provide an alternative solution when an allergen can't be avoided. With immunotherapy, tiny amounts of the allergen are injected under the skin in gradually increasing doses until a maintenance level is reached. This treatment stimulates the body to produce blocking or neutralizing antibodies that may act to prevent an allergic reaction. Eventually, the blood level of IgE antibodies, which react with the antigen, also may fall. Although many people undergo allergen immunotherapy, and studies show that it helps, its cost-effectiveness and risk-to-benefit ratio aren't always favorable.
See anaphylaxis for more information.

Symptoms
Allergic reactions range from mild to severe. Most consist of just the annoyance of watery, itchy eyes and some sneezing along with dark circles under eyes. At the other extreme, allergic reactions can be life threatening if they involve sudden difficulty in breathing, heart malfunction, and very low blood pressure, leading to shock.

Anxiety, depression, stress
Women with major depression are more likely than women who are not depressed to have allergies, and they also appear to be more common in men with nervous, anxious personalities. Psychological stress and anxiety can make seasonal attacks worse and linger longer.
People with allergies may face an increased risk of panic attacks.