Spring is in the air, which means it’s also allergy season. If you get symptoms like headaches, sneezing, constant congestion, and runny nose especially in the springtime or fall, chances are you’re dealing with some sort of seasonal allergy. Since many over the counter antihistamines have side effects like drowsiness or a feeling of brain fog, many people end up suffering with uncertainty of where to turn or seek out a more natural approach for relief. The following solutions have been shown to improve seasonal allergies as well as more long term chronic allergy conditions and even asthma. But first, let’s look at what happens when there is an allergy. When our bodies come into contact with a protein (from pollen, for example) our immune system may communicate an alert to us that it doesn’t really like that foreign substance in there! This alert triggers a response series that causes histamine levels to raise in the body. When higher than normal levels of histamine are released into the body, things like our mucus membranes swell up and mucus starts to flow, among other things! While this can be very annoying, it’s a sign that our immune system is doing its job since mucus is developed to help flush unwanted material from our bodies. Another reason our immune systems react on high alert actually has to do with other factors going on in the body. For example, chronic stress, poor sleep habits, and a diet with high sugar intake will put the system in an already heightened state. Add in an allergen and the body easily reacts, which means seasonal allergies are receiving a more severe response than what they would have in the past or during a time when stress, sleep, and nutrition were more optimal in the body. Histamine intolerance, or when the body becomes overloaded with histamine, can come from allergies, but also may come from poor detoxification of histamine. The solutions below will aid in reducing overall histamine, which would impact the high release and the detoxification process of these symptoms. Natural Solutions Quercetin - Quercetin is a great place to start as a natural plant based supplement, commonly found in foods like apples, onions, berries, citrus fruits, and buckwheat. Quercetin, which influences the polyphenol responsible for any yellowish tints found in these foods, is actually a potent antihistamine! Specifically, quercetin helps to calm the immune system to reduce or prevent histamine release. It’s most effective as it builds up in the system so taking quercetin a few weeks leading up to allergy season and then throughout the troubling months may provide the most relief. Be sure to consult with your physician prior to supplementing especially if you are taking any blood thinners (including a daily aspirin). Overall, quercetin is a very safe supplement to explore and even has positive and helpful gut-healing side effects, which may assist in histamine breakdown. B-Complex supplement - Vitamin Bs in the body help to break down excess histamine that lives in our tissues and can be a very substantial part of the puzzle for those dealing with histamine overload. Vitamin D3 and Zinc - Make sure levels are optimal to ensure a strong immune system. Probiotics - Probiotics, very helpful for digestion and gut health, are also important to help the body break down histamine in the system. Lactobacillus Rhamnosus is a particular strain of probiotic that is extremely helpful in this role and is easy to find. Foods High in Histamine Lowering the histamine load in the body is key to helping alleviate symptoms brought on by seasonal allergies. Interestingly enough, most of the histamine in our bodies comes from the food we eat.
If you experience intense allergies, consider reducing or eliminating these foods completely while symptoms are at their height:
● Dairy foods
● Processed lunch meats
● Wine and beer
● Any foods made with yeast (bread)
● Fermented/cultured foods
● Canned Fish (like sardines)
The best way to determine if histamine is playing a role in your seasonal allergies is to eliminate these foods for a period of two full weeks. Adding on additional supplementation, as mentioned prior, should be a conversation you have with your practitioner, but this experimental diet may give you a lot of answers as it relates to the root cause of your symptoms because many histamine intolerance cases are disguised with an allergy diagnosis. This information is especially helpful for those where an allergist wasn’t able to pinpoint a definite source of the allergy. In this case, histamine intolerance as the root source (vs. an allergy) should be looked at more closely.