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Sick of seasonal allergies clouding your sinuses and vision? Try these natural remedies to beat sniffles and clear your head.
Allergy season has been hitting the US about two weeks earlier than normal for the past several years. The culprit? Climate change: Warmer, drier air is prompting trees to release their offending pollen prematurely. Stay sniffle-free with five foods and herbs that will build your defenses.
1. Red Onions
The outer flesh of this pungent bulb is high in quercetin (about 40 milligrams per onion), an antioxidant that has antihistamine and anti-inflammatory powers. It may work by reducing DNA damage and the amount of histamines our bodies make in response to pollen, dust, and other allergens. Quercetin is also found in apples (7 mg per apple) and in red wine (2 mg per glass). While every little bit counts, you’ll need to take a supplement to get the recommended 500 mg per day.
2. Nettle Tea and Extract
Extract from nettle, a thorny, leafy herb, can help protect mast cells by lessening their rupture during an allergic reaction, according to a study in Phytotherapy Research. This means fewer chemicals like histamines, prostaglandins, and cytokines get spewed into your body to bring on nasty symptoms. You can take nettle as a capsule (500 mg per day), or drink a tea or tincture—the extract in liquid form.
This traditional Chinese herb may help the body adapt to stress and illness with its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. One study found that it helps re–duce allergy symptoms. Try dried astragalus root in capsule form (about 1,500 mg per day)—with your doctor’s blessing, of course.
Extract from the leaves and roots of this shrub were found to be just as effective at fighting allergy symptoms as some over-the-counter antihistamines, according to researchers in Europe. Take 50–100 mg twice per day, recommends Evangeline Lausier, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Duke University.
This fruit can pack up to 100 mg of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant and antihistamine that can help block the chemicals that cause swelling, runny nose, and itchy eyes. Preliminary research suggests that allergy symptoms may improve when you eat high doses of vitamin C (up to 2,000 mg per day). “Try to drink several glasses of orange juice daily,” says Marianne Frieri, MD, chief of allergy and immunology at New York’s Nassau University Medical Center.