For those searching for relief from allergies, it can be a real maze of options. I am amazed at the variety and differing approaches out there for treating allergies with natural remedies. It must be very confusing for those with allergies to even pick a product, let alone find something that works. So, why all the confusion. Part of the problem is that there is no simple answer. Allergies are the result our immune system going awry. There are several steps in our immune response that malfunction and contribute to the hypersensitivity reaction that is the foundation of allergies. Consequently, there is no one magic bullet that will cure allergies. The same is true both of pharmaceutical medicines and herbal medicines.
There are several classes of herbs that can have beneficial affects on allergies. I have listed some of the main ones here, in order of importance.
- Antihistamines: over-production of histamine is the hallmark of allergies. Antihistamine herbs block the release of histamine. Butterbur and quercetin are two herbal supplements that have antihistamine properties. They are also anti-inflammatory.
- Anti-inflammatory herbs: these herbs help tamp down the immune system response or clean up the damage done to tissues by the increased inflammation. In Chinese Medicine, one of the common herbs used is plantain. It is also a decongestant. A similar category of herbs and vitamins are anti-oxidants. Vitamin C, Vitamin E, pycnogenol, resveratrol, and a host of others, help clean up the oxidative damage done in the inflammation process. There is some anecdotal evidence that high levels of anti-oxidants decrease allergy symptoms.
- Decongestants: mint and eucalyptus are the big herbs in this category. They promote mucous production and help to clear the sinuses. However, I feel that the neti pot does a better job. [see my post on allergy hygiene tips]
All of these herbs only serve to ameliorate the symptoms of allergies. Treating the underlying conditions that lead to allergies is much more difficult. I want to hear from you, what do you use to help your allergies? Do you use pharmaceuticals or natural remedies or both? Let me know what works for you, so we can share the knowledge with others who are suffering from allergies.