The best natural antihistamines are your body’s best defense against histamines. This article is your guide to many of the better natural antihistamines. It will include the various natural antihistamine foods, including vegetables, fruit, herbs, and roots.
What is histamine? It refers to an allergic reaction when the immune system misinterprets a normally non-toxic substance as a harmful invader. These will include anything from grass, dust, and pollen to certain foods like dairy, bread, or peanuts.
This is where an antihistamine is important. Although antihistamine drugs have all sorts of side effects, understanding how natural antihistamines work can be just what your body needs during times of an allergic attack.
Let’s delve into how an antihistamine works, along with what natural histamines can be used to prevent an allergic reaction.
How Do Antihistamines Work?
Simply put, histamine is a particular protein that will trigger inflammation throughout the body. When histamine is released, it binds to H-1 receptors and causes a chain reaction that increases blood flow while releasing other chemicals that contribute to the allergic response. Allergic symptoms include itching, sneezing, nasal congestion, and headaches.
Antihistamines are medicines or natural remedies often used for symptoms of an allergic reaction, which include hay fever, rashes, hives, conjunctivitis, eczema, and other skin reactions like from an insect sting or bite.
These symptoms are largely part of the body’s natural defense system. Antihistamines work by blocking histamine receptors, which prevent many of the negative effects of histamine.
Some of the most popular antihistamine medications include alimemazine (“Vallergan”), promethazine (“Phenergan”), and hydroxyzine (“Atarax”). However, side effects are common, especially in the elderly, and can include:
- Dry mouth
- Blurry vision
- Difficulty with urination
Best Natural Antihistamines
When we use an antihistamine drug, we are basically covering the body’s shortage of water. The body is crying out for natural histamine sources such as salt.
The following are some of the more popular and best natural antihistamines that help your body fight against many allergic conditions, such as hives and eczema.
1. Stinging Nettle
A common natural antihistamine and allergy remedy is stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), which is often made into a tea.
The anti-inflammatory qualities of stinging nettle affect key enzymes and receptors in allergic reactions. And as a result, this can prevent hay fever in other allergic conditions.
Studies show that freeze-dried stinging nettle even works better than placebos for allergy relief. And in one particular study, 58% of participants relieved their symptoms with the freeze-dried nettles, while 69% said it worked better than the placebo.
Quercetin is a natural type of flavonoid antioxidant used as a supplement and found in various whole foods like tomatoes, berries, broccoli, and leafy greens.
This flavonoid is also a natural antihistamine that helps stabilize the release of histamines from certain immune cells.
Studies have shown that quercetin is a side effect-free treatment that is equal to certain antihistamine medications. Furthermore, recent studies confirm the effectiveness of quercetin for conditions like allergic rhinitis and allergic asthma in rats.
Bromelain is a common supplement, and it can be found in pineapple as well. It is an anti-inflammatory, protein-digesting enzyme that can treat the root cause of all sorts of histamine-related disorders, including allergies and asthma.
Research suggests that bromelain can modulate the entire immune system. A study from 2013 showed that bromelain reduces allergic sensitization in mice while also decreasing the development of asthma. The study also showed that bromelain does more than mask the primary immune response of allergies, since it was found that DC44 antigen-presenting cells and CD11c (+) dendritic cells were kept at bay.
4. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is considered a safe solution to treating allergy symptoms, and it’s a very easy-to-find natural antihistamine. For instance, it is a common supplement in the form of ascorbic acid, while it is also common in plant-based foods. Citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower are packed with vitamin C.
Research shows that vitamin C protects the immune system while also reducing the severity of allergic reactions to help fight infections.
5. Reishi Mushroom
Triterpenes are a type of ganoderic acid in reishi mushrooms (Ganoderma lucidum). It is these triterpenes that can reduce allergies and histamine reactions linked with asthma.
Why are triterpenes capable of reducing allergic reactions? It is because they affect the immune system through inhibiting a histamine release, which reduces inflammation and protects the gut lining while strengthening digestive organs.
Salt is among the classic natural antihistamines that is often underappreciated. Although too much processed salt can pose a problem, getting enough natural sea salts, like Celtic sea salt and even pink Himalayan salt, can help with allergic symptoms such as a runny nose, congestion, or hay fever. Try having salt in a glass of clean, filtered water and see how your symptoms suddenly go away.
The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of salt help reduce IgE levels (immune system oversensitivity) while also removing pathogens in the air like pollen. As a result, salt may also be useful for allergic respiratory conditions like asthma.
Foods that Contain Natural Antihistamines
There are many key natural antihistamine foods, including fruits and vegetables. Not to mention there are various natural antihistamine herbs as well, including certain roots like turmeric and ginger, and popular plants like Ginkgo biloba and moringa. Let’s look at natural antihistamines.
Natural Antihistamines –Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables like watercress (Nasturtium officinale) have always been top anti-inflammatory, natural antihistamine foods.
One study published in the Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin in 1999 shows that watercress can block up to 60% of histamines released from mast cells.
2. Pea Sprouts
Pea sprouts is a type of vegetable with a particularly high concentration of a histamine-damaging enzyme known as diamine oxidase (DAO), which is also high in lentils, peas, and chickpeas.
3. Garlic and Onion
Onions (Allium cepa) and garlic (Allium sativum) are both allium vegetables with a similar effect as watercress. These vegetables also inhibit the release of histamines from mast cells.
Research shows the anti-allergic ability of allium veggies are due to its antihistamine, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory activities.
Garlic and onions are also an adequate source of the antihistamine vitamin C. As an anti-inflammatory, both foods are a good choice for those suffering from other allergic conditions like asthma.
Natural Antihistamines – Herbs
1. Ginkgo Biloba
Gingko biloba has been widely studied for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities. As a result, this famous Chinese herb is effective against asthma symptoms and other allergic conditions.
A study published in the European Journal of Ophthalmology in 2009 suggested that Ginkgo biloba extract may also have a therapeutic effect against seasonal allergic conjunctivitis.
As a natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant herb, moringa (Moringa oleifera) contains various antihistamine nutrients, including vitamin C and quercetin. As a result, moringa powder can treat allergic conditions like allergies and asthma.
Research shows that moringa can inhibit up to 72% of all histamines released from various substances like pollen or dust. Other research suggests the use of moringa for asthma patients.
3. Holy Basil
Holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) is also called tulsi. It is a natural asthma remedy that relieves congestion to allow for easy breathing.
Research shows that holy basil has a natural antihistamine effect that helps stabilize mast cells while also calming them.
Jewelweed (Impatiens textori) is known for its anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties.
Research from 2010 published in the Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin found that jewelweed’s main compounds—luteolin, apigenin, and luteolin 7-glucoside—exhibited significant allergy prevention effects.
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is specifically high in vitamin C, which can fight allergies and asthma while stabilizing mast cells. Research also shows that flavone derivatives from thyme are partly responsible for its antihistamine effects.
Did you know the French called tarragon the “King of the Herbs?” Interestingly, tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) has a similar antihistamine effect as holy basil and thyme. Tarragon also inhibits the release of histamines while helping to stabilize mast cells.
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) has strong anti-inflammatory properties that can fight allergic symptoms, including congestion.
Research published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2011 shows that chamomile can exhibit anti-allergic activity through inhibiting the release of histamine from cells.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) is known for relaxing muscles in your nasal passages, so it is especially useful during allergy season.
Research shows that the flavonoids in peppermint can inhibit the release of histamine. This is especially useful for treating environmental allergens that cause congestion.
9. Nigella Sativa
Nigella sativa, also known as black cumin, can be found as a seed or oil. Its other names include Roman coriander, black caraway, black sesame, and fennel flower.
The active ingredient in this black seed is thymoquinone, which has been reported to help with allergic conditions like asthma. The antioxidant and antihistaminic effects of thymoquinone also exhibit a protective effect on the intestines.
Natural Antihistamines – Roots
Galangal root (Alpinia galanga) is also sometimes called Thai ginger. It is a common anti-inflammatory root used to stabilize mast cells. This root is also high in the antihistamine vitamin C.
Research published in the Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters in 2003 shows that galangal root has the potential to prevent allergic reactions.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is considered a major anti-inflammatory and mast cell stabilizer, as well as a histamine inhibitor.
A 2009 study concluded that ginger contains potent phenolic compounds capable of inhibiting allergic reactions, which may be useful for preventing and treating allergic diseases.
3. Lotus Root
Lotus root (Nelumbo nucifera) is an immune-boosting and mast cell-stabilizing root that is common in traditional Chinese medicine and Asian cuisine.
A study published in Immunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology in 2010 found that lotus root can inhibit the release of histamines.
Turmeric root (Curcuma longa) has long been known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Research shows that the active ingredient in turmeric known as curcumin can inhibit the release of histamines through the inhibition of activating mast cells.
Natural Antihistamines – Fruits
Pomegranates (Punica granatum) and pomegranate juice are loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Pomegranate extract, in particular, has been shown to be an effective mast cell stabilizer, which is useful for reducing allergic conditions.
Apples (Malus domestica) are an amazing source of antioxidants and antihistamines like vitamin C and quercetin. Not only does an apple a day keep the doctor away, but it can also inhibit the release of histamines from mast cells.
A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2004 found that apple intake was linked with a reduced risk of asthma.
Capers (Capparis spinosa) are great in salads, and they are also high in the antihistamine quercetin.
It is recommended to preserve capers in salt rather than vinegar, which can lead to a histamine response.
Mangosteens (Garcinia mangostana) are the ultimate tropical fruit known as the “Queen of Fruits.”
Research shows that mangosteen extract contains both anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy properties, which can reduce inflammatory immune response as a natural antihistamine. As a result, the extracts can inhibit the release of prostaglandin and histamine.
Peaches are known to inhibit the production of inflammatory cytokines and suppress the release of histamines.
Research published in Food and Chemical Toxicology in 2010 shows that peaches can prevent mast cell inflammation.
6. Black Rice Bran
A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2010 shows the value of black rice bran as an anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory food. It is also considered a possible preventative and treatment option for conditions linked to chronic inflammation.
7. Mung Bean Sprouts
Mung bean sprouts are particularly high in antioxidants and phytonutrients called flavonoids, which have anti-allergic activity.
Research from 2016 shows that mung beans inhibit the release of histamine in mast cells and prevent the release of histamines in general.
Precautions and Side Effects of Natural Antihistamines
Eating natural antihistamine foods while using some of the antihistamine supplements can certainly help you naturally reduce your intense allergic response. But, are there any antihistamine side effects?
For the most part, natural antihistamines are safe and side effect-free. However, some natural antihistamine foods and supplements may interact with certain medications.
For instance, in high doses, natural antihistamines such as quercetin, can lead to some risks like headaches, tingling in the legs and arms, and sometimes even kidney damage. Quercetin supplements can also interact with the effectiveness of antibiotics, blood-thinning drugs, and chemotherapy.
Stinging nettle is another natural antihistamine that can interact with blood thinners, hypertensive drugs, diuretics, lithium, sedatives, and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
As a result, it is a good idea to consult with your doctor or natural practitioner before taking any natural antihistamine—even if it is a natural food or substance.
Natural antihistamines can be just what you need when experiencing unwanted allergic symptoms such as headaches, itching, congestion, and sneezing.
Several natural antihistamines can help you get your health back. Some of the top natural antihistamines include stinging nettle, bromelain, quercetin, vitamin C, reishi mushrooms, and even salt.
Among the best, natural antihistamine foods include watercress, garlic, onions, pea sprouts, ginger, turmeric, apples, capers, peaches, pomegranates, and mangosteens. As for natural antihistamine herbs, some of the better choices include lotus root, galangal, holy basil, Ginkgo biloba, moringa, black seed, peppermint, chamomile, thyme, tarragon, and jewelweed.
When you experience allergic symptoms, be sure to try the natural antihistamines detailed in this article. You will certainly be glad you did!
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