During the allergy season, you may find yourself addicted to over-the-counter antihistamine medication. As you may be aware, standard OTC medications have many unwanted side effects. Let’s not even mention the possible long-term health risks with chronic use of these medications.
The truth is that natural antihistamine supplements can work MUCH better for people who suffer from allergies.
All that these OTC antihistamine drugs do is block the mechanism for the production of the chemical histamine… they don’t solve the root problem.
Histamine is a compound that your immune system makes when an allergic reaction is triggered. Histamine then promotes inflammation at the source of the reaction. If it’s in your nose, you’ll get sneezey and congested. If it’s in your eyes, you’ll get puffy and itchy (1).
Natural and organic antihistamines can do the same job as the drugs while getting to the root of the problem, plus they can provide many other health benefits and nutritional value without side effects.
This is because they are made with natural ingredients.
What are the long term risks of taking OTC antihistamine drugs?
The actual answer to this question is the same for a lot of medical risks: we really don’t know or have concrete proof for an answer.
However, we have well-researched examinations of the side effects that can occur in up to 90% of people taking them. If you are in your thirties or forties, you’ll probably resonate with the common use of first-generation antihistamines: Benadryl, Claritin, etc.
In this past decade, many allergy sufferers were frightened to hear conclusive research showing that the use of first-generation antihistamines was tied with “toxic reactions”.
I think that this information is very disturbing because a lot of parents during that time were giving these medications to their children daily. Since it took about 20 years for this research to come out, I am very skeptical about the safety of newer generations of antihistamines like cetirizine and levocetirizine (2).
People that take these OTC drugs can also suspect that there are dependency risks involved with antihistamine medications. When you stop taking your OTC medication daily, you can experience withdrawal effects that can be very uncomfortable for a few days. Also, consider your children having to go through this as well.
Additionally, OTC antihistamine users have to deal with the acute symptoms of exposure to these drugs that we all recognize like; drowsiness, insomnia, memory loss, dry sinuses and eyes, and more!
Do Natural Antihistamine Supplements Actually Do Anything?
Yes, these organic extracts and nutrients can actually be much more effective than drugs. They can do the same job as the antihistamine drugs but without the side effects.
While antihistamine drugs work to block histamine receptor cells, natural antihistamines work to stabilize mast cells.
Mast cells are immune cells within the body that contain histamine. When mast cells come into contact with an allergen (like tree pollen), they degrade and release their stores of histamine into the body. This starts a cascade of effects that leads to inflammation which causes common allergy symptoms (i.e. running nose, itchy eyes, etc…).
People who suffer from allergies have extra-sensitive mast cells. Whether it’s ragweed, tree pollen, or animal dander; your mast cells are extra sensitive to these different types of allergens.
Rather than using an antihistamine to shut off your body’s natural allergen response, the best route is to stabilize your mast cells so that they become desensitized to these different allergens.
This is where natural antihistamine supplements come into play.
Natural, herbal and food-based supplements work to stabilize mast cells. This is the root cause of allergies. We’ll dig into the best natural antihistamines below.
The Best Natural Antihistamine Supplements:
Below is my list of the top antihistamines to supplement with.
1. Stinging Nettle Leaf
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is a fantastic natural antihistamine. It works to reduce inflammation in the body that’s caused by allergies. Specifically, Nettle reduce the cyclooxygenase (COX) and lipoxygenase (LOX) inflammation pathway. This helps to reduce inflammation and helps to alleviate allergy symptoms.
Make sure that you use Stinging Nettle “LEAF”. This is the part of the plant that is effective for allergies. Stay away from formulas that use the nettle root, or that are a “whole herb” blend.
Additionally, Stinging Nettle isn’t all hype. A double-blind clinical trial (the gold standard in medicine) showed that Stinging Nettle far outperformed placebo in helping to reduce allergy symptoms (3). This goes to show you how effective this natural herb can be!
2 & 3: Quercetin & Rutin
Following close behind Stinging Nettle are the flavonoids Quercetin and Rutin.
Quercetin and Rutin are two very similar flavonoids, a special class of polyphenols. These two flavonoids are commonly found in citrus fruits (like oranges and grapefruits).
Quercetin and Rutin work to stabilize mast cells. By stabilizing mast cells, this helps to desensitize them to allergens. Thus, your body will stop overreacting to allergens that typically trigger you.
One thing to note is that Rutin essentially shares the same molecular structure as Quercetin, with the addition of two sugar molecules. When you take Rutin, your body essentially cleaves off the two sugar molecules, it then absorbs the remaining Quercetin molecule.
Taking a combination of both Quercetin and Rutin helps to solve one of the problems of Quercetin, its poor absorption. Quercetin is quickly processed and excreted by the body. This means that you need to take a lot of Quercetin before your store will be filled. With Rutin, you are essentially increasing the absorption window since it has to be activated before your body can absorb the Quercetin molecule.
Below is a handy chart showing the absorption flow for each flavonoid:
Quercetin is a natural flavonoid that is responsible for the beautiful silver color of some vegetables and flowers. It is heavily concentrated in onions and can be attributed to the unique feeling of freshness that you get when eating them.
This completely natural and healthy supplement works by eliminating histamine from your body by stabilizing mast cells. Organic quercetin also gets rid of other allergic compounds that produce inflammation like leukocytes.
Good sources of quercetin in your diet are onions, garlic, apples, tea, broccoli, leafy greens, and berries. Eating these foods regularly may be enough to treat your allergy symptoms through the days. However, if your allergy symptoms get severe, then a concentrated quercetin supplement would definitely be great for you.
Besides being an effective natural antihistamine, concentrated quercetin also has other health benefits that I experienced as well, including:
- Increased energy and mood levels
- Improved focus and motivation
- More stable appetite
- Increased mental alertness
- Nervous system stimulation
I found a great supplement here for a good price. I’ll update if I find a better one. In my opinion, this antihistamine is way better than some OTC drug like Zyrtec or Allegra because it is non-habit-forming and much more effective. It would be a wise choice to switch to something like this that actually treats the cause of allergies, rather than masking the symptoms with more symptoms.
Needless to say, I recommend taking a supplement that has a combination of both Quercetin and Rutin. Here’s my favorite product that contains both flavonoids.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L) is a great natural herb that I recommend people take. It has been shown to be an effective anti-inflammatory, which is helpful for reducing allergy symptoms (4).
Similar to Nettle, Rosemary works to block COX inflammation pathways.
Additionally, Rosemarinic acid, one of the main phytochemicals found in Rosemary has been shown to reduce the feeling of itchy eyes and throat, two common allergy symptoms (5).
5. DAO (Diamine Oxidase)
It’s now possible that you can take an enzyme supplement that will work to break down the histamine your immune system produces and the histamine absorbed from food.
I was surprised at how much better it made me feel, regardless of whether or not I was experiencing allergies. The enzyme in particular is called Diamine Oxidase (or DAO).
Diamine oxidase is a very new supplement and it really works for me and others who have histamine intolerance and allergies. While DAO works well, it is very expensive and still fairly new.
I don’t have a DAO product that I recommend as of yet, though, I am on the lookout for one. From my research so far, none of the DAO products that I’ve seen have stability data on their product to show that the powder in the capsules is actually effective…. I’ll continue to look for an effective DAO product that I can recommend
My Personal Reccomendation:
I recommend that most allergy sufferers taking a targeted herbal antihistamine blend.
That said, my recommendation is a product called Allurtica, which you can get from Amazon here.
I know that I have to prepare for emergency allergy days, where I know that I’ll need an effective antihistamine. Herbal allergy supplements made me skeptical at first, but when I tried them, I was surprised at how effective they were in comparison to OTC antihistamine drugs.
For me, herbal antihistamines like stinging nettle, quercetin, rosemary leaf, and rutin didn’t give me any side effects. However, they did provide me with numerous side BENEFITS. When taking them, I experience a slight boost in motivation and focus, as well as a boost in mood and energy. I would totally recommend trying one because it is much more worth it for me than taking Zyrtec or Allegra.
These organic herbs naturally support:
- Healthy sinus and respiratory
- Healthy levels and function of histamine, leukotrienes and prostaglandins
- Help clear mucus from the lungs and nasal passages for fresher breathing.
I have tried a wide range of different herbal antihistamine blends and they all worked wonderfully for the value of the product. They are much cheaper than OTC antihistamine drugs and work more effectively in my opinion. You also never have to worry about you or your child becoming addicted to this stuff.
The best herbal antihistamine that I’ve tried is definitely this one. This is the antihistamine that I use for my allergies on the days when I need it most.
This supplement has been the only natural antihistamine I’ve found to be more effective than any OTC drugs that I have tried. And it is much cheaper than drugs like Zyrtec or Xyzal, not to mention non-toxic and non-addictive for adults and children.
It works immediately for when I’m in an emergency allergy situation, but it also lasts for the long term, even longer than 24 hours. It might even last longer for you because some of the herbs in this blend absorb slowly for a long-term effect. Everyone in my family switched to this natural antihistamine and we feel much healthier every day (with more money in our pockets).
There are a few things to consider when trying to get rid of your allergies. First, you must know that your diet and lifestyle dramatically affect the severity of your symptoms. If you do harmful things to your body like not sleep, overeat, drink alcohol, etc… then you’re most likely only making your problems worse.
When you are treating your allergy symptoms, you should see that as an opportunity to “mask” or lessen the severity of the symptoms for a few hours. Then, you should try to focus on your health to treat the foundation of your allergies: your immune system.
This might take some time, but as your general health and immunity improve, your allergies can be treated at their root until they don’t bother you or even phase you.
These natural antihistamines are safe for long-term use so that you can take your time to find out what is beneficial for your unique health and immunity.
Those are my most recommended methods for treating allergies naturally. It is likely that you are looking for seasonal allergy relief and all of these methods will help tremendously because they have for me.
Dramatic changes to your health couldn’t be that easy anyway. But it’s not hard work!
Other products that have promise for treating your allergies include:
- Stinging nettle
- Olive leaf extract
- Transfer factor
- Apple cider vinegar
- Local raw honey
- Bee pollen
- Essential oils
I am always here for you, so if you have a question or something to add about natural antihistamines that work for you, please leave me a comment below!
Talk to you soon,
1. Simons, F. E., & Simons, K. J. (2008). H1 antihistamines: current status and future directions. The World Allergy Organization journal, 1(9), 145–155. https://doi.org/10.1186/1939-4551-1-9-145
2. Church, M. K., & Church, D. S. (2013). Pharmacology of antihistamines. Indian journal of dermatology, 58(3), 219–224. https://doi.org/10.4103/0019-5154.110832
3. Mittman P. (1990). Randomized, double-blind study of freeze-dried Urtica dioica in the treatment of allergic rhinitis. Planta medica, 56(1), 44–47. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-2006-960881