NATURAL ALTERNATIVES TO DRUGSTORE MEDICINES FOR ALLERGIES
Quercetin is an amazing plant flavonoid that reduces inflammation and directly blocks the action of the histamines and other biochemicals that cause allergic sneezing and sniffling. One 500 mg capsule of quercetin in the morning can keep the sinuses dried out and the eyes clear for an entire day and into the evening. If you find that it dries you out too much (e.g. you get a slight sore throat), you might try a lower dose. There are many allergy formulas that include quercetin, but this potent antioxidant alone is usually enough to relieve allergy symptoms. Quercetin is also known for reducing inflammation in the prostate.
IS IT A COLD OR ALLERGY?
How can you tell if your runny nose and watery eyes are caused by hay fever or a cold?
- A runny nose caused by allergies is usually clear, while a cold causes a yellow discharge within a few days, indicating infection. (Chronic, long-term allergies can eventually cause a sinus infection.)
- The nose is itchy with hay fever, usually not with a cold.
- Sneezes comes in groups during a hay fever attack, sometimes as many as 10 or 20 sneezes one right after another. Sneezes caused by a cold generally come one at a time.
- Watery, itchy eyes tend to be a sign of hay fever rather than a cold.
- The ears are often involved in an allergy, causing hearing problems, popping and sometimes ringing in the ears. Older children and adults who get a cold don't often get an ear infection with it.
The downside of quercetin is that it blocks the action of a liver enzyme responsible for breaking down waste material and as such can cause drugs and some toxins to stay in the system longer than normal. If you're taking prescription drugs, be aware of this interaction.
My favorite American one-herb allergy remedy is stinging nettles (Urtica dioica), which works much like an antihistamine but without the drowsiness. Look for a dose that gives you at least 300 mg/day, ideally in a freeze-dried extact.
Many combination herbal formulas for allergies include goldenseal and/or echinacea. I realize that echinacea is incredibly popular as an immune booster, but a lot of people are allergic to it! If you take it and your symptoms get worse it's probably not a “cleansing” or “detox” reaction, you're probably allergic to it. The same goes for goldenseal.
You'll find lots of “simple” allergy solutions and detailed information on the various allergy medicines and natural alternatives in my book Prescription Alternatives.