For many of us, spring is a joyous time. For others, it is a season circumscribed by runny noses, swollen eyes and constant headaches!
A recent survey conducted by the Daily Express found that over 16 million Brits suffer from hay fever, an allergic reaction to airborne pollen that stimulates the overproduction of histamines.
Histamines: A Natural Defence Mechanism
The production of histamines is a natural defence mechanism designed to help the body fight off potentially harmful intrusions, but when an overabundance of histamine is produced, it can result in the inflammation of mucous membranes around the body, the constriction of vital airways and a whole host of other potentially problematic symptoms including:
- Itchy skin
- Unpleasant rashes
- Watery eyes
Typically, people suffering from chronic hay fever will turn to artificial antihistamines to find relief. These drugs block histamine receptors in your body, which prevents histamines from attaching to your cells and reduces any pollen-exacerbated swellings.
Unfortunately, many artificial antihistamines also cause drowsiness, dry-mouth and confusion. Some, such as Zyrtec, have even been implicated in causing blurred vision.
Luckily, there are alternatives. According to a study published by Thorne Research in 2000, natural antihistamines found in a wide variety of green superfoods are just as effective as their artificial counterparts.
These natural antihistamines work in much the same way as chemicals like Zyrtec; binding to histamine receptors to reduce inflammation and swelling. The only real difference is that they have none of the negative side effects.
Thorne Research’s study, which is titled Exploring the Natural Treatment of Perennial Allergic Rhinitis, actually found that some natural antihistamines were even more effective than their artificial counterparts.
The bioflavonoid quercetin, for example, was shown to be twice as effective as Sodium Cromoglycate at inhibiting antigen-stimulated histamine release, and blocking histamine receptors throughout the body.
A separate study from 2016 showed a reduction in inflammatory markers and improvements in airway inflammation thanks to quercetin, which is found in apples, dark berries, leafy green vegetables and whole grains.
Superfoods Which Contain Natural Antihistamines
Most of the natural antihistamines identified in the Thorne Research study can be found in 6 key superfoods. These are:
1. Stinging nettles, which contain an abundance of chlorophyll and a whole host of natural antihistamines that are particularly well adapted for stifling your body’s immune response, and preventing the swelling of your mucous membranes.
2. Parsley, which contains quercetin, a natural antihistamine that helps stabilise mast cells to prevent both the manufacture and release of histamine. Parsley also contains large amounts of iron and an abundance of essential phytonutrients.
3. Kale, a dark, leafy green packed with alkalising minerals and brimming with an abundance of Vitamin C. The double-blind study published by Thorne Research found that Vitamin C in kale helped to prevent the secretion of histamine by white blood cells, as well as improving detoxification.
4. Garlic, which contains an array of antioxidant-rich flavonoids that were found to stabilise the body’s histamine-producing cells and reduce the symptoms of pollen-exacerbated allergies. Garlic is also believed to help prevent high blood pressure and arthritis.
5. Watercress, a peppery plant packed with antioxidants like beta carotene, an immune-boosting compound capable of reducing inflammation in your tissues and preventing allergy-related swellings.
6. Chia seeds, which contain an a number of anti-inflammatory omega-3 oils and a whole host of beneficial antioxidants capable of inhibiting your body's ability to produce histamines.
Adding Natural Antihistamines to Your Diet
If you think you might struggle to add enough natural antihistamines to your diet by consuming raw green super foods, you might want to consider a Green Superfood Powder.
These carefully dehydrated powders are nutrient-dense dietary supplements brimming with many of the antioxidants and antihistamines found in raw kale or parsley, as well as a whole host of beneficial phytonutrients including chlorophyll.
A particularly good choice is pHresh Greens. It is raw and suitable for vegans. Just add a scoop to water each day and drink.
Another idea is to add probiotics to your diet. We covered the benefits of probiotics for hay fever in this blog, the basis of which was a 2017 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
After eight weeks, the probiotic study group cited improvements in quality-of-life and fewer allergy-related nasal symptoms. Less constipation was also noted and the overall difference was said to be ‘statistically significant’. At Water for Health, we stock Progurt – the strongest probiotic supplement currently on the market.
If you'd like to chat about anything you've read in this article, or if have any questions for us, whether about hay fever or anything else, remember that you can call us on 01764 662111. Alternatively, send us a message and we'll get back to you within a day or two.