Allergies occur due to the reaction of your immune system to foreign substances like pollen, pet dander or bee venom. These foreign substances contain harmful proteins called allergens. So, the immune system mounts a defense by producing substances called antibodies, to fight against the allergens.
These allergens can be airborne, such as pollen and dust mites; certain foods, such as peanuts, fish and eggs; bee or wasp venom; certain drugs, such as penicillin; and certain substances, such as latex. You are more susceptible to allergies if you have a family history of allergy.
The symptoms vary depending on the type of allergy. The tissues affected will be swollen and inflamed. There can be itching. If the allergic reaction is severe, you can develop a dangerous condition called anaphylaxis, wherein there can even be loss of consciousness. Since you can’t always avoid the allergens in your environment, you need to keep these herbal remedies in mind, so that you can turn to them when you have the next attack of allergy.
Herbal Remedies For Allergies
Most of these herbal remedies will be available in the form of tablets, capsules, or liquids. You can source them from either your local drugstore or the Internet. However, note that it may not be advisable to use them for prolonged periods. Consult your doctor before using any of them.
Butterbur extract is got from the leaf of Petasites hybridus. The active ingredient in the extract is petasin. Petasin acts as an anti-inflammatory chemical by inhibiting leukotriene, which is a chemical involved in the inflammation pathway. It has been shown to be as effective as some antihistamines, with the added benefit of causing little or no sedation.
The dose is 50 mg, containing 7.5 mg of petasin and isopetasin, twice daily. Use products that are free from pyrrozolidine alkaloids, which can cause liver toxicity. Its side effects may be drowsiness, constipation, difficulty in swallowing, nausea, vomiting, and stomach upset.
Ginkgo biloba is effective in allergies because the extract of its leaf contains the chemical quercetin. Quercetin inhibits the release of the inflammatory chemical called histamine, which is responsible for the allergy symptoms. The dose is 40 mg thrice daily.
Its side effects are nausea, vomiting, headache, allergic reaction and muscle weakness. It also has adverse drug interactions with drugs like anticonvulsants, antidiabetics and antidepressants. It should not be taken by pregnant and breastfeeding women.
St. John’s Wort
St. John’s wort extract is obtained from the flowers and leaves of Hypericum perforatum. It is effective in allergies because it contains the anti-inflammatory substance hypericin.
Its dose is 900-1800 mg of extract daily, or 1.5% cream applied to skin. The side effects are allergic reactions, sedation, gastrointestinal upset, restlessness, impotence, dizziness, dry mouth and headache.
Bromelain, also called as bromelin, is an enzyme that is obtained from the stem and fruit of Ananas comosus, or pineapple plant. It is an anti-inflammatory chemical, which reduces the pain and swelling of tissues, especially in allergic rhinitis.
Its dose is 100-300 mg twice daily. It has very few side effects if moderate doses are taken. However, its side effects include allergic reactions, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and excessive menstrual bleeding.
Stinging nettle extract is got from the leaf of Urtica dioica. The active ingredient is quercetin, which is an anti-inflammatory chemical. Its long-term safety is not established. Consult the product label for dosage.
The side effects are increased blood pressure, increased blood sugar levels, and increased urine flow. Pregnant and nursing women should not take it.