The top natural antihistamines and how to use them


Last Updated October 11th, 2019

Antihistamine

A drug that negates the activity of histamine produced by the body is called antihistamine.  An over-the-counter antihistamine drug is prescribed when a person suffers from allergic rhinitis symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion, as well as hives.  This is generally caused by environmental allergens such as dust mites, pollens, etc.

An allergic reaction can be prevented by avoiding triggers.  This may not be possible all the time since allergy caused by dust and pollens is difficult to avoid as it is transported in the air.  If a person who is allergic to environmental allergens gets exposed to these allergens, the body produces histamine receptors.  There are two classes of histamine receptors and these include H1 receptor and H2 receptor.

These receptors cause allergic rhinitis symptoms such as sneezing, itchy/runny nose, hives, etc.  Oral antihistamines are used to relieve these allergic reactions and only used as short-term therapy.  There are numerous types of allergies caused by different allergens and these include seasonal allergies (dust, pollens), perennial allergies (occurs throughout the year), food allergies (egg, peanuts, etc), medication allergies, animal allergies (dogs, cats, etc), and indoor allergies (molds or dust).

Causes of an allergic reaction

As discussed earlier, an allergic reaction is caused by allergens.  There are numerous allergens and these include:

  • Gluten, dairy products, nuts, eggs, etc.
  • Insect bites and stings.
  • Animal dander

Symptoms of an allergic reaction

The symptoms generally vary from person to person and also depend on the severity of the symptom.  Some of the common symptoms include:

  • Skin rash, hives, itchiness.
  • Swelling of the face, lips, throat, and tongue.
  • The tingling sensation of the lips and mouth.
  • Runny/stuffy nose, itchy nose, congestion.
  • Abdominal cramps.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Breathing difficulties including coughing and wheezing.
  • Lightheadedness/dizziness.

Treatment for allergic reaction

Generally, allergic reactions are treated with antihistamines.  These are drugs that are prescribed for short-term therapy to relieve the symptoms.  Antihistamines are classified into different generations.  The antihistamines that were introduced earlier in the market are first-generation antihistamines.  The second generation and third generation antihistamines act more specifically on a particular receptor.

First-generation antihistamine

Diphenhydramine and chlorpheniramine constitute the first generation antihistamines.  These are sedating drugs that make you drowsy rather than directly treating the symptoms.  Some of the common side effects associated with these class of drugs include headache, drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth, nose, and throat, nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, chest congestion, as well as nervousness.  Older people generally are affected by these side effects.

Warnings associated with the first-generation antihistamine

The biggest side effect of these drugs includes causing urination problems.  People suffering from an enlarged prostate should completely avoid these drugs as it may further cause complications associated with urination.  People having other health conditions such as chronic bronchitis, glaucoma, high blood pressure, heart disease, seizures, and thyroid problems should avoid taking these medications.  Consuming alcohol while using these medications should strictly be avoided.

Second and third generation antihistamine

These are modern-day antihistamines that are known to act on a particular receptor that is causing the symptom.  The main benefit of this type of antihistamines includes reducing the side effects such as drowsiness.  These drugs stay in the system for a longer period of time and hence the length of the therapy is further shortened.  Some of the common side effects associated with these drugs include drowsiness, headache, and stomach pain.

Warnings associated with second and third generation antihistamine

This class of drugs tend to interact with other drugs such as bronchodilators and should be avoided when taking bronchodilators.  Alcohol should be completely avoided as it may increase drowsiness.  People suffering from kidney and liver disease should avoid these drugs as they lead to further complications.  Certain medications such as antibiotics, antacids, and antifungal agents should be avoided when taking these medications as they reduce the effectiveness of antihistamines.  Fruit juices too can reduce the effectiveness of this drug.

Natural antihistamines

Natural antihistamines can be obtained from different forms.  There are several foods that provide antihistamine effects.  There are also other natural methods by which you can reduce the symptoms.  Let us discuss the numerous ways to obtain natural antihistamines and these include:

Anti-inflammatory diet

The best way to fight allergic reactions is by incorporating certain anti-inflammatory diet.  Here is a list of foods that are considered to be natural anti-inflammatory foods:

  • Almonds: They contain phytic acid, which is essential to bind minerals.  They reduce oxidative stress and promote a healthy chemical environment, which reduces the risk associated with heart diseases as well as regulate the blood sugar levels.
  • Avocados: Oleic acid and linoleic acid present in avocados are helpful in reducing cholesterol  Vitamin E makes Avocados a potent antioxidant.  Multiple nutrients and polyphenols are helpful in reducing the inflammation and can be considered as one of the most important anti-inflammatory food.
  • Broccoli: It contains phytochemicals and is considered to be a powerful antioxidant.  Studies have indicated that Broccoli can be helpful in reducing inflammation as well as even treat a certain type of cancers.
  • Blueberries: Blueberries are rich in polyphenols and are a potent antioxidant.  They contain the maximum amount of antioxidant properties compared to other fruits.  Flavonoids present in them are responsible for the protection of cellular damage caused by free radicals.
  • Carrots: They contain powerful antioxidants and also are rich in beta-carotene from which vitamin A is produced.  Antioxidant effect of carrots can even prevent as well as treat cancer.
  • Dry Beans: They are rich in polyphenols making them a powerful antioxidant.  They reduce cholesterol from the body and help prevent many heart-related risk factors.  It has a low glycemic index and can regulate blood sugar levels in the body and manage diabetes.
  • Kale: It is rich in flavonoids and antioxidants and hence is effective in reducing the oxidative stress on the body.  It helps in binding the bile acids.  It contains lutein, which prevents the occurrence of atherosclerosis.
  • Olive Oil: It is widely used for their medicinal as well as culinary uses.  It is rich in polyphenols and acts as a powerful antioxidant.  The monounsaturated fats avoid plaque formation and reduce inflammation as well as cholesterol levels.
  • Oranges: It contains numerous phytochemicals as well as flavonoids and is considered to be a powerful antioxidant.  They are known to reduce blood pressure levels due to the presence of potassium.  Regulating blood pressure indirectly helps to reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Salmon: It contains a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids, which is useful to treat heart problems.  Omega-3 fatty acids help in reducing the inflammation in the arteries and reduce the risk of heart problems.  It contains an antioxidant called astaxanthin which is effective in reducing the oxidative stress.
  • Spinach: They contain numerous nutrients such as proteins, vitamin K, fiber, phosphorous, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, etc.  They are known to reduce the risk of cancer, reduce blood pressure, maintain healthy bones, and promote healthy skin.  It also is effective in reducing the occurrence of macular degeneration.
  • Strawberries: They contain nutrients such as sodium, potassium, carbohydrates, protein, calcium, vitamin C, iron, as well as magnesium.  They contain flavonoids that reduce cholesterol and prevent the risk of heart disease such as atherosclerosis.  Polyphenols present in them are known to regulate the blood pressure.
  • Sweet Potatoes: They contain sodium, potassium, carbohydrates, protein, vitamin A, calcium, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, as well as vitamin B-6.  They are efficient in managing diabetes.  Vitamin A and beta-carotene present in them act as a powerful
  • Walnuts: They are considered as the nutrient powerhouse.  They contain omega-3 fatty acids, which is effective in managing heart-related issues by reducing the cholesterol level and preventing plaque formation.
  • Green Tea: It is power packed with antioxidants and nutrients.  It can improve brain function due to the presence of caffeine.  It contains L-theanine that provides a soothing effect on the brain.
  • Peppers: Bell peppers and chili peppers are known to have a powerful antioxidant effect due to the presence of quercetin.  They contain sinapic acid and ferulic acid, which are known for their anti-inflammatory effects.  Vitamin C present in them is effective in repairing the tissues of the body.
  • Grapes: They contain a component called anthocyanins, which is helpful in reducing the inflammation.
  • Turmeric: It contains curcumin, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent.  It has been used since ancient times to reduce the inflammation and protect the wound from being infected.
  • Raw honey: Consuming a tablespoon of raw honey every day can protect your body from pollens that can cause seasonal allergies.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar works really well in relieving the symptoms of allergic rhinitis.  You can add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and lemon juice to a glass of water and drink this mixture to get relief from allergic symptoms.

Neti Pot

Since the allergic symptoms mainly are related to the upper respiratory system, using a neti pot to clear the sinus system seems to be effective in clearing the sinuses and remove congestion.  This can also clear the bacteria and virus lodged in the nostrils and prevents infections related to the upper respiratory tract.

Stinging Nettle

This plant has been used for a long time as a diuretic.  There are several other health benefits associated with this plant and these include relieving joint pain, urinary problems, allergic rhinitis, as well as benign prostatic hyperplasia.  Since it can control the histamine receptor, it is effective in relieving allergic symptoms.

Essential oils

Essential oils have been widely used for their numerous benefits.  They help in the process of detoxification of parasites, bacteria, and virus.  Since they have the anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, they can be used in a neti pot to detoxify the upper respiratory system.  This provides relief from the symptoms of allergic rhinitis such as sneezing and congestion.  You can also use it in your humidifier or add it to the laundry detergent to remove any pathogens.  Some of the examples of these powerful essential oils include eucalyptus oil, frankincense oil, etc.

Probiotics

Maintaining a healthy immune system can be possible with the use of probiotics.  Since the gastrointestinal tract controls around 80% of the immune system, probiotics can help maintain the GI tract and improve its function.  When the immune system is healthy, your body is able to fight allergies easily.

Final thoughts

An allergic reaction is a common phenomenon that we face in our day to day life.  Since environmental allergies related to dust and pollens are rare to prevent, it becomes easier to control them with the use of antihistamines.  Antihistamines in the form of drugs can be used for immediate relief, but they usually come with side effects.  Choosing a natural way to fight these allergies with the help of diet and other useful methods can be useful in the long run.  Choosing the right natural therapy seems to be a better option in treating the symptoms of an allergic reaction.

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