Allergies can produce a great deal of suffering. In America alone, around 28 million people suffer from hay fever, and that does not include all the individuals who are allergic to pet dander, dust, foods, and bee stings.
Allergies are the result of an immune response gone overboard. Substances like dust, pollen, dust mites, and so forth are not harmful like pathogens. But in the allergic individual, these substances produce an extreme immune response. From debilitating to a mere annoyance, allergy symptoms are no fun.
Thankfully, there is a place for natural remedies in allergy management. Here are some natural approaches that may help reduce allergy symptoms. (Note: the natural remedies discussed below are not intended to be used to treat or prevent anaphylaxis, a deadly form of allergic response that is a medical emergency.)
Have you heard of Ginkgo for memory? Interestingly, Ginkgo contains some substances that inhibit a chemical produced by the body during an allergic response: platelet-activating factor, or PAF. When your body produces PAF in response to an allergen, the PAF sets off a chain of events that lead to allergic symptoms and inflammation. Inhibiting the PAF means that the allergic response does not get to complete its cycle. It's like breaking the link in a chain.
Ginkgo is generally sold in standardized extract form. Herbalists recommend 60 to 240 milligrams daily, but no more than that. Ginkgo is low in side effects but high in effectiveness.
Garlic contains a substance called quercetin, which can actually be taken as a supplement (more on that below). Other foods contain quercetin, too, but garlic has high concentrations of this substance. Quercetin is reputed to slow down inflammatory reactions, such as those found in allergic reactions. Onions, too, contain a significant amount of quercetin.
- Enzymatic Therapy
Enzymes - or a lack of them - are implicated in the development of allergies. At their very basic level, allergens are proteins, and certain enzymes are able to break down proteins before they can incite an allergic reaction. Enzymes can be taken in supplement form, but they may have digestive effects. However, many allergy sufferers find that the side effects are greatly reduced when the enzymes are taken with food.
Quercetin supplements are often suggested as a treatment for allergies. As noted above, certain foods contain quercetin, too. This is another argument for a healthy diet, because the foods that contain the most quercetin are those foods that are some of the healthiest: garlic, onions, apples, red wine (in moderation!), and citrus fruits - to name a few.