Surviving Allergies: The Right Allergy Medicine for You
Allergies and their symptoms is a nuisance to a lot of people, young and old. When my friend Sarah was concerned over a recent visit with her child’s pediatrician regarding giving over the counter drugs for her three year old, I completely agreed there are lots of reasons to consider going the natural route…
There are plenty of medications on the market to address allergy symptoms. Among the oldest are antihistamines, such as Benadryl. Allergies happen when ordinary proteins are misidentified as threats to health. The immune system responds by releasing large amounts of a substance called histamine. This, in turn, triggers many of the unpleasant symptoms we associate with the allergic response.
Over-the-counter and prescription antihistamine drugs block the activity of histamine to reduce allergy symptoms. Antihistamines can have side effects, though, such as sleepiness or dry mouth. Other medications address other symptoms. Pseudoephedrine, for instance, helps relieve nasal congestion, while many over-the-counter allergy formulations also include a pain and fever reducer, such as acetaminophen.
There are prescription medications, too, which work by interfering with other aspects of the immune response. But what about more natural, herbal remedies for this common complaint? Research suggests that some traditional remedies can be just as effective as certain modern prescription drugs.
Butterbur is an herb that should not be taken raw. Its standardized extract, though, may offer relief from nasal passage swelling and inflammation that is comparable to the relief you might expect from certain over-the-counter antihistamine drugs. Butterbur may even work better than these drugs, because it doesn’t cause drowsiness. Drowsiness is a common side effect of many antihistamine drugs.
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) leaf extract has also been promoted as a possible natural remedy for allergy symptoms. There’s not a lot of research to support its use, but evidence suggests it does help put the brakes on runaway immune system activity.
It also contains quercetin, another natural chemical found in many foods, such as onions and apples. Quercetin has been touted as a possible alternative treatment for allergies. So, once again, the old adage that an apple a day keeps the doctor away may have merit for allergy sufferers. It’s just possible that the quercetin in apples could help relieve allergy symptoms.