If you have seasonal allergies, you know they can be challenging. Sneezing, itchy eyes, congestion, and sinus pressure — all of these symptoms can become nearly unbearable.

You’ve likely used many over-the-counter (OTC) solutions to attempt to tame these seasonal symptoms and may want to try something else. There is evidence that completely natural solutions can ease your symptoms.

Hay fever, allergic rhinitis, or seasonal allergies — numerous drugs, both prescription and OTC, are made to help combat these cold-like symptoms. But some of these medicines have their own lengthy list of side effects.

Understanding how histamines work can help you better understand how natural antihistamines can be an ally during allergy season.

Your allergies are an immune response to an otherwise harmless substance. This substance — whether it’s pollen or dust — comes into contact with cells in the mucus membranes of your nose, mouth, throat, lungs, stomach, and intestines. This triggers the release of histamine.

Histamine is a part of the immune system that causes all of the symptoms you associate with allergies — the sneezing and cold-like symptoms you dislike. Antihistamines block histamine activity, seeking to stop the allergic reaction.

Many allergy medications on the shelves of your local drug store work as antihistamines. But there are also certain foods and plant extracts that can have similar effects on histamine production.

A common herb in natural medicine, stinging nettle, may also be a natural antihistamine. In one study, 58 percent of participants found their symptoms relieved with the use of freeze-dried nettles, and 69 participants rated it better than the placebo.

Stinging nettle can be found online and at health food stores. The study participants in question used 300 milligrams (mg) each day.

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Quercetin is an antioxidant found naturally in onions, apples, and other produce. Research has the antihistamine effects of quercetin. One found that it even lessened the respiratory side effects of allergies in rats by reducing inflammatory response in the airways.

You can purchase quercetin as a supplement or simply add more quercetin-rich foods to your diet (the better choice of the two).

Shop for quercetin supplements online at Amazon.

Bromelain is a compound most commonly found in pineapples, but you can also find it in supplement form. It’s said to be effective at treating respiratory distress and inflammation associated with allergies. One study suggests taking between 400 to 500 mg three times daily.

Taking in bromelain through the natural food pineapple consumption is recommended.

Shop for bromelain supplements online at Amazon.

Vitamin C is an easy-to-find natural antihistamine. It’s prevalent in many fruits and vegetables, and also in supplement form.

Because it’s free of side effects and nontoxic, it’s a safe solution for treating stuffy nose and other unpleasant symptoms of seasonal allergies. Experts suggest taking at least 2 grams (g) per day for the best antihistamine results. Increase your intake with three to five citrus fruits a day.

Shop for vitamin C supplements online at Amazon.

When you suffer from allergies, relief can seem just out of reach. By combining natural remedies with proper self-care and allergen avoidance (when possible), you can find allergy symptom help. Proper diet and exercise can help your immune system operate at its highest levels.

Also, remember that while food sources of these antihistamines are natural and safe, supplements aren’t regulated in the United States. So be sure to get them from quality sources, and check with your doctor prior to using supplements.

Where Can I Get Quercetin?
  • Quercetin is found in grapefruit, apples, and okra.
  • Quercetin is available as a supplement in pill and tablet form, but try to opt for natural sources first.