Spring is in the air! The days are getting longer, the sun is beginning to shine, and the flowers are blooming. It’s the greatest time of the year, unless of course you suffer from seasonal allergies. Allergy sufferers know that spring is the season during which they need to think twice before venturing into the great outdoors. Do they really want to aggravate their congestion and sinus stuffiness, itchy nose and throat, watery eyes, coughing, difficulty breathing, and headaches? While several over-the-counter remedies for seasonal allergies are available and help mitigate symptoms, they don’t always take care of the issue completely.
Moreover, given the changes happening in our environment and climate, allergy season seems to stretch all year. The good news is that for those looking for relief from common allergy symptoms, natural remedies can be an effective option to support overall health and relieve the most common allergy and sinus symptoms.
Supporting Sinus and Lung Health
There are several reasons why allergens in our environment lead to our bodies experiencing allergy symptoms. A common trigger is our immune system’s release of histamine, a bioactive compound released by the body’s immune cells, including mast cells. The release of histamine functions as a signal to trigger what is known as the allergic response. Histamine travels to the eyes, nose, throat, lungs, skin, and other areas, leading to increased inflammation. Histamine isn’t always bad, though. The histamine response is a key part of our immune system and helps to protect us from foreign invader. It is when the immune system becomes overactive, and the release of histamine exceeds what is necessary that histamine becomes problematic. Those individuals experiencing allergic symptoms often have high levels of histamine.
Another factor in the allergic response is the health of the liver. As a key organ for detoxifying and removing harmful substances from the body, the liver plays an integral role in our allergic experience. When the liver is working properly, it facilitates the removal of foreign substances from the body by first converting them into less reactive compounds and neutralizing their negative effects. When the total load of these compounds builds up in the body, either due to increased exposure (i.e. during allergy season) or because of a compromised ability of the liver to deal with these toxins, the body experiences the symptoms we commonly associate with allergies. So, in addition to dealing with the effects of histamine, it’s critical to support the body’s detoxification capacity to reduce the burden foreign allergens create.
By reducing the impact of histamine and by enhancing the body’s ability to detoxify, we can better support the health of key tissues involved in the allergic response, including sinus and lungs, improving overall respiratory health.
Top Supplements for Allergies
There are many nutrients, herbs, and natural compounds that are effective for supporting against the effects of seasonal allergies. Let’s highlight some of the most beneficial natural alternatives and supplements for allergies below.
Quercetin – A compound commonly found in fruits and vegetables, quercetin is a flavonoid that has profound immune supportive activity. Studies show that supplementing with this compound reduces the release of pro-inflammatory mediators from immune cells, leading to a reduction of inflammation in the body. Specifically, the benefits of quercetin include reducing the release of the cytokine IL-4, which is a key factor in the allergic response. In addition, quercetin is a potent antihistamine. It works by stabilizing mast cells and preventing their activation, leading to more balanced histamine levels and less severe allergy symptoms. For these reasons, it is prudent to use quercetin for allergies.
Serrapeptase – A powerful enzyme originally discovered in silkworms, serrapeptase breaks down proteins that cause inflammation in the body. This includes proteins that are released by the immune system that are chemical messengers leading to the allergic reactions. Research shows that serrapeptase has anti-inflammatory properties and supports a reduction in allergy symptoms by promoting sinus health through its ability to thin mucus in the sinuses and lung tissue. It is also antibacterial and thus offers robust support for overall immune health, making it a beneficial natural substance for allergy sufferers.
Black Seed Extract – A traditional herb with a history of use dating back thousands of years, research has found unique properties of black seeds (also known as Nigella sativa or black cumin seed) that make them a must-have for those experiencing allergy symptoms. In addition to powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity, black seed has immune-enhancing properties and has been shown to be a potent antihistamine. Studies show that black seeds support a reduction in several key symptoms associated with seasonal allergies and have bronchodilation properties, meaning that they open airways in the lungs, allowing for easier breathing and improved lung function. Clinical trials show that black seeds support lung and sinus health in individuals with allergic rhinitis as well as asthma, making them an indispensable natural remedy for seasonal allergies.
NAC and Glutathione – Glutathione is the body’s master antioxidant and is present in every human tissue. NAC is an amino acid that is a precursor to glutathione, meaning it increases the production of glutathione in the body. While supplementing with glutathione or NAC can have profound effects on the lungs and sinuses since glutathione is present in large concentrations in these tissues, another aspect of these key lung antioxidants is their ability to promote liver health and ensure the liver is working properly to detoxify harmful compounds that lead to allergic reactions. This two-pronged effect makes NAC and glutathione vital supplements for those experiencing allergy symptoms.
Vitamins C and D – Two key vitamins for those with seasonal allergies are vitamins C and D. Vitamin C is a core antioxidant that removes and neutralizes free radicals that cause cellular damage, but also has antihistamine effects. The integral role of vitamin C immune support is well established as it helps fend off immune insults. Vitamin D, on the other hand, is a key factor for immune health, supports the body’s response to external immune challenges, reduces inflammation throughout the body, and is often deficient in those with lung health concerns (as well as a huge portion of the population at large!). Ensuring that you supplement with adequate amounts of these key vitamins is crucial in supporting the ability of the body to manage reactions to allergenic substances.
Seasonal (or year-round) allergies can be a miserable experience for those who suffer through them. Adding in key natural supplements that are effective and act in multiple ways to address the underlying cause of allergic reactions can be a beneficial approach to helping make your experience with allergic reactions manageable. This approach can have a significant impact in allowing you to live your life the way you want.
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