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  • Dr. Brittany Long

Side-lined by Seasonal Allergies? Part 2

In a previous post we dove into some simple lifestyle and hygiene changes that can make a HUGE impact on the severity and frequency of seasonal allergies, and today we're going to talk more about some adjunctive care just in case you might be one of the many finding out your common go-to antihistamine medication just isn't cutting anymore...

Specific Antioxidants for allergies:

  • Quercetin - one of my favorite antioxidants compounds! This polyphenol flavonoid can be found in colorful fruits and vegetables and exerts its anti-oxidant powers by inhibiting the release of histamine from mast cells and reducing pro-inflammatory mediators that would otherwise increase allergy symptoms. Common foods to get quercetin through include "onions, capers, apples, berries, tea, tomatoes, grapes, Brassica vegetables, and shallots, as well as many nuts, seeds, barks, flowers, and leaves." (4)

  • Vitamin C - another antioxidant, this vitamin is mostly commonly thought to be found in citrus fruits and while this is true, there are many more foods high in vitamin C! Other foods high in vitamin C include bell peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables and potatoes. Vitamin C, being a strong antioxidant, can help to neutralize free radicals that might otherwise disrupt mast cells and reduce the likelihood of those potentially allergy-inducing cells from bursting. (6)

Nutrient for allergies:

  • Super oxide dismutase (SOD) - can help to neutralize inflammatory processes, specifically reactive oxygen species. When there are "too many" reactive oxygen species "running around" this will damage your cells and can make those white blood cells responsible for neutralizing allergies (mast cells for one) more active. This in turn will then make your allergy symptoms more active! SOD can be found in supplements of course, but foods high in SOD include cruciferous vegetables, cantaloupe, honeydew, peas, tomatoes, mustard greens, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, cashews and walnuts.

Herbs for allergies:

  • Stinging Nettles - this herb, very common to the Pacific Northwest - is high in serotonin, histamine and acetylcholine and has been shown to reduce pro-inflammatory pathways such as the release of histamine, prostaglandin formation and reducing the degranulation of mast cells (which would normally lead to a strong allergic reaction). (3)

  • Butterbur - this herb has shown similar effect against allergies as fexofenadine (Aller-ease) and cetirizine (Zyrtec) but with less sedating effects. Butterbur is effective at treating allergy symptoms by decreasing inflammatory mediators and suppressing smooth muscle contraction (say goodbye nasal congestion!). (3)


  • Probiotics - we all know probiotics can be helpful for a slew of health conditions but newer research is confirming that probiotic supplementation might also be able to lessen allergy symptoms. It is conjecture at this point but the improvement of allergy symptoms with probiotic supplementation may come from the probiotics ability to positively influence our immune system and essentially "calm it down." So far Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are the strains with the most literature on positive impact in relation to reducing allergies but some preliminary studies suggest there may be more strains that would be beneficial against allergies. (2)

Hopefully this gives you some hope that allergies can be treated with items other than your typical over-the-counter medications! If you have questions about how to utilize these agents be sure to schedule a visit with your primary care or with me!



*DISCLAIMER: This document is not intended to treat or diagnose disease. Before implementing any new treatment protocols be sure to consult with a licensed physician. The author has nothing to disclose in regards to supplements or products mentioned within this document and the author does not receive any monetary or other incentive to mention the recommended supplements or products.

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