For about 50 million Americans, the first semi-breezy day out hiking or biking can illicit nasal congestion, itchy eyes, fatigue and more— very similar symptoms of the common cold. It is considered hay fever when certain trees, weeds, or grasses emit a pollen that cause an inappropriate response by the body’s immune system to a substance that is not normally harmful. Doing its job, the immune system produces antibodies to defend against these pollens for when the body is exposed in the future. Subsequent exposure will activate these antibodies to signal the immune system which then releases histamine into the bloodstream. And so antihistamines are created.
The problem with over the counter antihistamines is they can cause grogginess and are commonly filled with artificial colors and ingredients. The best natural antihistamine is quercetin. Quercetin is a bioflavonoid found in onions, apples, and parsley which acts to stabilize the cellular parts that release histamine, thus reducing symptoms. Secondly, since allergies are an immune reaction, supporting the body’s immune system is obviously imperative. Experts estimate seventy-percent of the immune system is housed in the gastrointestinal tract, therefore, from a preventative standpoint, supporting the health of intestinal flora is paramount for hay fever sufferers. Probiotic rich foods and supplements are very helpful for this. Organic yogurt and kefir are two excellent sources, as are foods like kimchi and sauerkraut. Supplements of acidophilus and bifidobacteria should also be taken.