Allergies, at some point, affects everyone in some way or another. Whether it’s allergic rhinitis, skin allergies, food allergies, latex, pets, insects, or drug allergies, it’s a major concern. However, the bigger problem lies in the solution. Not because it’s hard to solve but because the mainstream western medicine solution comes with a price – an increased risk of dementia.
The most popular anti-histamine, Diphenhydramine, which is used in most anti-allergy OTC medicines, has been linked to an increased risk of Dementia due its “anti-cholinergic” properties. This is just one of the many potential side effects of Diphenhydramine. Anti-cholinergic drugs appear to have the potential to lead to brain damage, cognitive impairment and dementia.
Now let’s be honest, nobody wants to deal with such drastic effects just because they have allergies. So let’s see what natural alternatives are available.
Butterbur is a well known medicinal herb that is often used for migraines and allergies. In fact, its so effective that in a clinical trial, Butterbur demonstrated similar anti-allergy effects to that of a common antihistamine known as cetirizine (Zyrtec) for treating allergic rhinitis (see study). In another study, Butterbur demonstrated similar results to that of fexofenadine (Allegra) for treating allergic rhinitis (see study). Interestingly, unlike cetirizine and fexofenadine, Butterbur does not cause drowsiness and sedation.
If you do choose to use Butterbur, please make sure to use a product that is PA-free. PA’s (pyrrolizidine alkaloids) are hepatotoxic substances that are found in Butterbur – these can lead to liver damage. Therefore, use a product that is PA-free.
2. Holy Basil
This medicinal plant is known to stabilize mast cells, which are responsible for the release of granules and chemical mediators like Histamine. By stabilizing the mast cells, the release of histamine can be inhibited (1). This herb can therefore be considered as a natural anti-histamine. Although this herb is mainly used for influenza, bronchitis, swine flu, diabetes, and viral infections, it has also been seen to effectively reduce the symptoms of allergies, including allergic rhinitis. Holy Basil tea (aka Tulsi Tea) can be taken 2-3 times a day. The leaves can be chewed and eaten fresh as well.
A powerful immuno-modulator, anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, and anti-oxidant. This spice is known to effectively treat a wide range of conditions, including bronchitis, rhinitis, Crohn’s disease, neuro-degenerative/inflammatory conditions, candida, diabetes and many more. Research on the key chemical constituent known as Curcumin, has demonstrated its anti-allergy properties and its ability inhibit histamine (2). Turmeric is used in Ayurveda for a wide range of allergic conditions including allergic rhinitis, hives, food allergies and allergic bronchitis. Turmeric should be consumed together with black pepper (preferably long pepper), to increase bio-availability and increase absorption. Its best to consume turmeric with hot A2 milk or almond milk, a pinch of black pepper and rock candy/honey.
Combining Turmeric and Tulsi is a powerful way to fight allergies.
As one of the more popular anti-allergy herbs nowadays, Nettle is proving to be a very effective remedy for allergies. Research has shown that certain compounds present in Nettle, can inhibit pro-inflammatory pathways related to allergic rhinitis. The research showed that Nettle, just like Holy Basil, is able to inhibit mast cell degranulation, and prevent the inflammatory response. Consuming Nettle tea is an effective way to prevent as well as treat allergies.
Always remember, that medicinal herbs can be very dangerous if improperly used. Consult an Ayurvedic doctor to find out what is the most effective way to manage your allergies using natural medicine.
(Always use medicinal herbs under the supervision of a doctor)
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by Dr. Nishal R.