Natural Remedies for Allergies

Allergy is a type of hypersensitivity caused due to overreactions of the immune system. When the body encounters a specific allergen, the antibody Immunoglobulin E (IgE) regulates the hyperactivity of white blood cells (WBCs). This results in various allergic reactions or inflammatory responses. Inflammatory responses include hives, hay fever, asthma, eczema, and reactions to food ingredients and insect stings.

Allergic reactions are observed even after an exposure to harmless environmental agents or allergens. It is estimated that about 20% of Americans are affected by this condition.

Causes
Allergies can be caused due to many factors such as foods, medicines, insect bites, pet dander, and other seasonal allergens. Majority of people are susceptible to seasonal allergens like pollens, grasses, weeds, molds, yeasts, and smoke. A major biochemical change which occurs during an allergic reaction is the release of histamines in the bloodstream. These histamines act on the eyes, nose, skin, throat, and gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Some of the common noticeable symptoms are hives, rash, runny nose, wheezing, sneezing, and itchy eyes.

Symptoms
Allergies are diagnosed based on the symptoms, physical examination, and certain laboratory tests like skin sensitivity to allergens, and blood tests to determine the elevated levels of IgE. You should immediately opt for the treatment because an untreated allergic reaction can lead to a severe condition called anaphylaxis. In such a condition, the person may experience difficulty in swallowing, shortness of breath, dizziness, and inflammation in the lips, tongue, throat, and gastrointestinal tract. At times, anaphylaxis may cause loss of consciousness or even death.

Treatment
The treatment options include antihistamines, steroids, other medications, and target therapy. In addition to these therapeutic approaches, there are various effective natural remedies for relief from allergies. It is important to identify the cause of the condition and avoid further exposure to the allergen. For example, people with allergies of certain foods like milk and peanuts, should stop consuming them.

Honey
Honey consists of pollen allergens and other effective ingredients. Locally produced honey is more preferable as it contains plant pollens that counteract the allergic reactions by stimulating the immune system.

Butterbur
The extracts of this herb prevent the action of histamine and other inflammatory responses. Dietary supplements prepared from butterbur are available in the market as tablets. The crude plant extract is not recommended as it contains toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids.

Quercetin
Quercetin is an antioxidant found in foods like apples, berries, onions, and black tea. It helps to block the synthesis of histamines, and thereby alleviates the symptoms. Nutritional supplements of quercetin in various doses are available in the market.

Antihistamine
Vitamin C is a naturally occurring antihistamine. Therefore, including vitamin C rich foods in the diet helps treat allergies. Over-the-counter antihistamines may be used to prevent further release of histamines in the bloodstream.

Natural Antioxidants
Fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of antioxidants. Some of the recommended fruits and vegetables used to treat this condition include grape seed extract, banana, apple, tomatoes, carrots and onion.

Saltwater Gargling
The most effective natural remedy for throat swelling caused by postnasal drip is to gargle with warm saline water solution. In addition, saline nasal sprays help in washing the pollen and/or other allergens present in the nose.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids help lower the synthesis of inflammatory chemicals that are responsible for causing allergic reactions. Food sources of omega-3 fatty acids are walnuts, flaxseed oil, and fish oils.

Following the aforementioned treatment options may help control the allergic symptoms. However, it is advisable to consult a qualified physician before opting for any remedy, especially if you are taking higher doses for a prolonged duration. In addition, children, pregnant women, and nursing women should take medical supervision prior to taking any natural remedies.

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