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  • Dr. Tania Dempsey, Armonk Integrative Medicine

5 Natural Antihistamines to Combat Allergies


Allergies are caused by histamine which is released from a white blood cell, called a mast cell. These mast cells detect things that are foreign to it, like pollen, certain foods, or even viruses. During allergy season, depending on what the person is allergic to, these mast cells will detect that allergen and will try to get rid of it. It does that by exploding and releasing histamine and other inflammatory chemicals that can then fight off that allergen. The problem is that they are also harming the body depending on where they are exploding. If the histamine is released in the nose and sinuses, you will get a runny or congested nose and a headache. If the histamine is released in the bronchial tubes, you might get a cough or an asthma exacerbation. So the key to feeling better during allergy season is to block the histamines so that they don't cause these reactions and also to stabilize the mast cells so that they don't explode in the first place. There are many natural foods and herbs that can do one or the other or both.

5 Natural Antihistamines:

1. Ginger is a histamine blocker or antihistamine but is also great for the immune system. Shave off a small piece of ginger and put it in a mug. Pour hot water over it and steep for 3-5 minutes. Then drink and enjoy.

2. Thyme is a herb with very high levels of vitamin C along with a variety of of other anti-inflammatory compounds, which work together to help blocks histamine and also prevents the release of histamine from mast cells. Use it liberally in food during cooking or prepare a tea with it.

3. Watercress is a very potent anti-histamine and can easily be used in salads or sautéed in coconut oil and garlic, which can also decrease the release of histamine from mast cells

4. Capers have one of the highest levels of Quercetin available in nature. Quercetin is a powerful anti-oxidant that can accomplish both jobs: stabilizes mast cells and acts as an antihistamine. Fresh capers are best but even those preserved in salt are a great option.

5. Turmeric is a spice that can prevent the release of histamine from mast cells and can even inhibit anaphylactic reactions. It can be used in cooking or can be made into a tea. Roasted, pastured, organic chicken rubbed with turmeric, garlic and thyme served with broccoli and sweet potatoes, is the perfect meal to combat allergies.

Make Sure to Avoid:

Pineapple - Many people do not realize that pineapple actually has a high level of histamine, so it should be avoided in patients with histamine issues. It also contains an enzyme bromelain that can be helpful in breaking down inflammation associated with histamine. Bromelain is best taken as a supplement to avoid the histamine from the pineapple.

Strawberries- are known as a histamine liberator because they cause mast cells in the gastrointestinal tract to release histamine. This can exacerbate allergies. Strawberries are usually avoided in patients with histamine issues.

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