- Vitamins and Supplements for Allergy Treatment: Do They Work?
- Supplements and Allergy Treatment
- Side Effects of Non-Traditional Allergy Treatment
- Foods and Supplements That Help Seasonal Allergies
- Over-the-Counter Supplements
- Foods that Fight Allergies
- Still Suffering?
- What Are Allergies?
- How To Treat Symptoms?
- Vitamins For Allergy Relief
- Hotze Vitamins
- Top 5 Supplements for Allergies
- Can You Be Allergic to Vitamins?
- Signs & Symptoms of Vitamin Allergy
- Nasal Congestion
- Skin Rashes
- Anaphylactic Shock
- 18 supplements for allergy relief and prevention
- Dietary vitamin D can reduce allergy development
- A Look at Allergies
- 10 Supplements That Are Natural Antihistamines
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin A
- Black Cumin
- Vitamin C
- The Bottom Line
Vitamins and Supplements for Allergy Treatment: Do They Work?
About 4 in 10 American adults use complementary and alternative medicine, such as vitamins and herbal supplements, according to statistics from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the National Center for Health Statistics. Vitamins and supplements are popular because they are thought to boost immunity, keep bones strong, improve emotional health, and do other positive things for you. But can they also help alleviate allergies?
If you are considering vitamins or other supplements as part of your allergy-treatment plan, here are some things you should know.
Supplements and Allergy Treatment
While there is evidence that supplements may help with certain allergy conditions, supplements are not subjected to the same Food and Drug Administration (FDA) screening and regulations as prescription drugs. This means that despite claims made by manufacturers, there’s little, or no, scientific evidence for the efficacy of these supplements in regard to allergies.
“If you go to a store to purchase a supplement, you don’t exactly know what you’re getting,” says Julie McNairn, MD, an allergist/immunologist in Cincinnati, Ohio, who cautions her patients that supplements don’t always contain what the label states.
Herbs, vitamins, and other substances that have been promoted for the treatment of allergies and related conditions, ranging from the common cold to asthma, include:
- Bromelain, enzymes extracted from the pineapple and related plants
- Stinging nettle
- Vitamin C
- Ginkgo biloba
- Evening primrose
- Thymomodulin, an extract made from the thymus glands of calves
- Vitamin D
- Gamma-tocopherol, the primary form of dietary vitamin E (as opposed to alpha-tocopherol, the form usually found in supplements)
- Ganoderma tsugae, a mushroom that grows on hemlock trees
NCCAM, an arm of the National Institutes of Health, is investigating the effectiveness of such alternative forms of allergy treatment as vitamins and other supplements. As of now, there is insufficient evidence to warrant recommending a supplement to treat an allergy. As research progresses, scientists hope to better understand how vitamins and herbal remedies can be safely used to treat allergies.
One alternative therapy under investigation for the treatment of allergies — particularly food-related allergies — is probiotics. Probiotics, or “friendly bacteria,” are found in certain foods (e.g., yogurt, milk) and supplements. They are thought to bolster the immune system by introducing beneficial bacteria into the gut. While it is not clear whether probiotics are helpful in treating an allergy, says Dr. McNairn, there is probably no harm in taking them.
Side Effects of Non-Traditional Allergy Treatment
If you choose to take vitamin supplements, it’s important to realize that just because a purported allergy treatment is natural it doesn’t mean it is safe. “There can be adverse effects even though are ‘just natural,'” says McNairn.
For example, according to McNairn, people with seasonal allergies who take echinacea may see a worsening of their allergic symptoms. This is because echinacea and ragweed are in the same family. In people who are sensitive to ragweed pollen, chamomile also can exacerbate allergy symptoms.
Many other supplements have unwanted side effects unrelated to allergies, and some can cross-react with your prescription or over-the-counter allergy medications. Adverse reactions can be especially concerning if you have asthma related to your allergies. So talk with your doctor and pharmacist about any supplements you may be taking to find out if they are safe for you.
Foods and Supplements That Help Seasonal Allergies
Allergy season is in full swing, meaning your body may be fighting an invasion of pollen with a continuous stream of histamine, the chemical that causes allergy symptoms. Bronchial and nasal passages become inflamed from this immune response, leading to sneezing, coughing, a runny nose, and watery eyes.
Many allergy sufferers have found relief with natural remedies, including eating certain foods and taking specific supplements that are designed to reduce inflammation and calm the body’s response. If you suffer from allergies, check with your doctor to see if any of the following supplements would be safe for you to try.
Ideally, supplements should be taken before allergy season starts in hopes of improving overall well-being and the tolerance of triggers, such as tree or grass pollen. However, it’s not too late for supplements to still provide relief. Here are a few supplements that can help decrease allergy symptoms:
- Turmeric: The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, blocks mast cells from releasing histamines. Turmeric aids in reducing inflammation in the sinuses and respiratory tract. It is also an antioxidant that has immune-boosting properties, and it may also help symptoms such as congestion, cough, dry mouth, and sneezing.
- Probiotics: Probiotics contain beneficial bacteria that help defend against hay fever and other airborne allergens. They protect the body from harmful pathogens in the gut and help maintain the immune system. Studies show probiotics help reduce nasal symptoms and improve overall quality of life during allergy season. Research also indicates that women should take probiotics during pregnancy and breastfeeding to reduce the development of allergies in the unborn child or infant.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is known to boost the immune system, but what you may not know is that it contains antihistamine properties and can reduce seasonal allergy symptoms. Studies have proven that children that take vitamin C regularly had fewer allergic rhinitis symptoms. Foods that are a good source of vitamin C are apples, broccoli, strawberries, and mango.
- Quercetin: Quercetin helps reduce seasonal allergy symptoms because it is an antioxidant that prevents the release of antihistamines and reduces the body’s inflammatory response. This supplement is found in apples, tea, onions, berries, and grapefruit. Scientific studies indicated that individuals that took a quercetin combination supplement showed a significant decrease in allergic symptoms, including sneezing, stuffy nose, and itchy eyes.
Other supplements that help reduce allergy symptoms include butterbur, stinging nettle, and spirulina.
Foods that Fight Allergies
Foods also play a role in reducing allergy symptoms. A change in your daily diet during allergy season may prove beneficial and help lessen the aggravating symptoms. Following are a few foods that can help you survive allergy season:
- Pineapple: Pineapple contains bromelain, which is an enzyme that helps reduce nasal swelling and can control the immune response system. Pineapples are also an anti-inflammatory and contain vitamin C, which is an allergy-fighting antioxidant.
- Green Tea: Drinking green tea, which is rich in the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), helps relieve allergy symptoms by blocking the production of histamines and decreasing inflammation. Green Tea also reduces mucus production, throat pain, and watery eyes.
- Fish: Fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel contain omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 reduces inflammation and supports overall immune system health. Studies reveal that individuals whose diet was rich in omega-3 showed fewer symptoms of allergies, such as itching, sneezing, and runny nose. Research also shows that expectant mothers that took omega-3 supplements during pregnancy were less likely to have newborns with allergies.
- Broccoli: Broccoli is high in vitamin C, which helps boost the immune system and contains antihistamine properties. Broccoli is also beneficial in decreasing inflammation and blockages in the sinuses.
Foods to avoid during allergy season include alcohol, dairy products, eggs, soy, tomatoes, and tree nuts. These foods can increase the body’s production of histamines.
If you’ve tried allergy remedies at home but are still suffering, or, if your symptoms are severe, contact a health care provider. InstaCare helps patients with allergies find relief and create an allergy management plan. InstaCare is open 365 days a year, and you can reserve a visit time online in advance to help bypass waiting time.
Allergy symptoms occur when your body’s immune system overreacts to substances in your environment, such as cat dander, dust, or pollen, and starts fighting them as if they were bacteria or viruses by releasing a biochemical called histamine.
You can blame mom and dad for the fact that you’re allergic; the tendency is inherited. But some doctors believe that a healthy diet and certain nutritional supplements can balance your immune system, keeping it strong but not overreactive.
With that in mind, here are particulars on the nutrients that may be helpful in fighting allergies. For the best allergy-alleviating action, add these nutrients to your balanced diet:
Magnesium may ease breathing. This mineral helps relieve constricted airways in the lungs. One study found that lab animals severely deficient in magnesium had higher blood levels of histamine when exposed to allergens than animals getting enough magnesium. If you are going to add a magnesium supplement to your diet, make sure the amount in your multi and additional supplement of magnesium do not exceed 350 mg combined.
Daily amount: 200 mg
Vitamin C stops histamine. Studies have shown that high levels of vitamin C help reduce histamine release and make histamine break down faster once it is released. Other studies have shown that vitamin C deficiency can send blood levels of histamine soaring.
Daily amount: 200-400 mg
Bioflavonoids help too. These chemical compounds, which are closely related to vitamin C, may help reduce the body’s release of symptom-producing histamine. The chemical structure of bioflavonoids is similar to that of a drug used in asthma inhalers. Experts recommend eating bioflavonoid-rich foods such as citrus fruits, cherries, dark grapes, broccoli, and red and green peppers, and drinking herbal teas.
- If you have heart disease or kidney problems, check with your doctor before taking magnesium supplements. Doses of magnesium exceeding 350 mg a day may cause diarrhea.
- Doses of vitamin C exceeding 2,000 mg a day can cause diarrhea.
More from Prevention: The Best Supplements For Women
Pollen is everywhere during the summer months, which means that allergens get extremely difficult to avoid. Thankfully there are vitamins for allergy relief that can help to relieve some symptoms naturally.
What Are Allergies?
An estimated 21 million adults in the UK suffer from at least one allergy, with numbers continuing to rise year on year! Allergies are caused by an exaggerated immune response to substances that aren’t actually harmful to the body such as pollen, mould and dust. Both genetic and environmental factors play a role in this over sensitive immune response that causes itching, swelling skin irritation/rashes, coughing, runny noses and muscle spasms.
How To Treat Symptoms?
Avoiding the allergen itself is the best way to avoid symptoms however this can be incredibly difficult if the allergen is something like dust or pollen which you are inevitably going to come across in your daily life. If you go and visit your doctor, they will probably prescribe you an antihistamine tablet (these can also be purchased over the counter). They can be taken as tablets, in a liquid form, a nasal spray, or eye drops depending on the allergy and associated symptoms.
Antihistamines work by blocking histamine, a substance which is released by the immune system cells, which then attaches to the receptors in blood vessels, causing them to enlarge. Histamine also binds to other receptors causing other symptoms such as redness, swelling and itching. By blocking histamine and keeping it from binding to receptors, antihistamines prevent these symptoms.
While antihistamines can be effective at treating the symptoms of mild and seasonal allergies in particular, there are a number of potential side effects or issues associated with taking them. They can cause you to feel drowsy and cloud the thinking, but more significantly they do not stop the problem from happening in the first place, they just mask the symptoms.
There is, however, a natural alternative in the form of vitamins for allergy relief.
Vitamins For Allergy Relief
Traditional western medicine and alternative health practitioners agreeing that nature’s top edible antihistamines are found in foods. The top two recommended vitamins for allergy relief are found in foods like fish and citrus fruits.
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Vitamin C is considered as a natural antihistamine. It works by destroying the molecular structure of histamine, thereby decreasing the amount of histamine in the blood.
It has also been suggested that taking bioflavonoids alongside Vitamin C actually enhances the action of this vitamin which means that allergy relief symptoms will be even greater. Bioflavonoids can be added to a supplement form of Vitamin C and are also found in rose hips.
The absorption of Vitamin C is highly dependent on the amount ingested therefore it is recommended that more than 500mg per day is taken. For anyone who doesn’t like to table tablets, there are also chewable tablets and powder available.
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As an essential fatty acid, Omega 3 has anti-inflammatory effects. Natural anti-inflammatories, like Omega 3, are believed to reduce immune responses associated with allergies.
It is thought that Omega 6 is less helpful in controlling allergic symptoms. That’s because it can encourage the production of arachadonic acid, which led to your immune system reacting with allergic inflammation. So a diet low in Omega 6 but high in Omega 3 is recommended.
A supplement, like Cod Liver Oil, is a more convenient (and potentially less smelly) way of increasing Omega 3 intake whilst avoiding increasing Omega 6 intake. As a vegan-friendly alternative, Algae Oil is a great source of Omega 3.
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About 23 million Americans have symptoms from an allergy to ragweed pollen. (1)
Achoo! Are you sneezing with a runny nose and itchy, watery eyes? Do you have sinus pressure and pain? Are you coughing and wheezing? Allergies can make you feel miserable. They can affect everyone in your family and every aspect of your life. It’s hard to make that presentation at work. You can’t sleep well and start the next day off tired and groggy. You can’t go outside and play with the kids because your breathing is compromised by asthma. Unfortunately, these symptoms are all too common. However, there are some things that you can do naturally to help relieve your symptoms.
The upcoming fall season is one of the worst times for allergy sufferers, partially because it coincides with ragweed season that is already in full swing. You may feel uncomfortable as the ragweed plants release pollen into the air. Your symptoms may continue until the first frost kills the ragweed plant. Depending on your location, ragweed season may last six to ten weeks. In most areas in the U.S., it peaks in mid-September. (1)
Avoiding the allergens that you react to will help, but it is impossible to avoid every allergen out there. Taking steps to strengthen your immune system becomes the best and most effective way to prevent and treat allergies.
First, what are allergies?
Allergies are an abnormal reaction by your immune system to normally occurring substances in your environment. Common airborne allergens include weed, grass and tree pollens, dust and dust mites, mold spores and animal danders. Common food allergens are wheat, corn, egg, yeast, milk, soybean and coconut.
Common Allergy Symptoms
Of course you know that sneezing, itchy and watery eyes and a stuffy, runny nose are typical allergy symptoms. But there are many more symptoms you should be aware of that you may not realize could be caused by allergies:
- Frequent headaches
- post nasal drainage
- itchy nose
- Recurrent or chronic sinus infections
- Recurrent yeast infections, jock itch or athlete’s foot
- Redness or swelling of the eyes
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Recurrent ear infections
- Recurrent cough or bronchitis
- Tightness in the chest, wheezing or asthma
- Eczema, skin rashes, itching or hives
- Indigestion, bloating, diarrhea or constipation
Why should you take vitamins and minerals to boost your immune system?
The typical American diet consists of packaged and processed foods that are depleted of most of their vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals provide the nutritional foundation for a healthy immune system, yet, most of us do not get what we need from the foods we eat. Therefore, vitamin and mineral supplementation is essential.
Top 5 Supplements for Allergies
Supplements are helpful in preventing allergy symptoms since they help boost your immune system and control the inflammation that occurs with allergies.
1. Vitamin C – Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine and powerful antioxidant that supports a healthy immune system. Vitamin C is also a natural anti-inflammatory.
Research shows that allergic diseases are reportedly associated with a vitamin C deficiency. Vitamin C is a key physiological antioxidant that prevents excessive inflammation without reducing the defensive capacity of the immune system. Research concludes that treatment with intravenous high-dose vitamin C reduces allergy-related symptoms. (2)
Research shows that vitamin C concentration declines during infections and stress. Supplementation of vitamin C was found to improve the immune system, such as antimicrobial and natural killer cell activities. Trials document that adequate intakes of vitamin C and zinc improve symptoms and shorten the duration of respiratory tract infections, including the common cold. Furthermore, vitamin C and zinc reduce the incidence and improve the outcome of pneumonia, malaria, and diarrhea infections, especially in children in developing countries. (3)
2. Vitamin D – Vitamin D helps strengthen and regulate the immune system so that it can appropriately respond to whichever invader or foreign substance it’s exposed to.(5) It actually resets the immune system which helps with many illnesses, like autoimmune conditions, colds and flu, and allergies. Vitamin D can modulate immune responses and eliminate specific pathogens and prevent their growth. Low levels of vitamin D are associated with autoimmune disorders, as well as overall lower immune response.
Research demonstrates that a deficiency in vitamin D is associated with increased autoimmunity, as well as an increased susceptibility to infection. (4)
In Western countries, the incidence of allergic diseases is high and rising. While genetic factors certainly play a role, epigenetic or even nutritional factors might also be important in the development of allergies. Research shows that vitamin D, the sunshine hormone, exerts profound effects on both adaptive and innate immune functions involved in the development and course of allergic diseases. (5)
3. Colostrum Complete – Colostrum Complete is a high quality bovine colostrum supplement containing important and very helpful antibodies that strengthen the immune system and fight illness. It works by providing beneficial antibodies that give your immune system the blueprints for attacking many different viruses and bacteria. It’s very similar to what’s in breast milk and supports overall health.
Colostrum can also help heal a leaky gut, which is a common cause of food allergies such as gluten intolerance.
Research concludes that the inclusion of oral bovine antibodies in specialized dairy products and infant nutrition may be a promising approach to support immune function in vulnerable groups such as infants, children, elderly and immunocompromised patients. (6)
4. Probiotic Blend – The health of your body depends upon the health of your gut. A large portion of your immune system is in your G.I. tract. Probiotic Blend is a superior, high quality blend of good bacteria that helps improve immune function and restore and support gut health. Probiotic Blend is gluten and dairy free, and can help improve both seasonal and food allergies.
Published studies indicate that probiotics are beneficial in treating and are a useful therapeutic remedy in the treatment of allergic rhinitis. (7)
Dr. Hotze’s PowerPak makes taking vitamins easier than ever. Including all of your essential vitamins and minerals in daily, convenient vitamin packets, Dr. Hotze’s PowerPak provides you with the most pure and high-quality nutrients that you need to fuel your body and boost your immune system. It includes vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, and many other nutrients.
Each packet of Dr. Hotze’s PowerPak contains:
- 3 Energy Formula multivitamin
- 1 Omega Complete Fish Oil Softgel
- 1 L-Carnitine (500 mg)
- 1 Vitamin C Capsule (1000mg)
- 1 Magnesium Citrate tablet (200 mg)
- 1 Antioxidant Blend capsule
Take Good Care of Yourself
Making time now to prepare a healthy plan of action will go a long way in keeping you and your family well and help prevent and control those allergy symptoms, as well as helping to prevent colds and the flu. Over-the-counter medications only mask symptoms and come with many negative side effects, plus they aren’t providing any of the nutrients that your immune system needs to stay strong.
Get Dr. Hotze’s PowerPak today to give your immune system the advantage it needs to fight off allergies and infections. You deserve to enjoy this fall season and feel your best!
1. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
2. Intravenous Vitamin C in the Treatment of Allergies: An Interim Subgroup Aanalysis of a Long-Term Observational Study
3. Immune-Enhancing Role of Vitamin C and Zinc and Effect on Clinical Conditions
4. Vitamin D and the Immune System
5. Vitamin D and Its Role in Allergic Disease
6. Effects of Bovine Immunoglobulins on Immune Function, Allergy, and Infection
7. Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis with Probiotics: An Alternative Approach
I have noticed that when I take a daily multivitamin supplement I develop eczema on my face around my nose and mouth. I also feel generally run down.
Could this be just coincidental or can you be allergic to vitamins?
My mother has an intolerance of iron and I think this could be connected.
I am planning a pregnancy and am concerned I will not get the necessary levels through my diet.
Yes, it sounds as if you are allergic to this product. Any skin eruption that consistently appears after exposure to the same substance could be an allergy.
Let me just check out one thing: are you allergic to fish?
Many people are. If so, it’s the Omega-3 fish oil that might be the problem. Try stopping that and taking just the Sanatogen.
If that doesn’t stop it then you know it is the Sanatogen.
I’ve never met anyone who is allergic to vitamins themselves. Manufacturers use different substances to hold the vitamins together.
These are called the ‘exigients’ (as opposed to ‘ingredients’).
So, trying a different brand of multivitamin might solve the problem. Ask your pharmacist for advice.
The other solution is to take a simpler product – say folic acid tablets plus a straight B complex pill.
This would cover the most important prenatal supplementation.
The NetDoctor Medical Team
Last updated 01.02.2011
Can You Be Allergic to Vitamins?
According to the Health Tree website, more than 80 percent of people taking vitamin supplements are stressing their bodies out from a vitamin allergy, which manifests with the same symptoms as a food allergy 123. If you experience adverse reactions after taking your vitamins, stop taking them and talk with your doctor. Be sure to disclose all supplements you are taking.
Is This an Emergency?
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
A person with a vitamin allergy has a hypersensitivity to certain vitamins 1. Once the vitamin enters the body, the immune system mistakes the vitamin as a harmful substance and creates specific antibodies to fight it, according to MayoClinic.com 2. The increased amount of antibodies in the blood leads to the production of histamine in soft tissue throughout the body. Histamine causes common allergic symptoms.
Common symptoms of a vitamin or food allergy include asthma, fatigue, runny nose, sniffling, itchiness, headaches and wheezing, according to Health Tree 123.cause:
- Common symptoms of a vitamin or food allergy include asthma
- runny nose
- according to Health Tree 123
Digestive issues also are common and can include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, bloating and cramping. Nasal congestion can lead to sinus pressure headaches, postnasal drip and a sinus infection. Skin reactions, such as eczema or hives, also can develop as a result of a vitamin allergy 1.
The most effective tests for a suspected vitamin allergy are blood tests and skin patch tests, according to Health Tree 1. MayoClinic.com explains that during a blood allergy test, the allergist will give you a small amount of the vitamin orally and draw blood to test for IgE antibody levels 12. A skin patch test is administered by injecting different vitamins under the surface of the skin to determine which vitamins cause a skin reaction.
The most effective treatment with any food-related allergy is to avoid the consumption of the allergen, according to MedlinePlus 23. After a specific vitamin supplement is identified as an allergen, your doctor might advise you to stop taking the supplement. Talk with your doctor about modifying your diet to maintain the proper nutrition through eating food.
Health Tree warns that a vitamin allergy can cause anaphylactic shock, a life-threatening condition 1. If you experience a sudden outbreak of hives, shortness of breath and mental confusion, call 911.
The Wrap Up
Skin reactions, such as eczema or hives, also can develop as a result of a vitamin allergy 1. Health Tree warns that a vitamin allergy can cause anaphylactic shock, a life-threatening condition 1. The most effective tests for a suspected vitamin allergy are blood tests and skin patch tests, according to Health Tree 1.
Signs & Symptoms of Vitamin Allergy
Many people take vitamins thinking they are doing their body a favor, but in rare cases a vitamin allergy can actually cause adverse side effects. According to HealthTree.com, depending on the type of vitamin and dose, allergy signs and symptoms can vary. Vitamin allergy symptoms tend to mimic those of common food allergy symptoms, such as nasal complications, asthma, skin rashes and anaphylactic shock 2. If you experience unpleasant reactions when you take vitamins, talk with your doctor to determine the cause and best treatment options.
Is This an Emergency?
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
When the body experiences an allergic reaction, histamine is produced by mast cells that cause most allergy symptoms. Histamine is a chemical-hormone in the body that causes inflammation in soft tissue. One of the first places that shows signs and symptoms of inflammation is the nasal cavity. The sinuses swell, due to increased blood flow, and cut off the person’s ability to breathe normally through the nose, according to MedlinePlus 3. Nasal congestion causes pressure to build in the head, causing pain in the ears, eyes and cheeks 1. Nasal congestion that develops a thick, yellowish discharge should be evaluated by a doctor 1.
HealthTree.com states that asthma is a symptom of a vitamin allergy. Asthmatic symptoms will appear within a few minutes after ingesting the vitamin supplement. Common symptoms include:
- shortness of breathe
- chest pain
- the inability to breathe
- according to MayoClinc.com
This is caused by increased histamine in the lungs causing inflammation and swelling. If the asthma symptoms get worse or are frequent, you should see a doctor 2.
Skin rashes are a common allergy sign and symptom after taking a vitamin supplement. The skin can become generally itchy without any redness or inflammation. More commonly, the skin will respond with a flare-up of hives or eczema, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Hives are elevated, itchy welts that appear in patches with defined borders and can migrate from one part of the body to another in a matter of minutes. Eczema is most commonly found in infants, but can stay with someone throughout his life. Eczema is a hypersensitivity of the skin, much like an allergy, that causes scaly blisters to develop. In extreme cases, eczema can leave permanent scarring.
Anaphylactic shock is an extreme allergic reaction that affects the entire body and could lead to death.
The Wrap Up
HealthTree.com states that asthma is a symptom of a vitamin allergy. More commonly, the skin will respond with a flare-up of hives or eczema, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Eczema is a hypersensitivity of the skin, much like an allergy, that causes scaly blisters to develop.
18 supplements for allergy relief and prevention
April 11, 2019 | By Dr. Ronald Hoffman
Last week, I offered my top ten tips for beating spring allergies. This week, I’m arming you with the supplements you need to keep the sniffling, sneezing, and watery eyes at bay. (If you’ve seen the footage of the massive amounts of pollen in the North Carolina sky, I don’t need to tell you this allergy season is likely to be a doozy.)
Most often when seasonal allergies strike, we reach for the Claritin or the Allegra, but you can save yourself a trip to the pharmacy with these natural allergy-busters:
1) QUERCETIN: Known to inhibit mast cells from releasing pro-inflammatory compounds that cause allergy symptoms. Dosage: 500 mg 3 times daily.
2) BROMELAIN: A proteolytic enzyme extracted from pineapple, it stops the allergic cascade and reduces swelling and edema of tissue. Dosage: 500 mg 3 times daily.
3) URTICA DIOICA (Stinging Nettle): Randomized, double-blind studies have shown it to be as effective as standard allergy medications. Dosage: 200 mg 3 times daily.
4) NAC (N-acetyl cysteine): In Europe, it’s a prescription medicine, used for reducing congestion and for thinning tenacious mucus. Dosage: 500 mg 3 times daily. (NOTE: A supplement called D-Hist, available via our online dispensary at Fullscript, conveniently combines all four of the previous ingredients, plus vitamin C.)
5) OMEGA-3 FISH OIL: EPA offers anti-inflammatory protection.Dosage: 1,000 mg 3 times daily.
6) VITAMIN C: Nature’s own antihistamine. Dosage: 500 mg 3 times daily.
7) VITAMIN D: Emerging research suggests a protective role of vitamin D against asthma, eczema, and other allergic conditions.
8) BUTTERBUR (Petadolex): Also a popular migraine remedy, good research supports its anti-leukotriene effects. European studies have shown it to be as effective as the popular allergy drug Zyrtec. Dosage: 50 mg 3 times daily.
9) PROBIOTICS: A recent study shows that a probiotic drink (Yakult) containing Lactobacillus casei relieves allergic symptoms. Restoring proper balance of bacteria in the GI tract helps to rein in over-exuberant immune responses.
10) PYCNOGENOL: One of the more well-studied of the natural bioflavonoids, this extract of French maritime pine bark was found to relieve allergic rhinitis symptoms. Dosage: 50-100 mg twice daily.
11) MSM (methylsulfonylmethane): May block allergic reactions at the tissue level. Dosage: 1 gram 3 times daily.
12) ADRENAL SUPPORT: Since the adrenals mediate the body’s resistance to allergic challenge, supporting cortisol production with licorice, pantothenic acid, adrenal cortical extract, ashwagandha and other adaptogens can relieve symptoms. Popular adrenal support supplements like Adren-All by Ortho Molecular contain various proportions of these and other ingredients.
13) TRANSFER FACTOR: Allergies exemplify imbalanced immune responses; Transfer Factor from colostrum restores normal TH1/TH2 ratios which enables the body to better distinguish between “friend” and “foe.” Dosage: 250-500 mg twice daily.
14) SULFORAPHANE: This potent derivative of broccoli or broccoli sprouts has been shown to counteract allergies worsened by air pollution.
15) APIGENIN: Found in parsley, celery, and certain spices, apigenin triggers the switching of the immune response to allergens toward a T-helper type 1 (Th1) profile.
16) LUTEOLIN: A strong histamine blocker, luteolin is found in the perilla plant. It may also have neuro-protective effects, which I discussed in a podcast with Dr. Theoharis Theoharides.
17) XLEAR: Bacteria and fungi that colonize the nasal passage and hide in biofilms are recognized as foreign invaders; their presence triggers chronic hyper-activation of the cells lining the respiratory tract. Xylitol in Xlear nasal spray inhibits microbes and dissolves biofilms, resulting in clearance of mucus.
18) SIMILISAN eye drops: A gentle homeopathic formula for itchy red eyes.
Get a jump on allergy season by starting supplementation early, before symptoms begin; stop the allergic cascade befor
Dietary vitamin D can reduce allergy development
Now, researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine have discovered that one’s exposure to vitamin D may impact their likelihood of developing allergies even before they are born. The recent study, published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology on February 11th, showed that women who eat foods that are rich in vitamin D during pregnancy are less likely to have children who will develop allergies. This finding is consistent with previous reports that maternal vitamin D levels are related to the likelihood that children will wheeze at the age of 3.
This new study examined 1,248 American women and their children from the first trimester until children were approximately 7 years old. Children with a reduced risk for developing allergies had mothers who had consumed higher amounts of vitamin D. Vitamin D can be found in dairy products including milk and eggs, as well as in other foods such as fish, mushrooms, and cereal. Women who consumed at least the amount of vitamin D that would be found in 8 ounces of milk per day were shown to confer the allergy benefits to their children. These children had a 20% reduced risk of hay fever in their school years.
Vitamin D likely reduces the chance of developing allergies because of its effect on the immune system, which has been demonstrated in a number of ways. Vitamin D has been shown to quickly rid the body of hives and other allergy symptoms. This vitamin is critical to the proper functioning of T-cells, which are a major part of the immune system.
The finding that vitamin D can protect a fetus from eventually developing allergies is a promising discovery in the allergy field. However, it should be noted that vitamin D supplements did not have the same effect as vitamin D found in foods. In other words, pregnant women had to eat foods containing vitamin D to confer the allergy benefit to their children. However, the research linking vitamin D supplements to allergies and asthma has produced a large mix of results.
Whereas some scientists have supported the idea that vitamin D supplements taken by pregnant women can reduce the risk that their children will develop allergies and asthma, others have shown that adults who took vitamin D supplements as infants were in fact more likely to develop allergies than those who did not take the supplements. One study showed that vitamin D supplements were effective in both preventing and treating seasonal allergies, but other studies found that vitamin D supplements had no effect on the likelihood of developing allergies. Scientists therefore believe that further research is needed before we can truly understand the impact of vitamin D supplements on allergies. It may be the case that higher doses of the supplements are needed to achieve the same effect as consumed vitamin D.
For now, it is likely that clinicians will recommend that pregnant women consume vitamin-D rich foods during pregnancy. Not only are the recent data on the protective effect of vitamin D against allergies promising, but vitamin D has a number of other health benefits and is therefore a critical component of our diets.
A Look at Allergies
Allergies are an immune system response to a foreign substance called allergens. The immune system’s job is to keep the body healthy by fighting harmful pathogens.
It achieves this by attacking anything it thinks could put the body in danger.
In the case of allergies, the immune system perceives allergens as pathogens and reacts accordingly even though the allergens are harmless.
The symptoms vary depending on the allergen and the severity of the allergy. If allergies are very severe, this can cause anaphylaxis, which is life-threatening and is associated with breathing difficulties, light-headedness and loss of consciousness.
Types of Allergies
There are a number of different types of allergies, both food, and non-food ones.
Food allergies can trigger swelling, hives, nausea and fatigue, and more. It often takes a while for a person to realize they have a food allergy because people typically eat a range of foods each day and there can be a delay between eating the food and having a reaction.
Allergies can also be seasonal, such as in the case of hay fever, which is an allergy to pollen. The symptoms include congestion, runny nose, and swollen eyes.
Causes of Allergies
Allergies have become a worldwide public health concern because of their increased prevalence (1). Despite considerable research in the area, the causes of them are largely unknown.
Various explanations have been put forward, such as increased awareness, improved diagnostics, genetic susceptibility, psycho-social influences, allergen exposure, decreased immune-system stimulation, underlying disease, anti-allergic therapy and pollution (2).
It is likely that allergies develop via a complex interaction of genetic and environmental factors.
Role of Supplementation
There are a number of supplements that have been proposed to help with allergies. These interact with the immune system, usually via improving immune function and resilience. Here’s a quick visual of the ones we’re going to cover in greater detail below.
10 Supplements That Are Natural Antihistamines
Now, let’s look at each one more closely and find out how it can help with allergies. You’ll notice that many of the supplements used are antioxidants, which work by reducing the inflammatory response associated with allergies.
Vitamin E is a group of eight different compounds which support antioxidative activity in the body. The eight molecules can be divided into two categories: alpha, beta, delta and gamma vitaminers.
The vitamer α-tocopherol is considered to be the primary vitamer and is almost always found in supplements. Food sources of α-tocopherol include green vegetables and seed oils, such as olive and sunflower oil. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means that it is stored in the body.
How does vitamin E help allergies?
A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study found that 800mg of vitamin E during the pollen season was able to significantly reduce nasal symptoms compared to placebo (3).
Vitamin E can also boost immunity, which can help to prevent allergies. Supplementation of 800mg of alpha-tocopherol daily for 30 days has been shown was shown to increase indices of T-cell mediated immunity (4).
Research has also found that vitamin E can improve the responsiveness of the immune system. Daily supplementation of 50mg and 100mg of vitamin E (as alpha-tocopherol) for six months significantly increased immunosupportive levels of IL-2 while decreasing IFN-gamma concentrations (5).
How do I take vitamin E?
The majority of the benefits of vitamin E are associated with doses slightly above the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of 15mg. To help with reducing symptoms of seasonal allergies, it is recommended to take 800mg of vitamin E per day during the season in which allergies occur.
It is possible that there are negative effects of taking doses this high over the long term so if taking vitamin E on an ongoing basis, it is recommended to stick with a lower dose of between 50 and 200mg per day.
Vitamin E seems to be more effective when taken alongside a source unsaturated dietary fat, such as nuts and seeds.
- 10 Best Vitamin E Supplements
Vitamin A refers to a group of compounds that play an important role in maintaining skin health, vision, gene transcription, and immune system functioning.
The compounds include retinol, retinaldehyde, retinoic acid, and provitamin A caretenoids (beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, gamma-carotene, and cryptoxanthin). The most common forms in food and supplements are retinol and beta-carotene.
Vitamin A is fat-soluble, which means that it is stored in the body. Excess consumption, although rare, can lead to toxic levels.
How does vitamin A help allergies?
Vitamins A is able to modulate innate and adaptive immune responses so it can influence the development and the symptoms of allergies.
Deficiencies of vitamin A have been found to increase susceptibility to allergies and worsen allergy symptoms (6). Significantly reduced serum vitamin A levels are commonly observed in those with allergies compared to healthy controls.
A study also found that taking vitamin A in pregnancy decreased the risk of the child getting allergies in their first seven years of life (7). It was beta-carotene in particular that was most effective.
How do I take vitamin A?
Further research is needed to determine the optimal dose for allergies. However, based on existing research it is recommended to take the recommended daily amount, which is 900 mcg and women 700 mcg per day.
- 10 Best Vitamin A Supplements
Spirulina is a blue-green alga that is a non-toxic species of Arthrospira bacteria. It is comprised of 55-70% protein and has several active components.
The main ingredient is phycocyanobilin, which makes up about 1% of spirulina. Phycocyanobilin mimics the body’s bilirubin compound, to inhibit an enzyme complex called Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide Phosphate (NADPH) oxidase. This results in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in the body.
How does spirulina help allergies?
Studies have found that Spirulina exhibits anti-inflammatory properties by inhibiting the release of histamine from mast cells (8).
A double blind, placebo controlled trial found that 2g of spirulina taken daily for 6 months significantly reduced symptoms of allergic rhinitus (a nose related condition) compared to placebo (9). The symptoms reduced included nasal discharge, sneezing, nasal congestion and itching.
Another randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial found that taking 2g of spirulina daily for 12 weeks significantly improved levels of cytokines in the body, which play an important role in allergic reactions, compared to placebo (10). The cytokines affected were interleukin-4, interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and interleukin-2.
The dose of 2g of spirulina reduced interleukin-4 levels by 32%, showing a protective effect for allergies. Results were not as effective for a 1g dose, suggesting that the effects of spirulina are dose-dependent.
How do I take spirulina?
To obtain the benefits of spirulina for allergies, it is recommended to take 2g per day. Further research is needed to determine whether it is best to take it once a day, or in smaller doses, multiple times per day.
- 10 Best Spirulina Supplements
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is a herbaceous perennial flowering plant in the Urticaceae family. It has a long history of being used for therapeutic purposes.
Ancient Egyptians used it to treat arthritis and lower back pain; Roman troops rubbed it on themselves to help stay warm.
The leaves have hair-like structures that sting and also produce itching, redness, and swelling. However, once the leaves have been processed, stinging nettle can be consumed safely.
How does stinging nettle help allergies?
A study found that after one week of supplementing with stinging nettle, allergic symptoms were reduced compared with placebo (11).
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial found that 300mg of stinging nettle taken daily for 4 weeks significantly reduced nasal symptoms (12). 58% of participants found an improvement from taking stinging nettle, with 69 out of 74 participants rating it better than placebo.
How do I take stinging nettle?
Based on research, it is best to take 300mg of stinging nettle daily to reduce allergy symptoms. It is recommended to split this into two doses of 150mg each.
- 10 Best Nettle Supplements
Guduchi, also known as amrita or tinospora cordifolia, is a herb used in Ayurveda to boost vitality. It has been researched for a variety of health purposes, including its effect on diabetes, glucose metabolism, inflammation, immune system support, and neurology.
How does guduchi help allergies?
A randomized double blind placebo controlled trial found that supplementation of 300mg of a water extract of guduchi 3 times per day for 8 weeks significantly reduced allergy symptoms compared with placebo (13).
Allergy symptoms were resolved in between 61% and 83% of participants.
The symptoms that were improved included sneezing, nasal discharge, nasal obstruction, and nasal pruritus.
How do I take guduchi?
To obtain the benefits of guduchi for allergy symptoms, it is recommended to take 300mg, three times per day. The supplement should be taken alongside a meal.
Black cumin (nigella sativa) is a medicinal spice often used to season food products. It contains a potent bioactive ingredient called thymoquinone.
How does black cumin help allergies?
A prospective, double-blind study found that supplementation of black cumin oil for 30 days was able to significantly reduce allergy symptoms compared with placebo (14). The symptoms reduced included sneezing, runny nose, itching, and congestion.
Positive results were seen after 15 days of supplementation.
Another study found that 2g of black cumin taken for 30 days was able to significantly reduce allergy symptoms compared with placebo in people with hay fever (15). The research also found an increase in macrophage killing activity and phagocytosis in participants.
One research paper describing 4 different studies found that supplementation with 40-80mg/kg black cumin daily reduced allergic symptoms in those with hay fever eczema, and asthma (16). Symptoms reduced included hay fever, conjunctivitis, bronchial asthma, and skin eczema.
How do I take black cumin?
Supplementation of black cumin is usually in the form of a basic seed extract (a crushed powder of the seeds with no further processing or concentration) or the seed oil, neither of which require much processing as the medicinal dosage is close to the raw product’s natural state.
To obtain the benefits of black cumin for reducing allergy symptoms, it is recommended to take 2g of the seed per day. Although some benefits are seen at doses of 1g per day, effects seem to be dose dependent.
The seeds are approximately one quarter to one third fatty acids, which means supplementation of any black seed oil product would be 3-4 times lower than the amount needed from the seed. This works out to between 250mg and 1,000 mg per day.
Vitamin C, or L-ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble essential vitamin. It is a popular dietary supplement due to its antioxidant properties, safety, and affordability.
It is found in particularly high amounts in fruit and vegetables, such as citrus fruits, berries, and bell peppers.
How does vitamin C help allergies?
A multicenter, prospective, observational study found that intravenous vitamin C taken for between 10 and 14 weeks was able to significantly decrease allergy symptoms (17).
Improvements were also seen in fatigue, sleep disorders, depression, and lack of mental concentration during the course of the study. The researchers also suggested that a deficiency in vitamin C might lead to allergy-related diseases.
Another study found that taking 2g of vitamin C daily can act as a natural antihistamine in those with hay fever (18).
How do I take vitamin C?
To obtain the benefits of vitamin C for reducing allergy symptoms, it is recommended to take 2g per day. This can be taken in one single dose.
- 10 Best Vitamin C Supplements
Butterbur is a plant extract from a shrub that grows in Asia, Europe, and some parts of North America. People often use the supplement to treat migraines and hay fever.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) has stated that butterbur may have antihistamine effects.
How does butterbur help allergies?
A randomized, double blind, parallel-group study found that 8mg taken daily (split into 4 doses) for two weeks was equally as effective at reducing allergy symptoms as an antihistamine medication called cetirizine, in those with hay fever (19). In addition, butterbur did not produce the sedative effects associated with antihistamine medication.
Similar results have been found with butterbur compared with the antihistamine medication fexofenadine and placebo (20).
Another randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study found that taking 50 mg of butterbur twice daily during the grass pollen season significantly reduced allergy symptoms relative to placebo (21).
How do I take butterbur?
It is recommended to take 8mg of butterbur per day to reduce allergy symptoms. If no benefits are seen at this dose, this can be increased to up to 50mg per day. It is likely that higher doses may be needed for more severe symptoms. It is recommended to split supplementation into between 2 and 4 doses per day.
- 10 Best Butterbur Supplements
Selenium is an essential mineral with antioxidant properties. It forms a part of antioxidant enzymes such as glutathione, which protects cells against oxidative damage by preventing lipid peroxidation and the subsequent instability of cell membranes.
It is mainly found in seafood, meat, nuts, and wheat depending on selenium soil content.
How does selenium help allergies?
Studies have found that those with allergies have lower levels of selenium in their bodies compared to those who don’t suffer from allergies, suggesting that the mineral is significant (22).
Other research has shown that selenium deficiencies can also worsen allergies (23).
How do I take selenium?
It is recommended to supplement 200ug to 300ug per day to obtain to help prevent allergies and reduce allergic symptoms.
- 10 Best Selenium Supplements
Probiotics are living microorganisms providing a number of health benefits by helping the body maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria. The most commonly used probiotics are Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli.
Probiotic bacteria can alter immune responses through a variety of mechanisms that could reduce allergic reactions to allergens without the side effects of medications.
These potential mechanisms include increasing regulatory T cells that dampen immune responses and suppressing the production of IgE antibodies.
How do probiotics help allergies?
A double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel, randomized clinical trial found that taking 3 strains of probiotics (Lactobacillus gasseri KS-13, Bifidobacterium bifidum G9-1, and B. longum MM-2) for 6 weeks improved allergy symptoms compared with placebo during the peak of the pollen season. (24).
The strength of probiotics used was 1.5 billion colony-forming units/capsule and was divided into 2 doses, one after breakfast and one after dinner.
A recent systematic review and meta-analysis also reported that the majority of studies showed improvement in seasonal allergies in response to probiotic treatment (25). Research has also found that probiotics can improve the quality of life in those suffering from allergies.
How do I take probiotics?
It is recommended to take daily probiotics at a strength of 1.5 billion colony-forming units/capsule. The supplement should contain the strains Lactobacillus gasseri KS-13, Bifidobacterium bifidum G9-1 and B. longum MM-2. It is best to split this into two doses per day, both taken with food.
- 10 Best Probiotic Supplements
The Bottom Line
Allergies are an immune system response to allergens, which are perceived as being harmful to the body. It is not known exactly what causes them but they can range from mild to severe.
There are several different types of allergies, including both food and non-food based ones. Hay fever is one of the most common non-food based allergies.
A number of supplements are available that can help to prevent allergies as well as reduce symptoms. Some of these have been shown to be as effective as prescription medication but do not typically have the same side effects, making them a favorable alternative.
However, if taking any prescription medication, it is important to check with your healthcare provider before beginning supplementation.
Keep Reading: 10 Best Natural Supplements for Overall Health
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