People with allergies may find relief by using natural plant extracts and foods that act as antihistamines. Examples include vitamin C, spirulina, probiotics, and more.

Antihistamines are substances that block histamine activity in the body. Histamine is a protein that triggers allergy symptoms, such as sneezing, itchy eyes, and a scratchy throat.

Over-the-counter and prescription antihistamine medications are effective for symptom relief, but they can cause side effects, such as drowsiness and nausea. As a result, some people wish to try natural alternatives.

This article describes the eight best natural antihistamines and looks at the science behind them.

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A 2023 review of studies showed that vitamin C can have anti-allergy effects and can benefit allergic and immune-system-related conditions. This is because of the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of vitamin C.

A 2018 study echoes this sentiment, citing this vitamin’s powerful antioxidant properties as a potential antidote to the oxidative stress that plays a key role in allergic diseases.

The researchers observed that high doses of intravenous vitamin C reduced allergy symptoms. They also reported that a deficiency in vitamin C might lead to allergy-related diseases.

The vitamin is present in many fruits and vegetables, including:

Vitamin C supplements, with and without bioflavonoids, are available in health stores, drug stores, and online.

Quercetin is an antioxidant flavonoid in many plants and foods.

Research from 2020 reports that quercetin can have anti-allergic and antihistamine properties.

However, the evidence for its effectiveness is mixed. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), insufficient evidence suggests that quercetin can relieve allergic rhinitis.

Quercetin is naturally present in many foods and herbs, including:

However, taking quercetin supplements will better treat allergies than eating foods containing it. This is because foods contain significantly lower levels of the flavonoid.

Quercetin is generally safe for most people. However, it may cause headaches and tingling in the arms and legs of some individuals. If a person takes very high doses, especially over the long term, it may cause kidney damage.

People can buy quercetin supplements at health stores or online.

People may use extracts from the bark of the Cinnamomum zeylanicum tree — whose other names include Ceylon cinnamon and true cinnamon — as a natural antihistamine.

Ceylon cinnamon has a long history of use in traditional medicine in China, India, Egypt, and Europe to treat autoimmune diseases and colds. This suggests it may have beneficial effects on inflammation and nasal irritation.

According to a 2021 article, studies in mice found that the extract had antihistamine properties that effectively relieved nasal inflammation.

Butterbur is a plant extract from a shrub that grows in Asia, Europe, and some parts of North America.

People often use butterbur to treat migraine and hay fever, which is also known as allergic rhinitis.

According to the NCCIH, a 2007 study found that butterbur may have antihistamine effects and may be beneficial for allergic rhinitis.

However, a person needs to take butterbur with caution, as it can cause allergic reactions in those with sensitivities to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, and daisies.

Additionally, raw butterbur extracts contain certain compounds called alkaloids that can cause liver damage and cancer.

Extracts of butterbur that do not contain these substances are available. However, no studies have examined the long-term effects of using these products.

Probiotics are microorganisms that might offer health benefits by helping the body maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria.

Probiotics may boost a person’s immune system, which can help the body fight off allergies. The NCCIH states that the evidence for probiotics is mixed and that some probiotics may help while others may not.

Black pepper extract is another traditional medicine that many people have used to treat bacteria-related illnesses, diabetes, and inflammation.

According to a 2021 article, a study on mice found that black pepper extract positively affects nasal symptoms by reducing inflammation.

However, experts need to conduct more research into the efficacy of black pepper extract as an allergy treatment in humans.

A person can take black pepper extract supplements that are available in stores and online.

Berberine is an extract from the barberry fruit and has been a popular remedy in China for its suspected antibacterial, gastrointestinal, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Although there are insufficient human studies to prove this, studies in mice have found that berberine showed anti-inflammatory effects on allergic rhinitis.

Spirulina is a type of algae that people can take in supplement or powder form. Some studies have pointed to its antihistamine effects.

For example, a 2020 study comparing spirulina with the medical antihistamine cetirizine in 53 patients with allergic rhinitis found that spirulina was more effective in improving allergic symptoms.

However, the researchers noted that to benefit from these effects, a person requires a high dose of around 2 grams of spirulina in four daily doses.

Living with allergies can be challenging, especially when symptoms are at their worst. However, a person can seek help and advice from a doctor when dealing with allergy symptoms.

Some natural substances can have antihistamine properties, meaning they can break down the chemicals that cause allergy symptoms. More evidence is necessary to determine how effective these natural remedies are.

For the best chance of relief, a person can try to limit or avoid exposure to the allergen. They can also practice good self-care techniques and consider using natural antihistamines.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate supplements, and natural remedies can interfere with certain medications. Therefore, speaking with a doctor before trying any new supplement or herbal remedy is essential.

Read the article in Spanish.