Updated: Jun 7
URTICA DIOICA (Nettle leaves)
A 2009 study showed that nettle extract in vitro was active on several factors involved in the development of rhinitis, resulting in the almost total inhibition of histamine release (8). Additionally, a study from 1990 revealed that nettles have been deemed as effective as the standard antihistamine medications in 57% of the participants (9). Spring and early Summer are therefore the best times to collect and consume nettles in soups, stews or teas if you desire to drastically decrease your symptoms of hay fever.
GANODERMA LUCIDUM (Reishi mushroom)
Reishi mushroom has been studied extensively for its remarkable benefits on the health of liver, brain, immune system, cardiovascular system, digestive system and has given excellent results in the management of allergic rhinitis (10). This is backed up by some animal studies that showed how Reishi mushroom extract directly inhibits the release of histamine from mast cells (cells specifically involved in allergies) (11). It is thought that compounds present in the spores and fruiting body of Reishi have a an immunomodulating properties, meaning that they can potentially re-calibrate the immune system (10)
SAMBUCUS NIGRA FLOS (Elder flowers)
Blossoming in mid-May and carrying on until mid-June, the elder trees provide us with a scented remedy for hay fever that can be consumed in a sweet cordial or as a delightful infusion. Elderflowers are rich in flavonoids which might be responsible for their anti-histamine properties (12)
PLANTAGO SPP. (Plantain leaves)
Plantain grows everywhere in most gardens and meadows of UK. It is a small herb with either long or round leaves and it is not to be confused with cooking plantains, which are part of the banana family (Musaceae). Plantain has been used traditionally to soothe inflamed tissues and decongest the upper respiratory tract from excessive phlegm (12). Its benefits for hay fever lie in its property to soothe inflammation and astringe over-relaxed capillary beds. Plantain can be taken internally as a hot infusion; in addition, a cold infusion of plantain can be used over the eyes to reduce swelling and itchiness.
MATRICARIA RECUTITA FLOS (Chamomile flowers)
Packed with anti-inflammatory compounds, this herb is a powerful remedy to calm inflamed skin, eyes, gums and most of mucous membranes (12). Its anti-histamine properties have been confirmed from a study on animals from 2011 which shows chamomile extract to directly inhibiting histamine release from mast cells (13).
Gut bacteria are responsible to build our immune system and often the health of the bacterial colonies living in our intestine is reflected in how well we respond to illness (14). Gut microbes also play a key role in modulating histamine synthesis; it is well known that young children which have received frequent doses of antibiotics (and therefore are more likely to suffer from dysbiosis) are more likely to show symptoms of excessive histamine-mediated symptoms such as asthma, eczema and food allergies (15). Making sure that in your guts the good bacteria thrive happily is the first step towards the resolution of most hypersensitivities and probiotics (foods/supplements rich in alive bacteria) are the quickest way to achieve it.
Flavonoids are a large family of compounds found in most fruits and vegetables. Most of them give the red/ blue/ purple colour to fruits and berries. Flavonoids play an important antioxidant activity in our bodies by scavenging free radicals and thus safeguarding the life of our cells. Some flavonoids have also been praised for their antihistaminic properties; Quercetin, found in onions and broccoli, has received many attentions as large evidence has been obtained on its remarkable antihistaminic effects on human mast cells (16). Other flavonoids which inhibits histamine release are cathechins (green tea), naringenin and hesperidin (lemons) and rutin (asparagus) (17)
Bromelain is an enzymatic compound found in the core of pineapples. Apart being very useful for digestive disorders, studies showed that it promotes the absorption of quercetin and aids the de-congestion of the upper respiratory tract (18). Most good quality supplements already combine bromelain with quercetin for optimal absorption.
Hay fever protocols
· Probiotics (2-10 billions, 6+ strains once a day)
· Reishi mushroom capsules/powder/tincture (1g/5ml twice a day)
· Nettle tea (at least 2 cups a day with 1tbsp of dry herbs per cup)
· Quercetin (400mg once a day)
· Bromelain (usually found in complex with quercetin)
Supplement brands: Terranova quercetin/nettle/bromelain complex, Biokult Advanced multi strain formulation, Indigo herbs organic reishi mushroom powder (you can also purchase a tincture/powder/dried herb from your local herbalist)
FOR SYMPTOMATIC RELIEF
· Nettle/chamomile/elderflower/plantain tea (1tbsp per cup; drink at least 2 cups for better results).
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7) Culpeper, N. (1995). Complete Herbal. Wordsworth Editions, p.Nettle.
8) Roschek, B., Fink, R.C., McMichael, M. and Alberte, R.S. (2009). Nettle extract (Urtica dioica) affects key receptors and enzymes associated with allergic rhinitis. Phytotherapy Research, 23(7), pp.920–926.
9) Mittman, P. (1990). Randomized, Double-Blind Study of Freeze-DriedUrtica dioicain the Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis. Planta Medica, 56(01), pp.44–47.
10) Powell, M. (2014). Medicinal Mushrooms - A Clinical Guide. 2nd ed. Methyr Tydfil: mycology press
11) Tasaka, K., Mio, M., Izushi, K., Akagi, M. and Makino, T. (1988). Anti-allergic constituents in the culture medium ofGanoderma lucidum. (II) The inhibitory effect of cyclooctasulfur on histamine release. Agents and Actions, 23(3–4), pp.157–160.
12) Horne, S. and Easley, T. (2016). The Modern Herbal Dispensatory. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Boks.
13) Muchchandi, I.S. (2011). Anti-allergic activity of German chamomile (Matricaria recutita L.) in mast cell mediated allergy model. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 137(1), pp.336–340.
14) Belkaid, Y. and Hand, T.W. (2014). Role of the Microbiota in Immunity and Inflammation. Cell, [online] 157(1), pp.121–141. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4056765/ [Accessed 23 Apr. 2019].
15) Zimmermann, P., Messina, N., Mohn, W.W., Finlay, B.B. and Curtis, N. (2019). Association between the intestinal microbiota and allergic sensitization, eczema, and asthma: A systematic review. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 143(2), pp.467–485.
16) Mlcek, J., Jurikova, T., Skrovankova, S. and Sochor, J. (2016). Quercetin and Its Anti-Allergic Immune Response. Molecules, [online] 21(5), p.623. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6273625/ [Accessed 15 Jul. 2019].
17) Hagenlocher, Y. and Lorentz, A. (2015). Immunomodulation of mast cells by nutrients. Molecular Immunology, 63(1), pp.25–31.
18) Hopp, R. (1999). Modulation of Airway Inflammation by CpG Oligodeoxynucleotides ina Murine Model of Asthma. PEDIATRICS, 104(2), pp.373–374.
© GIACOMO SANDRI MAY 2020