Natural Antihistamines: 3 Foods that Fight Allergies

Get natural allergy relief from these edible antihistamines

Sneezing, sniffling, swollen, itchy eyes got you down this month? If so, you're far from alone. Mid-August marks the beginning of ragweed season, which lasts through October and causes a whopping 36 million Americans to suffer the symptoms of "hay fever" or allergic rhinitis.

With seasonal allergies (not to mention mold!) in full swing, we've got a total of 50 million people suffering some kind of torment, four of them in my very own household. I've focused on foods to include in your diet that can help reduce allergies. Food allergy sufferers, take note: I have not forsaken you! As seasonal allergies are said to exacerbate existing food allergies, this information should be helpful to you as well.

Both of my sons are in hyper-allergic mode this summer, both to foods and to pollen. Consequently, there's been a lot of unnatural drugging going on — of the Claritin, Alavert, Benadryl type. I'm not alone in this. According to National Geographic's revelatory article on allergies (May, 2006), Americans spend billions of dollars annually on antihistamines to treat symptoms of allergies. The problem with these over-the-counter antihistamines — aside from their obvious side effects of drowsiness, cloudy thinking, dry mouth and, for some, accelerated heart rate — is that they don't stop the problem from happening in the first place, they just mask the symptoms for several hours. But I need more than just a few hours' reprieve and, as a desperate parent sick of doping my children, I have turned for help to a natural alternative: foods that fight allergies. What a novel concept: EATING YOUR ANTIHISTAMINES.

So what are these super foods? Well, lucky for you, most of them are available in abundance at your local green market or grocer. For a change, East meets West on this topic, with both traditional western medicine and alternative health practitioners agreeing that nature's top edible antihistamines are found in foods containing vitamin C, and quercetin (a powerful flavonoid, sometimes called bioflavonoid). Additionally, there is much evidence that eating foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids reduces allergy symptoms.

For natural allergy relief, look for these edible antihistamines:

1. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is one of nature's great wonders. In addition to being a natural antihistamine, this water-soluble vitamin has a multitude of other functions in the body. From being a powerful antioxidant fighting free radicals to its role in the synthesis of collagen, it's the vitamin we truly can't live without. Foods rich in vitamin C should be eaten as soon as possible when fresh, as they lose their strength after being exposed to air, or being processed, boiled, or stored for long periods of time. Good food sources of Vitamin C are guavas, blackcurrants, red bell peppers, kale, parsley, green sweet peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, mustard greens, mango, watercress, cauliflower, red cabbage, strawberries, papayas, green and white cabbage, spinach, citrus fruits, elderberries, calf liver, turnips, peaches, asparagus, cantaloupe, cayenne pepper, green onions, new lima beans, black-eyed peas, green peas, radishes, raspberries, yellow summer squash, sweet potatoes, loganberries, tomatoes, new potatoes, lettuce, bananas, kiwi, honeydew, pineapple, cranberry juice, vegetable juice, tomato juice, rutabaga, and kohlrabi. That's a whole lot of options to keep you eating your C!

2. Flavonoids

Flavonoids, such as quercetin, are a group of plant pigments that are largely responsible for the colors of many fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Quercetin is a natural antihistamine that helps stabilize mast cells to prevent both the manufacture and release of histamine, as well as other allergic and inflammatory compounds. Good sources of quercetin are citrus fruits, onions, garlic, apples, parsley, tea, tomatoes, broccoli, lettuce, legumes, berries, and wine (no bummer there!).

3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids 

Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to reduce allergic reactions through their anti-inflammatory properties. Omega-3 Fatty Acids are found in such foods as cold-water fish (think salmon), and walnuts. I also recommend you get your Omega-3s from flax seed oil, canola oil, and grass-fed meat.

Many articles advise you to start loading up on your natural antihistamines six weeks prior to peak allergy season, but since many of us don't know exactly what pollen or mold spores we're allergic to, I advise trying to eat as much of these foods as possible, all year round. Eating a diet rich in natural antihistamines can help prevent the allergic reactions from happening in the first place, thus reducing the need for the drugs, and making us all a little healthier and happier, not to mention less congested!

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Abhijit Medhi
Abhijit Medhi's picture
User offline. Last seen 2 years 21 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 03/30/2014

Hi Cybele,

It's really an article of value particularly for those facing allergy menace.
I would like to add that magnesium is another natural antihistamine available in certain foods - both vegetables and non-veg.Among such foods richest is pumpkin seeds with 534mg per 100 gm of seeds(peeled).
Next comes dark chocolate with 327mg per 100gm.

BorninLa's picture
User offline. Last seen 2 years 19 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 04/11/2014

The basic problem with this article is that many of the foods it lists as being "natural antihistamines" are in fact very high in histamines. People who are histamine sensitive or intolerant would be in true misery if they followed this advice. Fish has one of the highest levels of naturally occurring histamine of any food you can buy in the store, followed closely by citrus fruits and nuts of any kind.

I find it hard to believe that foods HIGH in histamines are really going to help relieve the side effect of histamines. In my experience they absolutely have not.

1danacarvey's picture
User offline. Last seen 1 year 48 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 09/22/2014

I've had allergy related sinus pressure and headaches since I turned 13 years old. I do not recall any day in the 24 years since then that I have not had a sinus headache. I have adapted to the issues as I do not want to take meds that cause other symptoms I don't want to live with (drowsiness or nausea) and wonder how long a strict diet described above would take to start having results...

Anonymous's picture

I have been taking turmeric for 6 months. 1/3rd teaspoon, 3 times a day. Sometimes down to 1/3rd at breakfast only.
My rhinitus is gone or very very seldom but returns if I miss a few days of turmeric.
It works very quickly, I can have the tell tale sticky nose and stuffed up feeling which is usually (if not turmericed) followed by streaming nose and itchy eyes, take my little bit of turmeric and moments later the stickiness is gone and I am fine again.
It also is thought to lower cholesterol
If you use any kind of blood thinning drug for heart or is not advisable to use turmeric too.

Anonymous's picture

I have been dealing with this since 1999. And I get shots every month plus take the pills everyday. And still end up in the ER. I'm needing more help with this. Angioedema is what they titled me with and if anyone can help with this. I would love to hear from you.

Anonymous's picture

I am still totally confused. I have been eating a diet of cod liver oil,fruits, vegetables,nuts,poultry,fish,very little red meat,potatoes,yams, NO sugar,NO alcohol,NO caffeine and gluten free for almost 12 years!I keep to this diet so closely that I get teased at work on my lunch break because of what I`m eating!So why am I constantly bothered with hives?! I`m on my 3rd round of hives in only 1 month! It seems that I have been dedicated to the very diet this article advises and am still suffering terribly!

Anonymous's picture

I would say within a month I noticed I was headache after years of sinus headaches being a constant part of my life. I won't go back to processed foods because I feel so much better

Anonymous's picture

I would say within a month I noticed I was headache free after years of sinus headaches being a constant part of my life. I won't go back to processed foods because I feel so much better

Anonymous's picture

Sounds like a lot of people are histamine intolerant or have a mastocytosis. Blood and bone tests can confirm this.

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