Sneezing, itchy eyes, scratchy throats, runny noses, these are just some of the common symptoms of seasonal allergies, whether spring, fall or both seasons for some. For an allergy sufferer, it can be a constant battle of taking OTC medication for relief and feeling groggy and sleepy or suffering through the symptoms and feeling plain miserable. When we open our minds, though, however foggy they may be, we can find some alternative treatments that are really worth trying, teas being one of them.
In the past years, we have seen a surge in tea drinking, especially the green teas, herbals, and rooibos teas. Not only are these varieties very low in caffeine or completely caffeine free, but they are studies are also showing that they can be very beneficial in allergy relief.
Rooibos tea (also known as red tea or honeybush tea) is becoming very highly rated as an anti-oxidant and allergy fighter. It is grown in South Africa and can be used as a tea by itself or combined with other teas and herbs to enhance or vary the flavor. .
In the plant kingdom, 2 particular bioflavonoids among thousands are commonly found, these being quercetin and rutin. The concentration of quercetin and rutin are very high in tea, especially rooibos tea. With the help of these bioflavonoids, plants are able to ward of environmental stress, and studies are showing that they can do the same for humans.
According to this article, quercetin has a strong stabilization effect in cell membranes, which prevents them from spilling the absorbed allergy symptom causing histamine to flow in to the bloodstream, basically acting the same as an OTC antihistamine like Benadryl. Instead of letting the allergen into the body to cause allergic reactions, these bioflavonoids block them. However, unlike, OTC antihistamines, there are no side effects with tea.
Many of the major tea companies are touting the health benefits of their products, including the anti oxidants and anti aging benefits. We don’t hear too much of the allergy relief they can provide, but it’s there. With any product, the most benefit will be derived from the purest product, so while a jar of processed, sugary green tea may taste yummy, you may not get much allergy relief from it. Studies are not clear how much tea is necessary for relief, but it’s better to try to stay with the real than the highly processed, instant form.
A number of grocery chains and markets are now selling a variety of teas including greens and reds/rooibos. You can also find excellent higher end teas at specialty stores like www.teavana.com, www.adagio.com, www.mountainroseherbs.com, www.angelajamesrooboistea.com and www.thefragrantleaf.com. There are many types to experiment with depending on your tastes and desired caffeine levels. So next time you know allergy season is sneaking up on you, stock up on some tea!
- Heather Legg