Yay! Spring is right around the corner! Unfortunately, the joys of this season are often paired with our need to grab one of those mouth-drying, nausea-causing, drowsiness-producing antihistamine medications. To reduce your need for one of these pills, consider eating an orange. This fruit contains two nutrients that are extremely helpful in reducing allergy symptoms: vitamin C and bioflavonoids.
Vitamin C is an amazing nutrient. It was originally lauded as the “anti-scurvy vitamin” since it helps produce collagen, a fiber essential to connective tissues in our body such as cartilage, dentin, skin and bones. This nutrient also aids in the absorption of iron, helps synthesize hormones, acts as a potent antioxidant and immune booster. It degrades cholesterol, increases our ability to metabolize drugs and detoxify and, at the right dosage, has antihistamine effects.
Research shows that consuming 2000mg per day of vitamin C reduces histamine levels within the blood, strengthens the walls of cells that contain histamine (mast cells and basophils) so that they do not break open as easily, and increases epinephrine (adrenaline), a potent antidote for allergic reactions (think about how we use an Epi-Pen when someone suffers from a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis).
The amount of vitamin C in the fleshy portion of a medium-sized orange is approximately 50 to 70 mg. By including the white mesh-like part on the inside of the rind and the pith, you can double the amount of vitamin C you’re consuming and get some extra cholesterol-reducing, water-soluble fiber called pectin. Now before you start thinking you have to eat between 15-20 oranges every day to obtain the antihistamine benefits of vitamin C, let’s talk about the bioflavonoids found within this citrus fruit.
In Latin flavus means “yellow” and is used in many words to denote an object’s yellow coloring. For instance, vitamin B2 is called riboflavin and is the reason why your urine turns bright yellow when you take your multivitamin.
Flavonoids (bioflavonoids), originally called vitamin P, are nutrients responsible for the pigmentation of some foods. They are strong antioxidants often found in many of the same foods that contain vitamin C. Aside from making our dishes more vibrant, research shows us that these colorful nutrients enhance the transport of vitamin C into our cells.
The bioflavonoids found in an orange include hesperidin, quercetin, rutin, and tangeretin. These nutrients contain anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy properties.
One of the ways bioflavonoids help reduce allergies is by strengthening our capillaries. Stronger capillaries are important when mast cells or basophils are releasing their histamine related compounds into the bloodstream. With tonified capillaries, the histamine will find it more difficult to leach out into tissues to induce an “allergic” response.
Other antihistamine foods:
Aside from oranges and other citrus fruits, there are many foods you can eat prior to allergy season to boost the antihistamine factors within your body. Foods high in both vitamin C and bioflavonoids include, but are not limited to: dark red, purple and blue berries, dark colored grapes, peaches, nectarines, red and green bell peppers, broccoli, onions and green tea.
Supplements for vitamin C and bioflavonoids:
If you have an allergy or sensitivity to oranges, consider taking a supplement, like Natural D-Hist or D-Hist Jr., to obtain the antihistamine benefits of vitamin C and bioflavonoids. Before doing so, always make sure to talk with your physician first. High doses of vitamin C can lead to osmotic (watery) diarrhea, and/or alter the metabolism of any medications you are currently taking. Your doctor may also want you to gradually increase your dosage and take a very specific form of vitamin C referred to as “buffered vitamin C” which helps maintain healthy blood pH levels.