Millions of Americans have asthma and allergies, often triggered by such airborne substances-as mold, dust mites or pollen. The immune system identifies these normally harmless substances as dangerous and releases inflammatory chemicals that cause sneezing, wheezing, congestion and other symptoms.

The drugs used for these conditions-antihistamines, inhaled corticosteroids, etc.-curtail symptoms but frequently cause side effects.

Better approach: Studies have shown that many over-the-counter (OTC) supplements act as natural antihistamines/anti-inflammatories that can prevent or reduce allergy or asthma flare-ups-without side effects. Patients who use nutritional supplements often ate able to stop taking asthma and allergy drugs or significantly reduce the dosages. You can take one or all of the supplements below daily, but always check with your doctor first.


Quercetin is a member of a class of nutrients known as bioflavonoids. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory that helps prevent the lungs, nasal passages and eyes from swelling after allergen exposure. It also inhibits the release of histamine, a chemical that triggers allergy and asthma flare-ups.

Quercetin works better for prevention than short-term treatment. It usually takes several weeks to become effective.

What I recommend to my patients: 300 milligrams (mg) twice daily. If your symptoms are severe, increase the amount to 1,000 mg twice daily until symptoms abate. Then switch back to a maintenance dose of 300 mg twice daily.

Vitamin C

This potent antioxidant has a mild antihistamine effect.

What I recommend to my patients: 500 to 1,000 mg daily. Vitamin C may cause diarrhea in some people.

Divide the daily amount into two doses to reduce the risk of this side effect. Also, patients who have a history of kidney stones should talk to their doctors before taking vitamin C supplements.


A traditional herbal remedy for allergies, nettles inhibits the body's production of inflammatory prostaglandins. In one study of 69 allergy patients, 57% had significant improvement in symptoms after taking nettles. Nettles works quickly, often within hours, and can be taken during flare-ups.

What I recommend. to rt y patients: 300 to 600 mg daily.


This mineral is a natural bronchodilator that relaxes airway muscles and promotes better breathing. Supplementation with magnesium may be especially helpful if you're taking corticosteroids or other asthma drugs, which tend to reduce the amount of magnesium in the body.

What I my patients: 2OO to 600 mg daily.

Allergy Tests

Your doctor may recommend skin or blood tests to determine if your allergies are caused by dust mites, mold, pollen, etc. Once you know what you're allergic to, you can take steps to minimize exposure.

Example: If you're allergic to dust mites, you can buy mattress and pillow casings that are impervious to allergens...and use a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, which reduces the allergens in the air.

Want to Keep Reading?

Continue reading with a Health Confidential membership.

Sign up now Already have an account? Sign in