While most of us think pet allergies in humans are caused due to fur, it is actually caused due to dander. Synthetic antihistamines though provide relief exhibit side effects. Natural alternatives like quercetin, butterbur, essential oils, probiotics, apple cider vinegar, and saline rinse using neti pot help.
Getting rid of the pet is the first thought that flashes your mind when you realize you have a pet allergy. While this might seem like the easiest option, it is not quite so. Letting go your four-legged friend is not very easy, after all! A range of preventive and therapeutic solutions give us a sigh of relief.
It is a common misconception that animal fur is the sole reason for pet allergies. The fact, however, is not just fur, but flakes of skin called dander also trigger allergies. Dander could be present in the urine and saliva of the pet as well. These allergens give rise to symptoms like sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose, congestion, reddening of eyes, swelling, and itchy skin.
When you have allergies, your body treats those specific allergens as harmful substances (even though they are not) and attack them using antibodies. In this case, the antibodies produced are histamines.
The next time you or your loved one has a pet allergy, try the below home remedies.
How To Treat Pet Allergies Naturally
1. Essential Oils
The use of essential oils has been gaining a lot of importance due to their therapeutic benefits. Essential oils like peppermint, lavender, and lemon produce natural antihistamines, which alleviate allergic reactions. Eucalyptus and lemongrass oils work by providing symptomatic relief.
Commercially available synthetic antihistamines, though effective, exhibit side effects like drowsiness and dry mouth. The side effects interfere with day-to-day activities, because of which, patients usually prefer natural alternatives.
These essential oils can either be used individually or as a blend of two. They can be applied topically by mixing with a carrier oil like coconut or olive oil. Diffusing them in air using an electric diffuser and steam inhalation by adding 2–3 drops of oil in boiling water are also some effective methods of usage.
2. Stinging Nettle
Stinging nettle, also called Urtica dioica is a perennial flowering plant. It gets its name due to the stinging reaction the skin shows when it comes in contact with the tiny hair on the leaves. Processed products from the leaves, stem, and roots do not induce any allergies and can, in fact, be used to treat allergies.
Stinging nettle leaf extract has antihistamines which block the production of histamines in case of pet allergies. The root extract soothes irritated nasal tract due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Capsules and tablets of freeze-dried leaf extract are commercially available. The recommended dosage for allergy relief is 300 mg. If dried leaves are available, you could also make nettle tea by steeping them in boiling water for some time. The tea provides instant relief.
3. Saline Irrigation Using Neti Pot
A lot of Americans have found relief from nasal allergies through nasal saline irrigation. It is a technique which uses a saline solution to thin out the mucus by flushing the toxins and allergens out of the nasal passage. Neti pots are used to gently pour the solution into the nostril. These pots resemble a small teapot and are made of ceramic or plastic and are easily available in a chemist store. The usage of the same originated from Ayurveda.
The saline solution is prepared by mixing a teaspoon of salt in 16 ounces of lukewarm distilled water. After filling the solution in the neti pot, it is gently poured in one nostril by tilting your head to a 45-degree angle. After pouring, the solution should flow out of the other nostril. In some cases, it might also enter the throat. This isn’t harmful and should be spit out. Once you are done cleansing, blow your nose to get rid of any extra solution.
Histamines are produced by a specialized group of cells called mast cells. Quercetin, a naturally occurring flavonoid derived from plants, stabilizes the action of mast cells. This regulates the production of histamines responsible for triggering allergic symptoms.
Quercetin is present in fruits and vegetables like apples, citrus fruits, parsley, tomato, broccoli, and lettuce. The recommended dietary allowance is 1000 mg per day. However, only food sources cannot meet this demand and supplements would be necessary. Discussing with your doctor about the dosage of the supplements is a good idea.
Butterbur is yet another plant which is a powerful alternative for synthetic antihistamines. But unlike synthetic ones, it does not have side effects like drowsiness. Studies revealed that butterbur works similar to cetirizine, which is a nonsedative antihistamine. However, the possible side effects from long-term usage of butterbur are still under research. It is graded as unsafe for consumption during pregnancy and in patients with liver disease. Consuming it without a doctor’s advice is strictly not recommended.
Gut bacteria play a vital role in supporting our immune systems. Research indicates that a balance between good and bad bacteria in the intestine is necessary for regulating immune responses. Some studies show that an increase in the number of good bacteria in the gut can trigger allergic response. This is due to the hypersensitivity induced as a result of exposure to dander.
Balancing the good and bad bacteria by consuming probiotic supplements and foods like kefir help.
Apart from these, taking preventive measures by consuming foods that fight allergies is a good option. Some of the foods are omega-3 rich walnuts and salmon, flaxseed oil, chili peppers, horseradish, and hot mustard. Apple cider vinegar has also been proven effective in relieving the symptoms of allergy.