Natural Decongestants to Regulate Immune Response and Control Inflammation

Whether it’s cold and flu season or hay fever season, the sniffles, blocked noses and sinuses, watery eyes and puffiness are inevitable for those with a hypersensitive immune system. Allergies and inflammation are the result of an unbalanced immune response to relatively harmless substances and cause days or weeks of misery to sufferers.

While prescription medication can alleviate the symptoms, they can be addictive, cause side effects like drowsiness and prevent you from going about normal tasks, such as driving to the grocery store. However, there is relief for allergy sufferers in the form of natural substances and nutrients that can de-congest and clear up a blocked respiratory system.

Here are some of the substances and nutrients that act as natural decongestants:


Do you see many people recommending raw onions as a natural decongestant? Quercetin may be the key. It acts as an anti-inflammatory compound, inhibiting the manufacture and release of histamine and other inflammatory substances. It also acts as an antioxidant and reduces the need for vitamin C.

Onions, green and black tea, apples, blueberries, blackberries, grapes and cherries are some of the food sources of this compound. Scientists suspect quercetin may be partly responsible for the reduction in cancer associated with diets high in fruits and vegetables.


Derived from the stem of the pineapple plant, bromelain is one of the best natural decongestants. As a seasonal allergy treatment it is used to reduce swelling and break down mucus secretions in the sinus cavities, helping to clear congestion naturally.

It also has anti-inflammatory activity and works by blocking compounds that speed up inflammation. Its anti-inflammatory properties have caused it to be used in treating sports injury, trauma, arthritis, and other kinds of swelling.


Nettle tea has been a common remedy for hay fever for a long time. Around the world people have used it to treat nasal and respiratory congestion. It acts in a very similar manner pharmaceutical antihistamines.

The plant histamines in nettle compete with and replace your body’s own histamines, but are too weak to cause an allergic reaction. This activity regulates immune response to pollen and other allergens, making nettle a favored remedy for asthma and allergies. It provides great relief from hay fever and is very effective when used to treat and prevent allergies naturally.

Eyebright (Euphrasia officinale):

It cools and detoxifies the mucous membranes, making it useful in the treatment of eye and sinus inflammation. It contains anti-inflammatory flavonoids that regulate the function of certain B-cells called mast cells. These are responsible for histamine production in the nasal passages.

This wild plant is used both topically and internally, to treat conditions of the eye, such as conjunctivitis and sties. Because of its astringent action that dries up mucus, it is thought to work well in combination with nettle in breaking the allergy cycle and relieving the symptoms of congestion, coughs, and hay fever.


Used as the main ingredient in Indian curry, it is a member of the ginger family and has been used an anti-inflammatory agent by the Chinese and Ayurvedic systems of medicine. Studies have shown that turmeric and its derivative, curcumin, possess a potent effective anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties.

Vitamin C

Found in citrus fruits and certain green vegetables, Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine and a powerful antioxidant that can only be obtained through the diet. Its deficiency can lead to excess inflammation and increase asthma symptoms. It has been found in studies to drastically lower levels of markers of inflammation such as C Reactive Protein. Asthmatics require higher amounts of Vitamin C and benefit from an increased dosage. It also enhances the antihistaminic activity of quercetin.

Citrus bioflavonoids

Bioflavonoids are found in several forms, including hesperidin, eriodictyl, quercetin and rutin and are present in the white part of citrus fruits like lemons, oranges and grapefruits. They can only be obtained through the diet and must be taken as dietary supplements. They possess natural antiviral, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy properties. They enhance the efficacy of Vitamin C and have been used to alleviate symptoms of allergies.

Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids:

Omega-3 Fatty Acids such as those found in fish oil contain docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) known for their anti-inflammatory and antithrombotic. They reduce the production of cytokines such as interleukin-1, IL-2, and tumor necrosis factor that increase inflammation, regulate the production of immune cells and can decrease skin allergies.

Omega-6 fatty acids, like gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), found in borage seed oil and evening primrose oil, increase the production of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins.

A number of other nutrients and vitamins such as A, B5 (pantothenic acid), and B12 are also known to relieve allergies and inflammation. Some, such as omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants like CoQ10, Vitamin E and selenium, work to improve overall defenses against inflammation, while others like and ashwagandha and ginseng boost immunity in a non-specific manner.

Natural Decongestants to Regulate Immune Response and Control Inflammation by Andrew Stratton

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