Using Oranges For Allergy Relief

  • Neha RajputBachelor of Science, Biomedical Sciences, General, University of Birmingham

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Introduction

When your body reacts to an otherwise harmless substance, such as dust, pollen, animal fur, or food, it is called an allergy. Although the symptoms may not be severe for some, they can be for others.1

The World Allergy Organisation (WAO) estimates that between 10 and 40 percent of the population worldwide suffers from one or more allergies. In Europe, allergies are the most prevalent chronic illness. Whilst some allergies are merely annoying, a severe and devastating form of allergies affects up to 20% of patients, who are constantly at risk of asthma attacks, anaphylactic shock, or even dying from an allergic reaction.2

Oranges are a good source of immune-boosting antioxidants, such as vitamin C. While vitamin C is normally used to ward against colds, consuming it and other kinds of nutrients can help fortify the body's defences against allergies.3 Read on to learn more about allergies, as well as how oranges may be able to help you control them.

Understanding allergies and their symptoms

By definition, an allergy is an overreaction by the immune system to normally inert compounds found in the environment (known as allergens).4 These allergens are compounds that, in those with hypersensitive immune systems, can cause an allergic reaction. In these cases, your immune system can overreact and create immunoglobulin E class (IgE) antibodies that "attack" the allergen, resulting in abnormal symptoms.5 

Exposure to an allergen can cause:4

  • Flushing
  • Rash
  • Urticaria 
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, and airway
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Anaphylactic shock 

Anything can act as an allergen if the immune system has an adverse reaction to it. However, there are some allergens that are statistically more common than most. Common allergens include:6

  • Food items such as eggs, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and crustaceans 
  • Insect bites and stings - like the venom from bees, ants, ticks, wasps and dust mites 
  • Moulds
  • Pollen from grass, trees, and plants
  • Animal fur of domesticated pets
  • Medications 
  • Chemicals - household cleaning products

The IgE antibodies produced by an overreactive immune system set off a series of chemical reactions within your body, eventually triggering the production of substances referred to as mast cell chemicals. These chemicals are normally employed to eliminate microbes and thus are associated with cold or flu symptoms. 

Histamine is the most common mast cell chemical. It induces localised reddening and itching in tiny doses. When substantial amounts are present, the surrounding blood vessels dilate and the fluid-filled region swells. Whilst this swelling often helps fight infection, it is also responsible for many symptoms of allergic reactions - and can even be dangerous.6

Oranges and their nutritional components 

A medium orange provides a number of nutritional components required for healthy diet, including:7

  • 195mg of potassium
  • 83mg of vitamin C
  • 1.3g of protein
  • Quercetin 
  • 0.3g of fat
  • 1.9g of fibre
  • 53mcg of folate 

In particular, the Vitamin C and flavonoids (quercetin) found in oranges act as protective antioxidants.

Vitamin C

There is proof that vitamin C functions as an antioxidant and natural antihistamine, and that it can help reduce swelling and inflammation at the site of an allergic reaction. It does not, however, function in the same way as an antihistamine drug, as it acts by decreasing histamine production, rather than by inhibiting histamine receptors.8 Nonetheless, it stands to reason that lowering histamine levels in the body using vitamin C could lessen allergic symptoms.

Quercetin

Like vitamin C, quercetin has been demonstrated to decrease histamine production, lessening the severity of allergic reactions. In addition to relieving allergy-related discomfort, it might also aid in preventing the synthesis of further inflammatory chemicals. Furthermore, the antioxidant qualities of quercetin have been found to help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. This could be a factor in its capacity to reduce allergy symptoms.9

Considerations for allergy sufferers

Although oranges offer an array of benefits for allergy sufferers, it is important to be aware of their potential interactions with other medications you are taking - and the fact that the chemicals in oranges may themselves act as allergens. 

Some studies state that oranges (and other citrus fruits) may affect the activity of the immunosuppressant cyclosporine, but other studies disagree. Similarly, research shows that taking alendronate (a drug taken to support bone density and prevent osteoporosis) with orange juice as opposed to water can decrease the amount of drug absorbed.10 Although a citrus allergy is rare, they do exist - and they can cause unpleasant or even dangerous side effects. As such, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before using oranges as a remedy for allergies.

If you know that you do not have a citrus allergy and are not taking any medications that may react with oranges, the recommended daily intake is 1-2 oranges per day. Pure orange juice (without any added sugars) also offers similar benefits to eating the fruit, but eating whole oranges is generally preferable.11

Other natural remedies for allergies

Like pharmaceutical antihistamines, natural antihistamines relieve allergy symptoms - but they are thought to have fewer adverse effects (such as drowsiness) than prescription and over-the-counter antihistamines. Furthermore, people may eventually develop a tolerance to pharmaceutical antihistamines, reducing their effectiveness; however, this isn't said to happen with natural alternatives.12

Luckily, many fruits, vegetables, and herbs contain allergy-soothing chemicals. Some examples include:

  • Honey: when sourced raw and locally, honey can be used to combat seasonal allergies caused by pollen such as hay fever12
  • Herbal supplements: some herbs, such as nettles, carry natural antihistamine properties, but again they should be used with caution as they could also present themselves as an allergen13
  • Butterbur: this plant has been proven to help decrease the immune systems response to allergens, decreasing their symptoms14

Eating a balanced diet is essential for good health in general, strong immune system support, and especially for managing allergies. For the purpose of strengthening the immune system, a diet high in a variety of nutrients - such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and vital fatty acids - is recommended. A healthy diet lowers the chance of allergy reactions and increases resistance to environmental stimuli by regulating immunological responses. Therefore, including a range of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and healthy fats gives the body the resources it needs to improve immune system performance and regulate inflammation. 

Furthermore, lifestyle factors - including simple acts like changing your clothes and showering when you come home, closing your windows, and employing an air purifier - can minimise your exposure to allergens and prevent them from entering your living space.15

Incorporating oranges into your diet

Whilst you can simply peel and eat oranges as part of your daily diet, here are some recipes to include them within your meals:16

  • Mozzarella and orange salad
  • Orange and pomegranate cheesecake
  • Candied orange peels
  • Pan-fried mackerel with orange salsa
  • Honeyed orange and grapefruit
  • Orange polenta cake

Consulting a healthcare professional

It is crucial to speak with medical professionals before making any dietary modifications for a number of reasons. Healthcare providers with the necessary training to evaluate each patient's unique health needs, medical problems, and potential dietary limitations include registered dietitians, nutritionists, and physicians. Based on each person's particular health profile, they can provide tailored advice to make sure dietary changes support certain health objectives and don't come with dangers or contraindications.

Concerns about dietary choices that may be influenced by chronic diseases, allergies, or vitamin shortages can also be addressed by professionals. They can also assist people understand the wealth of nutritional information accessible to them and customise diet regimens to achieve certain health goals by offering evidence-based suggestions.

Addressing issues and getting individualised guidance are essential for people with allergies to properly manage their health. Since the causes and severity of allergies can vary greatly, it is crucial to speak with medical professionals, especially immunologists or allergists who specialise in allergic illnesses.

These professionals are capable of performing thorough evaluations to pinpoint certain allergies using techniques such as blood or skin testing. Healthcare providers can offer individualised guidance on medication management, lifestyle changes, and allergen avoidance by knowing each patient's unique allergy profile.

Summary

Oranges can help improve your general health and perhaps even ease allergy symptoms. They are a great source of vitamin C - widely regarded as a potent antioxidant with anti-inflammatory qualities. By lowering inflammation and boosting the strength of your immune system, vitamin C may help lessen the severity of allergic reactions. Flavonoids, which are also present in oranges, offer further antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Altering your diet plans to help control your allergies can be a proactive move that empowers you to take charge of your health. Exploring varied meals, nutrient-rich options, and potential allergen-free alternatives may contribute to reduced allergy symptoms and an enhanced quality of life. Nonetheless, it's important to proceed cautiously with dietary adjustments and get expert advice before making any big changes.

A crucial part of making sure that dietary modifications are in line with each person's unique health needs and allergy profile is played by healthcare specialists like immunologists, registered dietitians, and allergists. For people with severe allergies, professional advice is especially important since it guarantees a safe and knowledgeable approach to dietary adjustments.

References

  1. NHS UK. Allergies [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2024 Jan 10]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/allergies/.
  2. Allergy UK. Statistics and Figures [Internet]. [cited 2024 Jan 10]. Available from: http://allergyuk.org.
  3. BSWHealth. The best foods to help you fight allergies [Internet]. [cited 2024 Jan 10]. Available from: http://www.bswhealth.com/blog/categories/health-topics/allergies/the-best-foods-to-help-you-fight-allergies.
  4. Dougherty JM, Alsayouri K, Sadowski A. Allergy. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 [cited 2024 Jan 11]. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK545237/.
  5. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Allergies and the Immune System [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2024 Jan 11]. Available from: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/allergies-and-the-immune-system.
  6. Better Health Channel. Allergies explained [Internet]. [cited 2024 Jan 11]. Available from: http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/allergies.
  7. BBC Good Food. The health benefits of oranges [Internet]. [cited 2024 Jan 11]. Available from: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-oranges.
  8. ENT of Georgia. Can Vitamin C Help with Allergies? [Internet]. https://www.entofga.com/ [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2024 Jan 11]. Available from: https://www.entofga.com/can-vitamin-c-help-with-allergies/.
  9. Atkins Expert Sinus Care. Quercetin for Allergy Relief: Benefits and Side Effects [Internet]. 2023 [cited 2024 Jan 11]. Available from: https://www.atkinssinus.com/quercetin-for-allergy-relief-benefits-and-side-effects/.
  10. Petric Z, Žuntar I, Putnik P, Bursać Kovačević D. Food–Drug Interactions with Fruit Juices. Foods [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2024 Jan 11]; 10(1):33. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7823305/.
  11. Niyis. How many Oranges should I eat a Day? [Internet]. [cited 2024 Jan 11]. Available from: https://niyis.co.uk/blog/how-many-oranges-can-you-eat-a-day/.
  12. Penn Medicine ENT & Allergy. Home Remedies: How to Stop Allergies Immediately [Internet]. 2023 [cited 2024 Jan 12]. Available from: https://www.beckerentandallergy.com/blog/allergy-home-remedies.
  13. Sutter Health. Holistic Help for Allergies [Internet]. [cited 2024 Jan 12]. Available from: https://www.sutterhealth.org/health/breathing-allergies/holistic-help-for-allergies.
  14. Ro. 11 Natural Remedies to Improve Allergy Symptoms [Internet]. [cited 2024 Jan 12]. Available from: https://ro.co/health-guide/natural-remedies-for-allergies/.
  15. The Healthy. 11 Natural Remedies for Allergies That Provide Relief [Internet]. [cited 2024 Jan 12]. Available from: https://www.thehealthy.com/allergies/12-natural-allergy-remedies-that-provide-relief/.
  16. BBC Good Food. Orange recipes [Internet]. [cited 2024 Jan 12]. Available from: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/orange-recipes

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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Neha Rajput

Bachelor of Science, Biomedical Sciences, General, University of Birmingham

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