First For Women

Allergy meds making you fat?

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Q:I’m trying to lose some weight before summer, but my sister told me that the antihistam­ines I take to keep my allergy symptoms under control might make weight loss harder. Is that true, and if so, are there natural allergy remedies I can try instead?

A:Your sister is right—research in the journal Obesity found that over-the-counter antihistam­ines may increase the risk of putting on extra pounds by 55%. The reason? Histamine receptors in the brain release a chemical called leukotrien­e that triggers allergy symptoms like sneezing and sinus pressure. But antihistam­ines block these receptors to prevent symptoms. The problem is, histamine receptors also help regulate metabolism, so when they’re blocked, your metabolism may slow, making it more difficult for you to lose weight. Thankfully, there are natural allergy remedies that can bring the relief you need without derailing weight loss.

The plant butterbur is one of the best natural remedies. In fact, a study in the British Medical Journal found that supplement­ing with butterbur alleviates allergy symptoms as effectivel­y as antihistam­ines like Zyrtec— without side effects like drowsiness or weight gain. How it works: Instead of blocking the histamine receptors that are key to metabolism, butterbur prevents the release of leukotrien­e to ward off allergic reactions. If you’re interested in trying butterbur, start by taking 50 mg. twice daily.

And if you do have allergy flareups, flushing your sinuses with Dead Sea salts can alleviate pressure and congestion by nearly 80%. The salts contain minerals that help clear sinuses and reduce inflammati­on. To do: Mix 2 cups of boiling water with 1 tsp. of Dead Sea salts. Let cool, then use a neti pot to rinse nasal passages.

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