Doctor's Note

Be sure to check out my other videos on allergies

For further context, see my associated blog posts: Plant-Based Benefits Extend Beyond the Top KillersTreating Crohn’s Disease With DietPlant-Based Diets for Psoriasis; and Mushrooms and Immunity.

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  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Check out the other videos which address allergies. And there are 1,449 subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them!

    For some context see my blog post Plant-based Benefits Extend Beyond the Top Killers,

  • gmteeter

    Hello, Dr. Greger,
    I recently had blood work and skin allergy testing done. The blood work came back normal, but the skin testing revealed strong allergies to all trees, grasses, weeds, molds, dust mites, and also strong reactions to most healthy foods. I was a vegetarian for 12 years, then ate meat for 20 years, went back to a vegetarian diet 3 years ago, and am a recent vegan. My diet consists of legumes, vegetables, fruits and whole grains; the only sweets I have are 1 or 2 cookies occasionally. I’m in menopause, with hot flashes, and have the worst case of eczema I’ve had, going on 4 months, which I’ve been prone to since birth. What can I do to ensure I’m getting proper nutrition? Thank you.

    • Carl Rudy Roach

      Try getting rid of the nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes etc) and gluten. I am on a lifestyle change trying to treat my psoriasis. Dr Pagano has a good book “Healing Psoriasis: The Natural Alternative”. He talks about eczema too.

  • gmteeter

    I forgot to point out that since I had reactions to most healthy foods, I’m nervous about anything I eat, and wonder if I’m capable of absorbing nutrients from them. Sorry for the long post!


    Hi gmteeter, Sounds frustrating to think you’re doing all you can to prevent these symptoms yet they persist. You didn’t list roots, tofu and soy products… which have been associated with decreased menopausal symptoms. Do you get plenty of water (1/2 your weight in ounces), do you get regular exercise…and how is your stress level? Are you optimizing the amount of melatonin you’re getting by going to bed before midnight? Follow a low-fat plant-base diet and check the above list for imbalances, then give your body time to kick-in! Enjoy life!

    • gmteeter

      AGuccione, thanks for your input. I do use soy milk and tofu fairly regularly and root veggies sometimes, and follow a low-fat plant based diet, and I’m working on being more consistent with my water intake. I’ve read about health and nutrition for years and most recently read and followed Dr. Barnard’s 21-day weight loss kickstart program. A doctor told me my body is in a constant state of stress because I stay up late, so I have to correct that. What I’m worried about most is the skin allergy test showed strong reactions to most plant foods, and when you have a reaction to something, even though it’s healthy, it’s not healthy for you because your body identifies it as an unwelcome foreign invader which can cause symptoms like my eczema, inflammation, or possibly something worse. I’m afraid if I keep eating the healthy foods I reacted to, I might get really sick. And since there were so many, an elimination diet would be nearly impossible. So I’m at a loss. I don’t know if continuing to eat healthy foods, even though they’re not healthy for me, is perpetuating the eczema and hot flashes. I’m hoping that if I get better quality sleep, maybe my allergies will wane.

  • veggiechick

    What would you recommend for nasal allergies? Hubby and I are both on a plant based diet and our allergies are better since going vegan, but it’s spring & it’s bad this year already lol.

    • Toxins

      I have heard personal anecdotes of some friends of mine eliminating gluten from their diet and their allergies disappearing. This might be a good experiment to see if it works for you. But again, i don’t know of any scientific evidence supporting this.

      • Besides gluten sensitivity, leaving gluten out potentially means an improvement in the variety of wholefoods consumed (where a lot of flour or some processed food has been routinely consumed and gets replaced by fresh produce and wholegrains and legumes), which may also explain a reduction in allergy symptoms.

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      Oh, I’m so sorry you’re suffering! There was a new study published last week on diet and allergic rhinoconjunctivitis (runny nose/itchy eyes) that confirmed that meat is associated with increased risk (in this case 71% higher), but that’s no help to a couple vegans! There are four plant foods, however, associated with cutting one’s risk in approximately half:
      1. Seaweed. An ounce of sea vegetables appears to lower risk 49%–just make sure to avoid kelp and hijiki.
      2. Dark green leafy vegetables. Greens of the land may protect as much as greens from the sea. A study found that those with the highest level of total carotenoids in their blood stream (alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein/zeaxanthin, canthaxanthin and cryptoxanthin) had a significantly lower prevalence of seasonal allergies. See my video Egg Industry Blind Spot for a list of some of the best sources and Raw Food Nutrient Absorption and Forgo Fat Free Dressings? for the best ways to boost bioavailability.
      3. Flax seeds. Similar to the carotenoid finding, those with higher levels of both long and short chain omega-3 fatty acids in their blood stream were found to have less allergic rhinitis in a cross-sectional study.
      4. Miso. A teaspoon of miso a day was associated with about 41% lower prevalence. So try my favorite dressing on those greens: Blend until smooth in high-speed blender 3 T white miso. 1/4 cup brown rice wine vinegar, 1/4 cup water, 2 carrots, a small beet, an inch of fresh ginger root, and 1 T freshly toasted sesame seeds. Just watch your clothing as it comes out BRIGHT purple!

    • Guest

      A neti pot. Seriously. If you get the little saline packets made by NeilMed, they’re premixed to match the body’s pH and won’t irritate you. I use rinse my nose/sinuses out once in the morning when I wake up and more later in the day if the allergies get bad. But it helps a LOT — and no meds.

  • gmteeter

    Dr. Greger, my allergies manifest in the skin. About 80% of my body is covered in an extremely itchy rash. The skin on my face is thick and constantly flaking, including my eyelids, and it’s made my eyes puffy as well. Will these four foods help the itching and rash and calm down the inflammation? Thanks.

    • Mary Jurmain

      Have you checked ingredients in your bath products — skin creams, makeup, etc. (if you’re female — sorry, can’t tell from your name!)
      Sometimes innocuous lotions, also kitchen cleaning products, laundry detergents, can have toxic ingredients.  

    • e

      are you getting all the correct essential fatty acids?

  • veggiechick

    Oh thank you Dr. Greger you are a gem!

  • A L Zacchino

    Okay, so I’ve been vegan and plant based for 6 years and yet I am now starting to have seasonal allergies. Any suggestions for treatment?

  • Nelson Drake

    Hey good Doc – thank you for all your information – i pass it along to as many people as possible, especially those with children, but as the tomato effect, chaging from the status quo is unfathomable…

    where can i get detailed information on canadian beef, milk and other such as your site but that deal with canadian policy?
    Thank you

  • Marlene

    Hi Dr. Greger,
    I have Parkinson’s Disease and take a drug called Azilect, an m-a inhibitor. Although I am experiencing peak level allergy symptoms at the moment (dry, scratchy throat, runny nose, sneezing), I cannot take standard allergy medication for relief of the symptoms because I take Azilect. Do you have any recommendations for what I might feasibly do?


  • Guest

    This is absolutely true. A few years ago I quit eating dairy and rarely eat eggs or meat anymore – once a month or less. Was horribly allergic to cats through my early 40’s, and had pretty bad allergies to trees and dust. Since about seven months after making this change about six years ago, I am not allergic to any cats, barely notice most dogs, hardly have any problems with pollen or dust. Unpacking my summer/winter clothes used to set me into an allergy attack that lasted all day, made me sneeze uncontrollably for hours. No more. I am sure that cutting out the dairy and eggs and eating much less bread helped, but I think what really helped was sharply increasing my vegetable intake. If I do not maintain this, the allergies start creeping back. Yes, we all die someday, and I will die just like everyone else, but I will at least not be sneezing and wheezing when I go. I will trade a steak and ice cream for that any day.

  • Carol M

    I have been having the worst allergy attack of my life. Mostly inflammation of sinuses, post-nasal drip, my lungs feel constricted, and I am coughing. I am taking Allegra (and add Benadryl at times), Nasonex, Zantac (for H2 receptor), and began using Albuteral again. These only temper my symptoms. I went to the doctor who said I’m doing all I can. I already eat a plant based diet. Any suggestions?

    • New

      I use raw milk from a local farm to cure my seasonal allergies. Klein Farms in Easton PA to be exact. I am vegan otherwise but make an exception here to ease my suffering. I was miserable just like you Carol M before I discovered raw milk two years ago. I would cut my lawn wearing a respirator and still would end up with a rash on my arms and legs. But now I can mow the lawn and not even sneeze once.

  • mish

    My allergies are kicking my butt this year so I am looking to change my diet to see if that helps any. I am allergic to dust mites, pet dander and a host of other things. For the first time in years, I had to go to my doctor and ask for medication which I hate taking. But my allergies trigger rhinitis and that turns into sinus issues and sinus infection or azthma (triggered by pets) if it gets really bad. Eliminating eggs is a sad thing for me since I like to have a good breakfast. Well going to try to adopt some of these dietary changes to see if that helps. Thanks for the posts.

    • Thea

      mish: I’ve never suffered from allergies, but I have friends, family and co-workers who do. I can see how terrible it can be.

      I thought I would offer this breakfast thought for you: There are a million variations on scrambled tofu that end up being an awfully close to scrambled eggs. You might want to look up some of those recipes and techniques. You might find the result very satisfying and filling that breakfast egg spot for you.

      Here’s the secret to really getting tofu (or beans or whatever) to taste like eggs: get something called “black salt”. But don’t actually get black colored salt. I made that mistake and it just tastes like salt. The “black salt” I am referring to is actually a light pink/salmon type of color. And it smells like sulfur! When I opened the bag, I swore I was smelling hard boiled eggs. I’ve taken to calling it “egg salt” or “devil’s salt” (because of the sulfur smell). I’m having a lot of fun with this new secret ingredient. I’m working on a recipe for deviled eggs that so far have gotten very high ratings from my omni friends.

      Just thought you might appreciate the idea.

      Good luck.

  • nitin

    I have cold from 5-6 months. I get heavy sneezing in day time and nose get blocked after that. I feel some headache sometime. Is it allergy or something else?

  • SH

    I’ve had terrible allergies to everything all my life and have been on pills since I was 6. Five months ago I adopted a whole foods plant based diet. My food intolerances have lessened and my nasal allergies are slightly better, but I still need claritin or zyrtec every day. I didn’t really foresee those improvements, I started the diet to reduce my cholesterol, help the environment, and not participate in the cruelty of animal foods. I wonder if there are certain foods that are particularly helpful for allergies?

  • Y.Bulbulia

    My wife has been suffering from a rash for the past two years.It appears on her hands and her legs.She has seen a dermatologist who prescribed taroclobetasol and subsequently protopic.When she applies the ointment it only gives her temporary relief. She suffers extreme itchiness which happens mostly at night.By the way she had been referred to an allergist.The results came back negative.Doctor what can she do to alleviate the itchiness?

  • Kristen Tenascon

    My mom recently developed allergic reactions to various fruits like strawberries, peaches, plums, and a few others. Someone mentioned to me that honey can trigger allergies, but I can’t find any studies or any credible sources on the subject. I thought maybe you would know something I didn’t. My mom’s getting pretty discouraged, because she’s been trying to eat healthier, but she still doesn’t know which foods she’s allergic to, so the list just keeps getting longer and longer the more she tries them. I’d really like to help her. Do you know if there’s a way to reverse allergies that have appeared in adulthood?

    • DrAlex

      Good question Kristen. Has she met with an allergist yet to get his/her thoughts? That’s one place to start. You might also see if you can convince her to go more towards a plant-based whole foods diet and see what happens…staying away from the fruits at first, stick with vegetables, legumes, whole grains, etc. and after she’s had a chance to sort-of “reboot” her system, trying adding back some fruits to see what happens. Just a thought, but allergies are touch in general. I would definitely recommend her talking with an allergist.

  • Mark Mateya

    My wife and I have been eating a WFPB diet for about six months. I noticed that the allergies which have required that I take Claritin D and Nasacort 12 months a year, not just during the worst seasons, since I turned 40, have practically disappeared. I am 58. We live in Central Pennsylvania, well known to many physicians as Sinus Valley because of the unique mix of vegetation and weather. I am thrilled! Is there anything I should do (or not do) to keep me on this path?

    • Thea

      Mark Mateya: That’s really amazing. I can just imagine how freeing all this is for you.
      I don’t think I have any advice for you since you are obviously doing very well! Let us know if you have any specific questions.

    • Dr Miriam Maisel _NF Volunteer

      Mark, that is great! Just keep doing what you are doing. I do always encourage people who get good results with dietary change to make a point of going back to their own doctors and telling and showing them how well they are doing. The more they see of this kind of success, the more likely they will be to be able to help others in the future. Even if just one case doesn’t convince them, if it happens a few times they will naturally sit up and take notice!

  • Dani

    Dr. Greger, I read recently that peanut oil is used as a medium for vaccinations and the authors suggested that may be the cause for the huge increase in peanut allergies, that peanut oil is being introduced along with what it is hoped the body will recognize as something to become immune against. I don’t recall the journal article, but I believe it was in PubMed.