If you suffer from allergies you may have considered more natural ways to find relief. Health food stores sell numerous supplements that claim to treat all types of allergy symptoms. There are effective, natural remedies you can use to help treat your allergy symptoms, but most others have not been rigorously tested for their ingredients or their safety. Ask your doctor about specific herbs and supplements and try to control how often you are exposed to your allergens.
Avoid Your Allergens
The most natural allergy remedy is to avoid the substances (allergens) that cause your symptoms. For example, to avoid food allergy symptoms, read food labels and ask about how foods are prepared when eating out. For pollen, dust, mold or animal allergies, try these tips:
Don’t stir up dust: Have someone else do chores that stir up allergens or wear a dust mask if you must vacuum, sweep, dust, rake leaves, or mow the lawn.
Rinse off: Change your clothes, wash your hands, and shower after contact with allergens.
Stay inside: Stay indoors, shut windows, and turn on the air-conditioning in the morning and on warm, dry, windy days.
Control dust mites: Launder linens in hot water and vacuum mattresses often. You can also buy “mite-proof” covers to protect mattresses and pillows.
Dry the air: Keep humidity levels low in your house. This reduces many common allergens, such as mold and dust mites. There are many ways to keep humidity down, such as venting the bathroom and using a thermostat with humidity control.
Be cockroach-free: Have an exterminator eliminate cockroaches and keep food and garbage in closed containers.
Minimize dust: Choose blinds and hardwood floors instead of drapes and carpeting. Change your furnace filter often and use one designed for allergies.
Contain your pets: Ideally, you should not keep a pet with fur or feathers if you have a pet allergy. If you are attached to your pet, keep it out of your bedroom and ask someone else bath and brush your pet regularly.
Natural Medications, Herbs and Supplements
A generally safe and natural remedy for environmental allergy relief is a saline (salt water) nasal rinse or spray. These solutions rinse out allergens from your nose and break up congestion. You can buy them over the counter or make your own. Ask your doctor for instructions.
There are many herbs, supplements and other preparations that you can buy without a prescription that claim allergy-related benefits. Advertising statements include “supports healthy histamine levels” and “helps manage seasonal discomfort.” To learn more, you can check the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine for guidelines concerning the safe practice of using herbs and supplements (Source: NCCAM).
There may be a benefit to some remedies but there is not enough research yet to prove the safety or effectiveness of many products. It is important to talk to your doctor before trying any herbal or natural allergy remedies because:
Herbs and supplements do not have the same testing, manufacturing, and labeling standards as medications. Some unlabeled ingredients, such as steroids, anti-inflammatories, and sedatives can cause toxic reactions by themselves or with your other medications.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued some guidelines for herbal supplement labeling, but this does not guarantee that these products are safe, effective, or natural.
You could be allergic to an herb in the product, especially if you have pollen allergies.
Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Some complementary and alternative therapies can help you better control and cope with your allergies. You can combine these therapies with avoiding your allergens and other treatments your doctor recommends. Talk to your doctor about:
Acupuncture, which involves inserting needles into key points of the body. This may help the brain release endorphins. These are hormones that improve your sense of well-being and relax your breathing.
Hypnosis, a technique that puts you in an artificially induced dream state that leaves you open to suggestion. Hypnosis may help you improve self-discipline to better follow your treatment plan.