Complementary Treatments for Seasonal Allergies

By Corey Nakata; 2nd Year Project Manager

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They say April showers bring May flowers, but what do May flowers bring? Well, seasonal allergies of course! Spring has finally come and for many of us, this means dealing with the runny noses and congestion seasonal allergies bring us as the trees spring back to life and pollen is in the air. There are a few complementary health practices that can help relieve and/or prevent symptoms of allergies.

The first method is to use a neti pot to rinse the sinuses out with a saline solution. They work by moistening dry sinuses and help relieve symptoms by washing out mucus build-up. There have been many studies that show when used correctly, neti pot use will improve symptoms of seasonal allergies such as allergic rhinitis (runny nose). Most safety concerns with neti pot use stem from the water used for the rinse. Unfiltered tap water may contain bacteria and protozoans which are safe for ingestion because they will be killed by stomach acid, however, they can survive in the nasal passages and can lead to infection. It is best to use sterile water which can be bought in many stores.

Another method that has been practiced by many is to eat a teaspoon of locally produced honey every day as a direct and preventative treatment. It is believed that locally produced honey will contain small amounts of local pollen and when ingested can act as a kind of immunotherapy and can also act as an antihistamine. There has been little research and evidence to support the efficacy of this method, but eating honey is generally safe. However, children under the age of 1 year of age or people who are allergic to bee stings should not eat honey.

Finally, butterbur extract a natural supplement has been found to be effective in treating allergic rhinitis when taken orally. There has been one study in which butterbur has been found to be effective in treating allergic rhinitis. However, butterbur extracts contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids which have been known to cause liver damage and cancer. With all supplements, it is best to talk to your doctor before starting their use.

References:

http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm316375.htm

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/providers/digest/allergies-science

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/allergies/seasonal

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