Alternative Therapies for Allergies
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Sneezing. Itchy, watery eyes. Sore throat. Runny nose. Allergies can cause lots of discomfort. The first sneeze or tingle in the throat may cause us to head to the store for over the counter medicines. But alternative treatments may also ease our symptoms.
Getting to Know Plants
Alternative treatments make most people think of herbs with healing powers. But it can be hard to tell what has been shown to work as well as standard treatment and what is unlikely to help. Several small studies may help shed light on the effect of medicinal plants in treating allergy symptoms. Some remedies that may help ease allergic rhinitis symptoms are:
Pass the Butterbur
Larger studies show that the shrub butterbur is likely to help ease allergic rhinitis symptoms. A few studies have even found it to be as effective as popular over the counter allergy medicines like cetirizine and fexofenadine.
On Pins and Needles
Acupuncture may be another method you can use to treat allergies. It is believed to promote health by inserting thin needles into specific parts of the body. However, the evidence is still very conflicting.
There are options outside of the pharmacy aisle. Talk with your doctor first before taking any herbal remedy. Some herbal therapies may cause problems with medicines you may already be taking or may cause unwanted side effects.
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
Allergy Asthma Information Association
Calgary Allergy Network
Acupuncture for persistent allergic rhinitis: a randomised, sham-controlled trial. SourceMedical Journal of Australia. 2007;187:337-341.
Allergic rhinitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/allergic-rhinitis. Accessed October 22, 2021.
Allergies, respiratory. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at:
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Accessed October 22, 2021
Last reviewed October 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Last Updated: 10/22/2021
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