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Looking for a more natural way to treat your allergies? While no alternative or complementary treatment has been proven effective, some approaches have been studied scientifically:
- Vitamin C. Recent studies suggest that it may be effective at treating allergies by lowering histamine levels in the bloodstream. So go for plenty of citrus fruits and juices, broccoli, berries, onions, dark greens and mangoes. But be careful, many people with pollen allergies have Oral Allergy Syndrome. These people can have severe itching and discomfort from various fruits and vegetables, and can have oral cavity swelling.
- Butterbur (Petasites hybridus). In Switzerland, several studies in peer-reviewed medical journals have found that supplements derived from this plant reduced symptoms of allergic rhinitis, a.k.a. hay fever, in a majority of patients. Side effects were rare.
- Quercetin. Supplements of this antioxidant, found in foods such as yellow onions, has been demonstrated in scientific studies to block substances involved in allergies. It can be used alone or with allergy medications.
- Acupuncture. This treatment involves the placement of needles into specific points in the skin. The procedure is said to relieve hay fever symptoms.
- Traditional Chinese medicine. Substances used here include Chinese skullcap (an herb with high content of antioxidants) as an anti-inflammatory with antihistamine properties and biminne (Chinese herbal formula) for the treatment of hay fever.
If you want to try one of these methods, be aware that they are not regulated for safety or efficacy. Some natural substances may inhibit histamine release, for example. That may be a good thing, but lowering histamine release too much may actually be dangerous. So if you’re already taking an OTC or prescription medication that inhibits histamines, the combo could spell trouble.
Best bet: Tell your doctor everything you’re taking for your allergies, including supplements, OTC products and prescription medications.
Reviewed by: Marc J. Sicklick, MD, FAAAAI, FACAAI