Allergies > Alternative medicines
There are a number of alternative medicines available for treating allergies.
- Chinese herbal medicine
- Herbal remedies
- Nutritional supplements
- Food avoidance
- Saline nasal washes
These are often used by people who do not want to use drugs (eg antihistamines, corticosteroids, or decongestantants). However, there is no good evidence that alternative medicine improves the symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
Chinese Herbal Medicine
In Chinese herbal medicine, 10 or more herbs are boiled in water and used as a soup. Those available for allergic rhinitis include Turtle shell, Cistanche combination, and Jade Screen powder. There is no good evidence that these reduce the symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
Homeopathic medicine is based on the concept that a substance that can produce certain symptoms in healthy people may be able to treat people who are ill with those symptoms, if the substance is given in very small doses.
The benefits of homeopathic medicine are controversial, but most well-designed studies have found no evidence in favour of using it. However, as homeopathic medicine is completely safe, they are no risks in trying it.
You can obtain homeopathic medicine from the pharmacy, or you can visit a homeopathic practitioner who will prepare you a treatment tailored to your symptoms and lifestyle. Homeopathic remedies for allergic rhinitis include: onion (Allium cepa), eyebright (Euphrasia), windflower (Pusatilla), and the poison nut (a seed from the tree Nux vomica).
The following herbal remedies have anti-inflammatory properties and have been suggested for treating allergic rhinitis. However, there is no good evidence to prove that they are beneficial.
- Nettle leaf
Other herbal supplements that are available for the treatment of allergic rhinitis include chamomile, coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia), goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), cleavers (Gallium aparine), ginger root (Zingiber officinalis) elderberry (Sambucus nigra), and eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis).
The following nutritional supplements have anti-inflammatory properties and have been suggested for treating allergic rhinitis. However, there is no good evidence to prove that they are beneficial:
- Vitamin C
People allergic to pollen may also have allergic reactions to certain foods. After eating these foods, people may develop symptoms of allergic rhinitis. These foods should therefore be avoided.
Saline Nasal Washes
Rinsing the nasal passages with saline solution is suggested to remove allergens from the nasal passages. There is little evidence that this directly improves the symptoms of allergic rhinitis
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine. Very fine needles are inserted into selected areas on the body with the aim of altering the way the body functions. There is no good evidence for the use of acupuncture in allergic rhinitis.
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